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The NPR Listener's Encyclopedia of Classical Music Paperback – April 11, 2006


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The NPR Listener's Encyclopedia of Classical Music + The NPR Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection: Second Edition, Revised and Updated + The Vintage Guide to Classical Music
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 928 pages
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company; first edition, first print edition (April 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761120726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761120728
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"No one book can include everything that's important to everybody," notes music critic Libbey in his introduction, and the flawed work that follows confirms this. Limited space and Libbey's emphasis on popular performers reduces the volume's historical comprehensiveness (Hilary Hahn appears but not Reynaldo Hahn). The book targets the general public, which may explain its superficiality but not some of the chances it misses. And it doesn't explain numerous factual errors: among them, Libbey erroneously states Mahler was ousted from the Vienna Hofoper, when he resigned; he also neglects to note that the main Allegro theme of Saint-Saëns's Third Symphony ("Organ") is based on a melody associated with Liszt, the work's dedicatee. The misguided pop-culture tone of the tome is exemplified by photos of F. Murray Abraham as Salieri and Tom Hulce as Mozart in Amadeus in their respective entries-despite the fact that portraits of the actual men are available. Despite its faults, this is a good book for those curious about terminology and names they encounter in broadcasts or CD booklets. Some entries are gathered into thematic sections, such as "exotic instruments," "American Mavericks" and "New Voices" (i.e. young composers), that will help direct a reader's exploration of the repertoire. Additionally, a companion website has free audio links to over 500 pieces mentioned in the book. Hundreds of b&w photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 8 Up–An outstanding classical music resource, worth every moment devoted to its 11-year creation. With 1500 entries on composers, performers, instruments, musical terms, compositions, and historical periods, this clearly written, witty overview accomplishes the author's stated intent: to connect with the broadest possible public, and to focus on those areas of the literature that are well represented on recordings and accessible to the general listener. The encyclopedia is a perfect general introduction for novices or casual listeners, as well as an informative review for more seasoned classical music fans. Almost every entry for a composer, performer, or composition includes a small text box of Recommended Recordings, most of which are reviewed in The NPR Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection (Workman, 1999). Many clear, captioned black-and-white photos, primarily portraits, are included. One unique and particularly useful feature is a series of links to more than 500 musical selections on a Web site created by Naxos, a large classical music label. Readers can access more than 75 hours of music using the log-in code to gain initial access and register as users. Every library will want this excellent book.–Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

I didn't get what I wanted, but turns out, got something else....and its great.
Konstantin
The NPR book is younger, more detailed, more information on a wider variety of artists and composers and in my opinion ; much better.
Clinton C. Brown
I think this is a fantastic resource for people starting to learn about classical music.
Gary in Silver Spring

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 70 people found the following review helpful By David R. Moran on November 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
As someone who helped in the editing of this project, I am altogether loath to praise it in a commercial forum. But I really must wonder what the above foolish critique from *Publishers Weekly* is about. Talk about unprofessional skimming. Is it better to include a truly minor composer (Reynaldo Hahn) than a leading young American violinist (Hilary Hahn)? What of the reviewer's clear implication that there are no pictures of Mozart (there are several) or Salieri (there is a silhouette), or that it would be better to omit any photos from the nitwit movie (*Amadeus*) through which most laypeople recently have become misguidedly familiar with these two figures in music history?

Even if it's called an encyclopedia, it is altogether informed by one person's judgment and taste -- as if it could ever have been otherwise.

As for the "numerous" errors alleged, of which only a trivial charge concerning an omission holds up, one disputes the book's report about Mahler's departure from the Vienna Court (today State) Opera, countering that he was not fired but resigned. Alas for the skimming *PW* reviewer, Grove's explains it baldly: "... he was again forced to look elsewhere."

So you can safely ignore this particular *PW* review. Buy Libbey's work to read and decide for yourself how solid it is, how useful for you in your listening, and where you may wish to quibble, if you do.
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47 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Kent Taylor on July 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a tremendous resource for anyone needing concise information about anyone involved in or any concept, however obscure, concerning classical music. The one thing missing that I think would be invaluable is a phonetic pronunciation guide. This would be particularly helpful with the composers, conductors and other musicians who are referenced. Everyone probably knows the big dogs, but the strength of this publications is the inclusion of practically everyone of note in this music field; many who are quite unknown to most of us. The pronunciation guide would be extremely helpful. Otherwise, I find this text to be a clearly superior and exhaustive resource.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Miles D. Moore VINE VOICE on June 23, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The NPR Listener's Encyclopedia of Classical Music" is a delightful combination reference book and video game for all classical music buffs. Besides its nearly 1,000 pages of listings, from Claudio Abbado to Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, the book gives you access to a page on the Naxos Music website which allows you to listen to more than 500 musical selections online. I just signed on to the page for the first time, and listened to the very first listed selection--John Adams' "Shaker Loops." I look forward to hours of fun with this wonderful new toy! I appreciate the breadth and depth of knowledge author Ted Libbey brings to the project, as well as his inclusion of favorites of mine who aren't necessarily well-known to today's listening public, such as the Danish tenor Aksel Schiotz. In his introduction, Libbey notes he tried to avoid the gaps and errors in such standard reference works as Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, and adds, "Doubtless there will be errors still, and for these I accept full responsibility." Alas, I have already caught him in two. The first is the listing of Beethoven's birthday as December 17, 1770, when even "Peanuts'" Schroeder and Lucy know that Beethoven was born on December 16. Of course, that could have been a printer's or proofreader's error, but the second mistake is more serious--when Libbey states that Vladimir Horowitz withdrew from the concert stage in 1953 in a severe depression over the suicide of his only daughter. Actually, Horowitz's daughter, Sonia, did not commit suicide until the 1970s (which caused Horowitz a second bout of severe depression); I'm not sure exactly what caused Horowitz's 1953 breakdown, but I had always understood that an addiction to prescription drugs was at least partly to blame. Nevertheless, these are minor caveats to an otherwise enjoyable and informative volume. Any classical music lover with computer access would be happy to own it.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Konstantin on January 9, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I went out on a limb and bought this while deployed overseas not really knowing what to expect. I didn't get what I wanted, but turns out, got something else....and its great. This I would say (along with THE ESSENTIAL CANNON OF CLASSICAL MUSIC by Dubal) make up the two books that I think every newcomer to classical music should own to enhance their listening experience. This book will function to explain every piece of strange terminology you will ancounter on your journey (and boy are their a lot of them!) and even give you background on some pieces and composers. So listen, enjoy....and keep me updated!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jeanne M. Levie on January 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book contains almost everything you could want to know about classical music, the people up to the present, the instruments, the terms, and the music itself some of which can be accessed on line through a Naxos website, It is well illustrated and engagingly written. The only drawback is that the book is hard to put down. One wants to check out just one more thing and it goes on and on. I also like that it is a paperback or its 980 pages would be too heavy to lift. I heard the author interviewed on NPR and was prepared to pay a lot of money for the book and so was blown away by the Amazon price. It is a must have reference book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Clinton C. Brown on June 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
Couldn't choose between the NPR ecyclopedia and the Vantage Guide so bought both. The NPR book is younger, more detailed, more information on a wider variety of artists and composers and in my opinion ; much better.
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