A Musical Offering

This book is very concentrated in its form. Myriad ideas got traversed simultaneously— some from historical incidents, some are pure stories, and some are stories about stories— all intertwined to craft a truly musical offering.

So, what this book is about? Art, literature, music, war, destruction, wastage of human life… But, above all, this is a book about hope, about hope and goodness that doesn't wither. It is a book about love that perseveres amidst the toughest of times.

A Musical Offering by Luis Sagasti

More hunger will come, and more cold and more death. But there are red flowers. This is food for the eyes. Knowing this, every morning will be a child from now on. And every night a womb. With such knowledge, no one can lose a war.

This is also a book of life— how circular it is, yet how many variances it accommodates— like music— through repetition and variation, how it blooms— often awkwardly, through individual lives to something greater than the sum.

Notes and Highlights
About A Musical Offering by Luis Sagasti

In the 18th century, Count Keyserling commissions Johann Sebastian Bach to compose a piece of music that will finally allow him to fall asleep. Bach, surpassing all expectations, creates an aria containing thirty variations that became known as the Goldberg Variations, in honour of its first performer, put in charge of playing the piece night after night until the count fell asleep. With this story, Luis Sagasti opens a hypnotic tale full of counterpoints that, just like the Variations, sets out to follow the turns of a melody so as to arrive at the final aria­—where­ everything begins again.

Like Goldberg repeating melodies over and over for the Count to rest, Sagasti narrates for us a thousand and one stories that take the reader from Bach to Gould, from Gould to the Beatles, from Sergeant Pepper to the music that was played in Nazi concentration camps, and from there to 4’33’’ by John Cage, to The Who and so on, ad infinitum. But when do we end a story? When do we decide to sing the final lullaby? For Sagasti, undoubtedly, the cosmic order is a musical one.