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66 of 77 people found the following review helpful
The 6th edition still sets the standard !
on April 10, 2004
I remember the First edition of Grout's "A History of Western Music"--it was the main text in use when I was a first year undergraduate student. In fact it was one of the standard texts in use at a large number of colleges. The good news is that I was pleased to see the excellent changes. I didn't have to look far to find my first (1 st) edition Grout ( I've used it still until I purchased this new 6th edition several weeks ago)--there are 101 more pages of text. In reality there is much more to look at as the 1st edition book was only 6 x 9 inches. The new 6th Edition is larger: 7 1/4 by 10 1/2 inches. In addition, there is a highly attractive layout; the best feature? A wonderful highlighted-in-blue area (appearing every 40 pages or so) in which the composers themselves speak about a wonderful range of topics such as Francois Couperin 'On the Union of the Italian and French Styles' or, the great J.S. Bach's description of one the church service's he organized (known as an 'Order of Service') taken from a collection of his memoirs.
Lastly, I enjoyed seeing the addition of an overall "Time-Line of Events" which prefaces each unit. This includes not only items from music, but any historical event which remotely affected change in music or musical thought.
My singluar critical note is perhaps something which the authors had little time to devote to. The 6th edition ends with composers who, in this reviewer's opinion, were certainly not 'mainstream'--like John Cage (1912-1992) (who's infamous "4'33" is actually a period of four minutes and thirythree seconds in which the 'performer' remains totally silent). Cage was popular in the late 70s more for his extremism than anything else. The last paragraph of the book does state, in effect, that composers are being more sensitive to their audiences. (No doubt! Their INsensitivity nearly killed classical music in the 70s) As with any textbook, deadlines must limit speculation--there will undoubtedly be a 7th edition to address more changes in our musical world.
Lastly, the reader should take note that the current author of this work, Claude V. Palisca, is also the author of the "Norton Anthology of Music" which can be used in conjunction with this text. Also, the publisher, W.W.Norton and Co., has a website for readers (which is also mentioned in the text: [...] The website is still active (I just visited it) and has a wealth of information and listening resources---too bad we didn't have this back in 1967 !