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My Favourite Classical Music Book
on 13 May 2007
As classical music guides go, this is one of my favourites. It's described as `hardcover' but is more `stiff paperback' like the other Eyewitness Companions in this series.
The book is produced in association with Classic FM, which is one of the main reasons it is so readable and yet informative. Classic FM, having spent more than a decade successfully popularizing classical music, have helped present the information in layman terms instead of the rather `dry' methods used by some authors.
Divided into ten main sections, with a foreword by Lady Solti (of the late Sir Georg Solti), the book is on quality paper with numerous colour illustrations and photographs.
The contents are briefly as follows:
THE ELEMENTS OF CLASSICAL MUSIC (7 pages) - a very brief intro to the basics of classical music.
CLASSICAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS (11 pages) - a run down of the popular instruments of the orchestra.
CLASSICAL MUSIC IN PERFORMANCE (7 pages) - where and how classical music is performed.
EARLY MUSIC (29 pages) - from Middle Ages to Renaissance.
THE BAROQUE ERA (49 pages) - from 1600 to 1750.
THE CLASSICAL ERA (39 pages) - from 1750 to 1820.
THE ROMANTIC ERA (65 pages) - from 1810 to 1920.
THE ROMANTIC OPERA (39 pages) - opera from 1810 to 1920.
NATIONAL SCHOOLS (107 pages) - 1830 to 1950, an account of each composer from their respective country.
MODERN MUSIC (120 pages) - 1900 to the present, a large section covering the period variably described as `neo-classical', `modern classical or `minimalist'.
This book comfortably fills the gap between an all-to-brief `pocket guide' and an all-to-heavy encyclopedic `tome'. It is easily my first choice recommendation for the newcomer to classical music, while still offering an excellent read to the more knowledgeable classical music enthusiast.