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Practicing: A Musician’s Return to Music

While Kurtz gave up on his music career, Practicing suggests his writing will not see such a bleak end.

At 8, Glenn Kurtz was a prodigy. At 19, he was a promising classical guitarist at the New England Conservatory of Music. At 25, he was a professional musician playing in Vienna. But something was wrong. Kurtz was beginning to suspect that the dream he had chased for most of his life was out of his reach. He had imagined himself a concert soloist but was now recognizing that he had neither the transcendent talent nor the maniacal devotion needed to rise above humbling cocktail-hour gigs and his modest pay grade. One day he simply quit. He stopped playing and even stopped listening to the music he loved. He returned to America and took a 9-to-5 job in publishing that felt, he says, like jail.

Were Kurtz's memoir to end there, said Samantha Dunn in the Los Angeles Times, his story 'œwould be a tragedy.' Not many of us have ever attained proficiency as musicians. But 'œanyone who has ever desperately yearned to achieve something and felt the sting of disappointment' can appreciate the heartbreak Kurtz lived with during the 10 years that followed the expiration of his dream. This quiet, inspiring, 'œunique' book is about a love rediscovered, though, since Kurtz eventually returned to his guitar'”with different expectations. Practicing came to have a different objective. In his memoir, a long meditation on a single session of practicing is interwoven with the chronology of his bittersweet history as a musician.

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