CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 10 . . . .January 20, 2006
While it is a difficult task to narrow the field to just 10 influential women in music, Heather Ball makes a bold attempt in Magnificent Women in Music. The book features 10 profiles of female musicians from a wide variety of genres and circumstances, ranging from the 19th century to the present day. Each chapter provides a revealing biography of the artist in question, with a particular emphasis on the struggles she had to overcome in order to rise to prominence in her field.
The profiles are featured in chronological order based on the birth of the musician and include:
Clara Wieck Schumann a pianist and composer in her own right, she was also the wife of Romantic composer Robert Schumann.
Although appropriate either for classroom support or recreational reading, it is more likely that this title would be used for the latter purpose. Ball's style is clear and engaging, which makes the profiles easy to read while simultaneously holding a young reader's interest. Illustrations plus many black and white photographs round out the text and lend a visual aspect to each of the biographies which are each approximately eight to ten pages in length. While a substantial portion of the book is devoted to Canadian musicians, the majority of the biographies feature artists from the United States and elsewhere. Judging by Ball's choices, she has gone to great lengths to be as encompassing as possible, including women of African-American, First Nations and Asian heritage. Because each profile is relatively short and accessible, the lack of an index is not overly problematic. The resources section at the back of the book provides solid further reading suggestions, including both print and online resources.
The musicians found in Ball's Magnificent Women in Music are strong role models as women who have overcome numerous obstacles in order to make their dreams a reality. While certainly not the last word on the subject of great female musicians, this title will inspire its readers to persevere with their own aspirations.
Elizabeth Larssen divides her time between her position at a public library and her studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, where she is pursuing a degree in Library and Information Studies.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.