Lives of the Musicians – Good Times, Bad Times (And what the Neighbors Thought) is a fantastic book of the lives of musicians.
Some of the more famous musician’s stories we may have heard before, but the book had enough that are not as well known. Written with a look at their personalities, the book talks about the idiosyncracies of some of the musicians too. For instance, did you know?
🎼 Antonio Vivaldi had a job teaching violin at the Pieta orphanage for girls in Italy? Orphaned children were taken in and given a musical education so they may go forth into the world and spread their gifts. What a marvelous thing to be remembered for?! The girls’s orchestra was apparently one of the best disciplined of the times and though people never saw them perform (they were hidden away), they received accolades and recognition for their sheer talent.
🎹 Johann Sebastian Bach was boorish and stubborn. Once he wanted to quit a job, and the Duke would not hear of it, and threw him in prison instead. During the month he spent in jail, Back wrote 46 pieces of music that is still listened to today 300 years later.
🎻 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was probably the “most-kissed little boy in Europe” given his grueling performance schedule starting at the tender age of 6. Mozart had a strange childhood – he could be whimsical, superstitious. At the time of his death, he owned 6 coats, 3 silver spoons, and 346 books. His most expensive possessions were his piano and pool table. If you are fascinated by Mozart, and haven’t read this hilarious book, please do so.
Young Mozart – By William Augel. It is in comic book format and is a joy to read.
🎶 Guiseppe Verdi – lived a simple life on a farm with his beloved animals, amusing himself with poetry and history. He was a successful farmer, a senator, and cared very little for what critics said about his music, but his music pleased his audience most of the time too.
It is humbling to see how many of these great musicians’s eternal glory came after their lifetimes. Many of them were well known in their lifetimes too, but had no idea of the kind of imprint they would leave on the musical scene centuries later.
The book only looks at the loves of western musicians – a similar book of eastern musicians would be just as welcome. It would be nice to read about the lives of Muthuswamy Dikshitar and Annamacharya in a similar format: We continue to be enthralled with their compositions centuries later.