A renowned musician in his 85th year explores the nature of wisdom, how we learn to recognize it, and how we pass it forward.
In this entrancing memoir, timeless questions about music and life are explored by a master musician in his 85th year. The stern father who built an empire of words; the solipsistic uncle whose hypnotic voice calmed millions: these are just early glimpses of Mathieu's memory. Soon he is crimped into an overhead baggage rack in Stan Kenton's tour bus as scenes of scotch-soaked melancholy play out below; he is sharing late-night quarts of ice cream with Duke Ellington in his hotel room; he is co-inventing improvisational theater at Chicago's Second City with Alan Arkin and Mike Nichols; he is receiving the title of Sufi sheikh from an heir of Inayat Khan; and he is gleaning wisdom from a woman bundling firewood in Bali.
In prose at once wry and lyrical, Mathieu carries the reader through the adventures and misadventures of a scintillating and deeply examined life.
William Allaudin Mathieu, a classically trained pianist, composed and arranged on the staff of the Stan Kenton Orchestra at age 21 and was a co-founding member of the Second City Theater at 22. He studied with William Russo, Easley Blackwood, Pandit Pran Nath, and Hamza El Din and taught on the full-time faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Mills College. A former columnist for Downbeat and Piano Today, he is the author of five books, including The Listening Book and Harmonic Experience, and has released over thirty albums comprising an astonishing range of music. Since the late 1970s he has lived surrounded by woods, pastures, deer, and birds outside of Sebastopol, California, composing, playing the piano, teaching, and being grateful breath by breath for these golden years with Devi.
A new book by William Allaudin Mathieu is always a cause for rejoicing.
Coleman Barks, poet and translator of The Soul of Rumi
In these pages, one of the best-loved and most thoughtful musicians of our era recounts stories of family, friends, colleagues, lovers, and mentors. From Stan Kenton to Pandit Pran Nath, the fast-paced stories keep coming. He shares what it feels like to pass forward his hard-won discoveries, made in part through the powerful geometries of music. Written in soul-lifting prose, The Shrine Thief is a thrilling memoir of a master musician's adventures in music and life.
Terry Riley, composer
The Shrine Thief is a narrative of wisdom transmission for all readers, an illuminating, gripping, and inspiring memoir. Read it and your life will have new meaning.
Mitchell Thomashow, author of To Know the World: A New Vision of Environmental Learning