The Great Musicians Series

The "Great Musicians" series was written by Opal Wheeler and Sybil Deucher. I found a copy of their book, Joseph Haydn, the Merry Little Peasant, a few years ago and I brought it home both because I love children's historical biographies and because I was enthralled with Mary Greenwalt's lovely illustrations. I set it aside for when my children were a year or two older.

Not long after that, I was reading Edith Schaeffer in The Hidden Art of Homemaking and was pleased to see her mention my find: "The series of books written by Opal Wheeler giving the lives of great music composers with emphasis on their childhood, are accurate and have lovely black and white illustrations. They give a good base for arousing interest in the music these artists have composed."

So, I pulled out Joseph Haydn and read his story with great enjoyment! It's my belief that if a children's book is really GOOD, it can be enjoyed by people of all ages and I certainly enjoyed this one! One nice feature of this lovely series is that each book contains selections of the composer's works so that children might hear--or even play--the music.

The following page is a selection from Joseph Haydn, The Merry Little Peasant.

"Riding along the road Haydn told his men of the days when he was a mischievous choir boy at St. Stephen's where he loved to play pranks and especially of the time when he sang at Schönbrunn Castle--the very same castle that they were journeying to now.

"Haydn still liked to play jokes. Much of his music is full of fun--some say that you can hear it in this delightful LA ROXELANE."


I am definitely NOT a pianist, but I enjoyed trying to pick out a few notes of Haydn's work myself! I have since acquired others from this series and I continue to be pleased with the quality.

As you scroll down you will see that Mrs. Wheeler and Mrs. Deucher also wrote other books. I have not seen them yet, but some of the titles definitely attract my attention! I hope the quality is similar to what I have seen in the composers' series.

Of this series, Hendrik Willem van Loon wrote,
"They will teach children the vernacular of the art of music. And once they know that vernacular they will enjoy what they hear a thousand times more."
"One Bach and one Beethoven every hundred years or so is probably all we can hope for. But that is no reason why every child should not learn to understand the language in which they speak.... Regarding art as almost more important to the community at large than food, I am grateful to [the publisher] for bringing out [these] books and for bringing them to my attention."

Walter Damrosch wrote,
"These books on the childhood of the three great composers--Bach, Mozart, and Haydn, are charmingly written and well authenticated. They are very well adapted to the comprehension of children, and should be of great help in awakening an affectionate feeling for music in their hearts."

My friend Debbie has put together a unit study on Joseph Haydn, the Merry Little Peasant. Take a look!

Adventures of Richard Wagner by Wheeler
Curtain Calls for Franz Schubert by Wheeler and Deucher
Curtain Calls for Joseph Haydn and Sebastian Bach by Wheeler and Deucher
Curtain Calls for Wolfgang Mozart by Wheeler and Deucher
Edvard Grieg, Boy of the Northland by Deucher
Edward MacDowell, and His Cabin in the Pines by Wheeler and Deucher
Franz Schubert and His Merry Friends by Wheeler and Deucher
Frederic Chopin: Son of Poland - Early Years by Wheeler
Frederic Chopin, Son of Poland: Later Years by Wheeler
Handel at the Court of Kings by Wheeler
Joseph Haydn, the Merry Little Peasant by Wheeler and Deucher
Ludwig Beethoven and the Chiming Tower Bells by Wheeler
Mozart, the Wonder Boy by Wheeler and Deucher
Paganini: Master of Strings by Wheeler
Peter Tschaikowsky and the Nutcracker Ballet by Wheeler
Robert Schumann and Mascot Ziff by Wheeler
Sebastian Bach, the Boy from Thuringia by Wheeler and Deucher
Stephen Foster and His Little Dog Tray by Wheeler
Story of Peter Tchaikowsky, The (Part I) by Wheeler
Young Brahms, The by Deucher

Giotto Tended the Sheep by Deucher and Wheeler
Millet Tilled the Soil by Deucher and Wheeler

Hans Anderson, Son of Denmark by Wheeler

Five Little Pennies and How they Grew
Journey to Bethlehem
by Wheeler
Moses by Wheeler
Miracle Dish, The by Wheeler
Stars over Bethlehem by Wheeler

Music Anthologies:
Signing Choir, The, A Book of Services for Schools by Wheeler
Sing for America by Wheeler
Sing for Christmas: A Round of Christmas Carols and Stories of Carols by Wheeler
Sing in Praise: A Collection of Best Loved Hymns, by Wheeler
Sing Mother Goose by Wheeler

H.M.S. Pinafore, Story and Music Arrangements Adapted from Gilbert and Sullivan by Wheeler

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