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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (September 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470550929
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470550922
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Anyone who is familiar with the What Makes It Great? series—which airs on NPR's Performance Today at Lincoln Center as well as at other concert halls around North America—knows about Rob Kapilow's special gift for helping listeners of all kinds deepen their understanding and appreciation of classical music.

In this book, Kapilow focuses on short masterpieces by major composers to help you understand the essence of each composer's genius and how each piece—which can be seen as well as heard on the book's companion website—transformed the musical language of its time. His down-to-earth approach makes these great pieces easy to grasp no matter what your musical background.

You'll explore the musical styles and genius of eighteen great classical composers, including Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Chopin, Puccini, Wagner, Dvoak, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, and more. You'll delve deeply into some of the most popular music from the classical repertoire, such as Vivaldi's "Spring" from The Four Seasons and Tchaikovsky's "Trepak" from The Nutcracker Suite. With Kapilow's guidance, you'll get to know each short piece measure by measure, phrase by phrase, and layer by layer, and gain a rich, in-depth understanding of its language and style.

As you listen to each composition, you'll discover how the piece is put together, what makes it great, and how it exemplifies the composer's style. This combination of close listening—via the easy-to-use website—and historical and musical context will not only foster a deep understanding of these pieces and composers, but also inform and enrich your experience when listening to classical music.

Whether you're a first-time listener, an experienced concertgoer, or a performing musician, What Makes It Great?, along with musical examples on the book's website (with a scrollbar that allows even those who don't read music to follow along), offers an invaluable point of entry into the world of some of Western music's greatest composers and a collection of individual masterpieces spanning almost two hundred years.

From the Back Cover

Praise for Rob Kapilow

"Kapilow . . . has been helping audiences hear more in great music for almost twenty years. . . . Clearly, he wants to switch people on to classical music, to encourage the same people who 'get' the music of a Broadway show similarly to get Vivaldi and Beethoven."
Gramophone on All You Have to Do Is Listen

"Kapilow gets audiences in tune with classical music at a deeper and more immediate level than many of them thought possible."
Los Angeles Times

"Rob Kapilow is awfully good at what he does. We need him."
The Boston Globe

"A wonderful guy who brings music alive!"
Katie Couric

"Rob Kapilow leaps into the void dividing music analysis from appreciation and fills it with exhilarating details and sensations."
The New York Times

"You could practically see the light bulbs going on above people's heads. . . . The audience could decipher the music in a new, deeper way. It was the total opposite of passive listening."
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. N. Tepfer on April 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This 2nd book by Rob Kapilow is just as well done as his 1st. It is accessible to everyone. If you are a music lover and knowledgable it will truly make the pieces more enjoyable. If you are a new comer to the world of classical it will help open the doors and welcome you. The bonus of being able to listen to the music while reading the book makes all the difference.
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By Don249 on May 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm not a musician. Don't read music, but enjoy listening to classical music. I enjoyed the way the music paints a picture with sounds, with emphases, tones and instruments. Didn't care much for the opera sections but now have more of an understanding of what is being presented.
I really enjoyed being able to hear the music after and while reading the text.
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By Amazon Customer on February 1, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
After seeing Rob in person several times and enjoying him immensely, the book is wonderful and enlightning. The musical excerps make the book much more enjoyable.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful By evanlucky13 on November 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
if you previously had no understanding of what good music is, or worse you think bieber qualifies as quality this book is a must read. it encompasses so many of the finest musicians the world has ever known and breaks down the criteria for true greatness.
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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Alvin Kahn M.D. on October 28, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition with Audio/Video Verified Purchase
How do I access the music sites? Clicking on the highlighted text doesn't work on my iPad....

Thanks for any helpful suggestions!
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More About the Author

Rob Kapilow, a composer, conductor, and pianist, has been affectionately nicknamed "the pied piper of classical music" because of his talent for unraveling the mysteries of classical music for audiences of all ages and backgrounds.  His "What Makes It Great?"TM made its debut over a decade ago on NPR's Performance Today. With its accessible10-minute format it quickly attracted an enthusiastic and wide base of fans and developed into full-length concert evenings, which are now a mainstay of Lincoln Center's "Great Performers" series (with its first nationwide broadcast on "Live from Lincoln Center" in January and two video podcasts now available on iTunes), the Celebrity series in Boston, and at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.  He also appears regularly throughout the U.S. and Canada, both with "What Makes it Great?"TM  and FamilyMusik©, in public and corporate venues. He has conducted new works of musical theater including Tony Award-winning Nine on Broadway. He is the conductor/creative director for FamilyMusik© at Lincoln Center, Boston's Celebrity Series, the 92nd Street Y, co-director of the Rutgers SummerFest Festival, assistant conductor of the Opera Company of Boston, conductor of the Kansas City Symphony's summer Family Fare program, and he was music director of the Yale Symphony Orchestra for five seasons.  He was the first composer to set the words of Dr. Seuss to music in Green Eggs and Ham. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale and Eastman School of Music, he lives in River Vale, NJ.

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