Music Books News This Week (2 March)

Ina Boyle – first biography of the composer to be published in April

Music Books News This Week (2 March)

A round-up of some new, recent and forthcoming music books of interest.

Faber to publish new biography of Debussy; Cork University Press issuing first biography of Ina Boyle; Serpent’s Tail reissuing 1977 classic; Boydell & Brewer publishing new study of music in England; and University of California Press have second edition of guide to music in the famous Blue Ridge Mountains. Please send information on new music books to editor [at]

As Serious As Your Life: Black Music and the Free Jazz Revolution, 1957–1977
Val Wilmer
Serpent’s Tail Classics
Publication date: 1 March 2018

A reissue of the 1977 classic account of the new black music of the 1960s and 70s. Photographer and jazz historian Val Wilmer tells the story of how a generation of revolutionary musicians established black music as the vanguard of American culture. Placing artists such as Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane and Sun Ra in their broader political and social context, Wilmer evokes an era that continues to inspire musicians today. Featuring sixteen-page plate section with original photography from Val Wilmer’s archives.

For more, visit

Music in the West Country: Social and Cultural History Across an English Region
Stephen Banfield
Boydell & Brewer
Publication date: 16 February 2018

Music in the West Country is the first regional history of music in England. Ranging over seven hundred years, from the minstrels, waits and cathedral choristers of the fourteenth century to the Bristol Sound of the late twentieth, the book explores the region’s soundscape, from its gateway cities of Bristol and Salisbury in the east to the Isles of Scilly in the west, and examines music-making in tiny villages as well as conditions in important centres such as Bath, Exeter, Plymouth, and Bournemouth. Includes discussion of the growth of festival culture, the mythologising of folk music, the late survival of parish psalmody and nonconformist carolling, and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

For more, visit

Debussy: A Painter in Sound
Stephen Walsh
Faber & Faber

Publication date: 1 Mar 2018

Claude Debussy was that rare creature, a composer who reinvented the language of music without alienating the majority of music lovers. How did he manage this? Stephen Walsh’s biography, told partly through the events of Debussy’s life, and partly through a critical discussion of his music, addresses these and other questions.

For more, visit

Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina (2nd edn)
Fred C. Fussell and Steve Kruger
The University of North California Press
Publication date: February 2018

The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina are the heart of a region where traditional music and dance are performed and celebrated as nowhere else in America. This guide puts readers on the trail to discover many sites where the unique musical legacy thrives, covering bluegrass and string-band music, clogging, and other traditional forms of music and dance. The updated second edition adds three new music venues, along with updated information on the almost sixty music sites in Western North Carolina profiled in the previous edition. Also included are new full-colour photos, a new artist profile, and a CD of twenty-six classic songs from the mountains and the foothills.

For more, visit

Coming soon
Ina Boyle (1889–1967): A Composer’s Life
Ita Beausang and Séamas de Barra
Cork University Press
Publication date: April 2018

The Irish composer, Ina Boyle (1889–1967), was born in Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, where she enjoyed a sheltered childhood as a member of an Anglo-Irish family with roots in the medical, military and diplomatic professions. Her first music teacher was her clergyman father, who made violins for a hobby. She started to compose from an early age and soon found a passion for music that lasted a lifetime, spanning two world wars, the 1916 rebellion, the war of independence, the civil war and the economic war. As one of twentieth-century Ireland’s most prolific composers and the first Irishwoman to undertake a symphony, a concerto and a ballet, this first book on her life and music, written by scholars Ita Beausang and Séamas de Barra, will be of considerable interest.

For more, visit

Published on 2 March 2018

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