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A Concise History of Western Music Paperback – 5 Nov 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (5 Nov. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521133661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521133661
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 507,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


'… thought-provoking, compelling and remarkably comprehensive narrative, this is easily one of the most thought-provoking, enjoyable and stimulating reads on Western music to have been published in the past ten years.' BBC Music Magazine

'Griffiths finds graceful ways of saying the conventional things that have to be said and of slipping in the less conventional … a fresh formulation of the riddle of past and present, and the future.' Joseph Kerman, New York Review of Books

'A Concise History of Western Music (concise maybe, but substantial enough to merit every one of its 350 pages) is a joy.' The Book Depository

'… an extremely rich and thoughtful text … the whole thing reads exquisitely …' Et cetera

'Hidden behind the deadpan title is an extremely rich and thoughtful text: a concise history, as it say on the tin, but also a warm meditation on the philosophy of music … Each chapter culminates in a subtle cliff-hanger, and the whole thing reads exquisitely.' Saturday Guardian, Review Supplement

'Paul Griffiths, adept at clear, succinct presentations, manages to reduce the millennia and centuries to just 300 pages; and, to make matters easier, he gives the terms without which the story cannot be told, a brisk and lively explanation and encourages the reader to read, listen further and think … an original and a stimulating book. I hope others will find it so, too.' Methodist Recorder

'… an approachable and enjoyable tour of thousands of years of our cultural history, in the company of a familiar and erudite guide.' Tenby Observer

'The book is clearly laid out, with page-heading summaries making it valuable for academic study.' International Record Review

'Griffiths is reknowned as a writer on new music, and this bias brings a fresh perspective to his take on pre-20th century composition.' Classical FM

'Griffiths is excellent on Dowland's and Monteverdi's subjectivity …' The Times Literary Supplement

'Paul Griffiths manages to cover a huge number of composers and musical styles in his comprehensive history. He shows a clear understanding of the nature of the development of music in the West and, though clearly argued, it is a dense read.' Reference Reviews

'… text is filled with Griffith's typically excellent thought-provoking observations …' The New York Review

Book Description

Paul Griffiths shows how music has changed through the centuries, and suggests how that change mirrors development in the human notion of time, from the eternity of heaven to the computer's microsecond. An essential read for students, teachers and classical music lovers alike.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By John Ferngrove TOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For the genuine melomane, that is the music lover whose interest spans the totality of the great European tradition, there comes a time when one realises that there is just too much of it to do it all justice in a single lifetime. All the same, one tries to build a picture of how the various styles, forms and genres evolved, of who influenced who, and who provided the foundations for a later composer's innovations, and so on. To do this, we tend to build a cumulative historical picture from the sleeve notes of the discs we purchase, supplemented perhaps by a biography or two. Eventually however, we become aware that our picture is filled with gaping holes and the odd contradiction, formed as it is from information on the music and the figures with which we are familiar, but not from those with which we are as yet unfamiliar. For an integrated picture one must resort to a history of the subject, to which there are two approaches. The slow hard road is exemplified by Taruskin, Oxford History of Western Music: (5 Vol set), with its huge wealth of detail and large number of supporting examples. I am slowly chomping my way through this woolly mammoth of a set, but after some months I am still in the 15th Century, and to be honest the detail is a little overwhelming. The second approach is through something a little more brief and concise, of which this has proved to be an excellent example. It has only taken me a few days to read but I find I have come away from it with a subtly shifted perspective on those many hallowed names of composers, musicians and the thinkers and writers who informed them.Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Succinct Summary 28 May 2007
By Susan R. Grant - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book, at 316 pages of text, is about as concise as one can be about western music and still cover it reasonably well. This is not a "Music History 101" sort of book, but a reflective discussion of music in the west over centuries. I liked the chapters on modern and postmodern music composers, which I have always regarded with some impatience, (as in,"when are you people going to get a grip..."), but Griffiths writes with real appreciation. The editorial description is very accurate- the book is better read by musicians with some background than people first dipping into music history, but I found it an enjoyable refresher, and it was short enough for one to see the forest rather than be overwhelmed by trees, as in the bulky volumes I remember from college.
The book is terrific, just what my professor ordered 31 Aug. 2014
By David Gray - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is terrific, just what my professor ordered, and will be a great help to me in class. Thans\ks.
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