The Music Lover's Literary Companion contains much of the best imaginative writing about music and musicians by authors present and past. Here, among much else, can be found vivid autobiographical writings by Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Shaw and many others, and hilariously funny account of a night at the opera by Bernard Levin, caustic comments by Tolstoy and Carlisle, Philip Larkin's charming description of his early attachment to jazz and Alred Brendel's confessions of his anxiety about the pianos that wait for him in a hundred concert halls. A feast of memorable poetry and fiction are included too. There are poems - some sharp, some reverent, some comical - by poets such as Shakespeare and Dryden, Thomas Hardy and WH Auden, Rilke and Ted Hughes, DH Lawrence and Louis MacNeice; the fiction includes writing by Balzac, Thomas Mann, Marcel Proust, Katherine Mansfield, Frank O'Connor and Roald Dahl. This continually surprising book is sure to delight anyone who has at least once in his or her lifetime been captivated by music. Dannie Abse is one of Britain's leading poets. He was President of the Poetry Society (1978-92). His latest poetry collection is Running Late (2006).
His latest book of memoir, The Presence (2007), is a celebratory portrait of his 50-year marriage. It won the Arts Council of Wales Book of the Year Award in 2008. Joan Abse, wife of Dannie, was an art historian and author of the much admired biography of John Ruskin, The Passionate Moralist. She died in June 2005.