Back to Top

Murakami Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa

First Japanese publication Kodansha (2016)

Translated by Jay Rubin

US Edition:
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Knopf
Date Published: 15 Nov. 2016
ISBN-10: 978-0385354349

UK Edition:
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Date Published: 15 Nov. 2016)
ISBN-10: 978-1846559181

"We both maintain the same “hungry heart” we possessed in our youth, that persistent feeling that “this is not good enough”,
that we must dig deeper, forge farther ahead. This is the major motif of our work and our lives."


A deeply personal, intimate conversation about music and writing between the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author and his close friend, the former conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Haruki Murakami’s passion for music runs deep. Before turning his hand to writing, he ran a jazz club in Tokyo, and from The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” to Franz Liszt’s “Years of Pilgrimage,” the aesthetic and emotional power of music permeates every one of his much-loved books. Now, in Absolutely on Music, Murakami fulfills a personal dream, sitting down with his friend, acclaimed conductor Seiji Ozawa, to talk, over a period of two years, about their shared interest. Transcribed from lengthy conversations about the nature of music and writing, here they discuss everything from Brahms to Beethoven, from Leonard Bernstein to Glenn Gould, from record collecting to pop-up orchestras, and much more. Ultimately this book gives readers an unprecedented glimpse into the minds of the two maestros.

“Intriguing insights about the nature of music. . . . Deliberate and contemplative. In some ways, these conversations are High Fidelity for classical music fans.” —Publishers Weekly

One writes fiction, the other conducts an orchestra, but Murakami and Ozawa share a drive, determination – and a passion for music. They discuss the creative process, inspiration and the eclecticism of Mahler - Excerpt from the Gurdian.

Absolutely on Music - the Foyles Spotify Playlist



‘Absolutely on Music’ Gives a Maestro a Stage for Ideas - New York Times review by James R Oestreich

A series of talks between the great conductor and his novelist fan is unprecedented and illuminating - Guardian review by RO Kwon

The Musings of the Maestro - Wall Street Journal review by Michael O’Donnell

Murakami's 'Absolutely on Music' Is Sort of a My Dinner With Andre for Classical Music Fans. Popmatters review by Chris Ingalls

The Maestro and His Double - The Brooklyn Rail review by Jeff Tompkins

Haruki Murakami talks music and life with conductor Seiji Ozawa. The Australian review by Ed Wright

‘Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa'. Washington Times review by Claire Hopley

Seiji Ozawa reflects on his brilliant life in music - Providence Journal by Dave Canarie

Haruki Murakami prods a great conductor for insight in Absolutely On Music - AV Club review by Ignatiy Vishnevetsky.

If it ain’t Baroque: Haruki Murakami’s goes classical in Absolutely on Music — but it’s not for everyone - National Post (Canada) review by Jay Hoskin.

Great San Francisco Chronicle article on the new book by Scott Esposito.

Musical Toronto - A Cult Novelist Makes Great Conversation With Former TSO Conductor Seiji Ozawa by Will Pearson

The Arts - Sunday Book: Haruki Murakami - Absolutely on Music - In 'Conversations with Seiji Ozawa', cult novelist and star conductor make sweet sounds by Boyd Tonkin