A House in Bali remains one of the most enchanting books ever written about the fabled island of Bali. First published in 1974, it tells the story of the writer and composer Colin McPhee's (1900-64) obsession with a music then unknown to the West, and of his journey to Bali to experience it first hand. in 1929, the young Canadian-born musician chanced upon rare gramophone recordings of Balinese gamelan music which were to change his life forever. From that moment , he lived for the day when he could set foot on the island where the clear, metallic music originated. he was able to realized his dreams and spent almost a decade there during the 1930s. Music and dance, as McPhee discovered to his delight, are second nature to the Balinese, and his subsequent writings and compositions proved seminal in popularizing gamelan music int the West.
In A House in Bali, McPhee unfolds a beguiling picture of society long established and holistic like few others in the world, staggeringly poor in Western terms, but rich beyond belief in spiritual values and in integrity and joy. The young American composer writes about his discoveries and growing understanding of an astonishing culture where the arts are a prime preoccupation, and of the arts, music is supreme. This is a book about passion, obsession and discovery in a strange land, but it is also about the voyage of a highly talented composer and writer. Much has been written on Bali, but this classic work from 1947 remains the only narrative by a Western musician.