The great Johann Wolfgang von Goethe described architecture as "frozen music." The description works well in reverse, too—if we think of music as moving architecture we might be as close as we can get to actually defining what is arguably the most universal art form. The swoops and tildes and cornices of beautiful buildings are the visual counterparts of the fluorishes in music, the little bits that make each composition distinct to its author and yet recognizable as a specific type of music in a specific context.
Our culture has become drowned in music, most of it bad. Anyone can record sounds and disseminate them to a less and less discerning public, but just because a magazine editor calls something "genius" or even simply "music" doesn't make it so. There's plenty of good folk and jazz, even good rock'n'roll, but there's also way too much bad stuff. Even classical compositions aren't automatically good. It's sad, but there's no genre in which one can take permanent refuge from less-than-beautiful songs or sonatas.
This is, of course, because the music we listen to is the product of human beings. As God's creation made in His image, we are compelled to create, but we can never attain the perfection of which He is capable. Some get closer than others (Mozart is at least several rungs of the music ladder above Michael Jackson or Lady GaGa), and we admire this as a dedication to excellence and goodness. The human element is also what makes musicians' lives interesting to read about, how they were inspired, why they wrote and performed, what their character was like.
We've limited our collection to musicians we respect and admire, and who evidenced more than average competency. Ray Charles makes the cut because he could actually sing and his music was really music; Britney Spears is excluded for obvious reasons. Most of the individuals represented here are classical composers. There's little argument that men like Bach, Handel, Tchaikovsky, and Chopin were among the greatest musical geniuses of all time, and since we agree that they were amazingly talented and we enjoy their music, we give biographies of classical composers special emphasis.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.
Did you find this review helpful?