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MAKE A SOUND INVESTMENT IN CLASSICAL MUSIC Who are the ten most important classical composers? Who in the world was Palestrina? Why did Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" cause a riot? Which five of each important composer's works should you buy? What is a concerto and how does it differ from a sonata? Maybe you don't know the answers to these questions; author Phil Goulding cert MAKE A SOUND INVESTMENT IN CLASSICAL MUSIC Who are the ten most important classical composers? Who in the world was Palestrina? Why did Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" cause a riot? Which five of each important composer's works should you buy? What is a concerto and how does it differ from a sonata? Maybe you don't know the answers to these questions; author Phil Goulding certainly didn't. When Goulding first tried to learn about classical music, he found himself buried in an avalanche of technical terms and complicated jargon--so he decided to write the book he couldn't find. The result is a complete classical music education in one volume. Comprehensive, discriminating, and delightfully irreverent, Classical Music provides such essential information as: * Rankings of the top 50 composers (Bach is #1. Borodin is #50) * A detailed and anecdotal look at each composer's life and work * The five primary works of each composer and specific recommended CDs for each. * Further great works of each composer--if you really like him * Concise explanations of musical terminology, forms, and periods * A guide to the parts and history of the symphony orchestra "This book uses every conceivable gimmick to immerse readers in the richness of classical music: lists, rankings, sidebars devoted to lively anecdotes, and catchy leads". --The Washington Post "One terrific music appreciation book...The information is surprisingly detailed but concisely presented. Goulding's writing style is breezy yet mature....[He] has raised music appreciation from a racket to a service". --The Arizona Daily Star


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MAKE A SOUND INVESTMENT IN CLASSICAL MUSIC Who are the ten most important classical composers? Who in the world was Palestrina? Why did Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" cause a riot? Which five of each important composer's works should you buy? What is a concerto and how does it differ from a sonata? Maybe you don't know the answers to these questions; author Phil Goulding cert MAKE A SOUND INVESTMENT IN CLASSICAL MUSIC Who are the ten most important classical composers? Who in the world was Palestrina? Why did Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" cause a riot? Which five of each important composer's works should you buy? What is a concerto and how does it differ from a sonata? Maybe you don't know the answers to these questions; author Phil Goulding certainly didn't. When Goulding first tried to learn about classical music, he found himself buried in an avalanche of technical terms and complicated jargon--so he decided to write the book he couldn't find. The result is a complete classical music education in one volume. Comprehensive, discriminating, and delightfully irreverent, Classical Music provides such essential information as: * Rankings of the top 50 composers (Bach is #1. Borodin is #50) * A detailed and anecdotal look at each composer's life and work * The five primary works of each composer and specific recommended CDs for each. * Further great works of each composer--if you really like him * Concise explanations of musical terminology, forms, and periods * A guide to the parts and history of the symphony orchestra "This book uses every conceivable gimmick to immerse readers in the richness of classical music: lists, rankings, sidebars devoted to lively anecdotes, and catchy leads". --The Washington Post "One terrific music appreciation book...The information is surprisingly detailed but concisely presented. Goulding's writing style is breezy yet mature....[He] has raised music appreciation from a racket to a service". --The Arizona Daily Star

30 review for Classical Music

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ray Catellier

    This is probably my favorite book of all time, and life-changing. I read this when I first started getting into classical music, about 5 years ago. A wonderful introduction into the incredible world of classical music. It's not perfect, and of course is highly subjective. Wonderfully informative, yet easy to read for the layman who isn't interested in all the technical musical analysis. Also serves as a fantastic reference guide. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, but especially for tho This is probably my favorite book of all time, and life-changing. I read this when I first started getting into classical music, about 5 years ago. A wonderful introduction into the incredible world of classical music. It's not perfect, and of course is highly subjective. Wonderfully informative, yet easy to read for the layman who isn't interested in all the technical musical analysis. Also serves as a fantastic reference guide. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, but especially for those just becoming interested in classical music.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Phil was an ordinary man with no Classical Music background who decided he would begin to learn. This book is the result of thousands of dollars spent on the great pieces of music from various composers and the countless hours spent listening and recording his thoughts from a non professional viewpoint. I picked this book up when I knew nothing but wanted to learn and it was a great journey because the author wasn't a snob or critical of those who knew nothing about the music he simply laid out Phil was an ordinary man with no Classical Music background who decided he would begin to learn. This book is the result of thousands of dollars spent on the great pieces of music from various composers and the countless hours spent listening and recording his thoughts from a non professional viewpoint. I picked this book up when I knew nothing but wanted to learn and it was a great journey because the author wasn't a snob or critical of those who knew nothing about the music he simply laid out a good starting place for collecting, he wrote some good essays about the composers and ranked them according to his love for the composers works, along with what the professional world has said throughout history. The thing that was great for the collector was the list of the recordings you should have of each of the composers, which I now proudly own most and will listen to and cherish for a lifetime. I've hoped that the USA would get back to a love for Classical music and abolish Rap instead maybe this book could expedite that. 4 Star because I disagree with some of his conclusions, but more like a 1/2 star off for that.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jeremiah

    This book is an awesome introduction for what is, to some, a usually boring subject. Goulding is very funny and has an infectious love for the subject that is transferred to the reader along the way. The book is really a beginner's tool kit for gaining knowledge of the subject and appreciation for why this genre deserves your time & attention. This book isn't boring and truly deserves the option as your first pick if you're looking for a resource as an introduction to this subject.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lisa (Harmonybites)

    This is one of four general guides I own to classical music. I have other books specifically on orchestral, concerto, chamber, choral and opera, but this is one that covers all the different forms. The Miller Barnes and Noble Introduction to Music goes over such things as tone, rhythm, melody, etc. The Hurwitz Beethoven or Bust goes over the various forms (the concerto, for instance) and their various types. Goulding's Classical Music concentrates on the core repertory--"The 50 Greatest Composer This is one of four general guides I own to classical music. I have other books specifically on orchestral, concerto, chamber, choral and opera, but this is one that covers all the different forms. The Miller Barnes and Noble Introduction to Music goes over such things as tone, rhythm, melody, etc. The Hurwitz Beethoven or Bust goes over the various forms (the concerto, for instance) and their various types. Goulding's Classical Music concentrates on the core repertory--"The 50 Greatest Composers and Their 1,000 Greatest Works." The Vintage Guide to Classical Music also focuses more on the composers than the forms, but is more eclectic and comprehensive. Goulding includes very few Medieval or Renaissance or many Modern composers--while Swafford's Vintage Guide includes biographies and naming of the important pieces to know of de Machaut, Dufay, Desprez, di Lasso, Monteverdi, Ives, Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, Britten. But I do love how Goulding focuses on those chosen composers. The book doesn't just give an overview of their lives and works, but gives you a "Starter Kit" and then a "Top Ten" to jumpstart your collection. The composers appear what Goulding considers their order of greatness. This is his top ten: 1) Johann Sebastian Bach 2) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 3) Ludwig van Beethoven 4) Richard Wagner 5) Franz Joseph Haydn 6) Johannes Brahms 7) Franz Schubert 8) Robert Schumann 9) George Frideric Handel 10) Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky For some composers you'll get listings for a "Master Collection." For the 3 "greatest" composers Bach, Mozart, Beethoven you'll get listings for a more extensive "Library" too. Obviously this is rather biased towards German/Austrian composers, but still makes a great introduction to classical music.

  5. 5 out of 5

    IWB

    Western Classical Composers and their Compositions for Idiots/Dummies before such series even existed. This book is aimed at the classical music ignoramus; that is to say, the only kind of person who can benefit from this book is the kind of person who knows virtually nothing about classical music. After reading it, you'll still know virtually nothing about classical music, but at least you'll have an arbitrary starting point to begin exploring some pieces of music; and you might find some of th Western Classical Composers and their Compositions for Idiots/Dummies before such series even existed. This book is aimed at the classical music ignoramus; that is to say, the only kind of person who can benefit from this book is the kind of person who knows virtually nothing about classical music. After reading it, you'll still know virtually nothing about classical music, but at least you'll have an arbitrary starting point to begin exploring some pieces of music; and you might find some of the historical 'factoids' amusing. This book is an enumerated ranking of the "greatest" Western classical music composers, and their "greatest" works. Each composer in the list is given a brief, often an over-the-top description, always the commonly accepted narrative--a.k.a. cliched and hackneyed, biographical sketch. Lastly, a few key music terms are defined and given a gloss as they relate to explaining certain composers and compositions. You know, terms such as meter, tempo, etc. This gives way to an introduction of key works one should consider exploring for the composer in question. The author breaks this down into three levels, and suggests staple compositions that everyone should listen to as their entry point; more suggestions for the 'intermediate' level listener; and those who are really going for more--suggested works for the true explorer of a given composer. So, there are those works that are absolutely necessary listening, those that are suggested but not as well-known or accepted, and even more works for the so-called "advanced" listener. Taken as anything more than a classical music book, written by someone with zero knowledge and expertise, for others with zero knowledge and expertise, the book would be highly problematic. Yet, for the kind of person described, this book is highly successful. It's written in a 'breezy narrative style making it immediately accessible; moreover, people love lists and rankings, and the material is presented in such a way that it is easily navigated. If your grandma, who has listened mostly to musicals and old-school country music her whole life, can suddenly find herself looking through which three Chopin compositions she should check out, you got a winner. For just about anyone else, this book is a complete farce and a loser. Let's begin with the cover drawings of three composers: Beethoven on the left, Mozart on the right, and who is that odd fellow in the middle? Why it's Bach, of course, Johann Christoph Bach (a one time tutor to the young Mozart) not Johann Sebastian Bach, the number one ranked composer and the father of three famous composers, one of whom was J.C.Bach, who does not make the top 50 cut. This book is not well-researched; it is historically shoddy; it fails to give any sort of qualitative criteria, and all assessment is basically just based on "ad populum" or simply the author's personal opinion. This leads to some odd choices, which the author clearly recognizes as debatable, such as Janacek making the list but not Rachmaninoff. (If Janacek makes the list why didn't Reger? If Rachmaninoff had made the list, would Scriabin had been mentioned?) Even though Goulding claims to have made his list based on experts and their opinion--we don't get to know who all these experts are--it's not to consider much of what he says to be pure personal subjective choice, such as when he says the following: "One Telemann concerto grosso a month just about does it for me. For readers who have the same reaction to Telemann, my advice is to strike him from the list and substitute Sergei Rachmaninoff." (In what sense does one trade out Telemann--a baroque composer--for Rachmaninoff--a late romantic/20th century composer? Rachmaninoff also a substitute for Bruckner, seemingly more reasonable but still unexplained. And what precisely is that 'once a month concerto grosso reaction' to Telemann you refer to, Mr. Goulding? While you are at it, if one can only handle one Vivaldi Concerto a year ((did he really write the same concerto 500 different times?)), why not trade him out for Dukas? That seems to make sense, right?) Firstly, without assuming (as most uncritical people do) that all music opinion is totally subjective (it's not, by the way), the author's ranking is, as he himself claims, arbitrary (yet also based on expert opinion). Having said that, his ranking is about as safe and predictable as they come, at least for the top 25 or so; in fact, this ranking list is no surprise whatsoever as it is already commonly accepted in pop-culture (insofar as classical musicians enter into pop-culture), even at the time of the author's writing, which was the early 1990's. There is no criteria for the ranking, except what was already commonly accepted at the time. So, of course, J.S.Bach is #1. (Even the most ardent fans of Beethoven and Mozart, even if they like Beethoven or Mozart more than 'Poppa' Bach, still view putting anyone above 'Poppa' Bach as some sort of mortal sin.) Secondly, the ranking does not include renaissance or medieval composers. No, Orlando Di Lassus, no Ockegham, Dufay or Machaut; no Josquin de Pres or Obrecht. Yes, I am aware that Monteverdi is mentioned but he is one of those composers who was exceptionally groundbreaking, having transformed renaissance norms into what can be considered some of the first baroque stylistic compositions. So much more could be said about Monteverdi--his innovations are considered as transformative as Beethoven's were. The list also does not include any 20th century composers that lived past 1975 (Stravinsky died in 1971 and Shostakovich 1975), and that means the reader is missing out on many interesting and excellent composers. (Seriously, Mr. Goulding, no Schoenberg, no Elliot Carter?) The end of the book has the list of "starter-kits" for each composer. The 5 pieces and the recordings to check out. Telemann was the most prolific composer on the list, and I think Bizet the least, but 5 for each. Okay, will do. Obviously, the list is dated but that doesn't mean that some of the choices of recording are not still preferable; but that is another posting.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    Honestly, I skimmed through this one. Some of the stories about the composers were interesting but for the most part it was very dense. Plus, I didn't agree with some of the selections of the "Greatest Works". Think I'll just stick with the classical station to get my classical fix...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    I presume that I will keep this book with me for a long time. It is just what an introduction should be - understandable, personal and pragmatic. Already I have found it immensely useful. I have started with the Great Number One and already have nlearnt to really listen.

  8. 5 out of 5

    sologdin

    not dispositive of anything, but extremely useful for a n00b who wants to develop a taste for good musics. start here, develop your aesthetics, &c.

  9. 4 out of 5

    James Ruley

    This book was an excellent introduction to classical music and to top classical composers. Starting with a background of what classical music is and how it developed, the author provides a brief synopsis and recommended works for each of (his) top 50 composers. Many I was familiar with, but some I was not, and it was a fascinating way to gain exposure to a wide variety of artists. One note, this work is a bit outdated (he frequently references record stores) but any works he suggests can easily This book was an excellent introduction to classical music and to top classical composers. Starting with a background of what classical music is and how it developed, the author provides a brief synopsis and recommended works for each of (his) top 50 composers. Many I was familiar with, but some I was not, and it was a fascinating way to gain exposure to a wide variety of artists. One note, this work is a bit outdated (he frequently references record stores) but any works he suggests can easily be found on Spotify. 4.5/5

  10. 5 out of 5

    Katrina

    I've played violin and piano for years and was growing ashamed of my ignorance of classical music and composers. Therefore, I was very excited to find this book on Amazon and to take the time to read it over the past few months. It was humorous, accessible, and interesting, especially since I took the time to listen to the pieces he listed. This is a great reference books for all lovers of classical music!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Wonderful book for music courses, those learning an instrument, or for those wanting to read for pleasure or educational purposes.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Harry Allagree

    What are the odds of a book being written in 7 years, by a person with no expertise in music, having been a news reporter, an assistant secretary of defense in Washington, D.C., a petroleum-industry executive...and whose 30 year old son exclaimed: "Father, I would not buy a book from a publisher who would publish a book by you on classical music"?! Yet, Phil Goulding pulled it off. The book, published in 1992, is obviously dated & I found myself wishing that someone would've by now followed What are the odds of a book being written in 7 years, by a person with no expertise in music, having been a news reporter, an assistant secretary of defense in Washington, D.C., a petroleum-industry executive...and whose 30 year old son exclaimed: "Father, I would not buy a book from a publisher who would publish a book by you on classical music"?! Yet, Phil Goulding pulled it off. The book, published in 1992, is obviously dated & I found myself wishing that someone would've by now followed up on this by revising it or producing something similar. It really is helpful. Goulding is completely honest in proposing his choice of the "50 greatest composers". He admits the arbitrariness of his list, and is consistently fair in mentioning others who could've, may should've, made the list. I suspect, however, that he's pretty close to singling out the true "immortals, demigods, composers of genius, artists of a high order". Goulding writes interestingly, methodically, even humorously, about the highlights of each composers music, their origin & life, & then suggests major works & a "starter kit" for collecting the works of each. I enjoyed keeping my iPad handy in order to listen to samples of composers' significant works. He also explains various musical terms, the makeup of an orchestra, & the various instruments used in orchestras. All in all it's an incredibly well-done starter book for anyone with any interest in classical/modern music.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I suspect I will always be reading this book. I have a bit of a classical music background, but much of it has been lost to time, and I've forgotten so much. I needed an entry way back into it, a tour guide of sorts. So far, this book is exactly what I needed. The first few chapters are a good overview of some basic music "theory" - not the real stuff, but what a layman should know. What is a scale? What is a key? Why does it matter? Goulding then selects and ranks the composers he feels are the I suspect I will always be reading this book. I have a bit of a classical music background, but much of it has been lost to time, and I've forgotten so much. I needed an entry way back into it, a tour guide of sorts. So far, this book is exactly what I needed. The first few chapters are a good overview of some basic music "theory" - not the real stuff, but what a layman should know. What is a scale? What is a key? Why does it matter? Goulding then selects and ranks the composers he feels are the fifty most important, the best, the ones most worth your time, beginning with Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. Hard to argue with those selections. Each composer gets a few pages of biography and review, then Goulding breaks out the exact reason I bought the book: he provides recommended listening lists. From the bare minimum top two or three picks all the way to complete works, broken down into levels of collection. It's wonderful and exactly what I wanted.

  14. 4 out of 5

    James Foley

    This was a great book when it was released. With the addition of www.rdio.com and the large percentage of the titles that can be streamed free it is now a first rate primer on Classical Music. The author is not insistent about replacing your tastes with his and concedes that the list is less and less accurate as you go from Bach, Beethoven and Mozart to Janacek, Borodin and Couperin but the only way you don't wind up appreciating some music you never knew is if this was already your passion.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kate Pua

    So discriminating that it makes it such a delight read. just to be made suited for amateurs though. This is something I would strongly recommend to those who's new to MUSIC and not PIANO or any other sort of instruments. Also very enlightening to music people who wish to increase their knowledge in music. certainly a modern day education masterpiece.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    This book is an excellent introduction to classical music, as well as a quick reference guide to the most famous of the classical composers. It's not the ultimate resource for information on classical music, but it's perfect for a beginner or someone who wants to develop a taste for classical music but doesn't know where to start.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    Some time during my second semester of music history at Dixie State College I took a test that was about 70 questions. When the professor was handing tests back after grading them he said "Well, the second-best score out of 70 was 50, but we're going to call that the high score because the best score was an ace." Guess what my score was? :)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Emilia G.

    My obsession to classical music began a few years ago but, the more I listen the stronger it gets. Goulding is so analytical, anal, and chronological. This book has been my remedy, my cure and my therapy. A shot of dopamine! This book will introduce you to a whole new level of musical enrichment. If you are fan of classical music this is a must read!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Good intro for what the classical listener should consider. I found it interesting and I could agree with many of his choices. I'm certainly not an expert, but have been listening and studying classical music for six decades. Wow! I was enraptured with Handel's "Largo" at age 4.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    A fun list! This is a great way to get an overview of the best of classical music. It gave me a better appreciation for some familiar names and introduced me to some composers I wouldn't have heard otherwise.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Emily Johnson

    Pretty much the greatest reference book ever. I have no idea how many times I've poured through it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Great book for those of us who don't have a formal education on composers. Fun information, and great ideas of what to listen to, and what to listen for.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I received this book while I was learning to play the piano as a teenager, and it is an excellent introduction to classical music.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kailey (BooksforMKs)

    I read one composer every day during my lunch hour. So many marvelous stories and quotes! I love the history.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    While the ratings and the categories are debatable, this book was helpful to me in getting back into classical music.

  26. 4 out of 5

    David

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  28. 4 out of 5

    Emrys

  29. 4 out of 5

    Wade

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mike

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