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The Symphony: A Listener's Guide

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  62 ratings  ·  6 reviews
Enriched by biographical detail, historical background, musical examples, and many finely nuanced observations, this volume is a treasury of insight and information. Readers will find illuminating discussion of the complete symphonies of Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Elgar, Sibelius, and Mahler, as well as of the most loved symphonic works of Schubert, Bruckner, Dvorak, Tch ...more
Hardcover, 704 pages
Published December 7th 1995 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1995)
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Subjective and a conservative "playlist"

I got this book nearly a decade ago, and valued it a lot at the time. I hadn't seriously used it in quite some time, then, while reviewing some books I had just read, decided to post one about it.

When I got online, I first noticed the comments in the line of "It's too bad that 'Composer X' gets omitted."

But, this is a book about music, I was thinking, and "de gustibus non disputandum" will always be the rule in the arts.

Then, I started looking through my c
Stephen Gamble
Written by some one who clearly has both passion and knowledge. Approachable language. Somewhat idiosyncratic choice of works to review. Not many people can write about music, Michael Steinberg can.
Michael Steinberg’s The Symphony is a useful companion for both beginning and experienced listeners. It’s basically a collection of program notes written for the Boston Symphony and San Francisco Symphony when he acted as the orchestras’ publications director and artistic advisor.

Its main focus is on the core symphonic repertoire, including discussions of the complete cycles of Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Mahler and Sibelius. There is much other material besides including generous but partial
This is a book to be used more as a reference than to be read cover to cover in one go. Sure maybe some of your favorites are missing, but it doesn't pretend to be comprehensive. I noticed that a lot of these pieces are used from time to time in the program at our local symphony (SFSO). To be combined with other sources and of course... use your ears. After all, writing about music is sort of like dancing about architecture.

I recommend it as a good reference.
J. Andrew
Incredible! A most own book and a valuable and easy to read resource. The text is clear and interesting and unfolds more like a beautifully wound story than an informative book.
Reading this as a Companion, matching chapters to my listening, concerts or otherwise. Brilliant.
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Michael Steinberg was an American music critic and musicologist closely associated with the San Francisco Symphony.
More about Michael Steinberg...
For the Love of Music: Invitations to Listening The Concerto: A Listener's Guide Choral Masterworks: A Listener's Guide The Fiction of a Thinkable World: Body, Meaning, and the Culture of Capitalism Our Wilderness: How The People Of New York Found, Changed, And Preserved The Adirondacks

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