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Why does music have such universal appeal, and how does music help us understand human nature? In this sometimes electrifying, sometimes pedantic journey through the world of music, world famous director, composer and conductor Barenboim engages these and other questions as he searches to unlock music's peculiar power. In the book's first part, he meditates on topics ranging from sound and thought, listening and hearing through a tale of two Palestinians from different backgrounds (one grew up in a Ramallah refugee camp, the other in Nazareth), in which he chronicles the ways that music changed their lives. He recalls how music bridged the gap of political hatred in the West-Eastern Divan project, an orchestra composed of Israeli and Palestinian musicians that he and the late Edward Said put together. For the young people in this orchestra, music provided the language for continuous dialogue. The book's second section gathers occasional pieces previously published in magazines and newspapers that range over topics from Schumann, Bach and Mozart to Pierre Boulez and Wilhelm Furtwängler. In his tribute to his late friend Edward Said, for example, Barenboim recalls that for Said every musical masterpiece was a conception of the world. Barenboim concludes through these illuminating meditations that the power of music lies in its ability to speak to all aspects of the human being. (Nov.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.