Introduction to Musicology


Week 1: Musician Biographies

Essay Title

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

For a general introduction to the subject, read this entry in Grove Music.

Sample Biographies/Autobiographies

  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)


  17. Duke Ellington, Music is My Mistress (London: W. H. Allen, 1974) (library)

  18. David Bradbury, Duke Ellington (London: Haus, 2005) (library)


  20. Joan Baez, And a Voice to Sing With: A Memoir (London: Century, 1988) (library)

  21. Elizabeth Thomson, Joan Baez: The Last Leaf (London: Palazzo Editions, 2020) (library)


  23. Tina Turner, Tina Turner: My Love Story (London: Cornerstone, 2018) (library)

  24. Mark Bego, Tina Turner: Break Every Rule (Lanham MD: Taylor, 2003) (library)