Historical Dictionary of Music of the Classical Period
When we speak of “classical music” it often refers rather loosely to serious “art” music but at the core is really the music of the classical period running from about 1730 to 1800, give or take. This was truly one of the most glorious periods for both composition and performance and it is this classical music which is still at the core of today’s repertoire. Obvious names connected with this period are Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, but there were many more still reasonably well known like Gluck and C.P.E Bach, and dozens more who are regrettably little known today.
This Historical Dictionary of Music of the Classical Period includes not only these composers, but also eminent conductors and performers, patrons, and publishers. There are also dictionary entries on major centers of music-making, typical instruments, important technical terms, and emerging musical forms, including the symphony and opera. Indeed, with a 1,000 cross-referenced entries, there is information on most matters of interest. This is prefaced by an extensive chronology, tracing the course of this period from year to year, and an introduction taking a careful look at the period as a whole. Finally, there is a substantial bibliography. Surely, this is a book which will appeal not only to students and researchers but all music-lovers.
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Historical Dictionary of Music of the Classical PeriodUser Review - Book Verdict
Van Boer (music history, Western Washington Univ.) defines music's "Classical period" as covering composers active between 1730 and 1800 (a standard and useful, if not always agreed-upon, range) whose work "must conform to either a developmental or conventional stage of some style we can call 'Classical.'" He provides more than 1000 cross-referenced entries on Classical composers (primarily), major performers of the time, prominent librettists, influential patrons, important public concerts, major orchestras, styles and genres, and "occasional peculiarities," e.g., unusual musical instruments. Also included is a chronology of key musical and historical events. Readers may think of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven when they think of this period, but here they will discover Lodewijk van Beethoven, a Flemish-German singer and Kappelmeister who was idolized by his more famous grandson Ludwig; Italian composer Giuseppe Gazzaniga; Dutch-American composer, violinist, and music publisher Peter Albrecht von Hagen, and so many more. VERDICT While most personal, public, school, and academic music libraries own an edition of the Oxford Companion to Music, a spot-check of the present volume showed that of ten composers randomly chosen, only three were found in the Oxford Companion; and while musicians, students, and scholars may still go on to look up more comprehensive information on these musicians in the New Grove Dictionary of Music, or in the Grove Online database, this broadly researched, carefully edited, single-volume work is invaluable for ready reference as well as fascinating for browsing.—Marcia Welsh, Dartmouth Coll., Hanover, NH
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