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The Vintage Guide to Classical Music Paperback – December 15, 1992
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The Vintage Guide to Classical Music is a lively -- and opinionated -- musical history and an insider's key to the personalities, epochs, and genres of the Western classical tradition. Among its features:
-- chronologically arranged essays on nearly 100 composers, from Guillaume de Machaut (ca. 1300-1377) to Aaron Copland (1900-1990), that combine biography with detailed analyses of the major works while assessing their role in the social, cultural, and political climate of their times;
-- informative sidebars that clarify broader topics such as melody, polyphony, atonality, and the impact of the early-music movement;
-- a glossary of musical terms, from a cappella to woodwinds;
-- a step-by-step guide to building a great classical music library.
Written with wit and a clarity that both musical experts and beginners can appreciate, The Vintage Guide to Classical Music is an invaluable source-book for music lovers everywhere.
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Top Customer Reviews
My experience with such books goes back to Aaron Copland's 1957 "What to Listen for in Music." This classic played a large role in getting me on my own journey in classical music, but it is now quite out of date; it doesn't even touch on the most recent half-century. (William Schuman updated this book, but even that fell well short of the mark for those interested in contemporary music.)
This Swafford book is, I believe, the best of its kind for the purpose of setting out the "essential canon of classical music" and the composers (and their key works) who comprise it.Read more ›
"The Vintage Guide to Classical Music" is extremely well written, and obviously well researched. It's also very entertaining! The author consistently demonstrates not only a wealth of knowledge about his subject, but his love for it as well. For me, this book remains an indispensable guide to classical music. Highly recommended!
The book is divided into classical music periods (Baroque, Romantic, etc.) in chronological order, with brief notes at the beginning of each period describing the times. The author then gives a brief biography for each major composer in that period, and afterward spends a few pages introducing the major works by that composer and suggesting which ones would be good to start with. At the end of the book, the author also has a good list of suggested works for building your own classical music library.
The author is very easy to read, and makes learning about classical composers and music interesting. He obviously has some opinions about composers music, but you can tell they are learned opinions, and they make the reading all the more fun.
This book is not just biographies, and not just a history of music, it is the history of classical music through the people who made that music. It is the ideal introduction to classical music, and a good book to have in your own library.
Then I happened across Swafford's "Vintage Guide," and it was EXACTLY what I was looking for. His overview of the history and development of Western art music is deceptively accessible, being really easy to read and absorb while at the same time containing a wealth of information, much of which was surprising and new to me. His composer biographies are also entertaining, somewhat gossippy but never losing sight of the music these people produced. The sidebars introducing key musical concepts like polyphony and melody surprised me with their depth and thoroughness.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Jan Swafford is a superb author! I have enjoyed this fine contribution to the vast collections
of music history. Read more
Extremely informative. I love the short bios and the recommended music library.Published 2 months ago by Tom Fox
Bought this book after listening to 36 hours of lectures from The Great Courses. The book is excellent, providing explanations that sometimes are better stated than what I heard in... Read morePublished 5 months ago by cswift
So far, So good. Good product. Good service. Good pricePublished 8 months ago by Stephen K. Hertzfeld
I loved this book. I had a Master's Degree in Music and had been out of school for a while when I picked up this book. Read morePublished 11 months ago by MusicProf
I'm obsessive/compulsive when it comes to classical music. I insist on the best recordings of the best music, and also the best books available on the subject. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Edward C. Nielsen, famous author