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Classical Music: The 50 Greatest Composers and Their 1,000 Greatest Works [Format Kindle]

Phil G. Goulding

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Who are the ten most important classical composers? Who in the world was Palestrina? Why did Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" cause a riot? Which five of each important composer's works should you buy? What is a concerto and how does it differ from a sonata?
Maybe you don't know the answers to these questions; author Phil Goulding certainly didn't. When Goulding first tried to learn about classical music, he found himself buried in an avalanche of technical terms and complicated jargon--so he decided to write the book he couldn't find.
The result is a complete classical music education in one volume. Comprehensive, discriminating, and delightfully irreverent, Classical Music provides such essential information as:
* Rankings of the top 50 composers (Bach is #1. Borodin is #50)
* A detailed and anecdotal look at each composer's life and work
* The five primary works of each composer and specific recommended CDs for each.
* Further great works of each composer--if you really like him
* Concise explanations of musical terminology, forms, and periods
* A guide to the parts and history of the symphony orchestra
"This book uses every conceivable gimmick to immerse readers in the richness of classical music: lists, rankings, sidebars devoted to lively anecdotes, and catchy leads."
--The Washington Post
"One terrific music appreciation book...The information is surprisingly detailed but concisely presented. Goulding's writing style is breezy yet mature....[He] has raised music appreciation from a racket to a service."
--The Arizona Daily Star

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.0 étoiles sur 5  56 commentaires
52 internautes sur 53 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Fantastic Intro to Classical Music 25 mai 2001
Par Thomas Kieltyka - Publié sur
A book for newcomers to Classical music, it acquaints you with the subject in several valuable ways. First, the different periods (Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th Century) are defined and broken down. Then, significant artists of every period are defined. Then, the top 50 composers are listed, in order, beginning with Mr. Bach. Each of the 50 artists are then given a biographical sketch, an overview of their life's work, and their most significant works are highlighted. A Collecters Starter Kit follows for each of the 50, containing 5 works that provide good representation of their careers. Obviously, 5 works may seem laughable when considering Mozart, and may seem too much when considering Bizet, so expanded lists of works follow for those composers with a large body of work.
Goulding treats this book as a research effort, but his personal views do come through at times (He makes it very clear that Georg Telemann and Antonio Vivaldi would NOT be among his top 50, but remain on list because they are historically important composers. In fact, in the description of Telemann you are greatly encouraged to substitute Sergei Rachmaninoff).
The book ends with suggested recordings of each Starter Kit selection. This is very valuable reading prior to taking your next trip to the record store. Whether or not you choose to buy the recommended recordings, this section of the book gives you a good idea of who are the Great conductors and Orchestras, and picking a CD is easier when names like Solti, Karajan, Rubenstein, and Ashkenazy are names familiar to you.
Enjoy the journey!
48 internautes sur 50 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Gets you started--then you can make up your own mind! 30 septembre 2003
Par Carl C. Nelson - Publié sur
This book makes an excellent addition to the library of any budding classical music aficionado. It is informative and presented in a clear format that gives the reader a foundation for musical exploration as well as logical direction.
Much of the early chapters ("The Organization of Sound," "Setting the Stage") is written for the rank beginner. I found myself skimming these chapters, as will most readers who already know the differences between melody and harmony, strings and woodwinds, baroque and romantic. A beginner will find it helpful while not dry, and it's well-organized for later reference.
The bulk of the book is then given to a discussion of "The 50 Greatest Composers and Their 1,000 Greatest Works." Goulding gives a nutshell biography, with some colorful sidebars, that gives a good overview of the composers' lives, times, influences, strengths, and weaknesses.
After the bio is the most valuable part of the book--the greatest works of that composer. Goulding presents a "Starter Kit," a "Top Ten," and a "Master Collection" for each of the 50 composers. This allows a classical music newcomer to get the breadth of composers and the depth of a composer that appeals to them. That's what makes this book one that will be a long-time reference work rather than a one-off "beginners only" guide.
Most "composer's guides" seem to favor an egalitarian, arbitrary ordering--alphabetical, chronological--rather than passing judgment about the composer's worth. (I guess it's fortunate for the music beginner that one encounters Bach and Beethoven early on in either an alphabetical or chronological ordering!) I find that Goulding's rankings give direction to exploring classical music. By the time the reader is through the top 10 or top 20 in the list they've gotten to know the majority of the most important composers and their most important works.
It's easy to quibble with individual rankings--for example, I would place Sibelius (ah, his wonderful Third Symphony!) higher than #28, and there's no way you could convince me that Wagner is a better composer than Haydn or Schubert--but hard to say with a straight face that a beginner should learn Hindemith before Strauss, or Verdi before Bach.
Ultimately, there's no ranking that matters, other than one's own. Even that's a difficult proposition. Do I like Bach or Beethoven better? Darned if I know--they both "do it" for me, and (to quote Forrest Gump) that's all I've got to say about that.
My fault with the book is that Goulding's Chapter I amounts to an unnecessary justification of his ranking system, rather than diving into musical "required knowledge" and then discussing composers after laying the groundwork. Just note all the reviews more concerned with presentation (i.e., the ranking system) rather than content!
He also wastes some ink on some contrived statistics based on his rankings--ranks by nationality, century of birth, etc.--that don't do much of anything that someone who cared about that sort of thing couldn't do for themselves in an Excel spreadsheet in a half hour.
Buy this guidebook for its clear direction on where to start listening and how to broaden and deepen one's knowledge, take Goulding's opinions with a grain of salt, and acquire enough experience to form your own opinions.
32 internautes sur 33 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 very helpful for beginners! 1 septembre 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur
I knew next to nothing about classical music, but wanted to add some to my music collection. Browsing through the classical section in stores got overwhelming in a hurry. This book helped me a great deal to narrow down what CDs to look for. It's easy to read and understand, includes bios of the 50 most popular/important composers and which of their works are the most well-known, popular, or historically important. Also some suggestions on CDs to buy for various works. You don't need to read the chapters on musical history or instruments, but they are interesting and informative.
This same author has a similar book on opera, too. I'm not as interested in building a collection of opera, but I plan on buying the book just to read and educate myself a little more on opera.
Highly recommended as an easy introduction to classical music, or if you're looking to build or expand your classical libary.
28 internautes sur 30 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great Book On The Often Daunting World Of Classical Music 18 avril 2000
Par David M. Sulkers - Publié sur
Of all the books I have read on classical music, this one has got to be the most straight forward. Simple to understand for any beginner, it explains, not only some history of the composer, but the most signifigant pieces that composer produced. Thankfully, by the time I read this book, I already knew a great deal about classical music (well music history in general 'cause really there are five different periods reffered to in this book, not just the 'classical' period, those being: Renaissance; Baroque; Classical; Romantic and Twentieth Century). This book shines because it approaches the reader as a human being, knowing full well that not all of us know the meaning of texture and melody, of tone color and form. Phil Goulding is a master at meeting the reader at level, at becoming an equal to the reader. If you are interested in 'Classical' music, than this is an essential book to own, so it can be reffered to on many future occasions. One of my favorite aspects of this book is its ranking of the Top 50 composers of all time, I agree with the Top 3, though not in the order they are in currently: Bach (1); Mozart (2) and Beethoven (3). My list would have Beethoven (1); Mozart and Bach tied in 2nd and Brahms 3rd. Just to let you know. Five out of Five.
14 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Witty and Well Written 3 mai 2000
Par Un client - Publié sur
One of the best things in the book occurs before the author really gets going with the list. In the introduction, he describes how he complied the list. And it's great fun. Making value judgements seem an almost endangered species these days. Instead, here the author talks about his largely self-educative experience with classical music - from knowing nothing to becoming competent enough to write this witty book. Thus, if you are beginning a similarly self-taught journey into the intimidating and often confusing world of classical music, this book is a godsend.
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