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The Sound of Life's Unspeakable Beauty
Martin Schleske
Foreword by Makoto Fujimura
with photographs by Donata Wenders
Translated by Janet Gesme

HARDCOVER; Published: 4/14/2020
ISBN: 978-0-8028-7614-0
Price: $ 25.99
371 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 5.50 x 8.50
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“In the final analysis, music is prayer cast into sound.” 

One of the greatest luthiers of our time reveals the secrets of his profession—and how each phase of handcrafting a violin can point us toward our calling, our true selves, and the overwhelming power and gentleness of God’s love. Schleske explains that our world is flooded with metaphors, parables, and messages from God. But are we truly listening? Do we really see? Drawing upon Scripture, his life experiences, and his insights as a master violinmaker, Schleske challenges readers to understand the world, ourselves, and the Creator in fresh ways. 

The message of this unique book is mirrored in sensitive photographs by Donata Wenders, whose work has appeared in prominent newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Esquire, as well as museums and galleries throughout the world.


Table of Contents

Translator’s Note
Preface: Creating Metaphors for Life
1. The Singing Tree: The Heart’s Search
2. The Tree’s Wisdom: The Beginning of Spiritual Strength
3. The Design: The Harmony of Opposites
4. Tone Colors: Beauty’s Vulnerability
5. The Arching and the Wood’s Grain: Belief as Reverence and Mercy
6. To Be an Instrument: The Beauty of our Calling
7. The Closed Sound: Belief in a Loving and Therefore Suffering God
8. Reworking the Violin: The Pain and Crisis of Faith
9. The Sculpture (I): The Meaning of Doubt
10. The Charisma of the Stradivarius: The Meaning of Grace
11. The Secret of the Violin’s Varnish: Reconciliation in the Diversity of Community
12. The Inner Fire: Living by the Holy Spirit
13. The Concert: From “Me” to “You”
14. The Sculpture (II): The Meaning of Beauty
Conclusion: A New Beginning

Christianity Today Book Award in Culture and the Arts (2021)
Publishers Weekly
“Thoughtful Christians will find this insightful work packed with logical and potentially paradigm-shifting arguments.”
“Reading Martin is not an exercise; it is an encounter and experience. May each reader or listener who slows to ‘hear’ this work of art through its hallowed depths discover anew the ‘singer’ within their own heart.”
— William Paul Young
author of The Shack
“Drawing on diverse sources—trees, mountain hikes, musical instruments, artwork—a violinmaker weaves a tapestry of beauty and spiritual wisdom. Rarely have I read such a fresh and stimulating work.”
— Philip Yancey
author of The Jesus I Never Knew
“Reading these richly evocative reflections, I found myself again and again ‘surprised by joy.’ And gratitude. I was reminded that when people live into their callings deeply and faithfully, they become beacons: they remind us what happens when one says yes to the Spirit’s invitation daily and faithfully. Stories from Schleske’s work as a violinmaker, his knowledge of trees and music and even varnish, become heart-opening parables, not by preachment, but by the loving particularity with which he pays attention to the work he was given.”
— Marilyn McEntyre
author of When Poets Pray
“I have never seen someone so passionately and comprehensively express the relationship between calling and faith. Page by page, Schleske offers lessons along his violinmaking journey that are sure to inspire his readers. His book compels me to join him as a friend and fellow traveler, walking in the woods with him as he shares his beautiful insights. Schleske is the teacher. I am the student. And in the end, I find in the book a sense of hopefulness about the world in which we journey.”
— Tony Payne
Wheaton College
Julian Haylock in The Strad
“I found myself immediately drawn into Schleske’s magical world by the opening chapter, which resonates poetically with the sound of ‘singing’ trees. . . . This splendid tome lovingly encapsulates one man’s unique search for the creative and spiritual ideal.”
Christianity Today
“This unique book combines theology, philosophy, and personal stories of suffering and joy to emphasize the profoundly artistic nature of our individual and communal callings. It invites us to experience the sacred creativity of the gospel through the eyes of an attentive, ardent, and devoted artist and seeker.”