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Good Times, Bad Times (And What the Neighbors Thought)

From the What the Neighbors Thought series

by Kathleen Krull & illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: April 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-15-248010-2
Publisher: Harcourt

 A collection of anecdotes about 19 musicians from Vivaldi to Woody Guthrie that's offered ``as a way of getting closer to the musicians--and the music''--but that may only distance readers from traditional music by portraying it as an incomprehensible milieu populated by odd characters. Apparently chosen with more regard for the picturesque (Chopin's cherished silver goblet of earth from his native Poland, Clara Schumann's penchant for wearing a different white dress every night) or the bizarre (the full chamber pot under Beethoven's piano, Chopin's deathbed request that his body be cut open before burial) than for authenticity, a number of the incidents related are apocryphal; several have long since been called into serious question or specifically refuted by responsible scholarship. Although the attention given to 20th-century figures (six entries) is laudable, the selection is eccentric: Stephen Foster but not Schubert, Gilbert and Sullivan but not Wagner, Satie but not Debussy. An attractive volume with eye-catching full-page watercolor caricatures, but the information is too inconsequential and too unreliable to be of much use. Glossary; name index; bibliography. (Biography. 8-12)