The Composer Is Dead by Lemony Snicket

Title: The Composer Is Dead
Author: Lemony Snicket
Publisher: HarperCollins
Released: March 2009
Source: borrowed from local library


There’s dreadful news from the symphony hall—the composer is dead!

If you have ever heard an orchestra play, then you know that musicians are most certainly guilty of something. Where exactly were the violins on the night in question? Did anyone see the harp? Is the trumpet protesting a bit too boisterously?

In this perplexing murder mystery, everyone seems to have a motive, everyone has an alibi, and nearly everyone is a musical instrument. But the composer is still dead.

Perhaps you can solve the crime yourself. Join the Inspector as he interrogates all the unusual suspects. Then listen to the accompanying audio recording featuring Lemony Snicket and the music of Nathaniel Stookey performed by the San Francisco Symphony. Hear for yourself exactly what took place on that fateful, well-orchestrated evening.

I’ve had Lemony Snicket’s The Composer Is Dead on my to-read list for a while, only familiar with bits and pieces of it. My library got it in for me via interlibrary loan, and now I know I must purchase a copy to have at the house.

Although this musical murder mystery can be read on its own as a picture book, I feel The Composer Is Dead really needs to be experienced as a complete package: audio and book. Set aside time (30 minutes) to really listen, take in and enjoy the music that occurs around the words of the story. Listeners will experience the instruments of the orchestra, musical terms such as waltz and cadenza, discover how the orchestra tunes, and learn a slew of names of famous (and dead) composers.

Best of all, we are treated to the deliciously dark humor of Lemony Snicket. Word plays abound, and there are a number of inside jokes musicians will appreciate (flutes imitating birds, forgotten violas, loud trumpets).

The Composer Is Dead is written and narrated by Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler) and illustrated by Carson Ellis; the music is written by American composer Nathaniel Stookey and performed by the San Franciso Symphony. This brilliant and exciting work proves that classical music can be enjoyable and accessible to all audiences while keeping its musical standards high.

In this video by HarperCollins, author Lemony Snicket and composer Nathaniel Stookey discuss their collaboration on The Composer Is Dead:

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