Synopses & Reviews
Engaging, clear and informative, this is the story of western music - of its great composers, its performers and listeners, and of the ever changing ideas of what music is and what it is for. Paul Griffiths shows how music has evolved through the centuries, and suggests how musical evolution has reflected developments in history and culture. The book provides an enticing introduction for students and beginners, using the minimum of technical terms, all straightforwardly defined in the glossary. Its perspective and its insights will also make it illuminating for teachers, musicians and music lovers. Suggestions for further reading and recommended recordings are given at the end of each of the 24 short chapters.
"Cambridge's target audience for its new book is 'students and beginners,' and this may explain why the book, unlike other single-volume music histories, is devoid of demonstrative score samples. It does not, however, explain the book's spotty approach, which may confuse those same beginners. After a brief mention of music in the ancient world, Griffiths jumps to the early Middle Ages in Europe, addressing the fundamental importance of music notation. From this point, Griffiths leads a tour through 1100 years of music-making, addressing simultaneous developments in many areas of Western culture, including politics, literature and mathematics. The effectiveness of this approach becomes questionable as the volume enters the Baroque era, when the number of composers and the variety of styles expand rapidly. Though the text is filled with Griffith's typically excellent, thought-provoking observations-he's written for The New Yorker and The New York Times-his writing from this point meanders, like a casual conversation. One can learn about trends and ground-breaking works here, but trying to get a picture of Schoenberg's career and development, for instance, is difficult. The method also leads to some chapter misnomers: the author's discussions of Verdi, Bizet and 19th-century Russian Nationalists are in the chapter, 'New Germans and Old Vienna.' For these reasons, the volume will be more useful to seasoned readers than to novices. A glossary is welcome and helpful, as is a list of recommended readings and recordings." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Engaging, clear and informative, this book traces the history of western classical music. 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. A glossary provides the reader with clear definitions of technical terms, and a list of recommended books and recordings is included. An essential read for students, teachers and classical music lovers alike.
A brief history of western classical music which will appeal to all music lovers.