©2004 Darren Henley; (P)2004 NAXOS AudioBooks Ltd.
"Alsop's easygoing approach works well as she serves as a welcoming tour guide offering fun facts and interesting biographical sketches for listeners." (Publishers Weekly)
"This charming compilation is cheerfully hosted by the clear and friendly voice of Marin Alsop, who walks young (and curious adult) listeners through an engaging history of classical music." (AudioFile)
This is a perfect application for audiobooks -- a history of classical music along with samples from the works of the composers discussed. I was afraid I would be bored, but was informed and entertained start to finish. This is a very basic overview -- appropriate for children or adults with minimal background in classical music. It gave me a very good context for the music, both in time, geographically, and stylistically. One criticism: the sound quality of the music was not great.
I did enjoy this book. I've listended to classical music and wished I knew more about the history - and I've read about classical music and wished I could hear the music they were talking about. This program gives you a quick tour with the brief highlights of both.
This program concentrates more on the historical settings of the composers, not the musical composition or theory. It is also easy to tell that this program was designed as an introduction for students (probably middle to high school age). I didn't mind that, some people may. Listen to the audio sample and you'll quickly see if this is the type of book you're looking for.
I myself am a music student at university, and I found this to be a wonderfully short and sweet overview of classical music. It was written in an enjoyable way, and I loved that they put the musical excerpts in there as well. I felt he spent a little too much time on a few composers and really glossed over others. Overall, though, I'd recommend it to anyone.
Between this title and 'Classical Music 101', this one was a joy to listen to as the latter one was drudgery. The narration was pleasant and the musical snippets were a nice additional bonus to help move the story along, although some of the snippets were too long. However, I enjoyed it and I believe that children 8 and over would also enjoy it.
While the quality of the music clips is disappointing, the narration is quite good. My children (ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade) and I all really enjoyed this audiobook. This book is a good choice for long car trips with a wide age range.
The only other criticism we have is that one point, the narrator mentions Rimsky-Korsakov as the composer of "Pictures at an Exhibition," which is incorrect. Even so, the book is highly recommended.
I'm an adult and I love music, though I can't say I have an "educated ear". Thus my desire to do some music history! As I was looking through the more sophisticated books on the topic, I read a review of someone saying she had preferred this one because the music samples were longer. I'm glad I took her advice. I learned a lot, had fun and listened to some beautiful music and I'm not embarrassed to say that the "child" approach was perfect for me!
My husband and I quite enjoyed listening to this while commuting. He is quite familiar with the music and composers but found it enjoyable and informative anyway.
Xtra light on facts, lots of music snippets and a little gossip about composers - this is a book to play to your kids. My 16 year old son will already find the slighly patronising tone irritating, so younger kids only! Personally I also dislike the strong American accent. Wasted my credits on this one... :(
A must listening book for both adults and children, especially for school children. It is easy to be followed with very enjoyable music.
"How an audiobook about music should be"
I have nothing to say about the content, perhaps any printed book could do as much. But the presentation filled with a lively narration, recordings of the music she's talking about, sound effects, re-enactments and subtle humor overall makes a better learning experience. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't learn as much by reading a music history book.
"What better way to relax and learn?"
If you, like me, like to relax (read) before going to sleep, but like classical music too, then this is for you. Although not particularly aimed at an adult audience (i.e. good for 12 year-olds who are interested in classical music), I still found this audiobook a good buy. Finally I can put a name to all those famous pieces of music I heard in my childhood home, and know to which genre they belong. Why four stars? I have nothing else to compare it to, this being the first 'history of classical music' audiobook I've ever listened to. A definite yes.
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