Robert Philip, scholar, broadcaster, and musician, has compiled an essential handbook for lovers of classical music, designed to enhance their listening experience to the full. Covering four hundred works by sixty-eight composers from Corelli to Shostakovich, this engaging companion explores and unpacks the most frequently performed works, including symphonies, concertos, overtures, suites, and ballet scores. It offers intriguing details about each piece while avoiding technical terminology that might frustrate the non-specialist reader.
Philip identifies key features in each work, as well as subtleties and surprises that await the attentive listener, and he includes enough background and biographical information to illuminate the composer’s intentions. Organized alphabetically from Bach to Webern, this compendium will be indispensable for classical music enthusiasts, whether in the concert hall or enjoying recordings at home.
“Other guides to the orchestral repertoire offer neat thumbnail sketches, but Philip delves deeper as he surveys the history and analysis of 400 concert works from Corelli to Shostakovich.”—Richard Fairman, The Financial Times (Books of the Year 2018)
“Engaging . . . lucid and illuminating . . . a treasure trove of commentaries that draw on scholarship and extensive musical experience . . . written in a thoroughly accessible down-to-earth style.”—R Moore, American Record Guide
“An enjoyable and informative resource for music enthusiasts.”—M.D. Jenkins, Choice
“Robert Philip's book is an astonishing achievement: a crisp, compendious and penetrating account of virtually every well-known piece of orchestral music the listener could hope to hear. Full of insight and illuminating description, it's an encouragement to listen, and an encouragement to explore. Dip in, and immerse yourself in some of the greatest music ever written—with a truly knowledgeable guide for company.”—Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director, Barbican Centre
“Robert Philip achieves the almost impossible with his erudite, accessible and hugely informed commentary, covering a wide range of works, often calling on significant composer correspondence and charting the course of each piece with a tiller’s hand. When he writes about music you know and love, you suddenly realise why you love it so much. A masterly exegesis beautifully written.”—Rob Cowan
“In a class of its own for scope, detail and depth of insight. Philip’s sheer knowledge is staggering. It’s hard to think of any other British musicologist who could have produced such a magnum opus and written with equal illumination across 250 years of repertoire.”—Richard Wigmore
“Robert Philip’s new book, covering four hundred works by sixty-eight composers, is an engaging companion that offers intriguing details about each piece for all music lovers in an accessible, non-technical manner.”—Marin Alsop