Books about violinists

February 12, 2010 at 08:09 PM ·

I've recently read some novels that featured a violinist as protagonist. One was "The Four Seasons" by Laurel Corona, the second was "Devil's Trill" by Gerard Elias. The first was well-written [though the author is very-obviously not a violinist :)] and the second I thought was very good. Either way I enjoyed reading these, and was wondering if anyone knew of any other books featuring violinists as prominent characters? Non-fiction books would be great too, though I'm much more interested in things that read like a story, rather than a textbook.

Replies (23)

February 12, 2010 at 10:40 PM ·

The subject of books has been explored before here, so you might want to try the search engine.

Another recent novel is The Savior: A Novel by Eugene Drucker.  It is excellent, although it has a heavy subject matter.  It is one of the best violin novels I have read in a long time.

February 13, 2010 at 10:22 PM ·


February 14, 2010 at 05:03 AM ·

Albert Spalding wrote a novel about Tartini.  No idea if it's worth a look, but Spalding's memoirs are very well-written and gracious.

February 14, 2010 at 06:42 AM ·

CHECK OUT "THE RAINALDI QUARTET", It's what you're looking for!



February 14, 2010 at 07:11 AM ·


one of the most enjoyable imformative reads I can think of is Arnold Steinhardts `Indivisible by Four.`  He has a real talent for writing and this self deprecating account of the life of the Guarneri Quartet is something I will reread many times over the years to come,



February 14, 2010 at 08:44 PM ·

There was a man named Tarisio in the 19th cent., who searched for, collected and sold a great many classic Italian violins. He was really a one-man violin Renaissance, helping numerous forgotten masterpieces to re-surface.

A man named Silverman wrote a book about his life and adventures, called The Violin Hunter. It claims to be a completely factual account, though it's not quite entirely accurate. But it's a real page turner that reads like a novel. It was last published by Paganiniana, with a lot of violin photos. I think it's out of print, but you can probably find it online somewhere. 

February 16, 2010 at 05:57 PM ·

Thanks everyone, these are great :)

February 16, 2010 at 09:40 PM ·

Henry Roth's Great Violinists of the 20th Century helped me deepen my appreciation and understanding of many violinists whose work I've admired and introduced me to some new ones as well.  Very well written with his biases made clear.  A delightful read.

February 18, 2010 at 01:53 PM ·

Just reminded myself of this one:  Facing the Music by Henri Temianka.  We've been going just a tad far afield, in terms of the original request for novels featuring violinists. But in terms of really enjoyable violin page-turners, we're all still there. The above is a memoir of a violinist. A more recent one is Arnold Steinhardt's  Violin Dreams, which focuses on his life-long search for a violin, and his obssesion with the Bach Chaconne . Then there's Jascha Heifetz Through my Eyes, by Sherry Kloss, and The Glory of the Violin by Wechsler - all hard to put down. The list goes on and on.

Speaking of lists, I recently reminded myself of a site called Books By and About Violinists, by A. Kose. I didn't know that there have been for some time, bios out of Perlman and Midori! She also invites fiurther contributions from readers.

March 6, 2010 at 11:53 PM ·

I enjoyed reading about Max Jaffa who started playing in a silent cinema orchestra, Yehudi's biog was very interesting too.
I'll be looking up these titles mentioned and I just ordered this one because they don't have it my library?.......  'Szigeti on the violin'By Joseph Szigeti.Thanks John, this will be a very interesting read.

September 2, 2011 at 12:00 AM ·

A book that I read, and hasn't been mentioned in any blog about this subject is Wild Roses, by Deb Caletti.  Here's the book description:

Seventeen-year-old Cassie Morgan lives with a time bomb (a.k.a. her stepfather, Dino Cavalli). To the public, Dino is a world-renowned violin player and composer. To Cassie, he’s an erratic, self-centered bully. And he’s getting worse: He no longer sleeps, and he grows increasingly paranoid. Before Cassie was angry. Now she is afraid.  Enter Ian Waters: a brilliant young violinist, and Dino’s first-ever student. The minute Cassie lays eyes on Ian, she knows she’s doomed. Cassie thought she understood that love could bring pain, but this union will have consequences she could not have imagined.   In the end, only one thing becomes clear: In the world of insanity, nothing is sacred. . . .

I definitely enjoyed reading it.  Now maybe others will read it and enjoy.  = )  Cheers!

September 3, 2011 at 06:35 PM ·

An Equal Music by Vikram Seth. The main character (I don't know if I'd call him a protagonist...) is a professional violinist. Seth is not a violinist, but his former partner was, and he obviously has spent a lot of time in the classical music world. It's so beautifully written. Highly recommended.

September 3, 2011 at 09:16 PM ·

The Way They Play

September 4, 2011 at 01:56 AM ·

The books by Arnold Steinhardt are excellent.

September 8, 2011 at 09:45 AM ·

Today Matters by John Maxwell.  and Talent is Never Enough also by John Maxwell

September 8, 2011 at 05:21 PM ·

 Thank you both for the recommendations. Here are some non-fiction books I've found to be very helpful and thought provoking.

This is your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin

The Art of Practicing by Madeline Bruser

The Musician's Way by Gerald Glickstein

The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green with Timothy Gallowey

Maybe this discussion will begin to become a book-list.

September 8, 2011 at 06:12 PM ·

 Oh, and one more...

Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks

September 14, 2011 at 03:46 AM ·

The Violin: An Illustrated History by Yehudi Menuhin

It's a fascinating read. I highly recommend it.

December 29, 2011 at 07:56 PM · I just finished reading “Playing It By Heart: Wonderful Things Can Happen Any Day” by Robert Gerle.’

It was wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed it; inspirational even if a bit sad in places.

It was a great book to read after Franz Farga’s Violins and Violinist.

Pat T

December 30, 2011 at 12:43 AM · One of my favorites is "The Savior" by Eugene Drucker. It is about a violinist in WWII era Germany who is forced to participate in an experiment in the concentration camps to see the effects of music in people who have lost hope. It was really moving and well-written, but at times difficult to read. Not only is it about music, but about what it is that makes us human and dealing with the mistakes we've made. Of course, it was great to read a book about a violinist that was written by a professional violinist.

December 30, 2011 at 01:06 PM · Great topic! I just wrote down all the suggestions, and cant wait to read some of these books :)

May 7, 2012 at 03:00 AM · Hello to all! In regards to the posts regarding fictional books with violin music as a theme my own book Pedro Mendoza's Violin, available on Amazon as an ebook or paperback, is such a book. It is about a young boy who is born into poverty in the Philippines and who has to work on the Manila garbage dump, Smokey Mountain. He finds a violin that has been discarded in a crate - the story of how it got there is explained in the book - and he becomes so fascinated and enchanted by this instrument that he learns how to play it. By 'chance' an Australian is visiting the slum where he lives and hears, out of the cacophony of noises, the sweet sounds of violin music. He arranges for Pedro to undertake a music scholarship in Australia. And so off Pedro goes, via Hong Kong, to Australia, and he becomes a prominent violinist. He then returns to the Philippines to fulfill his destiny there. It is an inspirational story that shows how an instrument, in this case a violin, can be used to shape our fate and destiny. Hope you will enjoy reading it. Best wishes to all.

May 10, 2012 at 04:17 AM · One not very famous writer, that was the most sold Swedish writer between 1940-1970s, was the Russian-Jewish-Swedish violinist and author Jascha Golowanjuk. He wrote some 50 books during his career, and many of them deal with the life of musicians, sometimes more exotic, sometimes less. Some of these books are purely wonderful and have greater depth than many other books written by musicians (e.g. Steinhardts "Indivisible by Four"), and many non-musicians I've met appreciate them as well. Let me list you a few:

*"My Golden Road from Samarkand". It's his debut book, as well as autobiography, when the author as a musical wunderkind, adopted by a Danish millionaire, experiences the Russian revolution. The family escapes through the desert, and the story is about this.

*The Children of the Umbrella Maker. This is the first of a trilogy about a musician in Odessa. I did not find the translated names of the follow-ups, in Swedish "Josef den Lycklige" and "Främmande fågel".

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