Matthew Guerrieri is a musician and writer whose work explores a wide range of music—classical, jazz, pop, avant-garde and early music, opera, and music for dance—in search of surprising connections not just between disparate genres of music, but also between music and currents of thought in history, politics, philosophy, and science. He is the author of The First Four Notes: Beethoven’s Fifth and the Human Imagination (Knopf, 2012).
During his Radcliffe fellowship, Guerrieri is working on a panoramic cultural study of music from the end of World War II through the 1950s, when a sense of unbridled and even disconcerting possibilities imbued the creation of all types of music—from the most orthodox easy listening to the most experimental avant-garde. The resulting book will investigate the social, economic, and political forces that created that sense of possibility and how those same forces caused the fertile chaos of the 1940s and ’50s to coalesce into a new mainstream, collapsing the possibilities to comparatively fixed commercial and artistic points.
Guerrieri holds degrees in music from DePaul and Boston Universities, and he was a composition fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center. He regularly writes about music for the Boston Globe, and his work also has appeared in the American Scholar, Musical America, NewMusicBox, Playbill, Slate, and Vanity Fair.