Lives of the Musicians: Good Times, Bad Times (and What the Neighbors Thought)


It's no secret that Beethoven went deaf, that Mozart had constant money problems, and that Gilbert and Sullivan wrote musicals. But what were these people--and other famous musicians--really like? What did they eat? What did they wear? How did they spend their time? And--possibly most interesting of all--what did their neighbors think?
     Discover the fascinating and often humorous stories of twenty famous musicians--people of all shapes, sizes, ...

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It's no secret that Beethoven went deaf, that Mozart had constant money problems, and that Gilbert and Sullivan wrote musicals. But what were these people--and other famous musicians--really like? What did they eat? What did they wear? How did they spend their time? And--possibly most interesting of all--what did their neighbors think?
     Discover the fascinating and often humorous stories of twenty famous musicians--people of all shapes, sizes, temperaments, and lifestyles, from various countries and historical periods. Beginning with Vivaldi and ending with Woodie Guthrie, Lives of the Musicians brings musical history to life!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Red was Mozart's favorite color. Beethoven was a slob. Clara Schumann's concerts were so popular that police had to be called in for crowd control. In this enthralling work, Krull dishes 16 of the movers and shakers in musical history--from Vivaldi and the ``three B's'' Bach, Beethoven and Brahms to Gilbert and Sullivan, Woody Guthrie and Scott Joplin early critics of his ragtime accused it of causing permanent brain damage and ruining people's morals. Readers who thrive on offbeat information will be delighted by the splendid array of fun facts lurking in these informative and accurate snapshot biographies. Krull masterfully distills the essentials of each musician's life into snappy prose, an attitude echoed in the book's lively, playful design the introductory page for each musician, for example, contains not only pertinent information but tantalizing, often cryptic ``kickers'' as well--the one above Brahms's name alludes to his checked underwear, which audiences occasionally glimpsed when the absent-minded conductor forgot to fasten his suspenders. Hewitt's caricatures feature full-sized heads on tiny bodies--a slant that plays up the quirky presentation. She, too, has an eye for detail, pulling out appropriate visual tidbits from the text--Bach's prized silver coffeepots, for example, grace a page corner. Even those only remotely interested in music will be hooked by these living, breathing anecdotes--the stuff of which the best biography is made. Ages 8-12. Apr.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
Imagine a talk show with Mozart, Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, Tchaikovshy, Gershwin, Joplin and their gossipy neighbors. What a treat! Kathleen Krull has provided us with an intriguing format in her entertaining story. In this "who's who of musicians" we meet 20 of the most famous. Facts and fascinating tidbits pique our curiosity to discover even more about these greats. Why was Beethoven always on the move? Which famous female musician provided Brahms with creative inspiration? Artistic caricatures of the musicians add vitality to the book design. A great read aloud!
Children's Literature - Beverly Kobrin
Ms. Krull has collected interesting anecdotes about 16 famous composers and their music-facts one is unlikely to find elsewhere. For example, it's estimated that if Mozart were alive today, he'd be earning $20 million a year from sales of his recordings. Ms. Hewitt's compelling watercolors of Vivaldi, Clara Schuman, Joplin, Guthrie, et al. are as intriguing as the text.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-- Bravo! A collective biography that is informative and fun to read. Krull has compiled an enjoyable assortment of sketches on 16 famous musicial giants that will have readers rushing to the stereo. In three or four pages each, such masters as Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky; popular composers such as Gilbert & Sullivan, Joplin, and Gershwin; and even folk hero Woody Guthrie are profiled. Gossipy, nitty-gritty personal habits and quirks are presented, along with a sense of appreciation for the musicians' lives and times. Hewitt's full-page caricatures are surrounded by important details. In subdued but striking colors, she captures the personality and temperament of these composers. This is a humorous, delightful, appreciative treat. While it doesn't have enough information for reports, it's a fine, personalized way to introduce children to the creators of great works that are a part of every music curriculum. The book has a helpful list of musical terms, an index, and an excellent bibliography. It belongs in every library and on every music teacher's desk. --Beth Tegart, Oneida City Schools, NY
From the Publisher
"Unstuffs a host of shirts and delivers wonderful musical trivia."—Newsweek

* "Bravo! A collective biography that is informative and fun to read."—School Library Journal, starred review

* "Living, breathing anecdotes—the stuff of which the best biography is made."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780544238060
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 11/5/2013
  • Series: Lives of... Series
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 167,074
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 1010L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathleen Krull is well known for her innovative, award-winning nonfiction for young people, including Lives of the Explorers, Lives of the Musicians, and all other books in this popular series illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt. She is also the author of Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez, illustrated by Yuyi Morales, as well as The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny) and Lincoln Tells a Joke: How Laughter Saved the President (and the Country), both co-written with Paul Brewer and illustrated by Stacy Innerst. She lives in San Diego, California. Visit her website at

Kathryn Hewitt's caricatures of famous figures led kids to dub the Lives of . . . series the "Big Head" books. She has illustrated many books for young readers, some of which she also wrote. She lives in Santa Monica, California. Visit her website at

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