“Bach. Mozart. Beethoven. Old guys with curly wigs, right? But trust me: those composers were the original rock stars.”

Classical music isn’t generally thought of as edge-of-your-seat exciting, but for abused-teen-turned-piano-maestro James Rhodes, it was life-saving.

In Playlist: The Rebels and Revolutionaries of Sound (Candlewick Studio), Rhodes invites readers to share his joy. He focuses on the masterworks of seven composers – Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Shubert, Rachmaninoff and Ravel – and explores how their music changed history, inspired millions and continues to enthrall throughout the world.

The book asks readers to open their minds to some of the most breathtaking and magnificent pieces of music ever created, and find out why the rebels and revolutionaries who wrote them are responsible for every track on your phone today. Discover their back stories and how each one shaped and defined classical music.

Believe me, this is no ordinary music theory book. It is a 12-x-12-inch visual masterpiece, with jaw-dropping artwork by Martin O’Neill and avant garde photography and design by Dave Brown. It is an exquisite celebration of classical music geared to attract both first-time listeners and longtime fans. 

Learn about the structure of an orchestra, the language of music, and the history of musical periods. Budding aficionados will appreciate the online playlist featuring Rhodes’s favorite selections.

Says Rhodes in his introduction, “Music. Close your eyes for a moment and just try to imagine a world without it. Can you think of anything more boring, depressing, or lifeless? It would be like living in a black-and-white universe. Music gives flavor and color to the world in which we live. It inspires us, unites us, and can even make us better people.”

“But no matter what music you like, the truth is that it will always have some roots in older music. Because the brand-new music of today was actually born many hundreds of years ago. It has slowly but surely grown, adapted, and evolved to end up with what you hear now at a stadium gig or on Spotify.”

He continues, “Classical music is not usually seen as riveting material for a book. I know that. It is thought of as dull, irrelevant, belonging to other (usually old) people, and about as interesting as algebra. I will say this though: classical music saved my life when I was a kid. And even today, many years later, every single time I listen to it, it makes me feel amazing.”

He encourages readers to leave behind any preconceptions: “Even if you think you hate it, give it an hour or two of your time and then decide.”

Playlist will be available for purchase on October 3.

About James Rhodes

James Rhodes is a bestselling author, TV host, and celebrated concert pianist dedicated to bringing classical music into the 21st century. His sellout concerts at pop music venues, with no coats and tails in sight, are bringing classical music to new audiences worldwide. Originally from London, Rhodes lives in Madrid.