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Robert Schumann’s Advice to Young Musicians

Revisited by Steven Isserlis

Edited and with Commentary by Steven Isserlis
If everybody were to play first violin, we could not have an orchestra. Therefore respect each musician in his own place.

There is no end to learning.

Originally published in1850, Advice to Young Musicians: Musical Rules for Home and in Life offered composer Robert Schumann’s (1810–56) combination of practical advice and poetic words of wisdom for young people beginning their musical education. Presented in aphorisms and short paragraphs, the book’s insights remain as valuable today as when it was written. Recognizing the continued resonance of Schumann’s words, world-renowned cellist Steven Isserlis, himself a writer of children’s books and many articles for young musicians, set out to rescue the work from history. Here, in this beautiful gift edition, he revisits Schumann’s work and contributes his own contemporary counsel for musicians and music lovers.

For this edition, Isserlis retranslated Schumann’s text and arranged it into four thematic sections: “On being a musician,” “Playing,” “Practicing,” and “Composing.” Each page is decoratively designed, and accompanying Schumann’s original quotation are Isserlis’s thoughtful and often humorous glosses. The book concludes with Isserlis’s own reflections on his life as a musician and performer: “My Own Bits of Advice (For What They’re Worth).”  The result is a unique and thought-provoking book that will be treasured by aspiring musicians of any age.

112 pages | 60 line drawings | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2017

Music: General Music


"Isserlis takes Robert Schumann’s Advice to Young Musicians a sentence or so at a time, offering explanation and commentary that let Schumann talk directly to us, in an open and somehow contemporary manner. The advice is all superb, but, as Isserlis notes, it can seem overwhelming. Schumann does recommend that his young musician break up study with walks and poetry, but executing all his recommendations would leave little time for the rest of life.”

Times Literary Supplement

Table of Contents

On Being a Musician
My Own Bits of Advice (For What They’re Worth)
                On Being a Musician

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