Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Trade in your item
Get a $32.12
Gift Card.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 11 images

Oxford History of Western Music: 5-vol. set Paperback – July 27, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$209.98 $182.94

The Amazon Book Review
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Most of the news in classical music takes place on stage or on disc. But at the moment, one of the biggest stories (in more ways than one) is taking place on the printed page." --The New York Times


"Erudite, engaging, and suffused throughout with a mixture of brilliance and delirium...staggering, brilliant, opinionated."--Washington Post


"Readers will profit from his sharp analysis and unabashed opinions... Taruskin has succeeded in writing a stimulating overview of Western society, setting a standard that will not be surpassed for a very long time..." --Library Journal


"Taruskin's chef-d'oeuvre, however, is a feast of contrarian ideas, with enough spice to sting the palate of anyone with a stake in telling the old stories in the old way. It aims for nothing less than the revaluation of practically everything you thought you knew about classical music....Taruskin's magnum opus is a must-read, and in its way, a real page-turner of detective non-fiction. It's a cinch to become the most discussed music title of the year, if not of the decade."-- The Globe & Mail


"The book is nothing short of spectacular" - New Music Box


"There's plenty to keep you amused and enlightened - it's very good reading." - American Record Guide


"Rather than assemble an overview, Taruskin has written a critical, subjective history in which he examines the influence of key figures, works, and musical ideas against the backdrop of world affairs and cultural history."-Berkeleyan


"Musicians, students, historians, and other readers wishing a detailed narrative about the career, patronage, musical influences, reception, and creative production of western composers, as well as the development of musical styles will find this a fascinating and satisfying resource." --Reference and Research Library Book News


"An amazing achievement. For a single musicologist, even one of the stature of Taruskin, to have produced a detailed, accurate, informative and well-illustrated history is nothing short of amazing."--Classical Net Review


About the Author


Richard Taruskin is professor of musicology at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition to this work, Taruskin is also the author of such books as Music in the Western World: A History in Documents (1985), Text & Act (OUP, 1995), and Stravinsky and the Russian Traditions (1996). He is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, New Republic, and many other scholarly journals.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 3856 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (July 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195386302
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195386301
  • Product Dimensions: 15 x 8.2 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 18 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #914,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I have been enthralled with Taruskin's work over the past four months. Anyone interested in the history of literate music in western culture will find the book fascinating, with a few conditions: you'll need some experience listening to the music, you need to be able to read music, and you'll need access to a keyboard to understand the author's analysis of harmony (among other things, this work is a history of harmonic practice). Professional musicians and musicologists will understand more of the technical subleties than me--sometimes Taruskin asks us to follow his argument `score in hand'--which unfortunately, as some poet said, I have not got! I have nearly five decades of experience listening to music dating from around 1700 to the present, a limited ability to play the piano, and one course in harmony from 35 years ago. I'm probably at the bottom end of the range of the author's target audience in terms of technical ability, but I still enjoyed the book.

Since the last volume ends with the notion of ending in the middle of things, I took that as permission to begin reading with the pivotal volume on the 19th century. This turned out to be good decision, as I was familiar with nearly all of the works discussed, and as person who dearly loves Beethoven, Brahms and instrumental music, my personal musical world-view was firmly in the author's critical crosshairs.
Read more ›
1 Comment 25 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Music history with a distinctive point of view, as is true of everything Taruskin writes. It's a work in the magisterial tradition, exhibiting a humanity and a command of material that goes far beyond anything I've ever encountered.

It's also a delight to read; charmingly written and clearly argued. If you love music and love thinking about music, you should have this on your shelf.
Comment 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
The first two volumes are excellent (5 stars apiece), the middle (19thC) volume is good, but the last two decline from mediocrity (early 20th) to abject crappiness (late twentieth). Starting with the 19th century, Taruskin begins to grind his anti-modern reactionary axe and the work suffers from it, becoming an attempt at validating his own neo-conservative tastes instead of a real history of the music. Too bad. I was truly excited when I began reading this and truly disgusted when I finished.

Taruskin is a great scholar of early music (far and away the best I've ever been exposed to) and more than competent on the "classical" era (despite a tendency toward overly pedantic analyses -you know, the kind with lots of B sharps and F flats in it), but he is very weak (and lacking in sympathy) beyond that. He seems far more interested in dismissing / belittling composers who offend his (to me prissy and unimaginative) sensibilities. He's often entertaining when he does this (he has a gift for sarcasm), but as scholarship it's basically garbage, opinion masquerading as history.

Almost any history of the early 20th is as good or better than his. For readers interested in the late 20th (besides those who -like Taruskin himself- merely wish to pretend "modernism" never happened and are reassured by minimalism), Paul Griffiths Modern Music and After is far more informative and sympathetic.

The writing itself is excellent and engaging throughout. I wish he'd stopped after the first two volumes (music he's genuinely excited about). Beginning with the nineteenth century it begins to feel like he's writing out of an obligation to complete the work instead of a real desire to examine the music itself.

The bindings of the paperbacks are pretty bad, which makes the last two volumes a real waste of money.
3 Comments 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
Like anyone who studied music in college, I took my fair share of music history classes. It was fascinating to learn how Western art music emerged from Gregorian chant, and how it evolved through “the classics” into the cauldron of the 20th century. Getting to hear a lot of old and obscure music for the first time is one of my fondest memories of school, but I have less fond memories of the textbooks we had back then. Dry in style, reticent in tone, filled with names and dates, they treated their subject matter in a kind of vacuum, focusing mainly on formal and stylistic details with little examination of how the prevailing social, political and ecological milieu of an era might have conditioned the kind of music launched into it. And then there’s the question of scope: our textbooks fixated on what the mass media call “classical music”, with scant coverage of folk music, non-Western music and the commercial music which in our own day has become preponderate worldwide. Most of the interesting learning experiences came in the lecture rooms, listening labs and discussion groups. There was little reason to actually sit down and read a standard music history textbook for pleasure…until now.

Though Taruskin, too, focuses almost exclusively on Western art music (henceforth “WAM”) in his multi-volume tome, I’m happy to report that he vastly improves on his predecessors in the other aforementioned respects.
Read more ›
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews