The Lives of the Great Composers Hardcover – 1 Dec 1982
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Extremely readable... well founded in scholarship and well written (TLS)
Panoramic, wittily detailed... equally pleasing to read from end to end, to dip casually, or to consult (NEW YORK TIMES)
Packed with fruity anecdotes (OBSERVER)
Peerless ... the first book any young music lover should read (GUARDIAN) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
* Best single-volume guide to composers now on the market. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
These are scarcely complete biographies - extensive pen portraits of the major composers, a few paragraphs on the lesser ones. Schonberg rather sets each composer in the context of their time - brief biographical notes being expanded by an analysis of their musical influences and an exploration of the themes and approaches which best characterise their work.
Schonberg has a highly entertaining style of writing. In general, his writing is completely absorbing, but he is capable of outrageous wit and acerbic asides. He combines the ability to inform with the ability to entertain. As such, it is a book you can read from cover to cover, or one which you can pick up and use as reference, glancing at a specific chapter or two.
The book conveys the voice of a great teacher. Schonberg inspires you to want to know more. Could Tchaikovsky really have been told to commit suicide? What was 'the phenomenon of tickling' which characterised a Liszt concert? Why was there so much excitement generated at the first rehearsals of 'Nabucco'?
This is decidedly a starter which will inspire you to learn more about the classical music world. As such, it is ahead of its time.Read more ›
I originally acquired this book in the late eighties and have returned to it many times over the intervening years. With a short chapter for each composer, the book's format lends itself to bite-size revisits.
There are also dozens of pieces of music I first listened to due to a mention in this book, and then subsequently understood the historical context in which the item was first produced.
If I have one caveat then it is that in places the book does show its age. Mahler and Bruckner, for instance, should have their own chapters instead of being lumped together along with Max Reger. It is the same with Scriabin and Rachmaninov although one could possibly argue that this is justified bearing in mind that both were students together for some years.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love this book . Before I bought this book I bought books of the composers I was interested in. With this book I can get a enough background about the composers on one book.Published 9 months ago by watto
This supposed classic is just dull. It fails to weave a narrative that combines the composers' lives with their work and it omits important details too. Read morePublished on 29 May 2014 by Peter Gillman
A solid account - although the valuation of composers has a changed to some extent since the work was written. However, the book is not as "dated" as I feared it would be.Published on 2 Dec. 2013 by Paul Marks
My husband was so pleased to receive this gift, being a musician. It is a very interesting and informative book.Published on 24 April 2013 by KarCup
An excellent, well written, unstuffy introduction to the lives of the great music masters and their music. Read morePublished on 17 July 2009 by JJA Kiefte
Mr Schonberg covers the composers from Monteverdi to Schnittke and development of musical thought over the 400 years in 720 pages. Read morePublished on 25 Oct. 2004 by Heino Viik