Recovery of modern music stems from a spiritual recovery
San Francisco, May 25, 2016 – The single greatest crisis of the 20th century was the loss of faith. Noise—and its acceptance as music—was the product of the resulting spiritual confusion and, in its turn, became the further cause of its spread. Likewise, the recovery of modern classical music – and the whole point of this book is that there has been a major recovery – stems from a spiritual recovery. As a result, beauty is back! This theme of Robert Reilly’s book, Surprised by Beauty: A Listener’s Guide to the Recovery of Modern Music, is made explicitly clear by the composers whom he covers – both in their own words (some in interviews with Reilly) and most especially in their music, which Reilly describes in layman’s language.
Robert Reilly, along with contributing author Jens Laurson, spells out the nature of the crisis and its solution in sections that serve as bookends to the chapters on more than 70 individual composers. He does not contend that all of these composers underwent and recovered from the central crisis he describes, but they all lived and worked within its broader context, and soldiered on, writing beautiful music. For this, they suffered ridicule and neglect, and he believes their rehabilitation will change the reputation of modern music.
It is the spirit of music that this book is most about, and in his efforts to discern it, Reilly has discovered many treasures. The purpose of this book is to share them, to entice you to listen—because beauty is contagious. English conductor John Eliot Gardiner writes that experiencing Bach’s masterpieces “is a way of fully realizing the scale and scope of what it is to be human”. The reader may be surprised by how many works of the 20th and 21st centuries of which this is also true.
Surprised by Beauty includes hundreds of CD recommendations to help the reader find this music and this list will be regularly updated on the website for the book: www.SurprisedByBeauty.org.
Ted Libbey, the NPR music critic who wrote the Foreword to this book, explains that the best music of the 20th century “developed our capacity for feeling, deepened our compassion, and furthered our quest for and understanding of what Aristotle called ‘the perfect end of life’”.
Composer David Diamond explained, “Robert Reilly is at all times attuned to a composer’s spiritual inner strength but balanced by a vital and original intellectual stamina. He is a pleasure to read and a treasure to cherish.”
“Reilly’s vision of music is profoundly spiritual, expressive of what is best and most enriching in human life, and having the possibility of leading us to encounter God Himself, says Composer and Pianist Stephen Hough.
Terry Teachout, Music Critic for Commentary, claims, “Reilly is a critic with open ears and a disciplined mind that helps him to understand and explain the larger significance of what he’s hearing.”
“It is rare that one can offer such unbounded enthusiasm for a book about modern music, yet I can confidently state that this book is a joy for both layman and music expert alike. Surprised by Beauty provides a valuable and illuminating perspective, all while providing the surprise promised in the title,” says Mark Nowakowski of the Foundation for the Sacred Arts.
James V. Schall, S.J., of Georgetown University says, “Reilly is very good in talking about the philosophy and history of music, and the importance of modern music, especially sacred music, but also its beauty. It is this beauty that Reilly makes every effort in this excellent book to teach us how to find.”
“This book is a work of love. Every page is filled with longing for beauty, yearning for the transcendent to be made perceptible. Reilly is a faithful guide and will lead many of his readers to musical beauty where they did not expect to find it,” says Christopher Flannery of the Claremont Review of Books.
Lee Bockhorn of the Weekly Standard says, “Robert Reilly has done music lovers a service by reminding us that ‘modern music’ and ‘beauty’ are not always enemies.”
About the Author:
Robert Reilly has written about classical music for more than 35 years, including for Crisis magazine, where he was music critic for 16 years, High Fidelity, Musical America and others. He is the director of the Westminster Institute. He was Senior Advisor for Information Strategy (2002-2006) for the US Secretary of Defense, after which he taught at National Defense University. He was the director of the Voice of America (2001-2002) and served in the White House as a Special Assistant to the President (1983-1985). A graduate of Georgetown University and the Claremont Graduate University, he writes widely on “war of ideas” issues, foreign policy, and classical music. His previous book is The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis.
About the Contributing Author:
Jens F. Laurson writes an online classical music column for Forbes and contributes to Listen magazine. His writing has won the Deems Taylor Award granted by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.
Robert Reilly, the author of Surprised by Beauty, is available for interviews about this book. To request a review copy or an interview with Robert Reilly, please contact: Rose Trabbic, Publicist, Ignatius Press at (239) 867-4180 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Title: SURPRISED BY BEAUTY
A Listener’s Guide to the Recovery of Modern Music
Author: Robert R. Reilly
Contributing Author: Jens F. Laurson
Release Date: May 2016
Length: 512 pages
ISBN: 978-1-58617-905-2 • Softcover
Order: 1-800-651-1531 • www.ignatius.com