Synopses & Reviews
A complete education in classical music, written with verve and wit. No music lover can pick up this one-volume compendium without becoming a more knowledgeable, discerning listener. • The sonata form
revealed, and why it's been deeply satisfying for three centuries. • What to listen for in Brahms,
a self-described Classicist who was one of music's great innovators. • Pizzicato, fioritura, parlando, glissando. •
The transformative power of Toscanini-
who earned more conducting the New York Philharmonic than his contemporary Babe Ruth made with the Yankees. • And throughout, more than 2,000 recommended recordings.
Log on and listen. Created with Naxos, the world's largest classical music label, the book includes a unique Web site featuring more than 500 examples cited in the text. Look up barcarolle. First read about its swaying 6/8 meter and Venetian origins; then log on to the music Web site and hear it performed in Act IV of Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffmann. If that whets your curiosity about Offenbach, click to hear the cancan in his La vie parisienne. All online samples are marked by an icon in the text.
The well-known classical music commentator from National Public Radio's Performance Today
, Libbey (The NPR Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection
) has written a listener's encyclopedia containing about 1,500 entries and 1,000 recommended recordings. Entries include biographies (both composers and performers), musical genres (sonata), musical terms (triad), musical instruments (piano), and selected musical works (Carnival of the Animals), as well as assorted other terms related to music (Carnegie Hall). Libbey's writing mirrors the clear, learned, yet always engaging style that he projects on the radio. The entry on Korngold is illustrative of Libbey's enthusiasm—the violin concerto is described as "one of the supreme masterpieces of the literature"—though the recommended recordings might have included more than one of the many extant recordings of Korngold's wonderful film scores. Several lesser-known composers who have been recorded fairly often (such as Viotti) do not rate a separate entry, though Viotti does appear in the entry on violin.
A treasure trove of over 500 music examples will be available on the web from Naxos via a login that allows for multiple accounts. Unlike Julius H. Jacobson's The Classical Music Experience (SourceBooks MediaFusion, 2003), which was published with two CDs containing about 120 usually abbreviated tracks, purchase of Libbey's book allows the listener many hours of very full samples, e.g., the complete Beethoven Waldstein Sonata, Vaughn Williams's complete The Lark Ascending, and the full 20 minutes of Bruckner's opening movement of the Seventh Symphony—a perfect way to sample great music. Bottom line, this is an excellent source for the biography, lore, and terminology of classical music, nicely enhanced by the many photographs and illustrations. As a general introduction to classical music (and especially as an encyclopedia for listeners), this book is superior to recent ventures, such as Jacobson's work or Fred Plotkin's Classical Music 101 (Hyperion, 2002). Those interested purely in recordings will also want one of the general review compendiums of classical recorded music, e.g., The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs & DVDs, Backbeat's Classical Music: The Listener's Companion, or The Rough Guide to Classical Music. Libbey's book is both a listener's encyclopedia and a guide to recordings, but it does not replace such standards as Oxford's Grove Music Online or Gale/Schirmer's Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. Recommended for all libraries.—Library Journal, Bruce R. Schueneman, Texas A&M Univ. Lib., Kingsville
A jam-packed, 11-year undertaking of 928 pages, 1,500 entries, and over 1,000 recommended recordings, The NPR Listener's Encyclopedia
is an everything-you-need-to-know bible for the classical music lover. Written with infectious enthusiasm by Ted Libbey, author of The NPR Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection
, with 174,000 copies in print, this is an encyclopedia with wit and verve, covering those terms, works, composers, and performers that NPR listeners and concertgoers are most likely to encounter. In addition, buyers of the book will receive a password that opens the door to an interactive Web site, created in a partnership with the classical music powerhouse, Naxos, that allows them to listen to 600 examples of works, techniques, and performers discussed and cross-referenced in the book. This is the first interactive encyclopedia of music!
Libbey, a spirited, selective guide, writes “lyrically and lucidly about music and music makers” (Chicago Tribune) and knows how to ground abstract ideas in the real. How does it work? Look up barcarolle, and he not only defines the term vividly (“the melody is a gentle, rocking rhythm suggestive of the swaying of a boat”) but suggests three exemplary pieces of music to listen to—Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman, Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words, and Chopin’s Barcarolle. Then go to the Web site and hear what he’s writing about.
What is the tonic? Why is there such a satisfying psychological impact at the end of a sonata? Who is Thomas Tallis? What is the idea behind Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, and was there ever an ill-tempered clavier? For the music lover, impossible to put down.
Written with infectious enthusiasm, this is an encyclopedia with wit and verve, geared to the listener, not the scholar, and covering those terms, works, composers, and performers that NPR listeners and concert-goers are most likely to hear.
From a cappella to Zukerman, The NPR Listener's Encyclopedia of Classical Music is the music lover's indispensable guide, covering terms, theory, history, works, composers, venues, and performers. Written by Ted Libbey, one of America's most highly regarded music critics and commentators, it is a complete education, featuring 1,500 entries and 2,000 recommended recordings. Plus in a partnership with Naxos, the world's largest classical music label, the book comes with a dedicated web site where listeners can hear 525 selections amounting to over 75 hours of music.
About the Author
Ted Libbey is one of America's most highly regarded music critics. A former music critic for The New York Times, he is known to millions of NPR listeners as curator of the Basic Radio Library on "Performance Today." Mr. Libbey is now Director of Media Arts of the National Endowment for the Arts. He lives in Rockville, Maryland.