Classical Music 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Classical Music

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Overview

From the author of the best-selling Opera 101 comes a comprehensive and highly accessible guide to discovering the glories of classical music, based on the fundamental principle that developing the skills to truly listen (rather than merely hear) is essential to learning and loving this art form. Fred Plotkin illustrates how each piece of music possesses its own sound world, which is created by the unique style, voice, and vision of each composer, and made even more distinct by every musician who plays it. ...
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Overview

From the author of the best-selling Opera 101 comes a comprehensive and highly accessible guide to discovering the glories of classical music, based on the fundamental principle that developing the skills to truly listen (rather than merely hear) is essential to learning and loving this art form. Fred Plotkin illustrates how each piece of music possesses its own sound world, which is created by the unique style, voice, and vision of each composer, and made even more distinct by every musician who plays it. Furthermore, he explains how music becomes a part of the listener, especially if you are open to its pleasure and mystery.

How does an incipient music lover go about embracing a life in music? Plotkin makes it easy with Classical Music 101. In clear and entertaining prose, he explores a thousand years of music, introduces you to more than 100 great works, and profiles in depth many significant composers, including Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, and Mahler. He describes all the musical instruments in the orchestra, defines major musical terms, and makes music theory comprehensible for the uninitiated. There are conversations with important musicians, including pianist Emanuel Ax, violinist Joshua Bell, singer Marilyn Horne, and conductor James Levine, all of whom offer fascinating insights about their art. Finally, Plotkin provides a carefully chosen discography and advice on getting the most out of live performances. The book contains a helpful listing of concert halls and theaters around the world. Classical Music 101 opens your eyes and ears to an art form that will give a lifetime of meaning and pleasure to anyone who comes to love it.

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Editorial Reviews

Timeout Magazine
His insights and techniques are sound.
Library Journal
The latest of many introductory books on Western classical music, Plotkin's is a fine addition to the genre, though some may prefer Robert Sherman and Philip Seldon's more traditionally organized Complete Idiot's Guide to Classical Music or Michael Walsh's hilarious and opinionated Who's Afraid of Classical Music? While most such books are at least partially chronological, Plotkin's revolves almost entirely around the orchestra's instruments and the listening experience. He presents material as coursework, and his strictures about really listening (as opposed to mere "hearing") are well taken and certainly apply to all kinds of music. A valuable feature are the interviews with classical musicians interspersed throughout. One weakness is that opera is not significantly treated, perhaps because Plotkin covered that ground in an earlier book, Opera 101: A Guide to Learning and Loving Opera. The discography is organized by chapter rather than composer (which makes it a bit awkward to use as a stand-alone source), but it is superior to the one in the Idiot's Guide. Recommended for libraries desiring an up-to-date and informative general introduction to classical music. Bruce R. Schueneman, Texas A&M Univ. Lib., Kingsville Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781441796479
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/1/2012
  • Format: MP3 on CD

Meet the Author

Fred Plotkin is the author of the bestselling and acclaimed Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera, which is the standard text in North American for discovering the glories of opera. He writes for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Opera News, Das Opernglas, and Gourmet. He lectures on music for leading institutions, including Columbia University, the Juilliard School, and the Smithsonian. Plotkin is a popular guest on the intermission features of the Chevron Texaco-Metropolitan Opera broadcasts, and many shows on National Public Radio. An expert on Italy, he has written five definitive books on Italian food and wine.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments XI
1. First Hearing: Developing Your Listening Skills 1
2. Making Music 11
3. Some Thoughts on the Recordings Used in Classical Music 101 33
4. The Voices of the Orchestra 45
5. Colors and Pictures: More Thoughts About Listening 109
6. Second Hearing: Beethoven's Seventh Symphony 145
7. Theory, and Practice 161
8. The Symphony 181
A Conversation with James Levine 191
9. Attending a Live Performance 243
10. The Piano 281
A Conversation with Emanuel Ax 310
11. The Violin 337
A Conversation with Joshua Bell 344
12. Stringing Along: Music for Viola, Cello, and Double Bass 367
13. The Woodwinds 379
14. The Brass Family 391
15. The Percussion: Bells, Whistles, Thunder, and a Beating Heart 399
16. Early Music: From These Roots 409
17. The Singer's Art: Lieder and Vocal Music 421
A Conversation with Marilyn Horne 452
18. Lift Every Voice: Music with Chorus 477
19. Feeling Music: Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2 507
20. Mount Olympus and Elysian Fields: Beethoven's Ninth Symphony 519
21. Coda: Some Final Notes 529
Discography for Classical Music 101 541
Resources for the Classical Music Lover 563
Traveling to Hear Classical Music: Concert Halls and Theaters Around the World 569
Index 647
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