Books to Kindle Kids’s Curiosity About Classical Music

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Formal schooling in classical music has largely vanished from many American faculties. But younger folks nonetheless develop a ardour for it — at residence, from movies and tv applications and, sometimes, from books akin to these two. If these enticing tales don’t present any particular instruction about how music is made, they’re seemingly however to kindle curiosity.

The Canadian pianist Glenn Gould has lengthy been beloved amongst individuals who stand aside, and AS GLENN AS CAN BE (Groundwood, 40 pp., $19.99, Ages 3 to six), with phrases by Sarah Ellis and illustrations by Nancy Vo, ought to present solace and inspiration to these reserved, considerate youngsters who, attempt as they may, can not make any sense of what most of their contemporaries are as much as.

“Glenn is a boy who is aware of what he likes,” reads the opening sentence, accompanied by an image of a mid-Twentieth-century Canadian youth, listening to an oversize radio in a snug room along with his canine and his mom. We’re then offered with a listing of issues that make Glenn pleased: boats (however not fishing), pranks and foolish jokes (however by no means bullying), fields and snowy forests (however solely when bundled elaborately sufficient to stave off the chilly). Glenn craves studying and mental play however dislikes college, which slows him down and interferes with the pursuit of his personal pursuits.

Most of these contain the piano, which he started enjoying in earliest childhood, fairly actually on his mom’s lap. As Ellis places it: “He loves it greater than something. It’s as thrilling as quick boating. It’s as enjoyable as fixing a extremely arduous puzzle. It’s a method of claiming what he desires to say with out utilizing phrases. Taking part in the piano is when Glenn will get to be completely and fully Glenn.”

The rest of the guide is devoted each to Gould’s spectacular profession — he graduated with highest honors from the Toronto Conservatory of Music on the age of 13 and attained world fame by his early 20s — and to his equally spectacular choice to stop enjoying stay live shows on the age of 31. He moved to creating recordings of the music he cherished, and left greater than 75 of them by the point of his dying, from a stroke, on the age of fifty in 1982.

Ellis understands the profound attraction {that a} recording studio held for Gould the perfectionist, who felt humiliated after the inevitable finger slips in live performance and needed to tinker along with his interpretations earlier than releasing them to the world. “He listens to the recording and makes modifications. Not too quick and never too sluggish, not too loud and never too quiet, not too jumpy and never too easy. There’s no person to please however himself.”

This can be a severe and exquisite introduction to a terrific musician, who was additionally a gracious and humane man with a specific tenderness towards animals and youngsters. Gould’s first biographer, Geoffrey Payzant, described him as an “exceedingly superior individual, pleasant and thoughtful” and added that he “has discovered how he desires to stay his life and is doing simply that.” “As Glenn as Can Be” is a celebration of individuality but in addition a reminder that, regardless of Gould’s decided solitude, he left an unusually beneficiant legacy to us all.


An image-book model of CARMEN (Cuento de Luz, 36 pp., $18.95, ages 7 to 10), written by Margarita del Mazo, translated by Jon Brokenbow and illustrated by Concha Pasamar, leads us to a well-known opera reasonably than a single performer. Georges Bizet’s “Carmen” (1875), set to a novella by Prosper Mérimée, was deemed a “good opera” by the biographer and critic Herbert Weinstock. A lot of its melodies shall be acquainted to listeners who suppose they know nothing about classical music; in any occasion, they’re attractive — irresistibly catchy and ingenious, sun-splashed and viscerally thrilling.

Plot synopses of “Carmen” historically depicted a younger man lowered to despair and pushed to violence by the charms of a wild girl who works in a cigarette manufacturing facility and disdains standard morality. That is nonetheless within the opera, ought to one select to search for it, however as we speak many people usually tend to cheer for Carmen’s power and freedom, and to look on Don José’s conduct as unhinged.

Del Mazo has elected to inform the story by the eyes of a delicate younger boy out of the blue confronted with anger and jealousy that he doesn’t perceive. He admires Don José, who has been type to him, and believes him a “dragon” reasonably than a “dragoon” (a guard within the mounted cavalry). However he loves his neighbor Carmen and plans to marry her sometime, despite the fact that “she doesn’t comprehend it but.”

“She dances with one boy, then one other, then one other, then on her personal, after which with one other one once more,” he marvels. “She dances so effectively you simply can’t look away. The sq. is way prettier with Carmen in it.” All of it ends tragically, after all, and one finds oneself mourning for the boy’s lack of innocence as a lot as for the doomed characters. Del Mazo’s story is gently informed, and Pasamar’s illustrations are sometimes haunting and evocative. Nonetheless, my guess is that it’s the opera itself, nonetheless one encounters it, that can deliver a brand new era to “Carmen.”


Tim Web page is a professor emeritus of musicology on the College of Southern California and the writer or editor of greater than 20 books. He was a good friend of Glenn Gould’s and edited “The Glenn Gould Reader,” a posthumous quantity of the pianist’s writings.


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