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Playlist: The Rebels and Revolutionaries of Sound    by James Rhodes & Martin O'Neill order for
by James Rhodes
Order:  USA  Can
Candlewick, 2019 (2019)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In Playlist: The Rebels and Revolutionaries of Sound, celebrated concert pianist James Rhodes introduces teen readers (grades 7-9) to the superstars of classical music - Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Schubert, Rachmaninoff and Ravel - the 'original rock stars'. Martin O'Neill's avant-garde artwork emphasizes that comparison.

Rhodes tells us that 'Music gives flavor and color to the world in which we live' and that today's music was born hundreds of years ago. He introduces two pieces from each of seven great classical composers, and shares fascinating tidbits from their lives. He also explains why classical music was 'overwhelmingly white and male', though there were super talented female composers and composers of color (several of whom he identifies here).

Composers start with Bach: The Godfather and end with Ravel: Shock and Awe. For each, Rhodes talks about their lives, their music, and its impact - including on later musicians like the Beatles and Lady Gaga, and their use in very many well known film and series soundtracks. For the two pieces chosen for each composer, Rhodes explain the techniques used and what makes them so effective in creating stories in each listener's head.

In between chapters on composers and their pieces, Rhodes explains other aspects of music - The Orchestra, The Time Line of Western Classical Music, and The Language of Music. This extraordinary volume will be of interest to musicians, young and old, as well as those who simply love listening to music. Note that Rhodes shares with readers his Ultimate Playlist, accessible via

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