From Publishers Weekly
To attempt to cover the range of serious music is a herculean task from medieval polyphony to the minimalism of Arvo Prt and Philip Glass, offering insights, biographical information on dozens of major and minor figures, and even finding room for moderately useful, if necessarily incomplete, discographies, Dubal has brought it off better than might have been expected. As a teacher at the Juilliard School and with 20 years as a classical program director at New York's WNCN radio station, he brings strong qualifications to the job, and since he writes decently, if sometimes rather bluntly, and has thought through his organization clearly, the book is probably the most useful of its kind now available. He divides music into the traditional five periods, and lists the significant composers as well as a host of lesser figures chronologically within those. In each case, he offers a few biographical snippets (more extended portraits for the great figures), provides a sense of where the composer fits into the scheme of things, then lists significant works and some chosen recordings. These are likely to be the most controversial aspects of the book, though Dubal is careful to point out that his choices offer a range of approaches to the seminal works. He does seem to have vast affection for the recordings of Sir Thomas Beecham and, more recently, for the work of Charles Dutoit; and inevitably some will question his priorities: nearly twice as much space for Richard Strauss as for, say, Sibelius? For Paul Dukas over Carl Nielsen? But the book's usefulness and comprehensiveness cannot be denied.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
In this entertaining and informative book, Dubal gives himself the difficult challenge of addressing two audiences simultaneously: listeners new to classical music and more experienced listeners who would like a guide to creating a "lifetime listening plan." A professor of piano literature at Juilliard and a former, longtime classical music programmer for WNCN in New York, he brings strong credentials to the taskAand, for the most part, he succeeds. The scope and attention to detail are very impressive, and the engaging writing style makes for pleasurable browsing. Dubal includes 240 composers in five chronological sections and categorizes them by date of birth within each grouping. He considers 60 to be major and, therefore, worthy of lengthy biographical entries and substantial listening lists. The remaining 180 receive about a page or less of prose, with only a handful of recordings listed. While he is relatively generous to the 20th century (more composers are included in this section than in any other), he ends his survey with William Bolcom (born in 1938), thus ignoring the many significant composers younger than 62. On the other end of the chronological spectrum, Dubal's pre-Baroque listings include only 13 composers, represented by a mere 14 recordingsAa woefully inadequate representation, given the explosion of early music recordings in the last quarter century. Despite these flaws, the book is a valuable resource for those interested in expanding their collections of classical music recordings. Recommended for all public libraries.ALarry Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, PA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.