Jeremy Denk to Publish Book, 'Every Good Boy Does Fine,' via Random House on February 22, 2022

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Jeremy Denk will publish a memoir, Every Good Boy Does Fine, via Random House on February 22. In the book, Denk traces his implausible artistic journey and sets out to relay the most meaningful lessons he has received, and to repay the debt of all his teachers. “The performer has two tasks,” he writes. “One is to do what’s written in the score—incredibly important—and the other, even more important, is to do everything that’s not.”

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Pianist Jeremy Denk will publish a memoir, Every Good Boy Does Fine, via Random House on February 22, 2022; it is available to pre-order here. In the book, Denk traces his implausible artistic journey, from six-year-old piano prodigy in a small town in New Jersey to a family move to New Mexico, where Denk has to please a new taskmaster while navigating the perils of junior high school. Escaping to college in Ohio at sixteen, he meets a bewildering cast of music teachers, experiences a series of triumphs and humiliations, and ultimately finds his way as one of the world’s greatest living pianists, a MacArthur "Genius," and a frequent performer at Carnegie Hall.

Denk illuminates the joys and miseries of artistic practice—the hours of daily repetition, the mystifying early advice, and the pressure from parents and teachers who drove him on in the ongoing battle between talent and its two natural enemies: boredom and insecurity. As he introduces the reader to his various instructors, with their cruel and kind streaks, he is also, subtly, composing a love letter to the act of teaching. “The performer has two tasks,” he writes. “One is to do what’s written in the score—incredibly important—and the other, even more important, is to do everything that’s not.”

Denk explains how classical music is relevant to “real life,” despite its formalities and its distance in time. He dives into the pieces and composers that have shaped him—Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, and Brahms, among others—and offers lessons on melody, harmony, and rhythm. Why, he asks, does music have such a visceral effect on us? And how can a series of notes, arranged on a page, move us so profoundly?

In Every Good Boy Does Fine, Denk sets out to relay the most meaningful lessons he has received, and to repay the debt of all his teachers.

"Sometimes you read the first paragraph and know you’ll read to the end," John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead, says. "They say writing about music is like dancing about architecture. Jeremy Denk’s book reminds us that dancing about architecture sounds sort of great."

Jeremy Denk latest Nonesuch album, Mozart Piano Concertos, was released just last month. On the album, he is joined by The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for two Mozart concertos—No. 25 in C Major, K. 503, and No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466—bookending the composer's solo Rondo in A Minor, K. 511. "Denk approaches everything with questing intelligence and energy," says the Observer. "His ornaments and cadenzas are full of wit and imagination, his ear for detail incisive and bracing. The excellent Saint Paul players match his variety and range of expression. As ever, Denk’s probing liner notes shed light, making an already engrossing album more than worth the purchase.”

Denk’s previous Nonesuch releases include an album of works by Beethoven and Ligeti, a recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations with accompanying video “liner notes,” and c.1300–c.2000, a two-disc set spanning seven centuries, with pieces by twenty-four composers ranging from Machaut to Ligeti—with Binchois, Gesualdo, Stockhausen, Philip Glass, and many others in between. Additionally, he performs John Adams's title piece to the 2020 compilation album I Still Play, comprising new solo piano compositions by artists who have recorded for Nonesuch Records, written in honor of Nonesuch Chairman Emeritus Bob Hurwitz.

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Jeremy Denk: 'Every Good Boy Does Fine' [book]
  • Wednesday, October 6, 2021
    Jeremy Denk to Publish Book, 'Every Good Boy Does Fine,' via Random House on February 22, 2022

    Pianist Jeremy Denk will publish a memoir, Every Good Boy Does Fine, via Random House on February 22, 2022; it is available to pre-order here. In the book, Denk traces his implausible artistic journey, from six-year-old piano prodigy in a small town in New Jersey to a family move to New Mexico, where Denk has to please a new taskmaster while navigating the perils of junior high school. Escaping to college in Ohio at sixteen, he meets a bewildering cast of music teachers, experiences a series of triumphs and humiliations, and ultimately finds his way as one of the world’s greatest living pianists, a MacArthur "Genius," and a frequent performer at Carnegie Hall.

    Denk illuminates the joys and miseries of artistic practice—the hours of daily repetition, the mystifying early advice, and the pressure from parents and teachers who drove him on in the ongoing battle between talent and its two natural enemies: boredom and insecurity. As he introduces the reader to his various instructors, with their cruel and kind streaks, he is also, subtly, composing a love letter to the act of teaching. “The performer has two tasks,” he writes. “One is to do what’s written in the score—incredibly important—and the other, even more important, is to do everything that’s not.”

    Denk explains how classical music is relevant to “real life,” despite its formalities and its distance in time. He dives into the pieces and composers that have shaped him—Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, and Brahms, among others—and offers lessons on melody, harmony, and rhythm. Why, he asks, does music have such a visceral effect on us? And how can a series of notes, arranged on a page, move us so profoundly?

    In Every Good Boy Does Fine, Denk sets out to relay the most meaningful lessons he has received, and to repay the debt of all his teachers.

    "Sometimes you read the first paragraph and know you’ll read to the end," John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead, says. "They say writing about music is like dancing about architecture. Jeremy Denk’s book reminds us that dancing about architecture sounds sort of great."

    Jeremy Denk latest Nonesuch album, Mozart Piano Concertos, was released just last month. On the album, he is joined by The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for two Mozart concertos—No. 25 in C Major, K. 503, and No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466—bookending the composer's solo Rondo in A Minor, K. 511. "Denk approaches everything with questing intelligence and energy," says the Observer. "His ornaments and cadenzas are full of wit and imagination, his ear for detail incisive and bracing. The excellent Saint Paul players match his variety and range of expression. As ever, Denk’s probing liner notes shed light, making an already engrossing album more than worth the purchase.”

    Denk’s previous Nonesuch releases include an album of works by Beethoven and Ligeti, a recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations with accompanying video “liner notes,” and c.1300–c.2000, a two-disc set spanning seven centuries, with pieces by twenty-four composers ranging from Machaut to Ligeti—with Binchois, Gesualdo, Stockhausen, Philip Glass, and many others in between. Additionally, he performs John Adams's title piece to the 2020 compilation album I Still Play, comprising new solo piano compositions by artists who have recorded for Nonesuch Records, written in honor of Nonesuch Chairman Emeritus Bob Hurwitz.

    Journal Articles:Artist News

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