Igor Levit: These books stir up the exceptional pianist


Gerade has recorded Igor Levit Ludwig van Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas. This is not just a jubilee package for Beethoven's 250th birthday; This is also the preliminary conclusion of an artist, despite his youth, who has an opinion, but also deals with old fashioned music. Beethoven was political, Levit is too. Here a life achievement is retold, which influenced the history of the piano and is still valid today. Like this awake, intellectual, but also soulful interpretation. There is a lot of thought, some spontaneous.

One hears here another Igor Levit as the one who communicates on Twitter, does not skip a podium to convey his messages beyond the music. The same applies to the books that are important to him. "These are," he sends forth, "not books of my life, but books of my younger life, books that have stirred and touched me. And who should read as many people as possible. "

1. James Baldwin: The Fire Next Time

Since about 2016, I open my eyes to stories I did not know, stories of refugees, for example. Stories of people who stand on European soil, but who will never benefit from this so-called Europe. James Baldwin was recommended to me by my friend Georg Diez. The first part is a letter to his nephew. He prepares him for what it means to grow up as a black man in 1960s America.

This is a tremendously emphatic and loving writing. But also a document of anger. The reader, that is to say, I then realized that we still live in a kind of mental segregation today. We do not want to see what happens on the other side of the wall. When Baldwin writes, "The whites kill themselves, Fascism kills these people," then that hits me. Very. The book is a language, understanding and life school. Especially today, when we buy a picture peace that fades out a lot.

2. Ta-Nehisi Coates: Between the World and Me

I've been reading 90 percent of my books in English lately. I do not know why. The second book is directly related to the first. This text is something like the updated version of Baldwin. Again a black man from the USA writes, this time to his son. In the language of the 21st century. With a lot of anger. He is not a preacher's son like Baldwin, he is one angry man, Very up to date. He reminds us what racism means today to those who experience it, but also to those who live it.

If you want to understand what racism does to us, then you should read both books in quick succession. That leads to the third book. Because I am constantly being addressed, especially as a Jew, as I behave towards anti-Semitism. I refuse to separate it from racism or anti-feminism, freeing it from any idea that makes one person say he is a second-class subject. There is no hierarchy for me in the marginalized. Already Baldwin writes: "Only the whites believe that the world once was white!"

3. Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey: She Said

I'm reading this book by the two "New York Times" journalists with real horror. For years, the authors spoke to the women who set the Harvey-Weinstein scandal rolling. They show by what suffering, by which institutionalized hell they went, because they had no language and no platform to articulate, to publicize what was done to them.

If someone wants to tell me today who have challenged that or were too weak to defend themselves, then I get up and leave. It teaches you very clearly what responsibility men, media, and our society have for making it happen. Unfortunately, there is no happy ending. It just does not happen, or at least: too little.

4. Arthur Koestler: Solar Eclipse

One of my favorite novels of recent times, one of the most important novels of the 20th century. It is about the Soviet era, Stalinism in particular. And of course, it's about a human, and how to break it. The main character is a former People's Commissar. He is arrested on behalf of his own party. It's a book of horrors.

Some questions and revises this Rubashov. But ultimately he is loyal, he sticks to his political convictions. He still sits in prison and is made small by his own people. That's psychologically big. I have read this two or three times, this time even in German. Because a critical, revised version has recently been published.

5. Esi Edugyan: Washington Black

And another novel! Edugyan tells of a black slave on a sugarcane plantation on the island of Barbados in the 18th century. This boy has an important female caregiver. And of course there is a bad master. Then his brother comes to visit, who is a researcher, wants to build an airship. Because little Washington has drawing talent, he takes on his. Later, the brother flees with the boy in the airship. They crash, it begins an incredible journey that tells of life, of love, but also of fear and friendship.

6. Yaa Gyasi: Homegoing

"Homecoming" is the title of another novel that I recently liked to read. Again written by a black author, as an African family saga told like an opera. It is about several strands of life, but the focus is on two women from Ghana in the 18th century. The book goes back to the 20th century and the United States. It is about slavery and again about love and fear. It's inspiring and clever, yet incredibly sophisticated.

I read "Washington Black" and "Homegoing" at the same time in English, and I could not stop. I have my favorite bookstore in New York, so I was recommended one with the other. And because I'm a curious person, I read in both and then ate them up. That's the way literature has to be!

I do not order books on the net. I will recommend it to me. Especially novels. That's where my scouts are. For nonfiction books, I also follow reviews. That was already the case with music. When I met Frederic Rzewski and told me what he already heard as a child, I immediately looked for the notes afterwards.

7. David Wallace-Wels: The Uninhabitable Earth

A nonfiction book. Very important. It makes stunned and angry. Anyone who is concerned with the climate crisis must read this. Brutally. Brutally realistic. The drama of the mass extinction of whole ways of life. After all, he shows a little bit of optimism in the end. If we change radically.

8. Jia Tolentino: Trick Mirror

Again from an American journalist. Subtitles: "Reflections on self-deception". The book is fun and incredibly clever. It describes brilliantly in which world the internet has put us, in which it is only about the own self-presentation. It tells us what anger Twitter leads to, because you have to get more and more excited to get attention.

My favorite chapter is called "The Cult of the Difficult Woman". Tolentino was also able to explain to me why, for some years now, I have already considered the concert stage as the place of my true freedom. Because here I see my audience. And when it's over, it's gone. And I can close my door. We all perform on the internet. And do not know for whom. And we can lie there much better.

9. David Leeming: James Baldwin

A biography written by a close friend of Baldwin's, who beats for me the first book. It tells of a man full of love, doubt, anger and self-destruction. A man who needed people who got injured and hurt. A man who had to fight and hold his own. And who said this wonderful phrase, "Love is where you find it."

10. A. A. Milne: Pu the bear

Lastly, an ancient reading classic. The most beautiful children's book of all time. Because of the courage and the reference to life. It's deep and musical and somehow cooler than "The Little Prince". My opinion.

Protocol: Manuel Brug

(t) Baldwin (t) James (t) Koestler (t) Arthur (writer) (t) Historical Nonfiction (t) Milne (t) Alan Alexander (writer) (t) Beethoven (t) Ludwig van (t) Brug-Manuel (t) Sex (t) Jodi Kantor (t) Esi Edugyan (t) Washington (t) Manuel Brug (t) Arthur Koestler (t) Oneness (t) David Leeming (t) Mirror (t) Music (t) Story (s) James Baldwin (t) Twitter (t) Igor Levit (t) United States


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