“I hit play and heard a piece by Bach that I’d not heard before. And it took me to a place of such magnificence, such surrender, hope, beauty, infinite space, it was like touching God’s face”
James Rhodes’ passion for music has been his absolute lifeline. It has been the thread that has held him together through a life that has encompassed pain, conflict and turmoil. Listening to Rachmaninov on a loop as a traumatised teenager or discovering an Adagio by Bach while in a hospital ward – such exquisite miracles of musical genius have helped him survive his demons, and, along with a chance encounter with a stranger, inspired him to become the renowned concert pianist he is today.
This is a memoir like no other: unapologetically candid, boldly outspoken and surprisingly funny - James’ prose is shot through with an unexpectedly mordant wit, even at the darkest of moments. An impassioned tribute to the therapeutic powers of music, Instrumental also weaves in fascinating facts about how classical music actually works and about the extraordinary lives of some of the great composers. It explains why and how music has the potential to transform all of our lives.
“The Supreme Court overthrew an injunction unanimously in May 2015, saying: ‘A person who has suffered in the way that [James Rhodes] has suffered, and has struggled to cope with the consequences of his suffering in the way that he has struggled, has the right to tell the world about it. And there is a corresponding public interest in others being able to listen to his life story in all its searing detail”
The Supreme Court
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“Thrilling and harrowing … Unsurpassed and unsurpassable”
“The publishing sensation of the year”
mail On Sunday
“You might expect James Rhodes to have been crushed by his experiences. On the contrary I don’t think I’ve ever read an autobiography which is this exuberant, this full of life, this addictively readable”
“A poet once said great books help you to live your life. They also help you survive your ruin, and James Rhodes’s Instrumental is a masterpiece of creative endurance. His passion is his programme, his heart is his true instrument, and you might not read a more moral or more loving book this decade”
James Rhodes was born in London in 1975. A keen piano player, he was offered a scholarship when he was eighteen at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, but went to Edinburgh University instead. James stopped playing the piano entirely and dropped out after a year. After twelve months working at Burger King in Paris, he went to University College, London to read psychology. He then worked in the City for five years. After a period of personal crisis, he took up the piano again. He is now a professional and acclaimed concert pianist, writer and TV presenter.