Story-Lives of Great Composers Critical Context - Essay

Katherine Little Bakeless

Critical Context

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In the foreword, Bakeless states that her book follows Story-Lives of Master Musicians (1922), by Harriette Brower. None of the composers who are found in Story-Lives of Master Musicians makes a reappearance in Story-Lives of Great Composers. The composers chosen for Bakeless’ book were selected because many have had relatively little written about them for young adults or for the older reader.

Bakeless fully researched the lives of the composers found within this book. The factual information that she gleaned from other sources has been transcribed into a detailed yet easy-to-read and thoroughly entertaining set of individual biographies. A combination of humorous anecdotes, embarrassing moments, successes, and failures is provided for most of the composers. This integration within each biography provides a feeling of knowing these figures as real individuals, rather than as famous people with whom no one shares commonalities.

Young adults need to find people who are worth admiring and whom they can emulate. Bakeless has presented a collection of individuals who were admirable, had dignity, and experienced situations in which readers can participate vicariously. As an indication of its appeal, Bakeless’s collective biography of great composers has been reprinted on nine occasions. The book captures the imagination and creative spirit of music lovers and the musically inclined student. Story-Lives of Great Com-posers helps young adult readers to expand their perspectives by providing many significant illustrations of musical life against backgrounds located around the world.