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Why Handel Waggled His Wig

Steven Isserlis

Why Handel Waggled His Wig, by Steven Isserlis, is the eagerly awaited follow-up to the best-selling Why Beethoven Threw the Stew.

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The eagerly awaited follow-up to the best-selling Why Beethoven Threw the Stew.

What did Haydn’s wife use for curling-paper for her hair?
What did Schubert do with his old spectacles case?
Why was Dvorák given a butcher’s apron when he was a little boy?
Why did Tchaikovsky spit on a map of Europe?
Why did Fauré find a plate of spinach on his face?
And why did Handel waggle his wig?

In Why Beethoven Threw the Stew, renowned cellist Steven Isserlis set out to pass on to children a wonderful gift given to him by his own cello teacher – the chance to people his own world with the great composers by getting to know them as friends. In his new book he draws us irresistibly into the world of six more favourite composers, bringing them alive in a manner that cannot fail to catch the imagination of children encountering classical music for the first time. Once again the text is packed with facts, dates and anecdotes, interspersed with lively black-and-white line illustrations, making this an attractive and accessible read for children to enjoy on their own or share with an adult.

‘If Why Beethoven Threw the Stew does not turn your child into a music lover, the chances are nothing will.’ Daily Mail

Critic Reviews

Proving that non-fiction can be just as entertaining and engrossing as fiction, Steven Isserlis brings us Why Handel Waggled His Wig, a welcome change to the rather stuffy 'boyhoods of great composers' books that have been around for 40 years or more. Isserlis is a world-renowned cellist who has been awarded a CBE for his services to music. He also has a riotous sense of humour, as is evident from the first sentence of this enjoyable journey through the lives of six major composers. ... Isserlis can't help letting his infectious enthusiasm for both music and large doses of silliness shine through. ... If this irresistible romp, the sequel to Why Beethoven Threw the Stew, doesn't instill a passion for classical music into the lives of children, or even just make them laugh out loud with delight, nothing will.

Vanessa Curtis, The Herald
Critic Reviews

Like Why Beethoven Threw the Stew, this new volume is something more then the romp its title suggests. To begin with, it's been written with the gut instinct and passion of a true insider. Isserlis is, after all, one of the leading cellists on the planet and someone who writes as he plays: boldly and from the heart... the book's chief virtue is the way it brings the composers to such robust and vivid life...every visit is a real informative adventure.

Michael White, Daily Mail
Critic Reviews

From the moment I started this book, I was entertained and laughing aloud. If, like Handel, I had an enormous white wig with which to react, I would definitely be waggling it enthusiastically right now. Steven Isserlis is a gifted cellist, but there is no reason at all to assume that he can, therefore, write. But this is the thing; as a writer, he turns out to be a natural, although not exactly normal. He cracks jokes as easily as other people draw breath. You never know in what hilarious new direction his tangential mind is going to go (his best jokes are between brackets). His is a blend of high intelligence and schoolboy humour. I would be amazed if he had not enjoyed writing every word of these stories about the lives of the great composers (sequel to his earlier effort, Why Beethoven Threw the Stew).

Kate Kellaway, The Observer
Critic Reviews

It's a lot of fun and grown-ups will enjoy it too. It's a follow-up to Why Beethoven Threw the Stew, a rare example of a book for young people about classical music that doesn't patronise or bore but was funny, well-researched and, above all, inspiring. This new one is just as good. ... it made me want to listen to their music even more. Great cellist and clever writer. Hmmph. Not fair!

Jeremy Nicholas, Classic FM Magazine
Critic Reviews

What makes this follow-up to Why Beethoven Threw the Stew so rewarding for younger readers is its wealth of anecdote. Steven Isserlis (yes, that Isserlis, the cellist) sews these many little yarns together to create portraits that are honest, affectionate and delightfully vivid.

Andrew Farach-Colton, Gramophone

Steven Isserlis enjoys a unique and multi-faceted career as soloist, chamber musician and educator. He appears regularly with the world’s leading orchestras, gives recitals every season in major musical centres, devises fascinating chamber music programmes, performs with many period-instrument ensembles, plays and writes for children, and works with many living composers. He has written two children’s books, and gives masterclasses…

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