Kalliope Muse speaks to me

Emigrée from GR

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

Why Beethoven Threw the Stew: And Lots More Stories about the Lives of Great Composers - Steven Isserlis, Adam Stower 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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