Presto Music Award arrives

Posted by Susan Tomes on 2 February 2022 under Musings  •  3 Comments

I have got so used to everything being online-only that I was very surprised when an Actual Thing turned up in the post to commemorate the Presto Music Award 2021 for my book The Piano.

It’s a nice little sculpture of the blue Presto Music ‘arrows’ logo. I knew about the award before Christmas, I think, but was extra-pleased – in these ‘virtual’ days – to receive something to put on my mantelpiece.

How can it be February already? January seemed to go by in a single swoop. Now the birds are starting to sing more, the snowdrops are out, and there is a distinct feeling of hopefulness in the air.

Good wishes for Hogmanay

Posted by Susan Tomes on 29 December 2021 under Books, Inspirations  •  1 Comment

At the end of December, I usually reflect on my favourite concerts of the year. This year however, as you will know all too well, we spent the entire year in a pandemic. Concert life is still badly impacted, and freelance musicians have been more impacted than most.

For me, the big event of the year was the publication of my book The Piano – a History in 100 Pieces and the associated concert at Wigmore Hall in London on 23 July – a memorable evening.

Thanks to the team at Yale University Press, The Piano has been widely noticed. As well as getting great reviews, it ended the year as:

A ‘book of the year’ in The Spectator
A ‘book of the year’ in classical music in the Financial Times
A ‘book of the year’ in the Presto Music Awards
A ‘Scottish book of the year’ in non-fiction in The Scotsman
A ‘Notable Book of 2021’ as chosen by the Seminary Co-op Bookstore in Chicago

I myself have done a lot of reading this year – more than ever before, probably. I know this because in my diary I always keep a note of what I’ve read. This year I seem to have read 52 books (and that’s not counting the reading I do for research purposes) – a reflection, alas, of how much time I have spent not going anywhere.

I have been struck by the high quality of most of the books I’ve read. Some of my favourites:

George Saunders, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain – how to read Russian short stories
Ann Patchett, The Dutch House – multi-generational saga, gripping like all Patchett’s novels
Joshua Cohen, The Netanyahus – wow, can that man construct a sentence!
Andrew O’Hagan, Mayflies – growing up in Scotland and grasping life
Elena Ferrante trans. Ann Goldstein, The Lying Life of Adults – disturbing psychological acuity
William Dalrymple, The Anarchy – stunning history of the East India Company
Sandro Veronesi, trans. Elena Pala, The Hummingbird – intriguing, multi-faceted Italian novel
Elizabeth Strout, Oh, William! – Strout continues to be one of my idols
Gavin Francis, Intensive Care – absorbing pandemic diary of an Edinburgh doctor
Lea Ypi, Free – eye-opening account of growing up in Communist Albania
Meg Mason, Sorrow and Bliss – smart, funny, empathetic novel about relationship troubles

Here’s to writers – and to all my readers! I wish everyone a peaceful Hogmanay.

Presto Music Awards 2021

Posted by Susan Tomes on 10 December 2021 under Books, Reviews  •  1 Comment

Today I learned that my book The Piano – a History in 100 Pieces has been named as a Book of the Year 2021 in the Presto Music Awards.

I feel very fortunate that it has now been chosen as a Book of the Year in The Spectator, the Financial Times and the Presto Music Awards as well as being a ‘Notable book of 2021’ for the Seminary Co-op Bookstore in Chicago.

As our outer circumstances are rather fragile at the moment, and concert life is still severely affected by them, these little milestones mean even more than usual and I do value these ‘notes of appreciation’.

Financial Times ‘Books of 2021’

Posted by Susan Tomes on 20 November 2021 under Musings  •  1 Comment

The Financial Times has been publishing its ‘Books of 2021’, category by category across recent days, and now they have arrived at Classical Music.

I’m proud to see that my piano book is one of their Books of 2021.

This is the link, but unless you’re a subscriber it seems to lead only to a paywall.

Last weekend I reported that my book had been chosen as one of the Books of the Year in The Spectator, so I am feeling very fortunate. It’s good to ‘feel seen’, as they say these days, at the end of another long and lonely year during which live concerts have remained largely in pandemic-related hibernation.

The photo of a sunrise this week in my neighbourhood has a nice metaphorical flavour.

My piano book is in The Spectator’s ‘Books of the Year’

Posted by Susan Tomes on 12 November 2021 under Books, Reviews  •  1 Comment

An exhilarating moment in an otherwise quiet stretch of autumn:

Jenny Colgan has chosen my piano book as one of her Books of the Year in The Spectator (the print edition comes out on 13 November).

She calls it ‘one of the two most beautiful books I got my hands on this year.’

One can’t assume that writers have books on classical music on their piles of reading material, so this is a delightful surprise.