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Farewell Symphony

Farewell Symphony

5.0 3
by Anna Harwell Celenza, Joann E. Kitchel (Illustrator)

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Anna Harwell Celenza's engaging fictionalized telling of the story behind Franz Joseph Haydn's famous symphony is a perfect introduction to classical music and its power. THE FAREWELL SYMPHONY brings to life a long summer spent at Esterháza, the summer palace of Prince Nicholas of Esterházy.

The blustering, bellowing prince entertained hundreds of guests


Anna Harwell Celenza's engaging fictionalized telling of the story behind Franz Joseph Haydn's famous symphony is a perfect introduction to classical music and its power. THE FAREWELL SYMPHONY brings to life a long summer spent at Esterháza, the summer palace of Prince Nicholas of Esterházy.

The blustering, bellowing prince entertained hundreds of guests at his rural retreat and demanded music for every occasion. As the months passed, Haydn was kept very busy writing and performing music for parties, balls, dinners, and even walks in the gardens. His orchestra members became homesick and missed their families. The anger, frustration, and longing of the musicians is expressed beautifully in the symphony born of the clever mind of Joseph Haydn who used it to convince Prince Nicholas that it was time to go home.

Wonderfully expressive illustrations by JoAnn E. Kitchel capture all the comedy and pathos of this unique symphony. Beautifully interpretive motifs and borders convey the setting and emotion of the story mirroring the structure of the symphony with the repetitive use of sets of four. Making classical music and history come alive with color and character, THE FAREWELL SYMPHONY ensures a place for the arts in the hearts and minds of children.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this intriguing history lesson for music lovers, Prince Nicholas of Austria forbids his musicians from bringing their families to Estherh za, his summer palace in the Hungarian countryside. The court musicians under composer and royal music director Joseph Haydn's care grow increasingly homesick and restless, particularly when the prince extends his stay well into the autumn of 1772. "It will take a great deal of cleverness and tact to influence the prince," says Haydn. His solution: to compose a new symphony as a way of conveying the musicians' emotions to his employer. The real story behind Haydn's famous Symphony No. 45 (in F minor)--tracing the underlying moods that accompany each movement and ending with the musicians leaving the stage one by one--will likely make attentive listeners of its readers, as they gain a newfound appreciation for music's simultaneous subtlety and power (a CD recording is included). And if Celenza tweaks history by investing the characters with thoughts and emotions of her own devising (e.g., upon hearing the "explosive chords" and "surging melodies" of the "angry" first movement, the prince senses "the musicians' frustration over having to remain at Esterh za"), her interpretation of the events is plausible. Kitchel's (The Heart of a Friendship) brightly bordered watercolors verge on the simplistic, particularly the cartoonish features of the characters, but include plenty of historical detail. Ages 4-9. (July) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature
Composer Joseph "Papa" Haydn comes up with an ingenious solution to a problem that plagues many contemporary dads: too much work and too little time with the kids. In The Farewell Symphony, Haydn's autocratic boss, Prince Nicholas of Austria, commands the court musicians to play for months on end without seeing their families. When the musicians threaten to quit, Haydn decides to give the prince a musical hint. He composes a piece of music, Symphony No. 45, which expresses the musicians' anger and sorrow. In the final movement, the musicians leave two by two until the stage is dark and silent. The story ends happily, with the musicians traipsing home not long after the symphony's debut. Anna Harwell Celenza, a cellist and music professor, tells this tale with wit and grace. JoAnn Kitchel adds a whimsical note with watercolor-and-ink illustrations. 2000, Charlesbridge,
— Mary Quattlebaum
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-Celenza's story is a delightful introduction to Joseph Haydn, his "Farewell Symphony," and 18th-century court life. The composer asks Prince Nicholas if the homesick musicians might invite their families to join them at the summer palace in Hungary, and the answer is an emphatic and angry no. When the stay extends into late fall, the musicians again appeal to their royal music director, this time to convince the prince to return to Austria. Since words again fail to persuade him, Haydn decides to try music. His Symphony in F-sharp minor reflects the musicians' anger, sadness, and frustration, and finally moves Nicholas to return home. Based on true events, the story is well told and suitably illustrated with striking watercolor-and-ink cartoons with simple lines and exaggerated characterizations that convincingly convey a sense of the excess and finery of the period. The white-wigged musicians are bathed in fiery crimson as they play the angry first movement and the tearful prince is covered in a wash of blue during the sorrowful second passage. There are notes on both 18th-century symphonic form and instruments as well as on the events and personalities in the story. An entertaining musical history and a well-produced package.-Louise L. Sherman, Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
ForeWord Magazine
It is November of 1772 in Esterhaza, the summer palace of Prince Nicholas. During the performance of a new symphony by court composer Franz Joseph Haydn, the baffled Prince watches as, one by one, musicians stop playing, snuff their candles, and leave the stage. The story behind this famous piece is the fascinating basis for Celenza's The Farewell Symphony. Using archival documents from various European libraries, Celenza has provided an inside look at court life and the creative process of a well loved composer.

Papa Haydn, as he was known, was responsible not just for composing operas, symphonies, dances, and sacred music, but also for managing all the instruments and the musicians of the court orchestra. When the musicians are called to the summer palace, the pace of performances at first keeps them too busy to be homesick. Summer drags into November and they begin to miss their families. They plead with Haydn to convince the Prince to return to Austria. He answers their plea with The Farewell Symphony, allowing each movement to relate the plight of the orchestra to the Prince.

Although the descriptions of how the Prince reacted to each movement are fictionalized, the resulting immediate return to Austria is fact. Children and adults are often interested in the story behind great works of art, and this one is doubly enhanced.

First, the watercolor and ink illustrations by Kitchel are three-quarter page spreads, with additional border designs on many pages. They have a stained-glass quality, and adeptly depict the wigs and ruffles of the time as well as the emotions of the music. Secondly, the book comes with a compact disc of not only The Farewell Symphony (no. 45), but alsoThe Hornsignal Symphony. How delightful to be able to read this story and listen to the music as the same time. There is additional information about the distinctiveness of the eighteenth century symphony and an author's note.

Kirkus Reviews
The life of a musician has never been easy. When Prince Nicholas takes 22 musicians on an extended visit to his summer palace to provide non-stop music for his guests, he refuses the request of his royal music director, Joseph Haydn, to allow the musician's families to visit. Dejected after many weeks of separation, Haydn writes a composition called "The Farewell Symphony" (Symphony No. 45) to express the musicians' longing for home and family and their contempt for being treated so callously. To ensure that his message will be driven home, Haydn writes an ending in which the musicians are to abruptly leave one by one, until the stage is devoid of life. The author's note describes Haydn's work in the court of Prince Nicholas, utilizing interesting information from archival documents. Written by a classical musician, the personal details of Haydn's life and thoughts surrounding the creation of this piece are solidly grounded in music history and an understanding of this profession. A CD recording of Haydn's symphony is included; performed by the orchestra of St. Luke's, it should bring to life these visual images. The type of instruments used during the 18th century are nicely explained and pictured. Kitchel's watercolor and ink illustrations capture Haydn's dilemma and the Prince's reluctant change of heart most eloquently. (Picture book. 4-9)

Product Details

Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
10.47(w) x 10.36(h) x 0.35(d)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

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Meet the Author

Anna Harwell Celenza is a musicologist and the author of several books for adults and children regarding music history and the history of art. Her children’s books include THE FAREWELL SYMPHONY, PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION, GERSHWIN'S RHAPSODY IN BLUE, and VIVALDI'S FOUR SEASONS. Anna lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Farewell Symphony 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hello, I am a high school student and I am lucky enough to have been introduced today to this splended book and the going along cd. I am a senior and I throughly enjoyed this book and the going along symphony! The ages for this book are 5-8, but I really belive that EVERYONE would love this book!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
"The Farewell Symphony" is the first children's book offering from Anna Celenza, a professor of music at Michigan State University. Within the book, the reader will find eloquent and appropriate text for young readers accompanied by marvelous, whimsical, and colorful illustrations. I have found my students thoroughly enjoy this book and the history contained therein in conjuntion with the CD of the Farewell Symphony itself. Invaluable in helping children understand classical music and highly recommended for educators.