Cover Image: The Complete Classical Music Guide

The Complete Classical Music Guide

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Member Reviews

This book covers several different facets of classical music.  The Elements of Classical Music which covers pitch, musical notation, intervals, harmony, rhythm and tempo, meter, scales and tonality, musical form and dynamics. This is a very short review of what makes music and how it can be impacted using different aspects of these factors. It would have been nice to have a little more detail in this part of the book, but what is here is great. 

The next charter covers classical music instruments from the early days of classical music to today. Again, it would have been nice to have a little more information on how certain instruments evolved to what they are today. One really nice feature is where each group of instruments are located in the Orchestra. The next section covers the various types of ways classical music is performed. This is a nice summary and provides a very good overview. 

The last section covers all of the different periods of classical music from Early Classical to Modern Classical. Each sections covers the main individuals and the significant works written during those times. This area is where the book really shines.  The biographies and selected compositions really bring each of these time periods to life. 

Classical music is not appreciated enough. Today we have music with three or maybe four instruments using maybe five or six chords. The composers of classical music wrote for dozens of instruments, hundreds of styles using all of the methods mentioned in the first chapter. Listening to classical music can be daunting mostly because people do not know where to begin. This book can help to give the causal listener or someone wanting to know more about this beautiful music a running start. I found it very enjoyable. It can be read straight through or as a reference as the reader is going from one period to the next.
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This is a fabulous installment from DK! I had read a ton of their books as a kid and completely forgot they existed. This title is great for kids, but has enough content to be enjoyed by all ages to get a good understanding of classical music. I enjoyed the beautiful photographs, wealth of information and all around experience of this book- and I would expect nothing else from DK! If you're at all interested in classical music, I would definitely recommend checking this out!
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This is a beautifully constructed book that’s rock basic to the point that some of its contents are glossed over to the point of not being informative. I suppose that’s an issue with beginner books. If you include too much detail or even intermediate concepts, you tend to overwhelm the beginning reader. 

I think the point of the book is to instill an interest in music to those who wish to know more than what’s superficially obvious to all. It has a reasonable chance of accomplishing this helped by the very high production values apparent throughout. I feel it’s a worthwhile purchase but can’t help by thinking that a simple technical edit would have improved the content significantly. Bluntly put, some of the content is presented in such an elementary fashion as miss the mark as far as conveying information.
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Read if you: Want to expand your knowledge of classical music, but don't know where to start. 

I'm a big fan of the DK brand, but have never read a digital copy of one of their books. Keeping in mind that this is an ARC, and not the finished copy, I excitedly requested The Complete Classical Music Guide. This is a (typically) beautifully and eye-catchingly designed guide to classical music, from an overview of instruments, a dive into its history (with extended biographies and major works further discussed for the most noted composers), opera, influences from other music (like folk), to modern trends and composers. 

Librarians/booksellers: DK books are irresistable to readers who like to dip in and out of informational books. Purchase for your readers who want to expand their knowledge of classical music. 

Many thanks to DK and NetGalley for a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you to NetGalley and DK books for this eARC

This is a great book for classical music lovers who want to learn more about This topic. From the history of classic music, to composers to instruments - this book has it all. And in true DK style with lots of photos. The information is also very well organizes, and presented in a style that it very appealing
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When they say complete, the mean /complete. There is years worth of study in here. I studied music for four years, and then clarinet for six. There is information about the composition of music that I have never even heard of (not to bash my music teachers of course, they were wonderful). If you wanted to know everything there is to know about classical music, this is your book. And there is just SO MUCH to know. I feel like I could spend my whole life studying, and I wouldn't know enough. It goes into details about how an orchestra is made up, and the different instruments and their roles in music,  which is pretty cool. I have always found orchestras fascinating (I was in a concert band with no strings). There's a whole chapter dedicated to the history of classical music as well, as well as a complete guide to classical composers and their contributions to music. Honestly, it's just an incredibly beautiful book. I wish I had a physical copy in front of me right now. I love that they include more modern Broadway composers like Gershwin and Bernstein too. However, there are very few women included, and those that were had very small sections dedicated to their work. I am aware that history has likely buried the work of numerous female composers, but I do feel that more digging could have been done to give them the proper space they deserve. It is supposed to be a complete guide, as they claim. Otherwise, this book is an incredible guide for serious musicians or even those with the most casual of interests.
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This book was an instant hit with me. I adore reference books, and this one was excellent. The information is curated by John Burrows with excruciating attention to detail. The format is really appealing, it is interesting to see a timeline of the evolution of classical music that even includes modern composers and modern achievements in the genre. I want to purchase this book, pour some wine, and embark in the most melodious history lesson i would ever get.
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As an adult piano student I have been introduced to classical music history later than most music students. I found The Complete Classical Music Guide eye opening and entertaining. This book covers all things classical from the basics of the music itself, to the history of instruments, to composers and performance, I found the sections on the composers from Early Music to the present day the most interesting. Both major and more minor composers and how they influenced one another from era to era are explored. The artwork and photography is vibrant and beautiful. This  a good reference book and can encourage more in-depth study on any of the subjects it brings to light.
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The Complete Classical Music Guide from DK Publishing is all I expected and so much more. It successfully navigates that balancing act between offering a wide range of information without sacrificing too much depth.

This book surprised me with almost every page. It starts with the basics, what is music, what are the instruments, what makes an orchestra, and other such things that even those who listen to classical music can sometimes take for granted or forget. Covering the music and composers is done chronologically, starting with early music (1000-1600). 

There are so many features in this book and they work together seamlessly. The images support the text, the text does not presuppose a great deal of knowledge but also offers the kind of information and insight that regular listeners can appreciate.

I think what I particularly enjoyed was the way they approached the periods/eras and the composers within each. While the major names do get more space the lesser known are also covered and their contributions noted. Taken together, these offer the reader a chance to find the music and listen their way through the ages. When they get to modern music they offer more than just a list of major works but also, in a very small space, give us some insight into what each composer is or is not, or what she works toward or against. 

I am one of those who fall somewhere between a casual listener and a true aficionado. I have listened to classical (in the popular sense) music most of my life but it has never been my primary genre. I have taken some courses on specific composers and/or styles (mostly MOOCs), but that has mainly been to help me better understand the music within its originating context. All in all, music speaks to me on a personal level so learning about it is above and beyond what is absolutely necessary for enjoyment. But it definitely adds to my appreciation when I can understand the whys and hows of a piece. This book is ideal for someone like me. I found new (to me) composers I want to listen to and came to better place the ones I already know in the history of music.

I highly recommend this to anyone with even a casual interest in classical music. It is a beautiful book that is pleasing to the eye while it helps to feed the brain.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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A Rewarding Overview

Fun story. Back when I was in college our campus radio station had a program that aired every Sunday morning. It featured a regular guest whom the host would try to stump with a "mystery" recording. After a few minutes, the guest would say something like, "[t]hat's a bootleg tape of a rehearsal from the only time that Leonard Bernstein guest conducted the Berlin Philharmonic. But it sounds like their first violin was out, and I don't think that that was their regular percussionist." Now, if you are that sort of musical savant there is nothing in this book for you. However, if you are more or less a normal person, then I trust you will find this book interesting, informative, and quite entertaining.

The volume is thoughtfully organized, and it struck me that the emphasis and strongest features were well chosen. We start with a summary of the "Elements of Classical Music", including pitch, notation, rhythm, tempo and so on. This is just a brief refresher and not intended to do much more than serve as a general introduction. This is followed by equally brief, but still quite interesting, discussions of musical instruments and their evolution, and of the nature and organization of classical music performances. With thirty or so pages of that behind us, we are then ready to dive into the heart of the book.

Wisely, this is not organized alphabetically, (this is not a dictionary or encyclopedia), and it does not follow some didactic or ideological track. We simply start at the beginning and follow a meandering timeline. Along the way we meet all of the major and many of the minor composers and artists, get a bit of biography, and touch on their most "notable" works. Roughly speaking, the book is organized to focus on Early Music, Baroque Era, Classical Era, Romantic Era, Romantic Opera, National Schools, and Modern Music. We start in 1098 with, of course, Hildegard of Bingen, and end up in 2011 with the likes of Thomas Ades and Judith Weir. 

Each Era gets a brief introduction, but the focus is on the composers and their works. Think of an illustrated, chatty timeline. There are lots of opinions about what was important and special, and why, but the tone is generally congenial and the opinions expressed are more like suggestions than commands. (As is usual for a DK book there are lots of graphs, photos, drawings, sidebars, and the like. The look of the book is crisp and sharp, and the illustrations add much more than you might expect.)

The upshot for me was that this was a fine way to reacquaint myself with composers and works that I knew, and an especially accessible way to learn about some new and worthy possibilities. A serious student would probably know most of what's in this book, and would probably find a great deal about which to quibble, but for a motivated enthusiast this struck me as an excellent companion.

(Please note that I received a free advance will-self-destruct-in-x-days Adobe Digital copy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
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