Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is the world’s bestselling author on classical music. His most recent book was the critically acclaimed Why Mahler? His Whitbread Award-winning novel, The Song of Names, is currently being developed into a feature film. Aside from the history of Western music, he has a lifelong passion for the culture and chronicles of the Jewish people. He lives in London.
Passions: Jews On and Off the Record

The role of Jews in creating the popular music industry has been widely documented. Less known is the part played by a handful of Jews in the making of classical legends.

Norman Lebrecht, in his new book, introduces the concentration-camp victim who, together with a war criminal, fashioned the foremost classical label; the Orthodox magnate who financed a gay record label; and the man who signed himself God.

At last, the faces behind the record were revealed.

Long Shadows

The horrors of WWII, what led to them and their aftermath, are at the heart of these outstanding novels by German writer Julia Franck (The Blind Side of the Heart), Norman Lebrecht, (The Game of Opposites), and Booker shortlisted Simon Mawer, (The Glass Room). All examine the possibility of forgiveness, the shifting boundaries between good and evil and the enduring legacies of the past.

How the Jew in Gustav Mahler changed the music of the West

Norman Lebrecht’s best-selling book Why Mahler? examines how a composer, scorned and rejected for decades, has come to replace Beethoven at the centre of symphonic culture. Here, especially for Jewish Book Week, Norman Lebrecht explained how Mahler’s major innovations in music stem directly from his Jewish heritage and the trauma of exile and shares his passion for the great composer with us.

Jews and Music under Nazi rule
Michael Haas’s Forbidden Music looks at the Jewish composers and musicians banned by the Third Reich and the consequences for music throughout the rest of the 20th century. Because Jewish musicians and composers were, by 1933, the principal conveyors of Germany’s historic traditions and the ideals of German culture, the isolation, exile and persecution of Jewish musicians by t...
A Rocky Road

Rabbi Abraham Levy’s memoir tells of his devotion to, and exceptional influence on, Jewish public life and the Sephardi London community for over 50 years.

Writing Music: Norman Lebrecht

In a lively and good-natured session, Norman Lebrecht, novelist and one of Britain’s best known commentators on classical music, discussed with Steven Isserlis, renowned concert cellist and composer, the elusive relationship between the experience of music and the language employed to write about it.

Barbara: Dis, quand reviendras-tu
The French chanteuse Barbara, who would have been 90 this year, defined the meaning of relationships for an entire generation. A million people packed the streets of Paris for her funeral and her songs are still heard at state occasions. Norman Lebrecht, who made a BBC documentary of her life in 2011, looks back at Barbara through the prism of powerful Jewish women who burst upon the world from the mid-19th century – Sarah Bernhardt, Barbara, Golda Meir, and Barbra Stre...
Genius and Anxiety How: Jews Changed the World 1847-1947
Moses said the Law is everything. Jesus said love is everything. Marx said money is everything. Freud said sex is everything. Einstein said everything is relative. The latter three were among a small number of men and women who transformed how we see the world in the period 1847 – 1947. Author Norman Lebrecht discusses with historian Trudy Gold how a handful of people who happened to be Jewish thought outside of the box, to see what others could not, and in doing so changed the world....
Mahler and his Faith
You can buy a ticket to watch this past event until 31st March 2021 by clicking here Does it matter what a composer believes? Or how deep that faith was? In the case of Gustav Mahler the evidence has been muddied by interested parties. He was raised in a traditional Jewish family, before marrying outside the faith, converting to Christianity to become head of the Vienna Opera and ulti...
Lehrer, Dylan & Cohen
Music journalist and author of Genius & Anxiety Norman Lebrecht is joined by an illustrious trio to discuss the lyrics, lives and legacy of three of the greatest songwriters of all time – and play some songs. In Leonard Cohen: The Mystical Roots of Genius biographer and Jewish cultural expert Harry Freedman explores the sources the Canadian singer-songwriter drew on, including the Bible, Talmud and Kabbalah. Singer and composer Barb Jungr has...