“I read Doctor Faustus when I was around 18 and something about the book just overwhelmed me. It was one of the most intense reading experiences of my life. I remember finishing the book, standing up in my bedroom at home at 2am, literally unable to sit down it had such an electrifying effect on me…Mann depicts his composer – the hero, or antihero if you prefer – Adrian Leverkühn as a man who’s losing his mind. If you read the book in a very obvious or vulgar way, his madness seems to be symbolic of the madness of Germany in the 20th century. But I remember at the time being thrilled by Leverkühn. He wasn’t someone to admire or emulate and he’s quite frightening, but I had the sense of this character, this artistic figure, going absolutely against the grain and pursuing something so individual, so pure, that it leads him to destruction in the end. What sets this novel aside from so many others that have been attempted on the subject of music is the authenticity. There’s an extraordinary sense of plausibility in how Mann described these fictional compositions of Leverkühn. They’re so vivid that you think they exist – you can almost hear them.” Read more...
Alex Ross recommends the best Writing about Music
Musicians, Music Critics & Scholar