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Biography & Autobiography Composers & Musicians

Sound Within Sound

A Radical History of Composers in the 20th Century

by (author) Kate Molleson

McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
Jul 2022
Composers & Musicians, 20th Century, History & Criticism
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2022
    List Price

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A radical and compelling new history of 20th century composers, shining light on the sonic pioneers whose work transformed musical history.

The twentieth century was the century of modernity. Classical music flourished, and yet when we reflect on the genre’s history its central figures seem to share three characteristics: they were white, male and western.
Sound Within Sound is the impassioned and exhilarating story of the composers who dared to challenge the conventional world of classical music in the twentieth century. Traversing the globe from Ethiopia and the Philippines to Mexico, Russia and beyond, Kate Molleson tells the stories of ten figures who altered the course of musical history, only to be sidelined and denied recognition during an era that systemically favoured certain sounds – and people – over others.

A celebration of radical creativity rooted in ideas of protest, gender, race, ecology and resistance, Sound Within Sound is an energetic reappraisal of twentieth-century classical music that opens up the world far beyond its established centres, challenges stereotypical portrayals of the genre and shatters its traditional canon.

About the author

Contributor Notes

KATE MOLLESON is a journalist and broadcaster and one of the UK’s leading commentators on contemporary classical music. She presents BBC Radio 3’s New Music Show and Music Matters, and her articles have been published in the Guardian, New Statesman, Prospect, the Herald, BBC Music Magazine and elsewhere. Having grown up in a sprawling musical family in Scotland and in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, she studied clarinet performance at McGill University and musicology at King’s College London. She lives in Edinburgh.

Editorial Reviews

“The vividness and passion of Molleson’s portraits of these ten extraordinarily gifted, exasperating, headstrong individuals is wonderfully engaging.” —Daily Telegraph
“Clever and accessible. . . . Sound Within Sound introduces us to thrilling dreamers from the last century who believed that music could fundamentally – and disruptively – recalibrate our lives. . . . It focuses our ears on the brilliant stuff that survives, encouraging us to dig deeper and keep listening.” —The Guardian

“Wonderful . . . This is a book of discovery that speaks of music as a life force, that urges us to live our lives through music.” —Cosey Fanni Tutti

“The fierce music of Kate Molleson’s prose demands that we think differently about the accepted classical music canon. Here is a marvellous book that opens our ears to sonic worlds that will enrich and delight us, whoever and wherever we are.” —Ian McMillan

“A clear-eyed, utterly fascinating exploration of outsiders in classical music. Molleson’s excellent book challenges and enlightens.” —Sinéad Gleeson

“An urgent, dazzling, ear-opening demand to explode and remake the musical canon . . . Everyone who loves music should own this book.” —Charlotte Higgins

Sound Within Sound is a necessary and deeply humane reshaping of music histories. It undoes the narrowing constraints of the classical canon, leaving the culture – and the reader – beautifully enriched.” —Emma Warren