- Hardcover: 1200 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 9 edition (April 15, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393918297
- ISBN-13: 978-0393918298
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.8 x 10.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 133 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A History of Western Music (Ninth Edition) 9th Edition
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About the Author
J. Peter Burkholder is Distinguished Professor of Musicology at Indiana University. He has written and edited four books on Charles Ives, as well as numerous articles on topics spanning from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century for The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Journal of the American Musicological Society, Journal of Musicology, Musical Quarterly, 19th-Century Music, Music Theory Spectrum, and other journals. He has served as President, Vice President, and Director-at-Large of the American Musicological Society and on the board of the College Music Society. His writings have received awards from the American Musicological Society, the Society for American Music, and ASCAP.
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Top customer reviews
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My major complaint, however, which probably should prompt even more "points" knocked off the rating, is that there are accompanying materials - the written/graphic "anthology" and the "recorded" anthology, both of which i would like to get, but they are expensive and it is VERY (!!!!) difficult to determine exactly which of each of these really goes with the 8th edition i got. Everything seems to have different editions, and there are the "lite" version (something like 6 cds) and the "complete" version (like 15 cds or something), i think of both. the reason to be sure is that in the margin there are (very helpful) indications where in the written/graphic and in the recorded anthology you can find the score (written/graphic) or music (recorded) materials that are being discussed. If you pick a certain instance of this, then try to go where you might order the written or recorded anthology - guess what! - you do not immediately find anything that looks right. Not to mention that i believe on the Norton site the current edition of the history itself is - or was last month - the 7th edition. I just don't see the reason for all this chaos and confusion. Once they get it figured out and clear, i will be buying, because it is good material, but this is almost like dealing with Microsoft! Why not say, 8th edition history goes with 5th edition "lite" cds, or something - in a chart?
If someone actually has found out what to buy, or somehow bought the right thing by chance, you are probably giving this 5 stars (because i'm sure it's great), and probably you think i am nuts. If so, how about tipping me off - what are the specifics (name and edition#) for the complete written and recorded anthologies that go with the book, 8th edition?
My own systematic introduction to Western art music began with the Baroque period, with a brief mention that there was something called Gregorian Chant which preceded it. Grout's treatment is the polar opposite of this approach; he begins with Greek antiquity and proceeds forward through the medieval and renaissance periods in such detail that Bach is not encountered until the book's halfway point. Yet despite this inclusiveness, there is no mention of Hildegard von Bingen, who I had assumed to be a major early Renaissance composer. As an introduction to the field, this may not be the most useful approach; the neophyte may wish for greater concentration on the composers he is more likely to hear. Sensibly, Grout limits his presentation of the 20th century to the giants (Stravinsky, Schoenberg) whose significance was apparent at the halfway point, with brief mentions of others; he may be forgiven his extensive section on Hindemith, who may have appeared more important in the 1950s than he has since become. Nevertheless, I give the book five stars for inclusiveness.
I must temper this position by awarding three stars for the nearly complete absence of any context within which the music took form. Grout not only neglects any discussion of the historical events surrounding the composers; there is no mention of events within the composers' own lives that may have affected their creativity. It is as if the music took form within a vacuum, with no relation to anything except the music that came before it, whether in continued development or opposition. The timeline in the appendix is woefully inadequate in this regard, a mere chronology with no relation other than temporal to the events noted.
It is a modern convention that art is more properly understood through historiographical analysis; that some relationship exists between artistic creativity and the society within which it is created. It goes without saying that an artist's work also springs from his own life experiences. Shostakovich cannot be understood without the awareness that his music was an expression of his opposition to Soviet Communism; it is of interest to note Mozart's complete subservience to his own political environment. If it is unfair to criticize this edition of Grout for not exploring pathways which to us seem obvious, then by the same token, the book is itself subject to historiographic deconstruction. It is valuable not so much as a resource for information on Western art music composers, but as a snapshot of the academic attitude toward those composers current in the 1950s. As I have not read any later editions, I can't comment on whether this deficit has been corrected - but this would have required a complete reorientation of the author's philosophy.
Most inexcusably, Grout concludes with a brief observation of the rift between the public and classical music composers (especially the modern ones), with no thoughts as to the implications this may have on the future of this art form. Again, the music is viewed as existing in a vacuum, unrelated to the world at large and the lives of the composers who created it. This bespeaks the astonishing opinion that Western art music has no importance for anyone outside the small circle of specialists directly concerned with it. It was, and is this very attitude that to a large extent is responsible for the peripheral place this great tradition has in society today, and the risk of its continued marginalization in the future.