8 April 1999
| 3.8/5 |
| Print (hardback & paperback)|
383 pages (first edition, hardcover), 400 pages (hardcover edition) & 400 pages (paperback edition)
1-86159-117-9 (first edition, hardcover), (ISBN 0-7679-0291-2 (hardcover edition) & ISBN 0-375-70924-X (paperback edition)
Vikram Seth books, Novels
An Equal Music (1999) is a novel by Vikram Seth.
An Equal Music Wikipedia
The plot concerns Michael, a professional violinist, who never forgot his love for Julia, a pianist he met as a student in Vienna. They meet again after a decade, and conduct a secret affair, though she is married and has one child. Their musical careers are affected by this affair and the knowledge that Julia is going deaf.
A recurring element throughout the plot is the pair's performance of Beethoven's Fifth Violin Sonata, which they first perform in their school days. There are also frequent mentions to the couple's usage of carrier pigeons as a means of communication.
Seth credits his then-partner, the French violinist Philippe Honoré, as inspiring him with the idea for An Equal Music in an acrostic Onegin stanza on Honoré's name in the epigraph:
How did that walk, those winter hours,
Occasion this? No lightning came;
Nor did I sense, when touched by flame,
Our story lit with borrowed powers –
Rather, by what our spirits burned,
Embered in words, to us returned.
Seth together with Philippe Honoré marketed a double CD of the music mentioned in An Equal Music, performed by Honoré.
The book was especially well received by musical fans, who noted the accuracy of Seth's descriptions of music.
Paolo Isotta, one of Italy's most significant music critics, wrote in the influential newspaper Il Corriere della Sera of the Italian translation that no European writer had ever shown such a knowledge of European classical music, nor had any European novel before managed to convey the psychology, the technical abilities, even the human potentialities of those who practise music for a living.