Black Inc. July 2017
In this evocative and moving book, composer and broadcaster Andrew Ford shares the vivid musical experiences – good, bad and occasionally hilarious – that have shaped his life.
Ford’s musical journey has traversed genres and continents, and his loves are broad and deep. The Memory of Music takes us from his childhood obsession with the Beatles to his passion for Beethoven, Brahms, Vaughan Williams, Stockhausen and Birtwistle, and to his work as a composer, choral conductor, concert promoter, critic, university teacher and radio presenter.
The Memory of Music is more than a wonderful memoir – it also explores the nature and purpose of music: what it is, why it means so much to us and how it shapes our worlds. The result is a captivating work that will appeal to music lovers everywhere.
Purchase the book in ebook format or hard copy (Black Inc.)
On the cover of Andrew Ford’s latest book, The Memory of Music, is a picture of a naked music box, its workings exposed. But of course, it’s more than a music box. It’s actually a time machine, with which Andrew takes us on a journey beginning in Colwyn Bay [and] Liverpool, and zig-zagging across time and space via Bradford, London, Sydney and the Southern Highlands [of New South Wales].
Ford calls his book a ‘sort of memoir’, but he tells his story without fanfare or self-congratulation. The story is, instead, a good excuse to construct a fond and fabulous play list of a life. 1960s Liverpool hums to the sound of the Beatles, while South London rocks to Beethoven, Boulez and Bowie. If you’re looking for a traditional biography, this is not it: Ford lets the music take him on a myriad of winding side roads and historical tangents. After all, not knowing where you’re going when you step into the time machine is half the fun.
However, as the story meanders on, in the comfortingly chatty but erudite manner much loved by listeners to The Music Show, it’s anything but pointless. Yes, Ford revels in the offbeat, offtrack observation, but his observations are never random. They are spotted, collected, inspected and then pieced together to form a personal world view which is much more than just a collection of reminiscences. Ford investigates his memories, his music, how it makes him feel, how it makes others feel, like a questing bloodhound, piecing together exquisite details and fragile links with all the skill of an artist. Or a composer.
Music is, of course, his constant companion and, on the way, he tries to answer questions about how it works. What is music? What does it mean? Can it be political? Why do I compose? Where do ideas come from? What is authenticity in music? Why do I like this, but not that? He’d be the first to admit that he doesn’t know all the answers.
The Memory of Music is an entertaining and thought-provoking read. If Ford is at first a faintly reluctant subject of his own story, he has by the end revealed much of himself — his views on religion, on war, on politics, on family, to name but a few. But, more than anything, he has made a passionate case for listening with a generous and open-minded spirit. As he says, “If you’re open-minded, open-eared, open-hearted, if you have a little faith, the music may speak to you.”
Hear hear to that.
Harriet Cunningham, A Cunning Blog
I suspect that Ford is someone who, when he has something to say, simply says it, as he has done very successfully on the stave, as a composer; on the airwaves, as a broadcaster; and in print, as a rather prolific author . . . Ford is well aware of the pitfalls of writing about music, though he denies that it is as futile as dancing about architecture. The Memory of Music, again demonstrating what a good communicator he is, offers evidence that he is right.
Barney Zwartz, Sydney Morning Herald
Ford, in both his job at the ABC and in his many books on music, has taken up the role of Australia’s musicological go-between, translating both the concepts and detail of some genuinely difficult modern music for interested but less educated ears. The Memory of Music furthers this valuable work by not only letting us into the composer’s dreaming space but also into some of the lived biographical background that seeded his irrepressible enthusiasm for the musical realm . . . The most genuinely stimulating passages of Ford’s book are not the many anecdotes about his working relationships with various mentors, collaborators and audiences but those in which he takes us deeper into his creative solitude, into his only truly native country, that of the ever mysterious landscape of musical composition.
Gregory Day, The Australian
Part biography, part musical journey, The Memory of Music is Andrew Ford’s life revealed through its intersection with music. This is a book to dive into, offering honesty and personal insights that remind us that no matter what we think will happen, life ends up taking us somewhere unexpected.
David Mayocchi, Loudmouth
Part memoir and part philosophical reflections about the nature of music, The Memory of Music reveals a lot more than Ford’s previous books about his inner mind as a composer and musical thinker, and it’s a wonderful read as far as that goes: engagingly fluent and direct, provocative without being pretentious, and sometimes downright cheeky – much like his musical compositions, one might say. And that might be the point: one wishes more composers would do similarly and communicate their ideas to the musically interested public through words.
Graham Strahle, Music Australia