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Beethoven
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Gr 9 Up-Siepmann begins each biography by introducing the musician and describes the social and political climate in which the man lived. Seven or eight chapters follow, each separated by a five-page interlude tying the texts to the CDs. Primary-source material is included (quotations, letters, writings, journals), which makes these volumes valuable for study and research. Each book ends with the same chapter, "Eighteenth-Century Background," looking in detail at politics and cultural milieus; Beethoven also has a chapter looking ahead to what the 19th century would bring. "Personalities" offers 10 pages of mini-biographies of family and colleagues. Though these volumes are not glitzy or bold in design, they are readable and very thorough additions to music shelves.-Linda Beck, Indian Valley Public Library, Telford, PA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Sourcebooks MediaFusion and Naxos's "Life and Music" series perfectly reflects the Naxos philosophy: high-quality products at budget prices. These books are not to be confused with Naxos Educational's "Life and Works" series (by Siepmann and other authors), which combines dramatized narration with recorded excerpts. The present series joins conventional biographical material with two audio CDs of selected examples discussed in the text and access to an exclusive link on the Naxos web site that provides additional extended musical examples and biographical information. Siepmann (Companion to Brahms; editor, Piano magazine), a well-respected British pianist, teacher, broadcaster, and musical biographer, writes intelligently and engagingly. In both volumes, he alternates biographical material with so-called "Interludes," in which he discusses each composer's contributions to various genres, e.g., opera, concerto, and chamber music. The CDs supply examples to illuminate the text (though they are unfortunately not referenced within the body of the text, but in an appendix). The web site is a valuable addition: complete works, not just single movements, are available, as well as music by the composers' contemporaries; a time line of their works in the context of historical events and other achievements in the world of culture and the arts; and thought-provoking special features on selected topics (e.g., Mozart's muses, Beethoven and humor). Even without the CDs and web site access, the books alone would be worth the price, since Siepmann has the rare ability to cover essential information and provide historical and intellectual background as economically as possible, all with a charming and inclusive writing style. Highly recommended for all collections.-Larry Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, PA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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