Criticism & Features

NBCC Reads

Wayne Koestenbaum on Willa Cather’s “The Song of the Lark”

By Mark Athitakis

This month we'll be posting responses to our latest NBCC Reads question: What is your favorite book about music? To kick things off, we posed the question to Wayne Koestenbaum, a finalist in criticism in our 1993 awards for The Queen's Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire. Here's what he told us:

My favorite book on music is Willa Cather's The Song of the Lark.  Though not entirely about music, this novel embodies, more richly than any other book I know, the complex ways in which music threads itself into a performing and listening life.  Such a life includes flight from music as well as repeated returns to it;  Cather investigates the chameleon sources of musical sensitivity, in prose whose sonorous clarity has more in common with Darius Milhaud than with Richard Wagner.