In the Green Room

Boston Globe Music Critic Matthew Guerrieri

Was Michael Jackson His Gateway Drug to Classical Music?

Matthew Guerrieri

Boston Globe music critic Matthew Guerrieri is the author of The First Four Notes: Beethoven’s Fifth and the Human Imagination. Before talking about what made Beethoven a genius, he revealed in the Zócalo green room what makes him absentminded, inspired, and hateful—and that at times in the kitchen, he resembles a fellow Bostonian: Julia Child.


Q:
What do you love to hate?

A:
Traffic in Boston is really the only thing left—just driving in general. I don’t like driving. I’ve been trying to stop loving hating things, though; it takes up a lot of time.

Q:
What was the first album you bought?

A:
The first album I bought was a cassette of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The first LP I ever bought was Arthur Rubinstein playing the Chopin Preludes. And the first CD I ever bought was Glenn Gould’s recording of the Bach Goldberg Variations.

Q:
How about your first digital download?

A:
That I don’t remember. It may very well have been illegal.

Q:
What don’t you leave home without?

A:
I’m an absentminded person, so I’m very often leaving home without things. I try not to leave home without a watch, because that really throws me off.

Q:
How do you like your coffee?

A:
Black. Once in a while I will have it with a lot of sweets and stuff in it. Then I remember why I don’t do that.

Q:
What inspires you?

A:
Just people, really. The fact that people are complicated.

Q:
If you could be any animal, what would you be?

A:
A dog, absolutely. Dogs have the best life. My dog does, anyways.

Q:
What’s on your nightstand right now?

A:
About 20 books that my wife would prefer I put away but somehow manage to be in the middle. That’s about it; they take up the whole thing. There might be some DVDs there too. When I’m working from home I tend to work in bed about half the time, which is really a bad idea. Stuff gets on the nightstand and never leaves.

Q:
What’s your hidden talent?

A:
I’m a pretty good cook. I don’t know how hidden that is, though, because I talk about it all the time. I guess my hidden talent is making sure that none of my talents, however slight, remain hidden.

Q:
What celebrity chef would you say you most resemble?

A:
Probably Julia Child.

Q:
What’s hanging on your living room walls?

A:
An Ellsworth Kelly lithograph, which I love. It was issued by the Metropolitan Opera back in the ’80s commemorating La Traviata, which I love. And then there is an enormous Joan Miró print which is my wife’s. It’s the biggest piece of art I’ve ever had in any place I’ve ever lived. It’s fantastic. Gigantic.


*Photo by Felipe Ruiz-Acosta.
Explore Related Content