"Good music is a personal interpretation of experience, shaped and endowed with meaning, ordered by a particular intelligence and a particular sensitivity" writes Dhun H. Sethna in the first chapter of Classical Music for Everybody
. "This book challenges the listeners to reach out and examine the music, and then reexamine themselves, so that it becomes a joint effort to make sense of life--a shared world created through sound, to be imagined, explored and interpreted."
Although the writing is occasionally awkward, Sethna's approach to teaching about classical music works well. He examines it one musical snippet at a time, looking at each piece for what it can tell us about human life and death, among other issues. Taking an intensive look at one song, such as Schubert's "Der Erlkonig," or one movement from a larger work ("The March to the Scaffold," from Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique), he explores the history behind the music and what it is intended to express. Sethna thus provides interested listeners with a solid base of information on which they can build their knowledge. The brief discographies for each selection, which concentrate on budget issues that will help you build a compact disc library, are also helpful.
From Library Journal
Those with little exposure to classical music often tend to be daunted by its immensity and complexity. Sethna, a heart surgeon with an MBA, has a passion for the subject that shines through his book. Readers cannot help but be drawn toward the music that he so aptly describes, for he writes both clearly and enthusiastically. After explaining how to use the book, Sethna discusses how to listen. Next, he covers the various periods and explores various themes used in music (e.g., the sea, death, Hell, Faust, the supernatural, myth, Shakespeare). Specific compositions are described in telling detail. At the end of each selection, he recommends CDs in three price ranges. For a different slant, librarians may also want to consult Robert Sherman and Philip Seldon's fun and informative The Complete Idiot's Guide to Classical Music (Alpha Bks: Macmillan Reference, 1997). Recommended for public and academic libraries.?Kathleen Sparkman, Baylor Univ., Waco, Tex.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.