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Jeremy Denk Books In Order

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Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Every Good Boy Does Fine: A Love Story, in Music Lessons (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Jeremy Denk
Jeremy Denk was born in Durham, North Carolina on May 16, 1970 and is a classical pianist.

Jeremy did not come from a musical family. After he spent several years in New Jersey, his family later settled in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where Jeremy grew up. He went to Oberlin College and did his graduate work at Indiana University where he studied with Gyorgy Sebok. He’s also a Juilliard School graduate.

He started on his mom’s heirloom piano that had sat in the corner of their den for a number of years. His teacher, Lillian Livingston, told his parents that he needed a better instrument. However his parents’ financial situation was a bit tight, so there wasn’t much money for a piano.

Lillian put his parents in touch with this piano technician that was rebuilding a piano he’d found almost for free from this burlesque house in Atlantic City. This piano was covered in graffiti, filthy graffiti. People had carved things into it. The thing also didn’t have wheels, it was only on little blocks that the tech built into to keep it in place. So once they got it into the house, there wasn’t any moving it. It wound up living in the middle of the den, basically disrupting the whole TV watching area. And that’s how he practiced, from about 6 or 7 on, while in the middle of everybody’s lives on such a hideous looking instrument.

During his early teens, he’d spend summers with his music teacher just on technique without much music. These were his time with Jeremy to have him just under his control to build a foundation. Jeremy didn’t love these summers, however he probably wouldn’t be a pianist without them.

He thinks one of the real problems when you practice, at least when he was a kid, is you really don’t get what the point of all this time is. You do something hundreds of times, and at a certain point, there is this futility to it, and you are unsure of what you are doing or what you are even changing, what the job you’re truly engaged in is. And this is one of the toughest parts of being a teacher, is making it clear to your student what practicing is truly about.

Jeremy has won the Avery Fisher Prize, he has been awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, and Musical America’s Instrumentalist of the Year award. He’s also been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Jeremy is known for his insightful and original writing on music. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, The New Republic, The New Yorker, and on the front page of The New York Times Book Review. One such New Yorker contribution, called “Every Good Boy Does Fine” (EGBDF) forms the basis of his memoir of the same name. “Think Denk”, a blog in which Jeremy recounts his experiences performing, touring, and practicing was selected for inclusion in the Library of Congress web archives.

His album pairing old masterpieces with new ones (Ligeti’s Etudes and Beethoven’s final Piano Sonata No. 32, Op. 111) was named one of the best of 2012 by NPR, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post. Denk’s account of the Beethoven sonata was picked by BBC Radio 3’s Building a Library as the best available version recorded on modern piano.

“Every Good Boy Does Fine” was published by Random House to universal acclaim. It was featured on NPR’s Fresh Air, CBS Sunday Morning, New York Times Review of Books, as well as others. The Guardian heralded it as this frank, elegant, and well structured memoir which entirely resists cliché. And it accomplishes the rare feat of making the reader care about Jeremy beyond his talent for playing piano.

“Every Good Boy Does Fine” is a non-fiction book that was released in 2022. A witty and beautifully written memoir which is also an immersive exploration of classical music: its meanings, its power, and what it’s able to teach us about ourselves that was written by the MacArthur Genius Grant winning pianist.

In “Every Good Boy Does Fine”, Jeremy Denk traces quite an implausible journey. His life’s already a bit tough as a temperamental and precocious six year old piano prodigy in New Jersey, and then this family meltdown forces them to move to New Mexico. While there, Jeremy has to please this new taskmaster, an embittered yet devoted professor, as he navigates junior high. At the age of sixteen he escapes off to college in Ohio, just to encounter this bewildering new group of music teachers, both cruel and kind. After numerous humiliations and some triumphs, he ultimately finds his way as this world touring pianist, a MacArthur “Genius”, and is a frequent performer at Carnegie Hall.

Numerous classical music memoirs focus on famous musicians and professional accomplishments, however this book focuses on the everyday: high school orchestra, neighborhood teacher, local conductor. There are very few writers that are capable of so fully illuminating the trials of artistic practice. The mystifying advice, hours of daily repetition, pressure from teachers and parents. However under all of this struggle is a love letter to the act of teaching.

In endlessly imaginative and lively prose, Denk delves deeply into the composers and pieces which have shaped him (Mozart, Brahms, and Bach, as well as others) and offers some lessons on melody, rhythm, and harmony. Why is harmony such a mystery to most people? How do melodies work? Why are teachers so obsessed with the metronome?

Denk shares the most meaningful lessons of his entire life, and attempts to repay this debt to his teachers. He also reminds us that we must never quit asking questions about music and its purposes: an armor against disillusionment, a refuge, consolation, pure pleasure, a diversion, and a vehicle for empathy.

Jeremy’s writing style is lyrical, calming, and metaphorical. And in numerous places, readers found themselves laughing out loud. Jeremy’s got such a fantastic way with words. He does a wonderful job of explaining pieces of music, and it’s interesting to hear his feelings and his bio.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Jeremy Denk

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