Die uitdaging van biografie-skrywing : 'n lewe van Betty Pack
Thesis (MMus (Music))--Stellenbosch University, 2008.
This study consists of two parts. The first part focuses primarily on literature that discusses the biography in general, and then turns its focus more sharply on the music biography. A critical reading of three South African music biographies is conducted in order to identify tendencies or patterns in the biographical writing of musicians, especially performers. The second part of this thesis consists of a biographical case study of Pack. This particular biography makes no claim that it will not be faced with the same problems illustrated in the general discussion on biography as a discipline, but rather through the established critical frame claims to qualify and critically elucidate the biographical writing pertaining to Pack. This case study will underline one of the defining elements in the writing of lives of those figures who are considered less important, namely the limited resource material that tend to replicate the themes and stereotypes inherent in biographical writing. This practical problem causes an inevitable repetition of the intellectual difficulties of biographical writing. The purpose of this biography, which is the combination of different source materials and, is not necessarily to avoid these “myths”, but to identify it by critical reflection. With this approach, it is not the biography itself that becomes “critical”, but rather the reading and comprehension of the biography. Finally, the conclusion is reached that Betty Pack’s life as committed to paper and memory displays various themes and topoi characteristic of the music biography in general, rather than just the biographies of performers. The conventions of music biography, as consolidated in the biographical descriptions of composers, thus still provide the norms and forms for the biography of the performing artist.