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The Lives and Times of the Great Composers

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  37 ratings  ·  6 reviews
A grand and panoramic biograhical history of the giants of classical music, The Lives and Times of Great Composers is a new, unique, and lovingly constructed modern reference--and a beguiling read which you will return to again and again.
Interlinked yet self-contained, each chapter distills the life of one or more composers, set against the social, political, musical, and
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Hardcover, 992 pages
Published May 1st 2005 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published October 2nd 2003)
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Sammy
A very worthy book, although it's not really the kind of thing you'd read straight through; it's more of a reference text. Steen covers everything from historical and social contexts of the composers to the nitty-gritty of their daily lives.

I think some reviewers overreact to the idea that Steen is just being sensationalist: it's genuinely interesting to read about the more salacious aspects of these men's lives (very akin to 'The Twelve Caesars' in that sense), but he also approaches the stori
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John
Found this at the Library by accident and what a superb find it was; should be a permanent part of everyone's home library. These are short survey pieces heralding various composers over a 350 year period, their music, operas and lives - the longest was Mozart at 40 pages. The writing is not at the level of biography and some of the information is cobbled together loosely but the book achieves its major objectives and is well worthwhile. All this material in a single volume is a great plus. You ...more
Vrteach
I received this at Christmas from my Father, and it took me a while to get to starting it. But once I did I didn't start any other books. It does a great job of weaving the lives and works of composers with the history (mostly of Europe) since the beginning of the 18th century.
Jasmin K.
This book reminds me those magazines that have dirty gossips about movie stars in them; the ones that we grab from the shelf to look inside while standing in line to pay for the groceries. Like these paparazzi trying to get attention of masses. It is an attempt of belittling, helplessly equalizing, and proving that we all are equal and have same body parts and natural needs. And, oh! That mighty subject “SEX”!!!! “oh Wow!!! These composers were made of flesh and blood? They were not angels?????” ...more
BB
Poor binding on my copy
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“Bartók, like Janáek, carried out a considerable amount of research into folk music. He would travel into the countryside with his camera and his Edison wax disks to record Hungarian, Romanian and Slovakian folk music and customs. He went to Turkey and to north Africa to pursue the origins of these. ‘We must isolate the very ancient, for this is the only way of identifying the really new’, he said.” 0 likes
“Sibelius’ personal secretary conceded that ‘when a small nation of four million people produces an artist whose acclaim is truly universal, it is easy to understand that in his own country his importance is unreasonably exaggerated’. 90 Does this astonishingly candid remark perhaps give us an insight into what nationalism in music is really about?” 0 likes
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