Story-Lives of Great Composers Essay - Critical Essays

Katherine Little Bakeless


It is evident that Bakeless has a genuine admiration for the composers about whom she has chosen to write. Her approach, which focuses on the personal life of each composer, is a combination of third-person narrative and reconstructed conversations. She highlights the positive aspects of the composers’ lives, and her sympathy lies with her subjects and any hardships that they may have had to endure. Anyone who had significant contact with a composer but who failed to support him is quickly mentioned as a part of the composer’s history and then discarded. Sometimes, however, personal hardships are only mentioned. For example, in the biography of Sir Arthur Sullivan, Bakeless simply comments that “although the composer had his sad times too, there were many happy years” and then proceeds with the story.

Bakeless also emphasizes three major influences within each composer’s life: teachers, family, and friends. These people are identified as having the most influence on the decisions of the subjects, particularly during their early lives and teenage years. Each composer is portrayed as truly appreciative of these relationships and gives credit to relatives, other musicians, and friends for many accomplishments that provided fame for the individual. This aspect of Bakeless’ portrayal shows a strong sense of moral obligation and a tendency to give credit to deserving people.

One issue with which Bakeless creates continuity within the...

(The entire section is 508 words.)