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The ultimate guide to classical composers and their music-for both the novice and the experienced listener Music, according to Aaron Copland, can thrive only if there are "gifted listeners." But today's listeners must choose between classical and rock, opera and rap, and the choices can seem overwhelming at times. In The Essential Canon of Classical Music, David Dubal come The ultimate guide to classical composers and their music-for both the novice and the experienced listener Music, according to Aaron Copland, can thrive only if there are "gifted listeners." But today's listeners must choose between classical and rock, opera and rap, and the choices can seem overwhelming at times. In The Essential Canon of Classical Music, David Dubal comes to the aid of the struggling listener and provides a cultural-literacy handbook for classical music. Dubal identifies the 240 composers whose works are most important to an understanding of classical music and offers a comprehensive, chronological guide to their lives and works. He has searched beyond the traditional canon to introduce readers to little-known works by some of the most revered names in classical music-Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert-as well as to the major works of lesser-known composers. In a spirited and opinionated voice, Dubal seeks to rid us of the notion of "masterpieces" and instead to foster a new generation of master listeners. The result is an uncommon collection of the wonders classical music has to offer.


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The ultimate guide to classical composers and their music-for both the novice and the experienced listener Music, according to Aaron Copland, can thrive only if there are "gifted listeners." But today's listeners must choose between classical and rock, opera and rap, and the choices can seem overwhelming at times. In The Essential Canon of Classical Music, David Dubal come The ultimate guide to classical composers and their music-for both the novice and the experienced listener Music, according to Aaron Copland, can thrive only if there are "gifted listeners." But today's listeners must choose between classical and rock, opera and rap, and the choices can seem overwhelming at times. In The Essential Canon of Classical Music, David Dubal comes to the aid of the struggling listener and provides a cultural-literacy handbook for classical music. Dubal identifies the 240 composers whose works are most important to an understanding of classical music and offers a comprehensive, chronological guide to their lives and works. He has searched beyond the traditional canon to introduce readers to little-known works by some of the most revered names in classical music-Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert-as well as to the major works of lesser-known composers. In a spirited and opinionated voice, Dubal seeks to rid us of the notion of "masterpieces" and instead to foster a new generation of master listeners. The result is an uncommon collection of the wonders classical music has to offer.

30 review for The Essential Canon of Classical Music

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nakkinak

    This book is gold for every aspiring music nerd. Even for the most dedicated lover of the auditory experience, Classical Music is someone of a difficult plaster. The stereotype is that only pretentious assholes and richmen listen to classical music, it's too intellectual, devoid of emotion and rhythm, it's boring, and stiff. All bullshit. Anyone who has ever listened to a good recording of a Beethoven symphony will tell you, it can be upliftingly and epically booming. Anyone who has ever listened This book is gold for every aspiring music nerd. Even for the most dedicated lover of the auditory experience, Classical Music is someone of a difficult plaster. The stereotype is that only pretentious assholes and richmen listen to classical music, it's too intellectual, devoid of emotion and rhythm, it's boring, and stiff. All bullshit. Anyone who has ever listened to a good recording of a Beethoven symphony will tell you, it can be upliftingly and epically booming. Anyone who has ever listened to Mahler cannot simply go back to "emotional" balladery in pop music. And a good Liszt piece will blow off your socks. And you can dance to the Boléro! Some knowledge in music theory is recommened, and that's the main point against engaging in classical music. Listeners fear, that they do not have either the time or intellectual capability to engage in the world of classical music. This book however is an amazing introduction. I recommend, just start with Beethoven and then go to anyone that sounds interesting. Dubal has a very appealing and passionate writing style, and it never sounds dry. His capsule reviews of the works are on point and he recommends the best interpretations. I cannot name a day in recent memory in which I haven't threw my eyes into it. And the book already looks used for decades after three months of studying it, and I'm not even halfway through. It simply belongs in every collection. Astonishing. 10/10

  2. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    I am enjoying this book so much but won't be able to for much longer. I have the North Point paperback edition. Warned by the Amazon.com reviewers, I have handled this 800 page book as one does a newborn infant but halfway through Haydn it was in three parts. UPDATE: by the time I was starting to read about Schumann the reassembling all the parts it had disintegrated into was too difficult for me so I, very reluctantly, threw the book away. The author writes well and with an enthusiasm that inspi I am enjoying this book so much but won't be able to for much longer. I have the North Point paperback edition. Warned by the Amazon.com reviewers, I have handled this 800 page book as one does a newborn infant but halfway through Haydn it was in three parts. UPDATE: by the time I was starting to read about Schumann the reassembling all the parts it had disintegrated into was too difficult for me so I, very reluctantly, threw the book away. The author writes well and with an enthusiasm that inspired me to explore music I had ignored. As there as no musical examples, I would buy a Kindle edition if there were one available.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I used this book to build my library of classical music. I own the major works from every composer named now, and have listened to much of it. The more interesting conversation would be about that music - but this book is the introduction. It is not exhaustive, because it couldn't be, but it is seminal. A lot of what we think of as modern composition would not exist without what came before, at the very least because of the angst caused by Beethoven and Shoenberg in composers that followed them ( I used this book to build my library of classical music. I own the major works from every composer named now, and have listened to much of it. The more interesting conversation would be about that music - but this book is the introduction. It is not exhaustive, because it couldn't be, but it is seminal. A lot of what we think of as modern composition would not exist without what came before, at the very least because of the angst caused by Beethoven and Shoenberg in composers that followed them (and I'm being very succinct.) I think of this as a must read for the tremendous joy I've gotten in exploring music I would never get to hear on classical stations (even as good as Bill McLaughlin and Pete van de Graaf are at being a bit outside the box), and certainly not at major concert halls. Ps - Go listen to symphonies by David Diamond and Don Gillis. Right now. On Youtube. Here, I'll help - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUaQ7...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Although competently written, it’s not exactly engaging and there’s an overabundance of quotations, resulting in a somewhat dry text that sometimes feels a bit pasted together. But the information content is excellent, making it a valuable reference work (including the very good glossary of musical terms). It’s basically a series of composer biographies in chronological order, with 10 or 12 pages given to the author’s “major” composers, a couple paragraphs or so given to others, and important wo Although competently written, it’s not exactly engaging and there’s an overabundance of quotations, resulting in a somewhat dry text that sometimes feels a bit pasted together. But the information content is excellent, making it a valuable reference work (including the very good glossary of musical terms). It’s basically a series of composer biographies in chronological order, with 10 or 12 pages given to the author’s “major” composers, a couple paragraphs or so given to others, and important works lists for each (more extensive for the “majors”). Some have criticized it for short shrifting early music, which is fair, and for overemphasizing Romantic and modern music. I actually appreciate the emphasis on the 20th c. I may or may not come to love Webern and might remain convinced that the emperors John Cage and Phillip Glass wore no clothes, but it’s nice to have a good guide to more recent music, which tends to get little attention from general audience music writers and ordinary music lovers. A good companion to this book, regarding modern music, is Alex Ross’ The Rest is Noise. It’s very engagingly written and is remarkably good at describing musical material simply and clearly without watering it down. Its approach is very different from Essential Canon, crafting a story that reads much like a novel. For the relative novice, Ted Libbey’s NPR Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection might be a better place to start than Essential Canon. It’s also a pleasure to read and easier to digest, while not being as detailed or extensive as this book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chuck

    Fine specimen of its kind, though dated; not so much because of the idea of a canon, which is less controversial or problematic than it is in literature (the center has pretty much held in classical music, despite the musicological trend toward extramusical (?) analysis in recent decades (for example, the idea that absolute music of the common practice period embodies, instantiates, whatever word you want, the attitudes which are deemed offensive in works of the infamous dead white men--finding Fine specimen of its kind, though dated; not so much because of the idea of a canon, which is less controversial or problematic than it is in literature (the center has pretty much held in classical music, despite the musicological trend toward extramusical (?) analysis in recent decades (for example, the idea that absolute music of the common practice period embodies, instantiates, whatever word you want, the attitudes which are deemed offensive in works of the infamous dead white men--finding sexual violence enacted or depicted in a Beethoven symphony)), but because it was written before the advent of smart phones, youtube, i everything. The idea of recommendations for building a CD library sounds really musty nowadays. One endearing touch is the author's amateurish portraits of the great composers.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    I use this book as a reference when I want to learn more about a composition I've enjoyed, and also to find recommendations for other classical pieces I might want to try out. I've started a project online to create a music blog in Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter which captures biographical information, reference material and the available compositions as a tool to enjoy the works which are noted in this book. The online sites I am designing and implementing are: Tumblr blog is @ http://philchartrand I use this book as a reference when I want to learn more about a composition I've enjoyed, and also to find recommendations for other classical pieces I might want to try out. I've started a project online to create a music blog in Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter which captures biographical information, reference material and the available compositions as a tool to enjoy the works which are noted in this book. The online sites I am designing and implementing are: Tumblr blog is @ http://philchartrandmusic.tumblr.com Facebook Page is @ https://www.facebook.com/philchartran... Twitter Feed is @: https://twitter.com/ChelseaMusicDoc I will write and upload a more extensive review when I have completed reading the book and the sites are implmented. Phil Chartrand

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Sedinger

    I've actually had this book for a number of years, but I'm reviewing it here because I've been referring to it a lot lately. This is truly a fantastic reference work that anyone with interest in exploring classical music should investigate. Dubal writes essays about hundreds of composers (with the greats getting longer entries), and for each composer he identifies specific works to seek out and why. His writing is very engaging, and he brings a wealth of knowledge and unwavering passion for his I've actually had this book for a number of years, but I'm reviewing it here because I've been referring to it a lot lately. This is truly a fantastic reference work that anyone with interest in exploring classical music should investigate. Dubal writes essays about hundreds of composers (with the greats getting longer entries), and for each composer he identifies specific works to seek out and why. His writing is very engaging, and he brings a wealth of knowledge and unwavering passion for his subject. If you're interested in classical music and are looking for a guide book, check this one out!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Johnson

    Balm for the soul.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    While this book is quite clear in its aim, I found it dryly written and structured and did not relish the reading of it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Stacy Dick

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dejo

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Miletus

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brent Irvine

  14. 5 out of 5

    Laura Bernay

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chris Cathcart

  16. 5 out of 5

    Steve Morrison

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lolobull

  18. 5 out of 5

    Don Johnson

  19. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Gil

  20. 5 out of 5

    Megan Seliber

  21. 5 out of 5

    Geena DeMaio

  22. 5 out of 5

    Robert

  23. 5 out of 5

    Shaun O'Connell

  24. 5 out of 5

    Christopher D’Arcy

  25. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Short

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rich

  27. 4 out of 5

    Internaut

  28. 4 out of 5

    Noah

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lam Chee Leong

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

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