Friday, March 12, 2010

Did you Czech your Liszt?

When I was a kid, during holidays I had to sit at the kids' table. The adults sat at the adults' table. This seemed clear enough, but when I was in my late teens the line started to blur. I was interested in philosophy and politics like the adults, but I also liked humor that was silly and crude. I still liked comic books.

Now I'm an adult and I do adult things. When I'm interested in a local artist I go to an art show, and while I'm there I drink wine. I do my taxes, though not always on time. Being in libraries for all these years, I've always found the biography section intimidating. These are long histories of people who are important. They often attract biographers who are obsessed experts in their field (their field being the person in question), obsessed enough to necessitate seven hundred pages describing early childhood, childhood, family pedigree, young adulthood...zzzz. I wish it weren't so, but I can't deny that I am of a generation raised partly by television shows and, thus, have very short attention spans. This is why I rejoiced when I discovered juvenile biography series, Masters of Music: The World's Greatest Composers.

The first book from this series I picked up was a pleasantly succinct biography of Franz Liszt. The text was sharp and surprisingly well-suited for adults, although it's call number spelled it out clearly: JUV 92 LISZT. This Hungarian virtuoso changed the face of music performance forever. Liszt was the first instrumentalist to play alone on stage without sheet music. He had a violent flourishing style on stage, throwing his head about and letting his long hair fall into his face. He basically created the image we now call the rock star. Who would've known? Not me! Since then I've enjoyed the Masters of Music biographies of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Mozart, and Chopin. I usually have one or two of these little books in my bag to read on the train, despite the strange looks I get from the REAL adults. Please check our catalog or take a spin through your neighborhood library's juvenile biography section.

2 comments:

Roger said...

Yup!

The Young Adult and Juvenile
categories also attract the thriving
generalist.

The person not wishing to be immersed
in the lavish details of the
specialist.

The physics, math, and technology
topics are usually good for an
overview.

Casey said...

The lavish details of the specialist. Hmm... The more you zoom in, the more details there will be, to infinity. Academic affinity, but Pulitzer virginity.