Thursday, August 26, 2010
Lives of the Musicians: Good Times, Bad Times (And What the Neighbors Thought)
The older I get and the more people I meet, the more I am convinced that everybody is both more ordinary and more strange than one might expect, once you get to know them. There are fascinating stories everywhere you turn. Musicians and other "creative types" though, by nature of their work, do seem to have more than their share of interesting stories. How often do you find yourself thinking, “Wow, that (insert name of extraordinary person here) lived a really mundane life!”, anyway?
Kathryn Krull does a beautiful job of capturing the extraordinary aspects of the 20 musicians in this book, but she also portrays them as people. Highlighting musicians as varied asVivaldi, Clara Schumann, Stephen Foster, Tchaikovsky, Nadia Boulanger, Stravinsky, and Woody Guthrie, each biographical sketch covers a lot of ground in a brief 3-5 pages. She hits all the essentials of what each person did, but also digs in to who each person was. That approach makes fascinating reading, and I love having that extra insight into the music they produced.