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Why Beethoven Threw the Stew: And Lots More…

Why Beethoven Threw the Stew: And Lots More Stories about the Lives of…

by Steven Isserlis

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This is an excellent book for youngsters interested in music. Steven Isserlis, a cellist, has written a very enthusiastic (his playing is also passionate) introduction to JS Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms and Stravinsky. Each composer gets a full chapter with three sections. In the first, Isserlis attempts to demystify the composer and presents him as an approachable human being made of flesh and bones. A selected listening guide follows, and in the third and final section, Isserlis gives us a series of funny and memorable episodes. Attractive cartoons by Adam Stower illustrate the stories, and each Master is identified with a quirk (hedgehog for Brahms, hard boiled egg for Stravinsky... etc).

The goal is to create an amicable persona for each Master.

The best about the book is Isserlis’s contagious rapture and love of music. And although his anecdotes are welcome as a way to make these composers more approachable, I found some just a bit clichéd, such as the supposed rivalry between Mozart and Salieri. There is also too much attention paid to the insanity of Schumann and little to his major role as a music theoretician and critic.

I agree with Isserlis in that if a cruel genie were to send me to a desert island with the music of only ONE composer, I would also chose JS Bach.

As for his playing, I already own his recording on Debussy’s and Poulenc’s Cello sonatas, but am considering getting his interpretation of Bach’s suites.
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  KalliopeMuse | Apr 2, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0571206166, Paperback)

Why did Bach's son call him 'The Old Wig'?
What part did Stravinsky's parrot play at dinner parties?
How did Mozart keep his pigtails styled?
What did Schumann invent to make his fingers stronger?
And why did Beethoven throw his stew?

This book is a unique introduction for children to the world of classical composers and their music.

Famous cellist Steven Isserlis brings six of his favorite composers to life in an irresistible manner, painting hilarious biographical portraits of each of them and describing their music in lively detail. Packed with facts, dates, anecdotes and illustrations, Why Beethoven Threw the Stew is an attractive and accessible read for children (and their parents!).

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:36 -0400)

Introduces six classical composers with anecdotal and factual accounts of their lives, descriptions of their music and suggestions for music to listen to. Suggested level: intermediate, secondary.

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