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A Concise History of Western Music
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Table of Contents

Prehistory; Part I. Time Whole: 1. From Babylonians to Franks; Part II. Time Measured 1100-1400: 2. Troubadours and organists; 3. Ars nove and Narcissus's clock; Part III. Time Sensed 1400-1630: 4. Harmony, the light of time; 5. The radiance of the High Renaissance; 6. Reformation and heartache; 7. To speak in music; Part IV. Time Known 1630-1770: 8. Baroque mornings; 9. Fugue, concerto and operatic passion; 10. Rococo and reform; Part V. Time Embraced 1770-1815: 11. Sonata as comedy; 12. Revolution's momentum; Part VI. Time Escaping 1815-1907: 13. The deaf man and the singer; 14. Angels and other prodigies; 15. New Germans and old Vienna; 16. Romantic evenings; 17. Nightfall and sunrise; Part VII. Time Tangled 1908-75: 18. To begin again; 19. Forwards and backwards, and sideways; 20. The people's needs; 21. To begin again again; 22. Whirlwind; Part VIII. Time Lost 1975-: 23. Echoes in the labyrinth; 24. Interlude; Glossary; Further reading and listening.

Promotional Information

A brief history of western classical music which will appeal to all music lovers.

About the Author

Paul Griffiths has written extensively on twentieth-century music, particularly on new music and the avant garde, and is one of the most influential music critics of his generation.

Reviews

By "Western music," the title really refers to Western classical music (popular and folk are almost entirely absent) from prehistory to the end of the 20th century. Music critic Griffiths, formerly of The New Yorker and the New York Times, superimposes his own subdivisions on the standard historical periods as a way of concisely identifying trends or common ideas. "The Deaf Man and the Singer," for example, is centered on the late Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert; "Nightfall and Sunrise" is about Claude Debussy and Richard Strauss. Griffiths moves from lofty, hard-to-grasp ideas to fact-filled sentences that continue for half a paragraph. He is at his best when speaking in broad terms and summing up an entire era. Attempts to discuss particular compositions are often confusing and in some cases require an understanding of technical information far beyond that of beginners. The glossary is not helpful, and the bibliography cites highly advanced literature. Not recommended.-Timothy McGee, Hastings, Ont. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

'... thought-provoking, compelling and remarkably comprehensive narrative, this is easily one of the most thought-provoking, enjoyable and stimulating reads on Western music to have been published in the past ten years.' BBC Music Magazine
'Griffiths finds graceful ways of saying the conventional things that have to be said and of slipping in the less conventional ... a fresh formulation of the riddle of past and present, and the future.' Joseph Kerman, New York Review of Books
'A Concise History of Western Music (concise maybe, but substantial enough to merit every one of its 350 pages) is a joy.' The Book Depository
'... an extremely rich and thoughtful text ... the whole thing reads exquisitely ...' Et cetera
'Hidden behind the deadpan title is an extremely rich and thoughtful text: a concise history, as it say on the tin, but also a warm meditation on the philosophy of music ... Each chapter culminates in a subtle cliff-hanger, and the whole thing reads exquisitely.' Saturday Guardian, Review Supplement
'Paul Griffiths, adept at clear, succinct presentations, manages to reduce the millennia and centuries to just 300 pages; and, to make matters easier, he gives the terms without which the story cannot be told, a brisk and lively explanation and encourages the reader to read, listen further and think ... an original and a stimulating book. I hope others will find it so, too.' Methodist Recorder
'... an approachable and enjoyable tour of thousands of years of our cultural history, in the company of a familiar and erudite guide.' Tenby Observer
'The book is clearly laid out, with page-heading summaries making it valuable for academic study.' International Record Review
'Griffiths is reknowned as a writer on new music, and this bias brings a fresh perspective to his take on pre-20th century composition.' Classical FM
'Griffiths is excellent on Dowland's and Monteverdi's subjectivity ...' The Times Literary Supplement
'Paul Griffiths manages to cover a huge number of composers and musical styles in his comprehensive history. He shows a clear understanding of the nature of the development of music in the West and, though clearly argued, it is a dense read.' Reference Reviews
'... text is filled with Griffith's typically excellent thought-provoking observations ...' The New York Review

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