Play It Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible

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Macmillan, Sep 17, 2013 - Biography & Autobiography - 403 pages
12 Reviews

As editor of the Guardian, one of the world’s foremost newspapers, Alan Rusbridger abides by the relentless twenty-four-hour news cycle. But increasingly in midlife, he feels the gravitational pull of music—especially the piano. He sets himself a formidable challenge: to fluently learn

Chopin’s magnificent Ballade No. 1 in G minor, arguably one of the most difficult Romantic compositions in the repertory. With pyrotechnic passages that require feats of memory, dexterity, and power, the piece is one that causes alarm even in battle-hardened concert pianists. He gives himself a year.

Under ideal circumstances, this would have been a daunting task. But the particular year Rusbridger chooses turns out to be one of frenetic intensity. As he writes in his introduction, “Perhaps if I’d known then what else would soon be happening in my day job, I might have had second thoughts. For it would transpire that, at the same time, I would be steering the Guardian through one of the most dramatic years in its history.” It was a year that began with WikiLeaks’ massive dump of state secrets and ended with the Guardian’s revelations about widespread phone hacking at News of the World. “In between, there were the Japanese tsunami, the Arab Spring, the English riots . . . and the death of Osama Bin Laden,” writes Rusbridger. The test would be to “nibble out” twenty minutes per day to do something totally unrelated to the above.

Rusbridger’s description of mastering the Ballade is hugely engaging, yet his subject is clearly larger than any one piece of music. Play It Again deals with focus, discipline, and desire but is, above all, about the sanctity of one’s inner life in a world dominated by deadlines and distractions.

 

What will you do with your twenty minutes?

  

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Review: Play it Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible

User Review  - Duncan Simpson - Goodreads

A fascinating and stimulating read, which made me listen to Chopin! Alan Rusbridger is executive editor of Guardian, an English newspaper. He challenged himself to learn Chopin's Ballade No 1 in G ... Read full review

Review: Play it Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible

User Review  - JoEllen - Goodreads

I love this book as I have loved no other in years. I press it upon friends, accost strangers to tell them to read this book. As a disclaimer, you should know that I am a news freak and have spent ... Read full review

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About the author (2013)

Alan Rusbridger has been the editor of The Guardian since 1995. Born in Northern Rhodesia, he was educated at Cambridge and now lives in London. New York magazine calls him a "global celebrity.

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