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Classical Music 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Classical Music Paperback – September 18, 2002


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Classical Music 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Classical Music + Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; 1 edition (September 18, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786886277
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786886272
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.1 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #602,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The latest of many introductory books on Western classical music, Plotkin's is a fine addition to the genre, though some may prefer Robert Sherman and Philip Seldon's more traditionally organized Complete Idiot's Guide to Classical Music or Michael Walsh's hilarious and opinionated Who's Afraid of Classical Music? While most such books are at least partially chronological, Plotkin's revolves almost entirely around the orchestra's instruments and the listening experience. He presents material as coursework, and his strictures about really listening (as opposed to mere "hearing") are well taken and certainly apply to all kinds of music. A valuable feature are the interviews with classical musicians interspersed throughout. One weakness is that opera is not significantly treated, perhaps because Plotkin covered that ground in an earlier book, Opera 101: A Guide to Learning and Loving Opera. The discography is organized by chapter rather than composer (which makes it a bit awkward to use as a stand-alone source), but it is superior to the one in the Idiot's Guide. Recommended for libraries desiring an up-to-date and informative general introduction to classical music. Bruce R. Schueneman, Texas A&M Univ. Lib., Kingsville
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

"His insights and techniques are sound" -- Timeout Magazine

"Recommended for libraries desiring and up-to-date and informative general introduction to classical music." -- Library Journal

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

116 of 118 people found the following review helpful By Judge Knott on February 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
"Classical Music 101" is a great book, but there are a few caveats, which I will get to at the end of my review.
First off, this book examines--culturally and commercially--the place that classical music holds in today's world. Next, it breaks down classical music into its constitutive elements: how individual instruments produce sound; how the individual sounds of instruments come together in various orchestral formats; what role the conductor plays; and how the elusive art of active listening can be perfected. There is specific scrutiny of several representative musical works, a discography of recommended recordings, and an appendix listing concert venues all over the world.
The best aspect of the work is how it attacks, frequently and energetically, the question of why classical music matters. Plotkin has some great answers, and they are heartfelt rather than pat. The whole work is suffused with Plotkin's great knowledge and attention to detail. There are all manner of fascinating "insider" details--such as why the number of classical recordings continues to wither while record-company profits go up--that are the icing on this detail-rich cake.
There are some warnings, however. First, the typeface is troublingly small. People who have a hard time reading fine print should avoid this book. Second, this is a book is NOT a quick, breezy read (think "Classical Music for Dummies"), so if you don't want to work a little, skip it. Plotkin asks you to think and reflect, which is great--but there are less challenging classical-music guides on the market.
In the end, I believe the attentive reader of this book will be richly rewarded. Ploktin might easily make you into a lifelong classical music fan.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on December 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
At its core this book teaches you how to listen to classical music. The general format of the book is giving some theory and history, and then has you listen to a piece of music. The author then explains the music and also tells you what to listen for.

For example the book starts off by developing your listening skills. You'll learn about various instruments in the orchestra and then listen to a few recordings. Then the author teaches you how to interpret the music, and how to form your own ideas about it.

Once the foundation is laid, you'll learn how to listen to symphonies by various composers. After that you'll focus on music for a specific instrument - piano, strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion. The last section of the book is about how to listen to vocal music and how to feel music.

One thing to beware of is that you will need access to the music to get the full benefit of the book. I personally used the online music service Rhapsody which had most pieces of music. Another thing is this book is not a quick read, so be prepared to spend a lot of time listening to music.

If you a beginner to classical music I highly recommend this book.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Cat Jagger Pollon on October 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
As in his "Opera 101", Plotkin gives us a book that is helpful
to the expert as well as the novice. And as in "Opera 101",
"Classical Music 101" would be a good textbook for high school
or University classes. Mr. Plotkin is at once studious and
entertaining in his prose and one gets the impression that he is
not a classical music snob. It seems very important to him to
share his love of this music with others who may not have had
the chance to know it. This book has great depth as well as
breadth. For the person who wants to "get to know" classical
music better, or at all, Mr. Plotkin leads the reader on a gentle
and illuminating tour.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By CRVH on February 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is certainly an acceptable book on listening to classical music for beginners, and Mr. Plotkin obviously knows a great deal about the subject. However, the author's introductory promise not to treat us like "dummies" or "idiots" (references to other guidebooks he wants to distance himself from), are not wholly kept. I found much value in the content of the book, but the tone of the writing is unbearably "dick and jane-ish" - to the point that I sometimes just had to put the book down and walk away for a while. In particular the lecture on listening is profoundly didactic.

I also was disappointed that there was not more attention paid to the technical terms used for different aspects of classical music. There is definitely no succinct glossary of terms. If you want to know this stuff, I encourage a hunt and peck journey on wikipedia.

One very good feature of the book is an extensive list of concert halls, internet resources, and other bits of ephemera of interest to the classical music novice.

Overall, it's a decent book to own, but I didn't like it enough to recommend.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Nobel Khandaker on June 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
If you are a beginner and would like to know about western classical music, this book is a great start. The writing style is clear, explanatory and authoritative.

I am a beginner and I am just starting to learn about classical music. I read the book, download music from itunes and then compare my notes with the authors. This gives me a chance to know classical music from a professional.

So, if you buy one book on classical music, buy this one, if you buy two books, buy this one and some other book.

nobel
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