Play it Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible
In 2010, Alan Rusbridger, the editor of the Guardian, set himself an almost impossible task: to learn, in the space of a year, Chopin's Ballade No. 1 - a piece that inspires dread in many professional pianists. His timing could have been better. The next twelve months were to witness the Arab Spring, the Japanese tsunami, the English riots, and the Guardian's breaking of both WikiLeaks and the News of the World hacking scandal. In the midst of this he carved out twenty minutes' practice a day - even if that meant practising in a Libyan hotel in the middle of a revolution as well as gaining insights and advice from an array of legendary pianists, theorists, historians and neuroscientists, and even occasionally from secretaries of state. But was he able to play the piece in time?
The Guardian editor's account of a remarkable musical challenge during an extraordinary year for news.
"Extraordinary... Prepare to be inspired" Sunday Telegraph "Bernard Levin once told me that journalism was "half gossip, half obsession, half slog and half madness. If that's true Play it Again is a minor classic from a major hack...it's about a stressed, insanely busy middle-aged person finding time to cultivate a hobby and discovering that his inner fire has been rekindled. That's a lesson we all need." -- Richard Morrison The Times "As soon as you enter the pages you are hooked, not just by the efforts to overcome this elusive piece through curiousity and courage, but by the clear way in which the diary takes the reader into the murky world of WikiLeaks and the still more polluted waters of phone hacking by News International... Riveting stuff... Play It Again is a hugely enjoyable, touching and informative volume" Literary Review "An absorbing and technically detailed book. Rusbridger is a vivid writer who is able to make the physical experience of playing the piano.very gripping." -- Nicholas Kenyon Times Literary Supplement "In his page-turning diary, Chopin has to make room for Julian Assange, Leveson and the hacking scandal. This charming, nimble, book argues that a life cannot be too rounded nor a day too full." Daily Telegraph
Alan Rusbridger is Editor in Chief of the Guardian and a keen amateur musician. After reading English at Cambridge he started on a local newspaper and tried his hand at a range of journalistic jobs - including reporter, columnist, critic, foreign correspondent, magazine editor, features editor and, from 1995, editor. During his time editing the Guardian the paper has won numerous awards and has grown to be one of the three largest online newspapers in the world. He led the paper's coverage of the secret WikiLeaks cables and the Guardian's campaign to get at the truth about phone hacking, which led to numerous resignations, the closure of the News of the World and the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the British press. As a boy, he was a cathedral chorister, a reasonable orchestral clarinetist and a very mediocre pianist. He failed to be a world-class conductor, abandoned the organ and put his clarinets in the attic. In his mid 40s he restarted piano lessons and tried to make up for more than 30 years of missing technique. Since then, he has moved from 'very mediocre' to 'mediocre'. Find out more about Alan and the Ballade at www.alanrusbridger.com