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1. Composers On Music: Eight Centuries
2. Samuel Barber: The Composer and
3. Women Composers: Composers Born
4. The Chronicle of Classical Music:
5. Women Composers And Music Technology
6. Satie the Composer (Music in the
7. Woodwind Music of Black Composers
8. Great Composers and Their Music:
9. An American Romantic Realist Abroad:
10. Composers Of Classical Music Of
11. The Music of Gershwin (Composers
12. The Music of Charles Ives (Composers
13. Bound for America: Three British
14. The Classic Fm Guide to Classical
15. Love Lives of the Great Composers
16. The Pandora Guide to Women Composers:
17. Singer-Songwriters: Pop Music's
18. The Music of Silence: A Composer's
19. The Solo Vocal Music of American
20. The Music of American Composer

1. Composers On Music: Eight Centuries of Writings
 Paperback: 544 Pages (1997-01-30)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$15.00
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Asin: 1555532799
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Sam Morgenstern's classic anthology, now thoroughly updated with new selections and commentary reflecting recent music scholarship. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Summary of Composers' Thoughts
This book is not an end for the serious music student, but for those who simply want an overview of thoughts on why composers compose, this is the book to get. Even for the serious student, this is a great sourcebook and offers a good start for deeper study on the composers contained within. Also, the book is a fun read.

I am a visual artist and wanted information that would explain the reason for classical music. I wanted to see how it would overlap with my studies of visual art aesthetics and history. It doesn't cover that topic deeply, of course, but it does touch on it. The book helped me place what composers were alive during the lives of various visual artists and sometimes the composers made comments about visual artists they knew or admired.

This book changed my outlook on classical music as the composers were quite human and unpretentious in their comments. The way they explained their outlooks made listening to their music seem less like a chore or expectation and more like something you do because you like to. Also, you don't have to like all of it to be sophisticated. No composer liked all other composers' music. Music is a much better experience when you don't have to pretend and just like what you like. But, don't be afraid to plunge a little deeper as well. ;-)

3-0 out of 5 stars Of limited utility, works best as a reference to larger sources
COMPOSER ON MUSIC: Eight Centuries of Writings, edited by Josiah Fisk, is a collection of quotations from composers all the way from Hildegard von Bingen to the generation of Takemitsu, Gubaidulina, and Glass. While you'll find all the important figures here, the book is remarkable for its use of insights from relatively forgotten figures of ages past, such as Louis Spohr, Edouard Lalo, and Max Reger. The book frequently contains some of the big statements of composers, things that won them notoriety (although, regrettably, neither of Boulez's big too polemical statements are here), but there are also extracts from private letters.

It must be mentioned that this is a refence item, not something the individual music fans needs to purchase for his home. The quotations used are generally very small, a couple of paragraphs at most, and are taken out of their context. Sure, it can be entertaining to see random opinions by composers--Stockhausen, for example comes across very hilariously--but it's all limited to aesthetic and you won't learn much about their biography or musicological details of their work. However, the source of each quotation is given. The book is therefore most useful for fans who want to be directed to larger writings through the small samples given here. For example, Gyorgy Ligeti's pithy comment "Music should not be normal, well-bred, with its tie all neat" is amusing, but it isn't terrible informative on its own. However, it does refer the reader on to the interview LIGETI IN CONVERSATION.

Not an item that you'll need to own, but something to hunt down at the library if you are doing research.

5-0 out of 5 stars wonderful --- intelligent and highly useful, and great fun to read
This is an extremely useful and interesting book, much fun for anyone who is a student or fan of classical music. Fisk's intros and backgrounders are small gems. As for the reviewer below, who carps about it and actually slurs the author to recommend getting the original --- nonsense. I vote with the eminent musicologist Michael Steinberg, who points out on the back cover of this book that an update of Morgenstern's original was greatly needed, and has been done most impressively.

1-0 out of 5 stars prefer the original
It's very sad that vital books have to be "updated" and "revised" to accomodate the writing careers of persons unable to create vital books themselves. See if you can get hold of the original SamMorgenstern instead.


5-0 out of 5 stars See what the composers themselves have to say!
I love this book! It covers just about every composer you've ever heard of. Filled to the brim with helpful essays. I also love the letters the composers wrote to other people. This book is a great way to get into thecomposer's mind! Highly recommended. Belongs in the library of everymusician as well as the music student/lover! Buy it! ... Read more

2. Samuel Barber: The Composer and His Music
by Barbara B. Heyman
Paperback: 608 Pages (1994-05-12)
list price: US$64.99 -- used & new: US$46.18
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Asin: 0195090586
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Samuel Barber (1910-1981) was one of the most important and honored American composers of the twentieth century. Writing in a great variety of musical forms--symphonies, concertos, operas, vocal music, chamber music--he infused his works with poetic lyricism and gave tonal language and forms new vitality. His rich legacy includes such famous compositions as the Adagio for Strings, the orchestral song Knoxville: Summer of 1915, three concertos, and his two operas, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Vanessa and Antony and Cleopatra, a commissioned work that opened the new Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center. Generously documented by letters, sketchbooks, original musical manuscripts, and interviews with friends, colleagues and performers with whom he worked, this is the first book to cover Barber's entire career and all of his compositions. The biographical material on Barber is closely interspersed with a discussion of his music, displaying Barber's creative processes at work from his early student compostions to his mature masterpieces. Heyman also provides the social context in which this major composer grew: his education, how he built his career, the evolving musical tastes of American audiences, his relationship to musical giants like Serge Koussevitzky, and the role of radio in the promotion of his music. A testament to the significance of the new Romanticism, Samuel Barber stands as a model biography of an important American musical figure. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars More than you want to know?
Based on primary material, this book covers the life and work of Mr Barber, though with more emphasis on the "life" than analysis of the "work." Not exactly a pageturner, but interesting.

3-0 out of 5 stars Servicable biography of this great American composer
Being a fan of (some of) Barber's music, I was interested in finding out more about him. I suspect an academic will find this book satisfying - it goes through his works in scholarly detail - but I found it uncompelling. I think the main problem is that Barber was not a particularly interesting guy - you will find no juicy tidbits here. Where this could have been interesting is delving into his personal life - but it doesn't venture there. I was disappointed. By the way my favourite Barber works are adagio for strings (of course), violin concerto, and the school for scandal overture.

5-0 out of 5 stars Well Done
Well, I thought the book was a respectable mix of biographical information and analysis, not too much of one or the other.It is organized (roughly) by opus number, meaning one can find virtually all the information about a specific work condensed in a particular section--with the overall outline being chronological.This structuring is easy and accessible.

Theory hogs, like me, may want a few more examples--but if so, we're just being greedy.The author's analyses of the works are well-done, cursory without being useless.She neither fawns over her subject, nor butchers him.Perhaps a bit more biographical information would be nice--Barber's love life is always touched upon at tangents, never explained.But maybe such information is simply not to be found.

The esoteric nature of the subject precludes me from recommending it generally--but for anyone with the slightest interest in Mr. Barber, this is certainly one of the best resources out there.

And what do we say of Samuel?Reactionary, fuddy-duddy?Snobbish European turning his back on his American home, or a manwho simply recognizes good music when he hears it?Or, like Brahms, a fusion of past and present who only appears conservative when compared with the silly extremists?I lean towards the latter.

Barber enjoyed Brahms, and there's a similarity stapling the two together here.Both took a rich harmonic and modern language, Brahms with his soup of pivot chords and chromatic thirds, Barber with his polychords, changing meters, and quartal implications, reinvigorating ideas and forms that some describe as depleted.And both were, in some sense, fearless.Now of course neither was immune to public opinion--the failure of Anthony and Cleopatra cracked off a bit of Barber's heart--but nevertheless, we find two men who by and large did not care to defend their artistic choices.Barber wrote music of lyrical melodic line when the flavor de jure was prickly textures or avant-garde nonsense.

I have no opinion on whether or not that was the right decision; but I bestow the highest respect on Barber's intense drive for perfection.71 years he lived, and left behind a paucity--but a paucity of perfection.The concertos are jewels!The songs are staples (or should be)!Barber forced and tempered his creations: many works were revised after the first performance--and, which is to be respected all the more--usually made shorter by it.Excess notes deleted, and tight statements left behind.

This book honors that aspect of him well, and I'm glad to have gotten to know him through it.

5-0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC book!!!
I'm currently researching Barber for my Masters Thesis.This is the best book available currently on Barber.The variety of information and sources she offers is excellent.In addition to the biographical information, Heyman presents each of his pieces in reference to certain time periods of his life and goes on to discuss these pieces in depth.An incredibly valuable resource for me and anyone interested in Samuel Barber.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great biography!
I read this book with the same excitement that I would a... thriller.It is exciting to find out so much about a manwhose music is among America's best!Barbara Heyman has captured thespirit of Samuel Barber's life and compiled it into a readableorganized format.Be sure to read all of the footnotes/endnotes.They contain some of the most wonderful tidbits of information.Authoritative writing! ... Read more

3. Women Composers: Composers Born Between 1700 and 1799--Large and Small Mixed Ensemble (Women Composers: Music Through the Ages)
by Matha Furman Schleifer
 Hardcover: 434 Pages (1998-03-01)
list price: US$202.00 -- used & new: US$202.00
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Asin: 0783816146
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Highly recommended for music libraries . . .CHOICE, November 1996(Volume 1: Composers Born Before 1599). . . belongs in all larger music collections.Library Journal, November 1996(Volume 1: Composers Born Before 1599) The recommendation remains: Buy this book!ARBA, 1996(Volume 2: Composers Born Between 1600 and 1699)This is truly a resource for music teachers, musicians, and everyone else interested in reclaiming the works of women composers.Feminist Collections, Summer, 1997Women Composers is the first comprehensive historical overview of music created by women from the ninth through the twentieth centuries. Each volume features 10-25 complete musical scores or complete movements from multi-movement compositionsmost of which have been previously inaccessible. Expert scholars provide original essays about the composers, including biographical information, a discussion of the music in historical context, and a critical analysis of each work. Entries also include a bibliography, a list of works by the composer, and a discography.The twelve volumes of Women Composers are arranged chronologically and subdivided by genre (e.g. vocal music, instrumental music, mixed vocal/instrumental music, etc.) Volumes 1 and 2 embrace the earliest known women composers, encompassing the pre-medieval period through the end of the 17th century (ca. 400 A.D. to 1699); volumes 3, 4, and 5 cover those composers born between 1700 and 1799; volumes 6, 7, and 8 include composers of the period from 1800 to 1899; volumes 9 through 12 are devoted to music written by composers born in the 20th century. Volume 5: Composers Born Between 1700 and 17991998

approx. 400 pp.

(Large & Small Mixed Ensembles) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Superb collection
This is volume one of what is planned as a twelve-volume set of musical scores with extensive information about each composer and her music. (Disclosure: I was among the contributors to some later volumes.) The books are not cheap--original price was $100 per volume--but are well worth the price. As of 2009 volumes one through eight are available. ... Read more

4. The Chronicle of Classical Music: An Intimate Diary of the Lives and Music of the Great Composers
by Alan Kendall
Paperback: 288 Pages (2000-09)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$18.31
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Asin: 0500282137
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Listening to great music--its seemingly effortless flight, its emotional power--you might imagine that musicians are somehow beyond the fears and banalities of ordinary life. The truth is that the music is often painfully wrought from lives full of worldly ambitions and anxieties, friendships and rivalries, employers and families, acclaim and failure. The Chronicle of Classical Music takes the form of a chronological diary from 1600 to the present. It leads the reader through the centuries, year by year, following the musicians' overlapping and interweaving lives. The composers' own worlds, public and private, spring to life in extracts from contemporary letters and journals, and in hundreds of illustrations, many in full color: paintings and drawings, cartoons, posters, photographs, scores, and documents. An informative introduction traces the history of music before 1600. Carefully cross-referenced with the chronological data is a series of special features that discuss in fascinating detail the key works, influences on musical form and performance, centers of musical energy, the changing working conditions and status of musicians, and the development of instruments. A companion chronology introduces the wider context of important historical and artistic events. The reference section includes biographies, a glossary of technical words, charts summarizing the history of music and the development of instruments, and a guide to the top CDs and performers. Here is the history of classical music presented in an entirely new way that is accessible, vivid, and multidimensional--an essential book for all those who are interested in classical music and its composers. 388 illustrations, 160 in color. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Aptly Titled, Beautifully Illustrated Time Line
As the professional reviewers observe this book is extremely limited in its written material, but it does provide a good visual reference to the times that the music was written.Being a Thames and Hudson publication, it tends to focus on British performers in its recommendations of most famous singers and musicians. American performers are given short shrift.Yet I do like it for what it does provide.I got it to go with a fabulous audio class taught through the Teaching Company by Robert Greenberg on the History of Western Music. So, as a short, general, timeline survey it is an adequate, beautifully illustrated reference. For greater depth, this author is a co-editor of a four volume treatise on the subject.That, and several others are referenced in the bibliography. ... Read more

5. Women Composers And Music Technology in the United States: Crossing the Line
by Elizabeth Hinkle-turner
Hardcover: 301 Pages (2006-03-24)
list price: US$79.95 -- used & new: US$56.19
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Asin: 0754604616
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Featuring analytical discussions or descriptions of about 150 different pieces of electro acoustic music by women composers in the United States, this book is the most definitive attempt to date to discuss the achievements of women as composers of experimental and avant-garde music from the 1930s to the present day. Using a wealth of primary material such as interviews and personal correspondence, âÂÂWomen Composers and Music TechnologyâÂÂ, also explores currently relevant issues in gender and technology. Drawing out the relationships between composers and their working environments, and between teachers and students, Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner discusses the contribution of women composers to electro acoustic music. Complete with a bibliography and discography covering the work of 90 composers, the book is a valuable resource for those wishing to learn more about particular composers and their works. Further volumes are planned, which will cover composers from continental Europe, the United Kingdom, Mexico, South America and Australasia. ... Read more

6. Satie the Composer (Music in the Twentieth Century)
by Robert Orledge
Paperback: 440 Pages (2008-12-04)
list price: US$55.00 -- used & new: US$38.75
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Asin: 0521078997
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Erik Satie remains one of the most bizarre figures in music history, yet everything he did has its own curious logic, once it can be perceived. In this important new study Dr Orledge reveals what made Satie 'tick' as a composer, dealing with every aspect of Satie's complex career and relating his achievement to the other arts and to the society in which he lived. Almost every figure in contemporary art was involved with Satie in some way or another, from Matisse and Picasso to Apollinaire, Cocteau and Brancusi. This, however, is no mere life-and-works study but rather an exploration of the technique behind Satie's art, which foreshadowed most of the 'advances' of twentieth-century music from serialism to minimalism, and even muzak. As the book progresses Satie appears as far more than just the composer of the popular Gymnopédies and Parade. ... Read more

7. Woodwind Music of Black Composers (Music Reference Collection)
Hardcover: 162 Pages (1990-01-24)
list price: US$72.95 -- used & new: US$59.99
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Asin: 0313272654
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This pioneering reference contains biographical data on 90 19th and 20th century Black composers from three continents and their compositions for woodwinds, including information on their education and professional experience, and on their continuing musical influence. A separate woodwind music index of both published and unpublished works for soloists and chamber ensembles groups the music by medium and numbers into 27 categories that contain 430 works with exact instrumentation, publisher, more. Also contains, a key to publishers, collections, manuscripts, and a discography. ... Read more

8. Great Composers and Their Music: 50 Ready-To-Use Activities for Grade 3-9 (Unit 5)
by Audrey J. Adair
Paperback: 112 Pages (1987-07)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$13.43
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Asin: 0133637972
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Each of the seven illustrated units focuses on one area. Provided are 50 reproducible worksheets, a handy teacher's guide, progress chart, and more. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Very good resource for Composer Units!
This book offers a fairly wide selection of activities for almost any composer project or unit.Each activity is grouped by the type of skill used; i.e. Creative Drawing or Enrichment Activities.The skill level is also included: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.The activities are interesting and are fun for the students.Most of the activities however, are geared toward beginner and intermediate levels, and would be best used with elementary students; there are not as many for the upper grades.Other than that this book is well thought out and well put together, a very good resource for teaching composers to students and incorporating some writing/research/drawing skills as well! ... Read more

9. An American Romantic Realist Abroad: Templeton Strong & his Music (Composers of North America , No. 4)
by Templeton Strong
 Hardcover: 460 Pages (1995-12-01)
list price: US$71.50 -- used & new: US$5.00
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Asin: 0810827662
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An American Romantic-Realist Abroad chronicles the work of George Templeton Strong, an American composer and painter who remained in close contact with musical and artistic developments in the United States despite the fact that the bulk of his work was done in Europe. This carefully researched presentation includes musical examples, excerpts from Strong's correspondence, and press reviews of his works in order to examine his artistic goals and illuminate the atmosphere of the time as well as his aspirations, frustrations, and achievements. Detailed analyses of certain works complement a comprehensive catalog of Strong's published and unpublished compositions, with full publication details and the location of unpublished work. ... Read more

10. Composers Of Classical Music Of Jewish Descent
by Lewis Stevens
Paperback: 384 Pages (2005-05)
list price: US$32.95 -- used & new: US$10.59
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Asin: 0853036136
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11. The Music of Gershwin (Composers of the Twentieth Century Serie)
by Steven E. Gilbert
Hardcover: 268 Pages (1995-10-25)
list price: US$59.00 -- used & new: US$21.15
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Asin: 0300062338
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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This book is the first in-depth analysis of George Gershwin`s entire compositional oeuvre, including his concert music. Written in a fluid, conversational style and illustrated with numerous musical examples, some of which have never before been published, it weaves biographical material with musical analysis and presents a chronological study of Gershwin`s career. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Music of Gershwin
This book is actually what its title purports it to be about.When you open this book, you'll find little biographical material about the life and times of Gershwin.Rather, as the title suggests, 'The Music of Gershwin' is about just that; the music.Containing interesting printed pieces of music as visual examples, 'The Music of Gershwin' contains visual examples of two types: 1) photocopies of actual hand-written music of George Gershwin 2) transcriptions of Gershwin's music based on the original written music.Both are intended to illustrate musical observations made by the authors.

In this book, there are forays into the informational substance surrounding the musical examples presented, and they are often done so in the context of classical music history or music theory nomenclature. ... Read more

12. The Music of Charles Ives (Composers of the Twentieth Century Serie)
by Philip Lambert
Paperback: 256 Pages (1997-08-11)
list price: US$26.00 -- used & new: US$22.47
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Asin: 0300105347
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With this innovative analysis of the music of Charles Ives, Philip Lambert fills a significant gap in the literature on one of America's most important composers. Lambert portrays Ives as a composer of great diversity and complexity who nevertheless held to a single artistic vision. "Philip Lambert's book is a fine study, well organized, meticulously executed, comprehensive, fascinating, and engagingly written."-Richard Parks "An excellent book for theoreticians and serious students of musical structure and analysis."-Choice ... Read more

13. Bound for America: Three British Composers (Music in American Life)
by Nicholas Temperley
Paperback: 256 Pages (2008-08-08)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$19.51
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Asin: 0252075951
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Nicholas Temperley documents the lives, careers, and music of three British composers who emigrated from England in mid-career and became leaders in the musical life of Federal-era America. William Selby of London and Boston (1738-98), Rayner Taylor of London and Philadelphia (1745-1825), and George K. Jackson of London, New York, and Boston (1757-1822) were among the first trained professional composers to make their homes in America and to pioneer the building of an art-music tradition in the New World akin to the esteemed European "classical" music. Temperley compares their lives, careers, and compositional styles in the two countries and reflects on American musical nationalism and the changing emphasis in American musical historiography.
... Read more

14. The Classic Fm Guide to Classical Music: The Essential Companion to Composers and Their Music
by Jeremy Nicholas
Paperback: 384 Pages (1997-04)
list price: US$22.99 -- used & new: US$42.63
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Asin: 1862050511
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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This is a guide to classical music, aimed at the beginner and enthusiast alike, and covering charts, a history of music, and composers. It is arranged alphabetically, discussing the composer's biography, musical influences and type of music, followed by a list of essential works. Charts are provided to help place artists in their society and period, as well as making the links between the composers. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Classical FM Review to Classical Music
If ther is just one book one should have on their bookshelf as a clasical music guide this is the one.I heard about this book on The Classical Music Radio station in Portland, Oregon and it is excellent.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Fabulous Single-Volume Reference on Classical Music
This is it...the book to buy if you want to learn more about classical music.Packed with more information than other collections ten times its size, this volume serves as a guide to the history of music, classicalcomposers and their essential works.Classic FM (a legendary BritishClassical radio station) has producced a "classic" of its ownhere...a book that will become an indispensible part of your library.

Here's what you get:

1.A concise history of music, from the earliesttonal experiments to the eclectic directions of the twentieth century;

2. An alphabetical list of composers, including a short biography, briefappraisal of his/her contributions, and a list of essential works;

3. Assorted tidbits of vital information, including a glossary of music terms,a list of most popular pieces, and much more.

4.The entire book ispeppered with drawings, photographs, quotes and anecdotes.

I've literallyworn out my copy of this book, marking it up extensively as I used it todevelop my interest and appreciation for classical music.I recommend itheartily, with two "caveats":First, the author -understandably, since he's English - tends to emphasize recent Britishcomposers over American (for example, why is George Lloyd included and AlanHovhaness not), and second, this is not a guide to specific recordings(there are other books that exist for that purpose, but don't do nearly asgood of a job with the music itself as this one does).But these are minorcomments.Anyone with even the slightest liking for music will find thisfascinating, and they could even find themselves embarked on a lifelongstudy of the classics.Enjoy! ... Read more

15. Love Lives of the Great Composers
by Basil Howitt
Paperback: 288 Pages (1995-10-01)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$8.95
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Asin: 0920151183
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Basil Howitt delves into the love lives of a cluster of the great composers from Gesualdo to Wagner and finds much to delight, surprise, shock, and even appall his readers -- but never bore them!

... Read more

16. The Pandora Guide to Women Composers: Britain and the United States 1629-Present
by Sophie Fuller
 Hardcover: 320 Pages (1995-05)
list price: US$50.00 -- used & new: US$49.53
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Asin: 0044408978
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17. Singer-Songwriters: Pop Music's Performer-Composers, from A to ZEvon (Billboard Hitmakers)
by Dave Dimartino
 Paperback: 320 Pages (1994-05)
list price: US$21.95 -- used & new: US$4.69
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0823076296
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Some of the most distinctive and successful artists in popular music are those who use the deceptively simple context of pop songwriting to communicate their unique artistic vision. Part of the Billboard Hitmakers series, this book to focuses on these performers exclusively. Singer-songwriters have been active across the spectrum of pop music styles, from the polished folk-pop of James Taylor, the progressive L.A. sounds of Joni Mitchell, and the sophisticated multicultural blends of Paul Simon, to the New York-tinged ironies of Lou Reed, the rock and roll classics of Carole King, and the gutbucket rock of John Hiatt. More than 200 artists are profiled here, offering an in-depth exploration of the real movers and shakers in the pop music pantheon. Using chart-topping song hits as a point of departure, each profile highlights the artist's accomplishments, traces his career path, and measures his impact. An additional section explores the "Unsung Heroes" who were influential despite a lack of chart hits. Dozens of photos add to the appeal of this authoritative look at some of the world's favourite musicians. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wide breadth of the great singer-songwriters
Mr Dimartino's varying taste in music makes this an excellent overview of the 208 most popular singer songwriters since the 1950's.What other book can you find Fred Neil, Chuck Berry, Nilsson along side current singer songwriters?Warning -- this is limited to pop songwriters -- no soul or country.

Well done book with unique angles on each artist while remaining a fun book to read. ... Read more

18. The Music of Silence: A Composer's Testament
by John Tavener
Paperback: 208 Pages (2000-04-15)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$13.20
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Asin: 0571200885
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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One of today's leading composers reflects on the relationship of music to the spiritual dilemmas of our time.

In the 1960s, John Tavener's music appeared on the Beatles' Apple label. "The Protecting Veil"--one of the bestselling classical recordings of all time--made him a household name in the eighties, and his "Song for Athene" was heard worldwide when it was played at Princess Diana's funeral in 1997.

Yet behind this enormous success is a spiritual dimension, which became explicit after Tavener was received into the Russian Orthodox Church in 1977. With his wide intellectual curiosity and searching musical imagination it comes as no surprise that he possesses a profound and far-reaching musical "philosophy." The Music of Silence gives voice to this philosophy. Based on extensive conversations between the composer and his longtime friend Brian Keeble, it covers his early influences, his attitude and often controversial reactions to the music of his contemporaries, the sacred and religious underpinnings of his faith, as well as the technical aspects of composition.Amazon.com Review
To the satisfaction of some observers and the astonishment ofothers, JohnTavener has become one of the most popular and successfulclassical composers alive today. The marvelously simple and consoling"Song for Athene,"which was sung at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales (and whichnearly stole the show from "Candle in the Wind"), isn't the onlyinstance. Tavener's 1987 cello concerto The ProtectingVeil, for example, drew more large-scale audience interest andgenuine excitement, especially in Britain, than had any new celloconcerto for decades; the composer's a cappella choral worksare sung in church services and concert halls all over the world. Manyconcertgoers and record buyers seem attracted to and even grateful forthe simplicity and spirituality of much of Tavener'smusic. Others--and not only professional critics--find somecharacteristics of his music, and his persona, off-putting and evenstupefying. Much of Tavener's writing is deliberately repetitive: "Ihate progress, I hate development, and I hate evolution in mostthings; but in music particularly," he says. His public utterances areoften unnecessarily inflammatory (such as suggesting that all operahouses and concert halls should be destroyed and that Western cultureis dead and rotting). His spirituality and belief in Eastern Orthodoxyoften appear ostentatious. (How many times has the man posed forphotographs surrounded by ikons and candles?)

The Music of Silence: A Composer's Testament has been assembledand edited by Brian Keeble from extensive interviews with Tavener athis Greek-island home. The second half of the book, which is largelyin interview format, should be quite valuable for those who are movedby his music or just want to understand what the composer is upto. Tavener's explanations of his concept of his music as "ikons insound," the crucial differences he sees between the Christianity ofthe Orthodox East and the Latin West, and his goals in writingparticular works such as Mary of Egypt andFall andResurrection are enlightening and often fascinating.

But the first half of the book is insufferable. "In Retrospect"purports to review Tavener's life and compositional career more orless chronologically. Not only are both the prose and the materialdisjointed, rambling, and repetitive (for which Keeble shares blame)but overbearing self-regard and spiritual pretentiousness seem to oozefrom every page like "liquid metaphysics" (a term Tavener uses todescribe his music). It is, frankly, off-putting and stupefying. Thisreader alternated between bemused annoyance and an intense desire tosee the composer parodied by a comic actor (as when he writes, "I hada vision in the bath one day").

One can't help wishing the composer would emulate his spiritualadviser and sometime librettist, the down-to-earth, no-nonsense Mother Thekla. He quotesher instructing him on how to approach Akathist ofThanksgiving: "Just get on with it, dear." May John Tavenertake that advice well and truly to heart. --Matthew Westphal ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars straightforward insights intothe composer's intent
I found this collection of interviews with the composer John Tavener and the editor, Brian Keeble, to be quite interesting and often amusing. Mr. Taverner is not shy in expressing his great distaste for other "modern" composers who came before him(particularly Olivier Messaien.) The book is helpful for the perspective it gives the reader in understanding the process of composing music. Moreover, it shows us that for Tavener, music is not just for listening, it is a way of serving God. His devotion to the Orthodox Church has served to bring its centuries-old musical/vocal tradition to a broader audience, including those of us who are not familiar with the tenets of that Church. His music is not just for Christians or Orthodox believers; it is a music for people of all beliefs. The solemnity and emotion of the human spirit come through in every one of his works.

5-0 out of 5 stars John Tavener- in his own words at last
John Tavener has certainly been one of the greatest inspirations in my life, and in this book it is finally possible to glimpse into the inner workings of his mind. His narrative reveals much of his personality, whichis something completely apart from the public "image" that hasoften been thrust upon him. What is so striking is his honesty; although,like his beloved Stravinsky, he sometimes contradicts himself withoutknowing it, Tavener takes the plunge that is always difficult forautobiographers: he admits to a discomfort with his past and is willing toaccount for some embarrassing mistakes in his musical career. It does chafejust a little that he keeps referring to "Fall and Resurrection"(which he had just completed at the time of writing), but thatnotwithstanding, he engages the reader with his tales, opinions andfeelings as much as he engages the faithful listener with his compositions.(And on a personal note, having met him and sung his music to him, I findit very hard not to hear his voice as I read the words...)

The book alsocontains several interview sections conducted by the editor Brian Keeble.These, it is explained in the preface, are recordings of spontaneousdiscussion as opposed to carefully planned dialogue, and to encounterTavener in conversation is nearly as fascinating as reading his own prose.At long last, we can see what makes him tick, how he feels about his lifeand work, and what his hopes for the future are.

Even if you already havethe Geoffrey Haydon book "Glimpses of Paradise," you shouldconsider getting this- it sheds new light on the story of a truly uniquecomposer and does indeed offer a message of hope for the next millennium. Outstanding! ... Read more

19. The Solo Vocal Music of American Composer John LA Montaine: Compositions for Voice on Piano (Studies in the History and Interpretation of Music)
by Pearl Yeadon McGinnis
 Hardcover: 541 Pages (2004-05)
list price: US$139.95 -- used & new: US$118.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0773464328
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Editorial Review

Product Description
John La Montaine is known primarily for his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 9, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1959. In addition, he has won countless awards for composition. However, his compositions for voice and piano are not yet an established part of the vocal solo repertoire. This work illustrates La Montaine's music for voice and piano through an analysis of musical and dramatic elements that support the text and drama. A biographical study provides details about the composer's life such as musical training, personal influences, awards and goals. In addition, the issues of philosophy, creativity, methods, musical styles, and textual considerations are discussed and are the basis for the following analysis. ... Read more

20. The Music of American Composer Lejaren Hiller and an Examination of His Early Works Involving Technology (Studies in the History and Interpretation of Music)
by James Matthew Bohn
 Hardcover: 280 Pages (2004-04)
list price: US$119.95 -- used & new: US$140.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0773464409
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

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