Introduction to Musicology


Week 1: Composer Biographies

Essay Title

Compare two contrasted biographies of a composer whose music holds a particular fascination for you. Consider such issues as (a) the handling of geopolitical, social and physiological influences on the composer’s life, (b) the biographer’s background and personal standpoint, and (c) the life and works dichotomy.

Sample Reading

  1. BACH

  2. The New Bach Reader: A Life of Johann Sebastian Bach in Letters and Documents, ed. Hans T. David and Arthur Mendel, rev. Christoph Wolff (New York: Norton, 1988) (library)

  3. Christoph Wolff, Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000) (library)

  4. BYRD

  5. Edmund Fellowes, William Byrd, 2nd edn (London: Oxford University Press, 1948) (library)

  6. Kerry McCarthy, Byrd (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013) (library)

  7. ELGAR

  8. Jerrold Northrop Moore, Edward Elgar: A Creative Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987) (library)

  9. Dianna McVeagh, Elgar: The Music Maker (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2007) (library)

  10. LISZT

  11. Sacheverell Sitwell, Liszt (London: Cassell, 1955) (library)

  12. Elaenor Perényi, Liszt (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1975) (library)


  14. Modeste Tchaikovsky, The Life & Letters of Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky (London: Bodley Head, 1905) (online)

  15. David Brown, Tchaikovsky: The Man and His Music (London: Faber, 2006) (library)