Listen with Father: How I Learned to Love Classical Music

By Caroline Sanderson

A resonant memoir of a beloved father, evoked through the classical music he cherished.

Autobiography | Music
16% funded
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A copy of the ebook.

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Hardback

A first edition hardback (352 pages), with decorated endpapers, head and tail bands.

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Listen with Father Spotify Playlist

Exclusive access to a Spotify playlist filled with music that Caroline and her father listened to together.

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Read with a Friend

Two signed first edition hardbacks so you can share Caroline's journey of classical music with a friend.

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Set of Postcards

A set of four postcards created from Caroline's personal photographs, including images taken while researching the book.

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$105  + shipping
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Listening Party

A ticket to a virtual listening party with Caroline. After each piece of music is played, Caroline will lead a discussion based on her experience of listening to it for the book.
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  • Signed first edition hardback
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Book Club

Five signed first edition copies to read with your book club, plus a virtual visit with Caroline.

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  • Five ebooks
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Concert Ticket

A ticket to attend a headline classical music concert with Caroline, with details to be decided nearer the time.
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  • Two signed first edition hardbacks
  • Two ebooks
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When I was 4, I fell in love with the music of Mozart and my Dad was delighted.

When I was 8, I fell even more in love with the music of Davie Bowie, T-Rex and Slade: and Dad couldn’t understand it at all.

For the rest of his life, he tried to help me to rediscover my childhood penchant for classical music, but I was too busy take proper notice and I never got around to playing the CDs he gave me. Then much too soon, my Dad died. And then there was mourning, and no more music.

One day, I listened to Mozart again, and the symphony of emotions that swelled in me led to a resolution. I would choose eight pieces of music that Dad loved – one for each decade of his life – and listen to each with great care and attention. To try and discover what it was he so appreciated about classical music, as I should have done while he was alive.

The result of this musical journey is “Listen With Father”, a memoir of a beloved father, evoked through the classical music he cherished. Taking in Mozart, Stravinsky, Kathleen Ferrier, Brahms, Robert & Clara Schumann, Sibelius, Chopin, Richard Strauss and others, it is also an idiosyncratic listening guide, and an intro to classical music for anyone who finds it a little intimidating – as I once did.

Blending memoir with biography, history and travel writing, it records my attempts to lend an ear and listen, at last, with father.


Image credits: Design by Mecob. Photographs: courtesty of author. © Shutterstock.com.

Book designs, cover and other images are for illustrative purposes and may differ from final design.

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  • Caroline Sanderson avatar

    Caroline Sanderson

    Caroline Sanderson is a writer and books journalist specialising in non-fiction, who regularly interviews writers on page, stage and screen. She is Associate Editor of The Bookseller, and the editor of ALCS News, the online newsletter for writer members of the Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society, for whom she also hosts a podcast, Authors’ Matters.


    Caroline is Artistic Director of Stroud Book Festival, and an Associate Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund. She is also the author of five non-fiction books of her own, including biographies of Jane Austen and the singer, Adele.


    Caroline is married with two twentysomething children, and lives in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds in a house with too few bookshelves.


    Music was her first love, and will quite possibly be her last.

  • It’s a bright Sunday morning. Here I come, four years old, walking down the stairs at home. Across the parquet floor of the hall I can see the door to the dining room is ajar. Music flows from behind it and so it seems, right at me. I step forward and into its embrace. I listen. Then craving more, I creep to the door and push it open so I can see my Daddy’s blue reel-to-reel tape recorder in the corner of the room. I love watching the spinning reels of this machine, marvelling at the way the tape unwinds from the fast-moving left hand one, while winding up much more slowly on the right. But today it is the music that has my full attention.

    Read more...
  • 6th December 2021 #ListenWithCaroline

    Hello everyone. If you've already supported "Listen With Father", I'd like to say a huge thank you: it means a great deal to me that you like the sound of what I've written.

    From now on I'll be posting Monday updates on different themes (a good musical word) from my book so do look out for these both here and on social media.

    I'd like to invite you to follow me on Twitter (@CaroSanderson), and…

    15th November 2021 A Book of Remembrance

    Yesterday was Remembrance Sunday, the day when we come together to honour the fallen. It’s a collective memorial, but it was built of many thousands of individual bereavements, and to some extent still is. In our house, we remember in particular my husband’s grandfather, a 25-year-old RAF flying officer on a Halifax bomber, killed when it was shot down on a mission over France in 1943, leaving his…

    1st November 2021 Watching the Reels

    Since "Listen With Father" launched a week ago, I've been reflecting on what a performance listening to music used to be.

    To play a record you had to ease it carefully from the sleeve without touching the grooves and then place it gently on the turntable. Then you'd lift the arm, and lower it delicately on the vinyl. One false move and you'd scratch the record horribly.

    When the first side of…

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