Wed, 2 June 2021

6:30 pm - 7:30 pm BST

The Musical Human – A New History of Life on Earth

Michael Spitzer

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A world-leading musicologist joins us to tell the extraordinary global story of humankind’s relationship with music from evolutionary time to the present day.

Blending together evolution, psychology, philosophy and anthropology, Professor Michael Spitzer joins How To Academy to reveal how music is our lost origin story. Moving through prehistory to the several thousand years of recorded human history and into the twenty-first century, he will show how music is at the heart of our development as a species, across all times and cultures, while also taking into account the music of insects, birds, apes, and whales.

We are all born musical. Every one of us has the capacity from childhood to be an active musician, yet very few of us in Western countries actively participate in music-making. The majority of us in the West will lose our musicality, we reject our true musical nature, our musical birthright, in favour of passive listening. Yet the contrast with the rest of the world is striking. Cultures around the world see music-making as communal, participatory and seemingly as natural as breathing.

So why is the West’s experience with music almost entirely passive? What can we learn from our past and from other cultures about our relationship with music? Why has Western music gone viral and why have the other musical superpowers (India, China, the Islamic world and Africa) taken different but equally significant paths?

Find out the answers in this epic new history of human culture.

Praise for Michael Spitzer’s The Musical Human:

The Musical Human is an amazing book, tying together research in archaeology, anthropology, music history, and human origins to form a compelling and exciting account of the many ways music has developed across the world and across time. Michael Spitzer has pulled off the impossible: writing a Guns, Germs and Steel for music.’ – Daniel Levitin, neuroscientist, and best-selling author

‘A thrilling exploration of what music has meant and means to humankind.’- Ian Bostridge, tenor and opera singer

‘A hugely ambitious work, but never daunting, and there’s something thought-provoking on every page … With scholarship, wit and passion, this book demonstrates that there truly is a soundtrack to human lives.’ – Catherine Bott, soprano and Classic FM presenter

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Michael Spitzer

Professor of Music, University of Liverpool

Michael Spitzer is Professor of Music at the University of Liverpool. Spitzer is a world-leading authority on Beethoven and enjoys playing flash piano pieces from Bach’s Goldberg Variations to Schubert’s piano sonatas.He firmly believes that the best classical music ever written is Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis.