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Riffs

The Charts: Top Musical Fiction

#11 Disturbances in the Field by Lynne Schwartz

Disturbances in the Field (1983) by Lynne Sharon Schwartz A pianist tries to balance her career and family, only to find music as her only refuge from tragedy. “Wonderful…. It goes beyond literature and philosophy to a tough, battered truth.” – New York Times Book Review “Schwartz succeeds in making the story as much like … continue …


#12 The Mozart Season by Virginia Euwer Wolff

The Mozart Season (1991) by Virginia Euwer Wolff A young adult novel about the struggle to win a music competition. “Her season of discovery—of Mozart, her own roots, and the creative balance between life’s traumas and trivia—marks a fine achievement.” – Kirkus Reviews “During [the main character’s] final performance, as she plays, she envisions her … continue …


#13 The Soloist by Mark Salzman

The Soloist (1994) by Mark Salzman A gifted cellist becomes disillusioned with music until he ends up serving as a juror in a murder trial. “Salzman’s handling of his weighty theme–the passing of torches as the ennobling essence of civilization–is unfailingly light and delicate: this is lovely, offbeat movie material.” – Kirkus Reviews “The Soloist … continue …


#14 The Student Conductor by Robert Ford

The Student Conductor (2003) by Robert Ford A conductor travels from the U.S. to Germany to study his craft, only to find himself in the midst of political and personal turmoil. “There is hardly a wrong note, from the moment Ford lifts his baton to the final refrain.” — Booklist “Ford successfully creates vivid characters … continue …


#15 Vienna Prelude by Bodie and Brock Thoene

Vienna Prelude (1989) by Bodie and Brock Thoene An Austrian violinist joins the Resistance and uses her connections to help Jews in WW II Vienna; first book in the series. “I found myself consumed with the story of the Lindheim family. The complexities of a Jewish family in increasingly Nazi Germany are not only the … continue …


#16 Stradivarius by Donald Ladew

Stradivarius: A Novel (1995) by Donald Ladew Chronicles the owners of a violin built in 1685 that eventually finds its way to a young boy in rural West Virginia. “Ladew’s descriptions of the boy’s musical gifts are chilling in their power, and the warmth and self-sacrifice of the characters are evident.” – School Library Journal … continue …


#17 Murder in C Major by Sara Hoskinson Frommer

Murder in C Major (1986) by Sara Hoskinson Frommer Violist and amateur sleuth Joan Spencer tries to solve the murder of a fellow orchestra musician; the first book in the Joan Spencer mystery series. “A chatty, easygoing and conventional first novel….Why C major? Because Schubert’s Ninth Symphony, with its great oboe solo in the second … continue …


#18 Violin by Anne Rice

Violin (1997) by Anne Rice The ghost of a former violin virtuoso visits a frustrated violinist and wreaks havoc on her life. “Sit back and enjoy. . . . The story flows like blood–the life-giving, life-celebrating kind.” – San Francisco Chronicle “[Rice’s] descriptive writing, and creative mind will always keep me a loyal fan.” – … continue …


#19 Frost the Fiddler by Janice Weber

Frost the Fiddler (1992) by Janice Weber Violinist by day, spy by night; first book in the series. “Most concert violinists wouldn’t pack explosives in the case along with their Stradivarius. But the narrator of this high-spirited and engaging spy novel is no ordinary musician.” – Publishers Weekly “[M]y favorite passages are what might be … continue …


#20 The Music Teacher – Robert Starer

The Music Teacher (1997) by Robert Starer A concert pianist turned teacher gets involved in a complicated relationship with one of his adult students, leading him to discover some tragic secrets about his past. “Starer reveals the behind-the-scenes nature of the concert circuit?getting a manager, planning a repertoire, and booking dates?while contrasting Bernard’s earlier marriage … continue …