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The Farewell Symphony Hardcover – July 1, 2000

8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers 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)Atracing the underlying moods that accompany each movement and ending with the musicians leaving the stage one by oneAwill 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 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 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 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge; Rei/Com edition (July 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570914060
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570914065
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 0.4 x 10.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #814,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anna Harwell Celenza is the Thomas E. Caestecker Professor of Music at Georgetown University. She is the author of several scholarly books - the most recent being Hans Christian Andersen and Music: The Nightingale Revealed (2005). In addition to her scholarly work, she has authored a series of award-winning children's books with Charlesbridge Publishing: The Farewell Symphony (2000), Pictures at an Exhibition (2003), The Heroic Symphony (2004), Bach's Goldberg Variations (2005), Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue (2006), Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Suite (2011), Vivaldi's Four Seasons (2012) and Saint Saen's Danse macabre (2013). Her work has been featured on nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, including NPR's "Performance Today," the BBC's "Music Matters" and "Proms Broadcasts," and C-Span's "Book-TV".

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Doro on August 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I do collect children's books and take into consideration the illustrations as well as the story. I rate this book excellent, the story is True, based on documented evidence. A CD is also included of the complete "The Farewell Symphony'" and I replay it ad infinitum. Excellent investment in quality entertainment. The illustrations are delightful! Dorothy Hope
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Eric B. Kinsley on November 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I would read this to a class or child and then enjoy listening to the work. It's a very nice introduction to Haydn and the humor he used when composing. Wonderful book and it comes with a nice performance of several of Haydn's Symphonys.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Halvor Hosar on September 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a budding musicologist with a focus on Haydn, I bought this book as a way both of introducing what I am doing, and hopefully create a spark of interest in classical music, in the youngest members of my extended family. As a scholar, I am thoroughly impressed by Anna Harwell Celenza's work. The book really manages to capture Haydn's position at Esterháza, and her interpretation of the story and the symphony's musical content is as good as anyone's. At the end of the book there is a small text about the classical symphony, which is very nice, although it's instrument section does not mention flutes and timpani, which, to be sure, is not used in the Farewell symphony, but certainly were used often enough to warrant an inclusion even so. (Flutes are also featured in the second symphony on the following cd, no 31)

English is not my main language, but I do consider myself to be sufficiently fluent to have a say on matters of language: It strikes me that this book perhaps uses language that may be a bit too lofty for Amazon's recommended audience of 4-8 years; certainly the lower spectrum probably will not be able to properly grasp it.

The following cd has a recording of the Farewell symphony, as well of the "Horn signal" symphony, no. 31. Both of these recordings are of solid quality, and certainly improves the value of the book for anyone who hasn't already got an exhaustive collection of Haydn's symphonies. A very minor point, however, is that the Horn Signal is put first on the cd. While this is stated on the front of the cd it is a counter-intuitive solution, and it is bound to happen that someone not familiar with the works will be puzzled by why the first movement of the Horn signal symphony is described as "angry".

These are minor quibbles, though.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Reader from SF on August 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My 7 year old loved this book. We read it together, then he read it again on his own. The illustrations in the book are wonderful, it's written very well for a 1st grader+ level and the attached CD was a nice touch. I have to say though that if your child had little to no exposure to classical music, it may not be as interesting. With the right preparation, this is a wonderful book.
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