instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle


Cambridge Companion to Gershwin (2019)

George Gershwin is often described as a quintessentially American composer. This Cambridge Companion explains why, engaging with the ways in which his music was shaped by American political, intellectual, cultural and business interests. As a composer and performer, Gershwin embraced technological advances and broke new ground in music business practices. In the decades preceding World War II, he captured the mechanistic pulse of modern life with his concert works and lay the groundwork for the Great American Songbook with his Broadway shows and film music. With his brother Ira, and his cousins Henry and B. A. Botkin, Gershwin explored various ethnic and cultural identities and contemplated their roles in US culture. His music confronted race during the Jim Crow era and continues to engage with issues of race today. This interdisciplinary exploration of Gershwin's life and music describes his avowed pursuit of an 'American' musical identity and its ongoing legacy.

Cambridge Companion to Gershwin (2019)

Jazz Italian Style: From Its Origins in New Orleans to Fascist Italy and Sinatra (2017)

Jazz Italian Style explores a complex era in music history, when politics and popular culture collided with national identity and technology. When jazz arrived in Italy at the conclusion of World War I, it quickly became part of the local music culture. In Italy, thanks to the gramophone and radio, many Italian listeners paid little attention to a performer's national and ethnic identity. Nick LaRocca (Italian-American), Gorni Kramer (Italian), the Trio Lescano (Jewish-Dutch), and Louis Armstrong (African-American), to name a few, all found equal footing in the Italian soundscape. The book reveals how Italians made jazz their own, and how, by the mid-1930s, a genre of jazz distinguishable from American varieties and supported by Mussolini began to flourish in Northern Italy and in its turn influenced Italian-American musicians. Most importantly, the book recovers a lost repertoire and an array of musicians whose stories and performances are compelling and well worth remembering.


By examining politics, immigration patterns, economics and technology in explaining the largely forgotten Italian connection to jazz, the book will attract readers interested in music history, Italian-American culture, the Fascist era in Italy, music technology, and the evolution of popular music.

Music as Cultural Mission: Explorations of Jesuit Practices in Italy and North America (2014)

Music as Cultural Mission: Explorations of Jesuit Practices in Italy and North America elucidates how the performing arts have played a seminal role in the cultural mission of the Society of Jesus. Drawing on unpublished archival documents, music, and dramatic texts performed in Italy and North America over the last four centuries, the volume features the work of leading scholars in Italy and the United States and offers a broad view of the Jesuits' influence on musical and theatrical practice.

Part I of this volume contains detailed explorations of the Jesuits' performing arts activities in Milan and within the Kingdom of Naples in the 17th and 18th centuries. Part II moves away from the discussion of Italy to explore the various models of performance and pedagogy used by Jesuits in the New World.

Saint-Saëns's Danse macabre (2013)

Camille Saint-Saëns was a brilliant French composer from the nineteenth century. In Saint-Saëns’s Danse Macabre, readers are transported to France in 1872 when Saint-Saëns visited the catacombs beneath the streets of Paris, known best as the final resting place of victims of the French Revolution. It was in this underground graveyard that Camille found the inspiration to compose Danse macabre, his spooky, mischievous masterpiece.

Vivaldi's Four Seasons (2012)

In eighteenth-century Venice, Italy, the finest musical performances are heard at an orphanage called the Ospedale della Pieta. Hidden from the audience is an orchestra of young orphan girls, some with physical disabilities and illnesses.

Padre Antonio Vivaldi, their music teacher, is inspired by the talented and determined young girls. When Vivaldi and his students are separated, Vivaldi is inspired to compose a set of concertos that mark the passing of time--the great baroque masterpiece entitled The Four Seasons

Back matter includes an author's note with further historical and biographical information, as well as the text of the sonnets that accompany the music.

Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Suite (2011)

It's a challenge to transform the Nutcracker Suite's romantic orchestra into jumpin' jazz melodies, but that's exactly what Duke Ellington and his collaborator, Billy Strayhorn, did.

Ellington's band members were not so sure that a classical ballet could become a cool-cat jazz number. But Duke and Billy, inspired by their travels and by musical styles past and present, infused the composition with Vegas glitz, Hollywood glamour, and even a little New York jazz.

CD recording of the Ellington/Strayhorn composition included.

Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (2006)

Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue by Anna Harwell Celenza celebrates a musical favorite. This book provides insight into what Gershwin experienced while writing the piece. The book contains a CD so students can listen to the music as they learn about the composer.

Bach's Goldberg Variations (2005, 2016)

Johann Gottlieb Goldberg is a young servant in the employ of Count Keyserlingk. A talented musician, the boy secretly practices playing the harpsichord at night. When the count discovers Goldberg one evening, he challenges Goldberg to combine all the harpsichord music he's learned--and to throw in a riddle. In a panic, Goldberg turns to Johann Sebastian Bach for the perfect piece of music to appease the count. Stylized illustrations include elements from the baroque period. For families, teachers, and curious music lovers of all ages.

Includes a CD recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations.

Beethoven's The Heroic Symphony (2004, 2016)

As in their previous collaborations, Celenza brings a famous musician to life while Kitchel provides energetic art. This time, they present the story of Beethoven's despair over his deafness and his eventual triumph as he gives himself over to the symphony that highlights his struggle to survive as a musician. Originally written as a celebration of Napoleon's victory, the four movements were meant to reflect Bonaparte's courage and heroism. Soon after Beethoven completed them, however, he discovered the great warrior's treachery in declaring himself Emperor of France. The composer ripped a copy of the score he had intended as a gift, but his friend Ferdinand Ries prevented him from destroying the composition. The Bonaparte Symphony was later renamed the Eroica, or Heroic Symphony. Celenza's research into the details of this piece of music reflects her scholarly background; she unearthed primary-source material that is described in an author's note. The stylized watercolor-and-ink paintings evoke the mood of each movement; for the first one, Napoleon's horse seems to jump right out of the musical score. To reflect the French origins of the symphony, Kitchel backs most of the illustrations with a toile design. Although there are many books on this composer, such as Barbara Nichol's Beethoven Lives Upstairs (Orchard, 1994) and Mike Venezia's Ludwig van Beethoven (Children's, 1996), this one, with its emphasis on one segment of his life, is a worthwhile purchase.
School Library Journal

Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition (2003, 2016)

When his friend Victor suddenly dies, composer Mussorgsky is deeply saddened. But, with the help of his friends, and through his own music, Modest finds a way to keep Victor's spirit alive.

Readers of all ages will enjoy the inspirational story behind the composition of Pictures at an Exhibition. Bright, colorful illustrations incorporate elements of Russian folk art and traditional symbols. View pages from artist JoAnn Kitchel's notebook for explanations of the symbols and see her pencil-sketch research of the Russian culture.

This handsome book and CD recording provide enrichment for the whole family.

Haydn's The Farewell Symphony (2000, 2016)

Anna Harwell Celenza's engaging fictionalized telling of the story behind Franz Joseph Haydn's famous symphony is a perfect introduction to classical music and its power. The Farewell Symphony brings to life a long summer spent at Esterháza, the summer palace of Prince Nicholas of Esterházy.
The blustering, bellowing prince entertained hundreds of guests at his rural retreat and demanded music for every occasion. As the months passed, Haydn was kept very busy writing and performing music for parties, balls, dinners, and even walks in the gardens. His orchestra members became homesick and missed their families. The anger, frustration, and longing of the musicians is expressed beautifully in the symphony born of the clever mind of Joseph Haydn who used it to convince Prince Nicholas that it was time to go home.
Wonderfully expressive illustrations by JoAnn E. Kitchel capture all the comedy and pathos of this unique symphony. Beautifully interpretive motifs and borders convey the setting and emotion of the story mirroring the structure of the symphony with the repetitive use of sets of four. Making classical music and history come alive with color and character, The Farewell Symphony ensures a place for the arts in the hearts and minds of children.

Hans Christian Andersen and Music: The Nightingale Revealed (2005)

“Celenza paints a scholarly yet vivid picture of this gangling, grotesque, poetically ardent figure, obsessed with the arts since his wretched childhood and struggling unsuccessfully to become singer, actor and even, hopelessly dancer, before discovering his poetic genius... The attraction of this book [...] is not only Andersen himself, but the window his life opens into his incredibly rich era. When Andersen told him about Scandinavian musical life, Wagner responded 'It's as if you have related an entire fairytale from the world of music!' That should be said here too.”
–BBC Music

The Early Works of Niels W. Gade: In Search of the Poetic (2001)

Since the centennial of his death, appreciation for the music of the Danish composer Niels W. Gade (1817–1890) has been growing steadily in Europe and the United States. This in-depth study of Gade's life and music is the first in English, and describes the evolution of Gade's composition style and re-evaluates his supposed role as a nationalist composer.
Previous Gade scholarship has been confined to Germany and Denmark. Gade enjoyed a brilliant career in the 1840s at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig and was one of few Danes blessed with international success. This Danish/German duality has led to two distinct views of the composer. The Danish view sees Gade as attempting to strengthen international recognition of Denmark's musical culture through the creation of a 'national tone'. German scholars, on the other hand, have stressed Gade's attachment to German Romanticism and his allegiance to figures such as Mendelssohn and Schumann. Anna Harwell Celenza offers a more complex analysis of the development of Gade's composition style and influences that helped to shape his creative identity.

Review: '... the first in-depth study of the composer's life and music available in English, offers a detailed sketch of the artist and traces the genesis and early development of his style... will appeal to anyone interested in Scandinavian music, and especially to individuals drawn to Danish musical culture. Yet, it is also sure to attract those intrigued by the covert and persistent influence of nineteenth-century German music criticism on the creativity and taste outside its own borders and time.' Notes

Niels. W. Gade's St. Hans' Evening Play Overture (2001)

St. Hans' Evening Play is the second complete overture composed by Niels W. Gade (1817-90), undoubtedly the most prominent figure in nineteenth-century Danish music. Inspired by Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream Overture, Gade composed St. Hans' Evening Play during the summer of 1841, and it was premiered at The Royal Theater in Copenhagen the following April in a concert featuring Clara Schumann. Schumann's letters to her husband and reviews by local critics show that the Overture was well received. Indeed, it is a fine example of Gade's masterful skills in orchestration. The overture's distinctly Danish program, a play by Adam Oehlenschläger celebrating Midsummer Night, made the composition unattractive to contemporary publishers and foreign audiences. Consequently, St. Hans' Evening Play was never performed outside Denmark, and the publication of this critical edition represents its first appearance in print.