The Music of Life: Bartolomeo Cristofori and the Invention of the Piano -Elizabeth Rusch, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman


  The Music of Life: Bartolomeo Cristofori and the Invention of the Piano –Elizabeth Rusch, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, (9781481444842), 2017

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1- 5 (5 is excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre:  Picture Book Biography

What did you like about the book?  This is a picture book biography of Bartolomeo Christofori a harpsichord and clavichord maker who invented what is now called the piano. Christofori is visited at his workshop in Padua Italy  in 1688 by Prince Ferdinand de Medici who then invites him to join his court in Florence.  Christofori is inspired by art and the violin to design an instrument that can play both loudly (forte) like the harpsichord and softly (piano) as the clavichord.  His invention is named for what it can do – the pianoforte.  After Christofori’s death in 1732, the invention lives on and soon travels throughout Europe to become the instrument of choice for composers everywhere.  The modern day piano has not changed significantly since Christofori’s original.  The gouache and ink illustrations  are filled with color and life. Musical terms on the pages, “Cresecendo (becoming louder)”  perfectly echo the action of the story. This is a highly researched biography and the back pages include the story of the three surviving Christofori pianos, websites to listen to these pianos as well as harpsichords and clavichords, the history of today’s piano, a list of music for “Listening to the Music of Life” which includes classical and modern compositions, an in-depth source history for each page, a bibliography and sources for quotations.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No

To whom would you recommend this book?  This is a book to hand to piano students.  It will also be welcomed by readers interested in music and musicians.  A good source for a biography report.

Who should buy this book?  Public libraries and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Biographies

Should we (librarians/readers) put this at the top of our “to read” piles?   No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

Date of review:  7/2/17             

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