Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Historical Fiction
The Heroic Symphony

The Heroic Symphony

Fall 2004 Historical Fiction
Ages: 5 - 10 yrs.
Author: Anna Harwell Celenza
Illustrator: JoAnn E. Kitchel
Publisher: Charlesbridge
ISBN: 1-57091-509-1
Hardcover Price: $19.95
Beethoven’s Heroic Symphony is certainly one of the best known symphonies of all time, and with good reason. It is a stunning achievement. Its creation is especially remarkable, because it is the first symphony written by Beethoven after he had become profoundly deaf. This appealing book tells the true story of the tumultuous composition over five months of a monumental work that the composer hoped would pay tribute to Napoleon Bonaparte, evoking the French war hero’s bravery and vision. First entitled the Bonaparte Symphony, the piece in four movements is a heartrending testament to the composer’s regard for what Napoleon had at that point achieved, as well as evidence of his personal struggle with cruel fate that had made him, a pianist and composer, deaf.

Just as Beethoven completed his manuscript, he learned that his beloved war hero had crowned himself Emperor of France. Beethoven felt betrayed by this act from someone he had idealized as noble and egalitarian. It was then that the symphony was rechristened the Heroic Symphony. The author, Anna Celenza, captivates with her engaging telling of this story, aided by the nicely imagined illustrations of JoAnn Kitchel. A bonus, here, is the inclusion of a beautiful performance of the Heroic Symphony (also called the Eroica Symphony) on CD by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Georg Solti. After reading this inspiring tale of hardship overcome through musical inspiration and courage, your young ones will want to hear the strains of this beloved work. The symphony may well become a life-long favorite.

Erich Parker, APR   ©2004 Parents' Choice
Erich Parker has sung with opera companies and in recital programs around the world and regularly performs under the aegis of The Smithsonian Institution. In addition, he is a frequent guest speaker at schools and student organizations.

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