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Who's Afraid of Classical Music? : A highly arbitrary and thoroughly opinionated guide to listening to and enjoying symphony, opera and chamber music

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Time magazine music critic Michael Walsh has created for the rock ‘n roll generation a complete and totally irreverent guide to listening to, collecting, and enjoying classical music. If rock ‘n roll just isn’t enough for you anymore; if you loved the music from Amadeus, 2001 and Ordinary People and want to know how to find more; or if you can’t wait to take full advantage Time magazine music critic Michael Walsh has created for the rock ‘n roll generation a complete and totally irreverent guide to listening to, collecting, and enjoying classical music. If rock ‘n roll just isn’t enough for you anymore; if you loved the music from Amadeus, 2001 and Ordinary People and want to know how to find more; or if you can’t wait to take full advantage of your new CD player with the music it was made for, here is a complete and totally irreverent guide to listening to, collecting, and enjoying classical music. It gives you: -The basic beginner’s repertoire, from Bach partitas to Philip Glass operas -The inside story of the great composers as real people with real foibles -Suggested tunes for Sunday brunch, highway driving, morning jogs, and nighttime seductions -And even de-mystifies the dreaded “o” –word (opera)! Who’s Afraid of Classical Music? shows that when you know how to listen, this stuff can be as much fun as the Rolling Stones—and maybe more!


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Time magazine music critic Michael Walsh has created for the rock ‘n roll generation a complete and totally irreverent guide to listening to, collecting, and enjoying classical music. If rock ‘n roll just isn’t enough for you anymore; if you loved the music from Amadeus, 2001 and Ordinary People and want to know how to find more; or if you can’t wait to take full advantage Time magazine music critic Michael Walsh has created for the rock ‘n roll generation a complete and totally irreverent guide to listening to, collecting, and enjoying classical music. If rock ‘n roll just isn’t enough for you anymore; if you loved the music from Amadeus, 2001 and Ordinary People and want to know how to find more; or if you can’t wait to take full advantage of your new CD player with the music it was made for, here is a complete and totally irreverent guide to listening to, collecting, and enjoying classical music. It gives you: -The basic beginner’s repertoire, from Bach partitas to Philip Glass operas -The inside story of the great composers as real people with real foibles -Suggested tunes for Sunday brunch, highway driving, morning jogs, and nighttime seductions -And even de-mystifies the dreaded “o” –word (opera)! Who’s Afraid of Classical Music? shows that when you know how to listen, this stuff can be as much fun as the Rolling Stones—and maybe more!

30 review for Who's Afraid of Classical Music? : A highly arbitrary and thoroughly opinionated guide to listening to and enjoying symphony, opera and chamber music

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ted Hinkle

    After spending time off and on with Michael Walsh " Who's Afraid of Classical Music", I have to give it a strong 4.5 rating. As a music major and educator, I could have used Walsh's discussion and introduction to classical music in my classroom. He approaches the genre in a humorous and non confrontational manner. I purchased this book in 1989 at a Music Educators Conference, took it off the shelf a year ago, and am glad I did. I have bookmarked the chapters on Modern American composers and Wals After spending time off and on with Michael Walsh " Who's Afraid of Classical Music", I have to give it a strong 4.5 rating. As a music major and educator, I could have used Walsh's discussion and introduction to classical music in my classroom. He approaches the genre in a humorous and non confrontational manner. I purchased this book in 1989 at a Music Educators Conference, took it off the shelf a year ago, and am glad I did. I have bookmarked the chapters on Modern American composers and Walsh's critic view and arbitrary, opinionated guide to performers and artists. Interesting! Back on the shelf .... for now!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brian Koser

    A surprisingly good read. Although sometimes meandering and overly cute, this is a well-written introduction to classical music. The list of music that everyone should hear is great, and the author had a couple very good essays, especially one where he laments the current state of classical music. I'm going to listen to all of the music he suggests in his Basic Repertoire section (the classics of classical). If you're interested in checking it out, I'm keeping them on a YouTube playlist. A surprisingly good read. Although sometimes meandering and overly cute, this is a well-written introduction to classical music. The list of music that everyone should hear is great, and the author had a couple very good essays, especially one where he laments the current state of classical music. I'm going to listen to all of the music he suggests in his Basic Repertoire section (the classics of classical). If you're interested in checking it out, I'm keeping them on a YouTube playlist.

  3. 4 out of 5

    elstaffe

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Some choice quotes I either neglected to note as I went along or were too long to use as status updates: "As you start along the road to musical sophistication—the gradus ad Parnassum—all you really need is desire; exposure will surely follow" (44). "But like communism and psychiatry, serialism is a good idea in theory but a problematic one in practice. Problematic because, like those other two nineteenth century central European inventions, it is highly culut-re and period-specific and has prett Some choice quotes I either neglected to note as I went along or were too long to use as status updates: "As you start along the road to musical sophistication—the gradus ad Parnassum—all you really need is desire; exposure will surely follow" (44). "But like communism and psychiatry, serialism is a good idea in theory but a problematic one in practice. Problematic because, like those other two nineteenth century central European inventions, it is highly culut-re and period-specific and has pretty much outlived its usefulness. Plus, very few except the zealots believe in the salvation power of any of them any more; psychiatrists all say their colleagues are crazy and even the Russians seem to be punting Communism. And certainly no one believes that salvation lies through serialism any more" (60-61). "The opera may not be over until the fat lady sings, but it's not basically about fat ladies. Granted, opera stages are populated with great singing Hefty bags and man-mountains who shake the earth with their cries and rattle the fundaments of their fans in the audience. But what are they crying about? Sex, that's what. Or thinking about having sex. Or wanting to have sex. Or preventing someone else from having sex. Whether the performers are fat is irrelevant: opera is not about fat people at all! It's not even about singing! It's about sex!" (77). I do want to look into Clorindy, or the Origin of the Cake Walk and Darktown is Out Tonight by Will Marion Cook as a result of learning about them from this book, but man. This was a real uneven book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jan-Len

    A thoroughly enjoyable introduction to classical music for the layperson. Many aspects of the commentary and humour are dated (i.e. the death of the LP and the emergence of the CD), but when Walsh deals with the core aspects of his book, that is, the so-called core repertoire of classical music, he strikes a perfect balance between the facts and technicalities and entertaining the reader. The biographical 'interludes' of Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Brahms, Schumann and others were perfectedly posit A thoroughly enjoyable introduction to classical music for the layperson. Many aspects of the commentary and humour are dated (i.e. the death of the LP and the emergence of the CD), but when Walsh deals with the core aspects of his book, that is, the so-called core repertoire of classical music, he strikes a perfect balance between the facts and technicalities and entertaining the reader. The biographical 'interludes' of Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Brahms, Schumann and others were perfectedly positioned and at times came as a welcome relief when, at times, I struggled to grasp the more technically minded concepts of tonality, consonance, dissonance and so forth. The further value in this book is that it contains a guide to the basic repertoire of symphonies, concertos and chamber music wherein a number of resourceful recommendations are made positioning it as a future point of reference. Impressive!

  5. 5 out of 5

    binic

    Fun to read and somehow instructive. It did what it was intended to, made me curious about music, made me try new pieces. And what's also fun is that I will probably come back to it in the future every time when I will listen to something recommended in the book. I liked also the part with the classical music crisis. And the advice to go for the music, not for the interpret. The part with the "Basic Repertoire" was pretty boring and too long. Not the list in itself, which was good, but the rest o Fun to read and somehow instructive. It did what it was intended to, made me curious about music, made me try new pieces. And what's also fun is that I will probably come back to it in the future every time when I will listen to something recommended in the book. I liked also the part with the classical music crisis. And the advice to go for the music, not for the interpret. The part with the "Basic Repertoire" was pretty boring and too long. Not the list in itself, which was good, but the rest of it. Somehow I don't care about the libretto in an opera, I want only to listen the music, so I consider all that part useless.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Roland

    This was a surprising read. The copy I got from the library is from 1989 so it's a bit old in parts (especially when talking about the current state of music and buying records), but it's a fantastic intro for people interested in diving into the world of concert music and opera. The recommendations have a heavy leaning on 20th century composers, which is great for people (like myself) who are unfamiliar with more modern composers. I'm re-listening to the Teaching Company's How to Listen to and This was a surprising read. The copy I got from the library is from 1989 so it's a bit old in parts (especially when talking about the current state of music and buying records), but it's a fantastic intro for people interested in diving into the world of concert music and opera. The recommendations have a heavy leaning on 20th century composers, which is great for people (like myself) who are unfamiliar with more modern composers. I'm re-listening to the Teaching Company's How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, and this book is the perfect irreverent companion to it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Awakeatone

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. didn't finish book, read certain parts of chapters but found it humorous and entertaining-just the opposite of what you expect with classical music! I actually appreciate him writing the book with his own opinions and taste. didn't finish book, read certain parts of chapters but found it humorous and entertaining-just the opposite of what you expect with classical music! I actually appreciate him writing the book with his own opinions and taste.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Dated and goofy but also fun and welcoming.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Gordon Casey

  10. 5 out of 5

    peg

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michele Davis

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brad Yeutter

  13. 5 out of 5

    Robert

  14. 4 out of 5

    Margot

  15. 5 out of 5

    Diane

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Rink

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ella

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dennis D

  19. 4 out of 5

    Peter

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lubitza Braikova

  21. 5 out of 5

    Clyde

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dave

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jim D'Ambrosia

  24. 4 out of 5

    Caleb Hoyer

  25. 4 out of 5

    Henry Le Nav

  26. 4 out of 5

    Heather

  27. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nina

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kateinoregon

  30. 5 out of 5

    Matt

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