I have a student that is a very avid reader (girl, 7th grade, homeschooled). Her mother asked me to compile a list of good biographies or books of composers/music. She thought that this would help her practicing since she might be more interested in the composer or subject matter.
One of my all-time favorite collection of composer biographies is Ben Lansing’s The Bigwigs of Classical Music (Your student might be interested to know that Ben was homeschooled, too! You can read an interview I did with him here.). A couple of the books I mentioned last week (My Life with the Great Pianists and Lang Lang’s biography) might be of interest as well.
Also, these aren’t books, but the In Search of Beethoven and In Search of Mozart films are very well done and I think would be of interest to a middle school and/or high school student. I also really like and occasionally reference the book Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers by Patrick Kavanaugh. It includes interesting stories, well-written historical information, and a highlight on a character quality exemplified by the featured composers. Honestly, I haven’t read many other biographies of composers or musicians that come to mind, so I’m hoping some others can chime in with suggestions!
Remember, if you have a question you’d like to contribute to next week’s Monday Mailbag, leave it in the comments below or send me an e-mail sometime this week with Monday Mailbag in the subject line!