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The Gift of Music (Expanded and Revised, 3rd Edition): Great Composers and Their Influence Paperback – November 1, 1995


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

JANE STUART SMITH has sung in the major opera houses of Europe and America. She presently lives at L'Abri Fellowship in Switzerland, where she lectures in music. BETTY CARLSON has studied at the Conservatory of Music in Lausanne, Switzerland, and now writes and works at L'Abri Fellowship. With Jane Stuart Smith, she coauthored Crossway's Favorite Men Hymn Writers and Favorite Women Hymn Writers. Recognized internationally for his work in Christianity and culture, Francis A. Schaeffer authored more than twenty books, which have been translated into a score of languages and sold millions worldwide. He and his wife, Edith, founded L'Abri Fellowship international study and discipleship centers. Schaeffer passed away in 1984, but his influence and legacy continue worldwide.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway; 3 edition (November 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 089107869X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891078692
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Alan Lekan on February 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a superbly written book that contains 36 intriguing biographies and profiles of some of the great composers: from Baroque masters like Vivaldi and Bach ... through the pioneers of Classicism like Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven ... to the Romantic-era greats like Debussy and Liszt ... up to modern composers like Prokofiev and Bartok. The essays are crisp and flow like a good novel without getting bogged down in musicology terms (so good for young students and non-musical readers). Also their occassional comparisons through philosophy, art and Christian perspective makes for a deeper experience versus a overly "dry," academic treatment of mere dates and milestones. I have come to really appreciate this book's depth and have to admit this humble paperback is probably my favorite reference for studying a new composer (Schonberg's legendary "Lives of the Great Composers" being the other).

It would help to first say what this book is NOT: (1) A complete survey of the history of classical music, (2) A book on music theory or analysis of major works, (3) a presentation of ALL musical styles like Jazz, Pop, country etc. (4) A book ONLY about composers who were of Christian faith. Rather, the focus is on a sampling of the most famous composers of "classical music." Their lives and music are presented in factual, historical and non-judgmental way with the clear emphasis being on the gift of music they left the world. There are some references as to how their Christian faith influenced their music - which some will appreciate and others not. However, if your primary interest is the spiritual aspect of these men, then Patrick Kavanaugh's book, "The Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers," would be a better choice.
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63 of 67 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is complete with each classical music composer, history of the life and works of music. It is written to aide people in historical facts of the composer, facts that are not normally shared in education. For example, many of the composers had a deep Christian influence in their music, and wrote for the Glory of God and stated so on origional music sheets. The book can be used for a complete classical music history education from early ages all the way up to senior high students. This is the only book needed for music education. It works extremely well in tying in facts in all areas of history. It is very well put together and informative.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 6, 2002
Format: Paperback
I greatly appreciate this book--it's a wonderful introduction to famous composers, plus a valuable resource for Christians who want to start or add to their collection of GOOD Christian music. Be a counter-cultural Christian--toss out the CCM and fire up Schutz, Bach, Handel, and the rest! Your mind and spirit (not to mention your neighbors) will thank you for it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Anne TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
Recently, I had the chance to begin reading this book by Jane Stuart Smith and Betty Carlson. These authors wrote a very easy to read book titled Great Women Authors. It is now out of print, but it is one my favorite books. I was curious about this book because I had enjoyed their writing before. I was surprised to discover that this book is written quite differently.

The Gift of Music includes a foreward by Francis Shaeffer, a prelude to the book, and biographies of 42 classical composers. These biographies are less personal than the biographies in Great Women Authors. In the book about women authors, Stuart and Carlson gave a personal sketch of the authors. The reader felt like they got to know them. This book about composers is much more about what they each did, how they interacted with other notable figures and developed a wholistic picture of classical music. There are a few personal details about the composers, but the biographies paint a picture of the music these men wrote and its place in the world of classical music.

This quote at the beginning of the book made me pause,

"There are things in the Christian world that cause us to be sad. One of these is that for many Christians classical music is a complete vacuum. This robs individual Christians and their children of one of the very rich areas of joy in this life....the chief sadnes of knowing little about classical music consists in the loss the Christian experiences in one of the areas of the affirmation of life." from the Foreward by Francis Schaeffer on page ix.

As I read several of the biographies, I realized how little I know about classical music! I was amazed to learn how the composers mentored and influenced one another. This book is a lot like a textbook.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Wayne S. Walker on June 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
As I have said before, I believe that everyone, especially Bible believers, need to study and be acquainted with the great music that is part of our Western Cultural tradition, but since the great composers were not always great men, learning about them from a purely secular standpoint can sometimes present students with issues of a perverse nature which many parents would prefer be put off until the child is more mature. In addition to Patrick Cavanaugh's Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers, we used Jane Stuart Smith and Betty Carlson's The Gift of Music as the core of our homeschool curriculum of music history and literature.
Jane Stuart Smith has sung in the major operas houses of Europe and America. Betty Carlson studied at the Conservatory of Music in Lausanne, Switzerland. Both now live and teach at L'Abri Fellowship in Switzerland and have co-authored Crossway's Favorite Men Hymn Writers and Favorite Women Hymn Writers. The 44 chapters of this book give information about the vast majority of the great composers of Western music, dealing with many of them sensitively from a Biblical worldview and even drawing important lessons from their lives, both good and bad, along with recommendations for listening and for further reading. Also included are a chart on music in the flow of history and the arts, a select bibliography, a glossary, and an index. As a music student myself, I found it very helpful.
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