An Equal Music

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An Equal Music
First edition cover
AuthorVikram Seth
CountryUnited Kingdom
PublisherPhoenix House
Publication date
8 April 1999
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Pages383 pages (first edition, hardcover), 400 pages (hardcover edition) & 400 pages (paperback edition)
ISBN1-86159-117-9 (first edition, hardcover), (ISBN 0-7679-0291-2 (hardcover edition) & ISBN 0-375-70924-X (paperback edition)

An Equal Music (1999) is a novel by Vikram Seth.


The plot concerns Michael, a professional violinist, who never forgot his love for Julia, a pianist he met as a student in Vienna. They meet again after a decade, and conduct a secret affair, though she is married and has one child. Their musical careers are affected by this affair and the knowledge that Julia is going deaf.

A recurring element throughout the plot is the pair's performance of Beethoven's Piano Trio Opus 1 No.3, which they first perform in their college days.

Seth together with Philippe Honoré marketed a double CD of the music mentioned in An Equal Music, performed by Honoré.[1]


The book was especially well received by musical fans, who noted the accuracy of Seth's descriptions of music.[citation needed]

Paolo Isotta, one of Italy's most significant music critics, wrote in the influential newspaper Il Corriere della Sera of the Italian translation that no European writer had ever shown such a knowledge of European classical music, nor had any European novel before managed to convey the psychology, the technical abilities, even the human potentialities of those who practise music for a living.[2]

Works referenced[edit]

Several musical works figure prominently in An Equal Music. Among these are the Trout Quintet by Franz Schubert, the String Quintet in C minor by Ludwig van Beethoven, and The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams.


  1. ^ Amazon: An Equal Music (CD), Amazon.
  2. ^ Albertazzi, Silvia (20 January 2005), "An equal music, an alien world: postcolonial literature and the representation of European culture", European Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13, pp. 103–113, doi:10.1017/S1062798705000104, S2CID 144544406.