Book Review by Roy E. Perry: “Wild Harmonies: A Life of Music and Wolves” by Hélène Grimaud


Hélène Grimaud, the forty-five-year-old, world-famous classical pianist, has written in Wild Harmonies an intelligent, heart-warming memoir. Hélène confesses to being an “un” child—uncontrollable, unmanageable, unsatisfied, undisciplined, unadaptable, and unpredictable—and a restless person subject to sudden passions. Her parents enrolled her in martial arts (judo), tennis, and dance, but she was unfit for all. And school bored her to tears. “[There was] something in me,” she writes, “that wanted to get out, to express itself, to escape.”

One day her father formed an hypothesis, “Perhaps it’s an excess of mental rather than physical energy,” he said. “What if we were to enroll Hélène in a music class?” Later, as her music teacher played a piece by Schumann, Hélène, age seven, encountered the piano and the kind of music that would change her life. The rest, as they say, is history: Ms. Grimaud went on to win international fame, playing concerts in the major cities of Europe and the United States.

”The Romantic repertoire [e.g., Brahms, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Schumann, Debussy, Chopin, and Liszt],” she writes, “has always enchanted me.” Her other favorite composers include Bach, Mozart, Ravel, Strauss, Gershwin, Bartok, Berg, and Shostakovich.

Ms. Grimaud experienced a personal epiphany when Alawa—a she-wolf with glowing eyes—crossed her path on a road in Florida. With this barely domesticated animal she immediately bonded. Thus began the second great passion of her life, a love that led her to found the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, New York.

This memoir is the engaging story of a stunningly talented young woman who is inhabited by the spirit of wolves. A wild vitality, a ferocious passion, animates her life and music. What a remarkable human being is Hélène Grimaud!

Editor’s Note: Many of Ms. Grimaud’s performances can be enjoyed at Mr. Perry especially recommends her renditions of these piano concertos: Brahms First, Rachmaninoff’s Second, and Beethoven’s Fifth. DC

For other book reviews by Roy E. Perry, please visit:

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter,” both now available at and Dave is also a freelance book editor, publicist, seminar and workshop leader, journalist, and advertising / marketing / public relations writer.

Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville by Dave Carew—which was praised by The Tennessean as “beautiful, haunting, powerful”—is now available in an all-new paperback edition. For more information, please visit:

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Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective, offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.” Dave Carew


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