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Old Turkey Burgess: what did he know about music?

Anthony Burgess was a brilliant and prolific novelist who also wrote tens of thousands of newspaper articles and book reviews. Any time that he had to spare, he composed symphonic music.

Indeed, several of his novels have musical themes and the most famous of them – Clockwork Orange – uses the finale of Beethoven’s ninth symphony as an underlying leitmotiv.

But how much did the author know about the music he loved. Greg Waldmann, in an essay in Open Letters Monthly, wonders whether a failed composer can teach us much about music. Read his cover essay here.

anthony burgess by rachel burgess

image: AB by Rachel Burgess (c) OLM, Dec 2012

Also in the same issue of OLM, there are fine assessments of AB’s best novels and worst writings. And two further essays on his orientalism and autobiographies. And more. And more. Enjoy. (I did.)

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  1. Hi Norman, Great article by Waldmann. Although I would hardly call him a failed musician. I remember warmly recording his “Blooms of Dublin” with the RTE Concert Orchestra as a percussion player in the late seventies as an extra player. (Still in my teens..) Most fondly remembering the old fogies of the orchestra up in arms about the use of the vernacular in the text, plenty of F**k words and the like. Threatening to go on strike! A particularly vocal oboe player with whom I had a number of run-ins with subsequently as conductor. Now thankfully retired:):) (There is always one!) :):)

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