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

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The author who has taught tens of thousands of people to love opera now introduces readers to the rich and soul-stirring world of classical music. For anyone who is aching to discover classical music, this comprehensive and accessible book is the ideal teacher. Writing in the clear and highly entertaining prose that made Opera 101 the standard text in its field, Fred Plotki The author who has taught tens of thousands of people to love opera now introduces readers to the rich and soul-stirring world of classical music. For anyone who is aching to discover classical music, this comprehensive and accessible book is the ideal teacher. Writing in the clear and highly entertaining prose that made Opera 101 the standard text in its field, Fred Plotkin--music expert, teacher, lecturer, and famous author--presents classical music in a way that respects both the reader and the art form. In Classical Music 101: The reader will discover how to become an expert listener, which is essential for learning to love classical music. A thousand years of music are explored, with emphasis on great works in all styles. Significant composers will be profiled in depth, including Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, and many more. Important musicians, such as pianist Emanuel Ax, singer Marilyn Horne, and conductor James Levine, speak about their art in interviews. Classical Music 101, the newest addition to a highly successful series intended for readers who don't consider themselves dummies or idiots, will help the person drawn to the finer things in life (and readers who don't know how to approach them) discover the glories of music.


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The author who has taught tens of thousands of people to love opera now introduces readers to the rich and soul-stirring world of classical music. For anyone who is aching to discover classical music, this comprehensive and accessible book is the ideal teacher. Writing in the clear and highly entertaining prose that made Opera 101 the standard text in its field, Fred Plotki The author who has taught tens of thousands of people to love opera now introduces readers to the rich and soul-stirring world of classical music. For anyone who is aching to discover classical music, this comprehensive and accessible book is the ideal teacher. Writing in the clear and highly entertaining prose that made Opera 101 the standard text in its field, Fred Plotkin--music expert, teacher, lecturer, and famous author--presents classical music in a way that respects both the reader and the art form. In Classical Music 101: The reader will discover how to become an expert listener, which is essential for learning to love classical music. A thousand years of music are explored, with emphasis on great works in all styles. Significant composers will be profiled in depth, including Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, and many more. Important musicians, such as pianist Emanuel Ax, singer Marilyn Horne, and conductor James Levine, speak about their art in interviews. Classical Music 101, the newest addition to a highly successful series intended for readers who don't consider themselves dummies or idiots, will help the person drawn to the finer things in life (and readers who don't know how to approach them) discover the glories of music.

30 review for Classical Music 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Classical Music

  1. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Gordon

    I can't thank Fred Plotkin enough for openning a whole new chapter in my life. If you always loved classical music but didn't know where to start, how to learn more and find out what you really like, start here. It took some effort to borrow most of the CDs from the library and rip them to my iPod. I did all my listening in the car on the way to work. This takes a bit of juggling of the audio book then the playlists I set up for each chapter. Every effort was worth the result. I actually learned I can't thank Fred Plotkin enough for openning a whole new chapter in my life. If you always loved classical music but didn't know where to start, how to learn more and find out what you really like, start here. It took some effort to borrow most of the CDs from the library and rip them to my iPod. I did all my listening in the car on the way to work. This takes a bit of juggling of the audio book then the playlists I set up for each chapter. Every effort was worth the result. I actually learned how to listen to music, really listen - I don't think I ever really did that before. From there you go on a wonderful journey through a wide range of music, enough to give you a taste of many areas and to guide you where to explore on your own. Fred's love of music is totally infectious, his warmth and enthusiasm really heart warming. I feel like I know him as a good friend after we shared many trips to work together. I have since subscribed to my local symphony orchestra, and bought a set of my very favourite music that I am working through and enjoying. There is just so much depth and emotion in classical music don't expect to enjoy it as background music or at a low volume, you need to really listen and take the time and focus to really hear it. Get this book and get started!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Scot

    Ironically, this was a horrible audiobook. Why? No music. I was supposed to stop the car at intervals in every chapter, go buy a a few hundred CDs, play them, and then start the book again to listen to the narrative about each track. Poor implementation.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gil Bradshaw

    I have listened to several of these kinds of books. I highly recommend the audiobook "The History of Classical Music" by Fawkes (not Guy Fawkes), that is probably the best history of classical music out there. Classical music 101 is too dry for me. I really wanted him to give more specific, concrete details about why he chose the pieces he did, etc. However, he did help me develop a better sense of ear training. Oh, one more thing: I felt like he was really outdating himself when he talked about I have listened to several of these kinds of books. I highly recommend the audiobook "The History of Classical Music" by Fawkes (not Guy Fawkes), that is probably the best history of classical music out there. Classical music 101 is too dry for me. I really wanted him to give more specific, concrete details about why he chose the pieces he did, etc. However, he did help me develop a better sense of ear training. Oh, one more thing: I felt like he was really outdating himself when he talked about his hatred for portable music players and headphones, which are pretty much the greatest thing ever.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Grace MacLaine

    There were a few elements of this books that I liked. I thought that the section on Beethoven's deafness was actually really insightful. And I really appreciated the emphasis on new music. And I discovered some wonderful pieces. But it mostly ended up feeling preachy and exhausting after awhile. So many pieces to listen to! So many concertos!! I like concertos, but there are other kinds of pieces for piano, violin, etc. I'm pretty sure there was only one trio. I was listening to so many pieces b There were a few elements of this books that I liked. I thought that the section on Beethoven's deafness was actually really insightful. And I really appreciated the emphasis on new music. And I discovered some wonderful pieces. But it mostly ended up feeling preachy and exhausting after awhile. So many pieces to listen to! So many concertos!! I like concertos, but there are other kinds of pieces for piano, violin, etc. I'm pretty sure there was only one trio. I was listening to so many pieces back to back, more variety would really have been appreciated.

  5. 5 out of 5

    David Hall

    fabulous book. takes two seconds to find the pieces online, many included on wiki.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    SkyGirl and I are making our way through this, one bit every Friday morning. We use Spotify to provide the tunes.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kolin

    Audiobook not good. Can't access the music to go along with the commentary. Audiobook not good. Can't access the music to go along with the commentary.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    This book is a great start to understanding classical music but is definitely dated. The book is very slow reading since you have to stop and find the music he is referring to. Thank goodness for Spotify! I couldn’t imagine reading this twenty years ago. The way the author breaks down the instruments and then has you find songs that highlight that sound was very interesting. I wanted to give it one more star but because of the difficulty in pausing and finding the music I have to give it three s This book is a great start to understanding classical music but is definitely dated. The book is very slow reading since you have to stop and find the music he is referring to. Thank goodness for Spotify! I couldn’t imagine reading this twenty years ago. The way the author breaks down the instruments and then has you find songs that highlight that sound was very interesting. I wanted to give it one more star but because of the difficulty in pausing and finding the music I have to give it three stars.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    I actually only finished 13 of the 17 parts - not because it was horrible, but I just couldn't go on. I tried listening to the recommended works, but the Apple Store is a bit short on Deutsche Grammophon downloads. Of course, there was that few page rant about appropriate behavior at a live concert that seemed a bit juvenile. And he did say this was NOT a music appreciation course, which it most certainly did sound like. And he absolutely was NOT trying to 'sell' particular works, but after a wh I actually only finished 13 of the 17 parts - not because it was horrible, but I just couldn't go on. I tried listening to the recommended works, but the Apple Store is a bit short on Deutsche Grammophon downloads. Of course, there was that few page rant about appropriate behavior at a live concert that seemed a bit juvenile. And he did say this was NOT a music appreciation course, which it most certainly did sound like. And he absolutely was NOT trying to 'sell' particular works, but after a while that claim started to sound a bit dubious.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sonja

    This could have been good and may have been in its original form. As an audio file it leaves a lot to be desired. They could have added the music you are superposed to be listening. It is hard to have to stop to queue up something outside of the book. I am sure most folks would not most of the music in their collections. I like classical already but am always wanting to learn more.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mark Meiss

    The author comes off as a snobbish, overbearing prat so strongly I couldn't bear to finish. Prepare to be condescended to. The author comes off as a snobbish, overbearing prat so strongly I couldn't bear to finish. Prepare to be condescended to.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    This is like a full course - very thorough.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Library Director

    Very thorough!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    I don't think this book, even though it states the opposite on the back cover, should be read in its entirety. I think if you feel compelled to go through each chapter and go out and by the recommended recordings by specific artist/conductor, so that you can follow the criticism and lessons he proposes, you are going about learning about classical music the wrong way. I can only imagine myself getting pissed at FYE because I can't find prokofiev's piano sonatas by so and so virtuoso pianist and I don't think this book, even though it states the opposite on the back cover, should be read in its entirety. I think if you feel compelled to go through each chapter and go out and by the recommended recordings by specific artist/conductor, so that you can follow the criticism and lessons he proposes, you are going about learning about classical music the wrong way. I can only imagine myself getting pissed at FYE because I can't find prokofiev's piano sonatas by so and so virtuoso pianist and giving up altogether. I found the book was best read by skimming the chapters that are wholly dedicated to specific recordings and listening exercises and reading in depth the chapters about the history of music, of the instruments and their arrangement, etc. I took those basic guides and applied them to whatever I found I was listening to. Overall though a good introduction to classical music.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    This is basically an interactive textbook, and though repetitive, gives a great and very thorough introduction to classical music. It can be a bit painful at times if you know a decent amount about music already, but it is, after all, 101. The author makes several good points and introduces a lot of music, performers, composers, and instruments and providing their respective histories. If nothing else, it is definitely informative! I'd certainly recommend it to anyone who wanted to learn about c This is basically an interactive textbook, and though repetitive, gives a great and very thorough introduction to classical music. It can be a bit painful at times if you know a decent amount about music already, but it is, after all, 101. The author makes several good points and introduces a lot of music, performers, composers, and instruments and providing their respective histories. If nothing else, it is definitely informative! I'd certainly recommend it to anyone who wanted to learn about classical music but had no background. The author is very patient with his readers.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ray

    I made a mistake and did not understand the content of this audiobook. I expected the author to select and INCLUDE the music with the audiobook. Instead, it was a research project. This book might have been worthwhile if I had and took the time to obtain all the musical pieces referred to in the text, but I didn't. So the book instead was Plotkin's discussion of composers and their works, but it didn't mean anything to me without the musical examples. I made a mistake and did not understand the content of this audiobook. I expected the author to select and INCLUDE the music with the audiobook. Instead, it was a research project. This book might have been worthwhile if I had and took the time to obtain all the musical pieces referred to in the text, but I didn't. So the book instead was Plotkin's discussion of composers and their works, but it didn't mean anything to me without the musical examples.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    The title is not right: It is NOT for those who want to grasp the very basics of opera. The entire audio book, ten's of hours, does not contain a single piece of sample music, or even vocal or instrumental sound. Instead, the course catalogues hundreds of composers, librettists, operas, singers, casts, productions, synopses, arias, biological and historical backgrounds, etc. How could the 101 student get good basic ideas? The title is not right: It is NOT for those who want to grasp the very basics of opera. The entire audio book, ten's of hours, does not contain a single piece of sample music, or even vocal or instrumental sound. Instead, the course catalogues hundreds of composers, librettists, operas, singers, casts, productions, synopses, arias, biological and historical backgrounds, etc. How could the 101 student get good basic ideas?

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel Congdon

    For those interested in the audio-book but hesitant after the many bad reviews let me just put out there, that one can pause the book and go to youtube, and bring up and any piece he's talking about. The book itself is a little dry, but learning about the music does help in processing it. Anything to get'ch to listen to Mahler's 2nd and Shostakovitch's 5th, is worth it. For those interested in the audio-book but hesitant after the many bad reviews let me just put out there, that one can pause the book and go to youtube, and bring up and any piece he's talking about. The book itself is a little dry, but learning about the music does help in processing it. Anything to get'ch to listen to Mahler's 2nd and Shostakovitch's 5th, is worth it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Chuck

    OK guide, if dated (published way back in 2002, before the digital revolution, so he talks about CDs and building a CD library).

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alison Holler

  21. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

  22. 5 out of 5

    Shuying

  23. 5 out of 5

    Paolo Mastrangelo

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joe Hoffman

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ning Kit

  27. 5 out of 5

    TJB

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kail

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

  30. 5 out of 5

    Todd Kennedy

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