cover image The Farewell Symphony

The Farewell Symphony

Anna Harwell Celenza / Author, Joann E. Kitchel / Illustrator

In this intriguing history lesson for music lovers, Prince Nicholas of Austria forbids his musicians from bringing their families to Estherh za, his summer palace in the Hungarian countryside. The court musicians under composer and royal music director Joseph Haydn's care grow increasingly homesick and restless, particularly when the prince extends his stay well into the autumn of 1772. ""It will take a great deal of cleverness and tact to influence the prince,"" says Haydn. His solution: to compose a new symphony as a way of conveying the musicians' emotions to his employer. The real story behind Haydn's famous Symphony No. 45 (in F minor)--tracing the underlying moods that accompany each movement and ending with the musicians leaving the stage one by one--will likely make attentive listeners of its readers, as they gain a newfound appreciation for music's simultaneous subtlety and power (a CD recording is included). And if Celenza tweaks history by investing the characters with thoughts and emotions of her own devising (e.g., upon hearing the ""explosive chords"" and ""surging melodies"" of the ""angry"" first movement, the prince senses ""the musicians' frustration over having to remain at Esterh za""), her interpretation of the events is plausible. Kitchel's (The Heart of a Friendship) brightly bordered watercolors verge on the simplistic, particularly the cartoonish features of the characters, but include plenty of historical detail. Ages 4-9. (July)