Posted in Non-Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Playlist: The Rebels and Revolutionaries of Sound gives classical musicians rock star status

Playlist: The Rebels and Revolutionaries of Sound, by James Rhodes/Illustrated by Martin O’Neill, (Oct. 2019, Candlewick), $29.99, ISBN: 9781536212143

Ages 12+

Concert pianist James Rhodes gives an introduction to the original rock stars: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Schubert, Rachmaninoff, and Ravel. These forefathers of classical music are anything but fusty and boring. As Rhodes writes in his introduction, “…they were the original rock stars. They changed history, inspired millions, and are still listened to and worshipped all around the world today”. Rhodes starts off by providing his own Spotify playlist for readers to start exploring classical music, and creates profiles on each composer. The profiles are easily readable, laid out in magazine-type layout, and includes pop culture references to each composer’s music: Bach, for instance, has been referenced by or sampled in music by The Beatles, Zayn Malik, and Led Zeppelin, and used in The LEGO Batman Movie and Stranger Things. Each composer’s profile includes a profile on a word from the Spotify playlist, to give readers further context and understanding.

This crash course in Music Foundations is illustrated by artist Martin O’Neill, who creates vibrant collages using photos and mixed media, presenting a mind-blowing art installation to accompany Rhodes’ writing. Rhodes includes musical terminology in his “The Language of Music” section at the end, and there is an index.

This is a gorgeous coffee table book with a mission. It’s music history, and world history; it’s art history and a treatise on the evolution of pop culture. Don’t miss this one.

Playlist: The Rebels and Revolutionaries of Sound has starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist.


I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading ( I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (, where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

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