Anna grew up on a farm in Pleasant Garden, North Carolina. She played the cello in the Greensboro Youth Orchestra and the drums in her high school marching band and jazz band. Music and the arts have always been an important part of her life.
Anna received her B.A. in art history and music history from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and went on to study art history at the Rijks-University Gent in Ghent, Belgium. She received her M.A. in musicology from Duke University and later also received her Ph.D. She has received many awards and has published numerous works regarding music history and the history of art including, “Death Transfigured: The Origins and Evolution of Franz Liszt’s Totentanz” in Selected Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on 19th Century Music (Ashgate, 1999) and “Carl Dahlhaus,” “Edvard Grieg,” “Iconography,” “Romanticism,” and “Scandinavia” in Reader’s Guide to Music: History, Theory, and Criticism (Fitzroy Dearborn, 1999). Her most recent book, Hans Christian Andersen and Music, will be published in 2004. She has also authored a textbook entitled The Joy of Music (Merrill/Prentice Hall, 2004) for teachers interested in integrating classical music into the K-6 classroom.
Anna’s research and studies have taken her to many countries around the world, including The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Denmark. She has worked as a professional translator in Germany and Denmark.
Committed to making classical music more accessible to the young, Prof. Celenza began writing children’s books several years ago. Her first book, The Farewell Symphony (Charlesbridge, 2000), tells the true story behind the making of Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 45. Pictures at an Exhibition shows how one composer’s grief eventually inspired beautiful music. Anna also explores the stories behind The Heroic Symphony and The Goldberg Variations.
Anna has been featured on a number of nationally and internationally syndicated television and radio programs including C-Span’s Book TV, NPR’s The Todd Mundt Show and England’s Music Matters on BBC3.
Anna lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
Visit Anna's Music Spot for more information about her books and links to recordings of the compositions these books are based on.
Listen to an interview with Anna at diyMFA.
Read a Biography of Anna Harwell Celenza.