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This, with his 'Guide to the Concerto', gives us a well written introduction to the orchestral genre. I would say that, outside of the hugh and expensive: Symphonic Repertoire, this is the best book on the symphony available. Layton's book is very readable and extremely useful; it puts the works in historical, political, geographic and ,of course, musical perspective, it also has excellent coverge of 20th Century works, as well as all the standard stuff. It's is very well structured and I have 'discovered' many new symphonists to listen to, which aren't covered in more popularist books on this subject.
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