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Thread: Music Books - A Quick Reference

  1. #1
    Assistant Administrator Chi_townPhilly's Avatar
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    Default Recommended books- Listed by Category!

    With gratitude to vertciel, thanks for a key concept to Kurkikohtaus, and special appreciation to all who have recommended music books, a listing of such books will be preserved on the opening page of the thread. Almost without exception, listed books also have a link-back to the post where they were recommended. We will update this list periodically. Furthermore, if anyone is aware of book recommendations in other threads that ought to merit mention in this collation, you may contact us (preferably via Private Message) so that we may perform the necessary edits, if desired.

    1. Music Appreciation & Survey Texts:

    History of Western Music/Grout david johnson
    The Enjoyment of Music/Machlis & Forney
    Classical Music A New Way of Listening/Waugh
    The Continuity of Music/Kolodin Hexameron
    The Joy of Music/Bernstein Hexameron/groovesandwich
    What to Listen for in Music/Copland Hexameron/kxgfxg/Hazel
    101 Masterpieces of Music & Their Composers/Bookspan BuddhaBandit
    Concise History of Western Music/Griffiths bartleby
    Classical Music (Eyewitness Companions)/Burrows Rachovsky
    The Encyclopedia of Music/Wade-Matthews opus67
    Classical Music 50 Greatest composers-1000 Greatest Works/Goulding StlukesguildOhio/lou/Vesteralen
    Essays in Musical Analysis (6 vols.)/Tovey Private recommendation- anonymous contributor
    Oxford History of Western Music/Taruskin emiellucifuge
    The Language of Music/Cooke jalex

    2. Composer-specific Tomes:

    Sibelius (in four volumes)/Tawaststjerna
    Symphonic Unity The development of formal thinking in the symphonies of Sibelius/Murtomaki Kurkikohtaus
    The Essence of Bruckner/Simpson Gustav
    Beethoven- Impressions by his Contemporaries/Sonneck
    Evening in the Palace of Reason Bach meets Frederick the Great in the Age of Enlightenment/Gaines
    Schumann on Music: A selection from his writings Hexameron
    Johannes Brahms: A Biography/Swafford World Violist/kg4fxg/Hausmusik
    Beethoven/Sullivan bartleby
    Aspects of Wagner/Macgee
    The New Grove Wagner/Millington
    Wagner's Ring A listener's companion & concordance/Holman
    I Saw the World End A study of Wagner's Ring/Cooke
    The Wagner Operas/E. Newman Chi_townPhilly
    Edward Elgar: Memories of a Variation/Powell
    Edward Elgar: Record of a Friendship/Burley
    Elgar in Love/Hockman & Allen Elgarian
    Mahler: His Life, Work, and World/Blaukopf
    Chopin's Funeral/Eisler Isola
    Robert Schumann Herald of a new poetic age/Daverio Artemis
    A Companion to Beethoven's Pianoforte Sonatas/Tovey Private recommendation- anonymous contributor
    Mozart in Vienna 1781-1791/Braunbehrens Elgarian
    Mozart & His Operas/Cairns Kieran
    Beethoven/Solomon quartetfore
    BBC Music Guide- Schumann's Piano Music Vesteralen
    Charles Ives Remembered- An Oral History/Perlis, ed.
    Testimony (Shostakovich)/Volkov RandallPeterListens
    Dvořák Romantic Music's Most Versatile Genius/Hurwitz Truckload
    Beethoven The Music & the Life/Lockwood GGlueck
    Berlioz- Memoirs jalex
    Cambridge Companion to Schubert/Gibbs, ed.
    The Beethoven Quartet Companion/Winter & Martin Hausmusik

    3. Historical & Stylistic Periods:

    Medieval Music/Hoppin
    Music in the Renaissance/Reese
    Baroque Music/Palisca
    Music in the Baroque Era/Bukofzer
    Music in the Classical Era/Pauly
    Nineteenth-Century Romanticism in Music/Longyear
    Romantic Music/Plantinga
    Twentieth-Century Music An Introduction/Salzman
    Music in the 20th Century/Austin
    The Sonata in the Baroque Era/W. Newman
    The Sonata in the Classical Era/W. Newman
    The Sonata Since Beethoven/W. Newman Hexameron
    The Rest is Noise Listening to the 20th Century bartleby/al2henry
    The Classical Style/Rosen Artemis/Edward Elgar
    Composers Voices from Ives to Ellington/Perlis-Van Cleve Barger
    Modern Music/Griffiths Edward Elgar
    Music Here and Now/Krenek hemidemisemiquaver
    Quasi una Fantasia Essays on Modern Music/Adorno
    Nineteenth-Century Music/Dalhaus Hausmusik

    4. Instrument-specific Books:

    The Composer-Pianists- Hamelin and the Eight/Rimm
    The Art of the Piano/Dubal
    Five Centuries of Keyboard Music/Gillespie
    The Great Piano Virtuosos of our Time- ...Account of Studies w/Liszt, Chopin, Tausig and Henselt/von Lenz Hexameron
    The Great Pianists: From Mozart to the Present/Schonberg Hexameron/Air/andruini
    Piano Playing with Piano Questions Answered/Hofmann
    Piano Technique/Gieseking & Leimer CML
    After the Golden Age Romantic Pianism & Modern Performance/Hamilton Cambridge Companion to the String Quartet/Stowell, ed. Hausmusik
    The String Quartet/Griffiths carlmichaels

    5. Theory & Composition:

    Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory/Miller verticiel
    Principles of Orchestration/Rimsky-Korsakov anmarwis/Barger
    A Guide to Orchestration/Adler Edward Elgar
    Counterpoint in Composition/Salzer & Schlachter
    A Practical Approach to Sixteenth-Century Counterpoint/Galdin
    A Practical Approach to Eighteenth-Century Counterpoint/Galdin
    Forms in Tonal Music: An Introduction to Analysis/Green
    Classical Form: theory of formal function for instrumental music/Haydn-Mozart-Beethoven/Capin Herzeleide
    Harmony and Voice Leading/Aldwell & Schlacter Herzeleide/bigham45
    Tonal Harmony/Kostka & Payne bigham45
    Counterpoint/Piston Jeremy Marchant
    Foundation Studies in Fugue/Hugo
    Technique of Canon/Hugo chee_zee
    Treatise on Orchestration/Berlioz jalex

    6. Other Music Interest

    The Symphony/Steinberg Chi_townPhilly/kg4fxg
    From Paris to Peoria How European Virtuosos Brought Classical Music to the American Heartland/Lott
    The Virtuosi/Schonberg
    The Book of Musical Anecdotes/Lebrecht
    Lexicon of Musical Invective/Slominsky
    Letters of Composers/Norman & Shrifte Hexameron
    Conversations with Karajan/Osborne
    Karl Böhm- A Life Remembered (Memoirs) Gustav
    Collins Dictionary of Music/Kennedy Cyclops
    1001 Classical Recordings You Must Hear Before You Die/M. Rye, ed. Sanctus493
    The Lives of the Great Composers/Schonberg World Violist/Species Motrix/kx4fxg
    Elementary Training for Musicians/Hindemith CML
    Wondrous Strange- the Life and Art of Glenn Gould/Bazzana
    Glenn Gould Reader/Page Isola
    NPR Listener's Encyclopedia of Classical Music/Libbey kg4fxg/Mirror Image
    Musicophilia: Tales of Music & the Brain/Sacks Barger
    NPR Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection/Libbey Sam Guss
    The Music Instinct how music works & why we can't live without it/Ball 52paul/Lunasong
    The Great Conductors/Schonberg
    The Compleat Conductor/Schuller superhorn
    Music & Society Since 1815/Raynor quartetfore
    The Composer's Advocate/Leinsdorf GGlueck
    Evenings with the Orchestra/Berlioz jalex
    Three Classics in the Aesthetics of Music/Debussy-Ives-Busoni jalex
    Conversations with Menuhin/Dubal
    Wordsworth Dictionary of Musical Quotations/Watson, ed.
    Dictionary of Musical Quotations/Crofton & Fraser, ed. goldie08
    The Great Transformation of Musical Taste Concert Programming from Haydn to Brahms/Weber Hausmusik
    Last edited by Chi_townPhilly; Feb-17-2013 at 17:06. Reason: updated through 6/19/2012
    Mesa, Hesoos, Renaissance and 2 others like this.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Kurkikohtaus's Avatar
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    Sibelius Books!

    1. A "must have" for Sibelius lovers is Andrew Barnett's new book simply titled Sibelius.

      It sets itself apart from other Sibelius biographies in that it discusses every single piece or "performable fragment" ever written by Jean Sibelius.

      Check it out here: CLICK!

    2. Otherwise, the "standard" Sibelius biography is the 4 volume colossus by Erik Tawaststjerna, English Translation by Robert Layton.

    3. For technical books about Sibelius, it doesn't get any better than Symphonic Unity: The Development of Formal Thinking in the Symphonies of Sibelius by Veijo Murtomaki .

  3. #3
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Ok ... We'll try it as a "sticky" - as long as the contents remain in reference format.

    If the thread becomes a conversational debate over which composer is better than the other, we may revert to a normal thread.

    I rather like the idea of this being a great reference for the community here.


  4. #4
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    History of Western Music, Donald Grout - it's an old standard.


  5. #5
    Senior Member Oneiros's Avatar
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    Brisbane, Australia

    Default - a good introduction to theory
    Declined likes this.

  6. #6
    Assistant Administrator Chi_townPhilly's Avatar
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    Posting on a "sticky"... I'd better give a broadly useful recommendation-

    I can't imagine that any active listener would regret reading Michael Steinberg's The Symphony. The book contains wide coverage of much of the symphony repertoire. The section on Mahler is more useful than certain entire books on the subject. The cycles of Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms and Sibelius get fully treated. Furthermore, Haydn from Symphony 92 on, Mozart from Symphony 35 on, and Bruckner from Symphony 4 on are also well-covered.

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    Robert Simpson's Analysis of Bruckner's symphonies. A must read.

  8. #8
    Senior Member ChamberNut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gustav View Post
    Robert Simpson's Analysis of Bruckner's symphonies. A must read.
    Hmm, thank you Gustav. I'll have to put that on my list.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Hexameron's Avatar
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    Winston-Salem, NC


    As a college music student, I've been stockpiling and using various books for research and papers. Without making a huge bibliography, I'd like to contribute the following, which are by no means the only essentials, but are still excellent sources:

    Beginner's Reference

    -Kerman's and Tomlinson's Listen (my old music appreciation textbook; it's easy to read).

    -Machlis's and Forney's The Enjoyment of Music (like a junior version of Grout's textbook).

    -Alexander Waugh's Classical Music: A New Way of Listening.

    -Frederic Grunfeld's Music (a simple and watered down music text, but a fine introduction)

    General Reference

    -Richard Hoppin's Medieval Music. (for the advanced).

    -Gustav Reese's Music in the Renaissance. (the major Renaissance source, but also for the advanced).

    -Claude Palisca's Baroque Music (accessible and short).

    -Manfred Bukofzer's Music in the Baroque Era.

    -Reinhard Pauly's Music in the Classic Period.

    -Rey Longyear's Nineteenth-Century Romanticism in Music (excellent background information on 19th century European culture).

    -Leon Plantinga's Romantic Music.

    -Eric Salzman's Twentieth-Century Music: An Introduction.

    -William Austin's Music in the 20th Century.

    History of Genres

    -William Newman's trilogy: The Sonata in the Baroque Era, The Sonata in the Classical Era, and The Sonata Since Beethoven.

    -Michael Roeder's A History of the Concerto.

    -Homer Ulrich's Chamber Music: The Growth and Practice of an Intimate Art. (very old and a little difficult to read, but still edifying).


    -Robert Rimm's The Composer-Pianists: Hamelin and the Eight (nice information about Medtner, Feinberg and Sorabji not usually mentioned in other books).

    -David Dubal's The Art of the Piano (almost like a New Grove's Dictionary of Pianists and Pianist-Composers).

    -Harold Schonberg's The Great Pianists: From Mozart to the Present (although some facts Schonberg alleges are sketchy and suspicious, it is a good comprehensive survey).

    -John Gillespie's Five Centuries of Keyboard Music.

    Fun Reading

    -R. Allen Lott's From Paris to Peoria: How European Virtuosos Brought Classical Music to the American Heartland. (for the pianophile)

    -Harold Schonberg's The Virtuosi.

    -Wilhelm von Lenz's The Great Piano Virtuosos of Our Time: A Classic Account of Studies with Liszt, Chopin, Tausig and Henselt. (as fishy as Lenz's recollections are, most of them are close to the truth and provide wonderful anecdotes).

    -Beethoven: Impressions by his Contemporaries. (everyone from Ries to Rossini and Weber to Wieck discuss the master).

    -James Gaines' Evening in the Palace of Reason: Bach Meets Frederick the Great in the Age of Enlightenment.

    -Norman Lebrecht's The Book of Musical Anecdotes. (a must have)

    -Irving Kolodin's The Continuity of Music.

    -Aaron Copland's What to Listen for in Music.

    -Leonard Bernstein's The Joy of Music.

    -Nicolas Slonimsky's Lexicon of Musical Invective. (read about your favorite symphony being trashed).

    -Norman's and Shrifte's Letters of Composers.

    -Schumann on Music: A Selection from the Writings. (outstanding insight and critiques of music by Chopin and Liszt, and also works from composers you've might not heard of).

  10. #10
    Senior Member ChamberNut's Avatar
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    Winnipeg, Canada


    Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread. It's always great to reference books and biographies to keep in mind.

    I'm looking for a great biography on Schubert, so if anyone has any suggestions, that would be great!

    And last, but not least, welcome back to the board, Hexameron! We've missed your contributions.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Hexameron's Avatar
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    Thanks for the welcome back, ChamberNut (love the young Brahms avatar, btw).

    There are a couple "big" Schubert biographies, but the only one I can think of off the top of my head is by Brian Newbould. He seems to be the Schubert scholar today and has written many books on him, including an exhaustive biography.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Kurkikohtaus's Avatar
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    Prague, CZ


    Gettin some good lists going... but I wonder, a technical thing about editing posts in this forum...

    It seems you can't edit your own posts once someone has posted after you. Which means that "greensky" can't go back and edit all of our contributions into his own post, to keep the list nice and organized at the top.

    Is there anything admin can do about this to enable that feature?

    It would be a great reference if all of our contributions were organized by vertciel at the top, rather than as a running commentary...

  13. #13
    Senior Member ChamberNut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by david johnson View Post
    History of Western Music, Donald Grout - it's an old standard.

    I believe I have this one David. Just haven't gotten around to reading it yet.

  14. #14
    Senior Member opus67's Avatar
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    Madras/Chennai, India


    Welcome back, Hex.

    Want a piece of classical music identified? Post a link or upload a clip here. Someone might have an answer.

    A quick and gentle introduction to audio formats and compression

    2009: It's the International Year of Astronomy

  15. #15
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    Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the list! There are many works here which will benefit anyone interested in music.

    @ Kurkikohtaus: I agree with you. I am currently trying to work something out so I can get an organised list of recommended music resources. Scrolling through pages of posts to get others' recommendations is certainly tedious and inconvenient.

    I look forward to further posts!

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