Eeek…immoral artists and composers!

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  • amandajhilburn

    How do you all deal with this issue? I know immodesty in artwork has been discussed and I am one to check books before handing them over to my kids, but what about the lives of the artists? We began reading about Tchaikovsky today in a book I picked up at the library and it talked about everything he did from drinking and smoking to the fact that he was HOMOSEXUAL!!! I put the book up and am wondering now…should I read biographies about famous artists and composers to my young children at all. My husband and I recently had a discussion about how and why so many famous artists, musicians, etc. ,now and in the past, live such immoral lives? I am very leary about glorifying the works of such immoral people….any opinions?


    Sorry, no advice, just wondering-those of you who use Classics for Kids-does it mention that fact about Tchaikovsky?


    No, the Classics for Kids is very nice. I learned of this fact much later. Someone recently mentioned that he was also a pedophile, but I have not researched that for myself.


    I had the same problem and just quit while reading after trying to skim over some parts and it just got too complicated.  I returned the book and figured good enough.  Also,  has never made any mention of those facts and we are doing Mod 1.  There are some composers who defy their parents but but so far it has all been handled tastefully and without encouraging disrespect.  I would think this site would be enough info on a composer unless you have an older child who is especially interested in a composer at which point you could make a case by case call.  I find enough on the site to do a once weekly 5-10 minute study for 5 weeks per composer.

    Jodie Apple

    I’ve found these as good opportunities to explain to the children that we can appreciate the work they did, but not condone the lives they lived and point out that these choices were not honoring to God (according to His Word).  Remember, David, a man after God’s own heart, committed adultry and murder.

    Depending on the age of the children I agree with MJ, good opportunities to discuss right from wrong and Biblical living.  However with the littles, I would not do that – just high school age – I also don’t believe we need to get graphic in any way.  I would prep my books before and anything particularly shocking find a way to reword it, or leave it out.  I think online you can find some pretty innocuous bios on artists and composers.  A lot of them lived in times that were not particularly moral, but my goodness they did produce great music and art – so we must find a balance, that makes us happy.  My older teens research on their own and occasionally find shocking information, we talk about it and move on.

    Sonya Shafer

    I, too, do not delve too deeply into artists’ or composers’ lives for that reason. I like to acknowledge the creativity and imagination that God built into these people. It is sad that some of them chose to turn away from that Giver of Good Gifts and embrace sin in some areas of their lives, but I can still appreciate anything that they produced that fits Philippians 4:8. If the demonstration of that creativity from God is worthy of praise, I can approve what is excellent and hold fast to what is good.

    At the same time I can be grieved over their sin and determine not even to speak of those things that they did, especially for my young children. I can let my younger children know that this particular artist, sadly, did not love and trust Jesus nor choose to live for Him, and that is sufficient for now.


    Thank you all for your comments. I do want to share beautiful pictures and music with my children. They LOVE art and music so much! I guess I was just really shocked by what I began to read to them yesterday and a little disgusted too since it was a book I had picked out of the CHILDREN’s section of the library. ( I am a little naive at times when it comes to worldliness, I guess) I will just have to be more careful and be sure to pre-read everything before I begin to share it with them (even if it does come from the children’s section)

    Also, thanks for the link to ….I have been there before, but I guess I had thought that it was not enough information. Now I know it is just enough 🙂


    I was able to print a good Bio on Vivaldi from . Hope that proves to be helpful to you too.


    lol – I read “Immortal” and had to come read what it was about….  then realized my mistake.

    I’m off to check the Vivaldi bio (and the site…) as we are doing him soon

    Doug Smith

    I’ll also add that the biography in each of our Picture Study Portfolios handle this with sensitivity for these kinds of concerns.


    We are currently studying Tchaikovsky as well. My DS’s are 8 & 10. I knew nothing about him so imagine my surprise when we started with a video from the library about his life and they SHOWED “an act” that sent me running to the TV screaming close your eyes! LOL SO,…..the movie went back and we very briefly discussed the fact that he was gay. I also reminded them that although we do not agree with this lifestyle, and it’s clearly not inline with the Bible, it is not for us to judge anyone, let’s leave that to God so that we are not judged with the same harshness we give out. They understood and we are now listening to his beautiful music. I have read bits and pieces from a book but I pre read everything. We are going to a Romeo and Juliet play next month so the timing was PERFECT!

     I think the pedophile information comes from the fact that he fell in love with his 19 year old student when he was in his late 30’s. But who knows…..


    One does need to be careful. Kymom, I’m afraid the info. on Tchaikovsky went much much further that 19 year old students. However, we simply leave that info. out. We can fully enjoy the beautivul music he composed without knowing all about his life. 

    The SCM Picture Study Portfolio bios. are great. We’ve used several now. Another possibility – Getting to Know the World’s Great Artists  by Mike Venezia.


    Although they are longer books, we enjoy the biographies by Opal Wheeler. We do these for our read aloud literature. The library has many of them, but I did buy a few as I have enjoyed them. We have read Bach and Grieg and are currently reading Mozart. A nice set:

    There are two on Tchaikovsky, but I have not read those. If anyone has, please let us know how the author addressed his life style.

    There are two on Tchaikovsky:


    We’ve been using a book called A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers by Melissa Craig and Maggie Hogan. Written from a Christian perspective, it includes brief biographies of famous composers arranged chronologically. The biographies are very “kid-friendly” and even discuss if the composer may have been a believer or not, based on their personal writings and lifestyle choices. For those who made not-so-good lifestyle choices, their “choices” are handled with generalities and discretion.

    We’ve also enjoyed listening to VOX composer CDs. They offer many different composers, with the titles “The Story of Beethoven”, “The Story of Grieg”, etc. Biographical information is mixed in with samples of the composer’s work. We have listened to several (including Tchaikovsky)and have yet to hear anything that was terribly objectionable, although, they are honest about musicians dealing with depression, drinking, etc. No mention of Tchaikovsly’s homosexuality, that I remember; and I think I would remember 🙂 I believe I bought them through Amazon.


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