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The Listener's Musical Companion Hardcover – December 19, 1991

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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews


"An excellent gift idea for both neophytes and seasoned collectors."--Classical Music Magazine

Praise for previous editions:

"First class....The best appreciative-writing being done....Makes fine reading; even its opinions seem to me sound, as well as refreshingly non-canonical."--Virgil Thomson

"This delightfully printed, conveniently arranged book talks candidly and intelligently, with discrimination and affection, about an extraordinary number of things....Haggin [was] one of the best, most courageous, and most individual critics alive, this is a unique book, one that will be a help and joy to many people."--Randall Jarrell, The New York Times

"[Haggin] talks about the major composers and what they are up to, and he beautifully conveys what is most difficult to convey--how they are good....In a class with lectures by the occasional great teacher whose genuine enthusiasms spark his classes and whose frank hatreds are signs not of narrowness but of life....The book is a pleasure to read."--The New Yorker

"The expository prose would be the best I've ever read, even if it did not express the most convincing judgments I've ever had the chance to verify for myself; but it does that too, and so is a complete marvel."--Marvin Mudrick

"First there is the candor and power of the prose itself, the voice of a music critic who can actually think. This is rare in the field. Then you notice, with astonished relief, the sensible attitude Mr. Haggin is taking toward you. He is neither Olympian nor 'friendly,' neither a shocker nor a relaxer."--The Nation

"Shows the continuing growth of a mind and sensibility which have never settled into established grooves and which are never overwhelmed by the fashionable cliches of contemporary criticism."--The New York Herald Tribune Book Review

"No other compilation offers such careful, sharpwitted, confidence-inspiring comments on...recorded performances."--Commentary

"[Haggin] writes with grace, polish, and admirable clarity. No one would question his integrity."--Library Journal --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

About the Author:
B.H. Haggin was a prominent music critic who wrote regularly for The Nation, The Hudson Review, The Yale Review, and The New Republic. His books include Arturo Toscanini: Contemporary Recollections of the Maestro, Music in the Nation, and Music and Ballet 1973-1983.
About the Editor:
Thomas Hathaway is Haggin's literary executor. He writes regularly on musical matters for Musical America, The Queen's Quarterly, Sonance, and Fanfare.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 520 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 8 edition (December 19, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195063740
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195063745
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.3 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,411,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By P. F. Boshardy on October 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
Suggest reading this book while listening to the music being explained by Haggin, who has a gift for putting into words how music makes us feel and explaining how the mechanics behind the music conspire to produce those emotions. Great resource for improving your cocktail party conversation and impressing people: the lyrical prose can be hypnotically beautiful. Might be challenging for some readers to follow the complicated (run-on) sentences, collegiate vocabulary and charmingly effusive adverbs and adjectives. Composers include Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart, Haydn, Berlioz, Bach, Brahms, Wagner, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Musorgsky, Strauss, Mahler, Debussy, among others and a brief chapter on Jazz performances. "Chapter 2: The Meaning of Music. I said that a piece of music is a communication. And if you are one of those to whom a Beethoven symphony is a lot of meaningless noises, you may say: "Tell me what it communicates"--meaning of course "Tell me in words." But the simple inescapable fact of the situation is that what Beethoven says in those sounds cannot be told in words. Someone observed once that art is not superfluous--by which he meant that the artist produces it to communicate something he can't communicate in any other way. You can see this most clearly in poetry: The particular images and overtones of sense and feeling from the lines, "When to the Sessions of sweet silent thought, I summon up remembrance of things past," are communicated only by this particular assemblage of words; and you won't get them from a statement in other words like "When in hours of mediation I recall the past." So with painting.Read more ›
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Xiaokang Mo on December 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
Mr. Haggin was a rare case of an art writer who did not write as a "professional". He had real passion! He hated mediocrity.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves music, music by Hayden, Mozart and Beethoven. I also recommend all of his other writings.

This book contains a comprehensive reference to all the great composers and great music works in the western music tradition, as seem by Mr. Haggin, with brief comments. With this book at hand, you will not miss anything.

Another book by Mr. Haggin's, Music For Those Who Enjoys Hamlet, introduces a small sample of great music works in greater detail.
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