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The Lives and Times of the Great Composers

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  64 Ratings  ·  11 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
Hardcover, 992 pages
Published May 1st 2005 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published October 2nd 2003)
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Mar 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Apr 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 24, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In giving this book three stars I have been generous, as for much of its duration, it was going to only get two, but I have learned a lot of things I didn't know before, so I think it is 2.5 stars in reality. I also learned a lot of things I didn't need to know.

More accurately, the book should be called " The times of the Great Composers and a little about their Lives", as that is the focus. The author has done a lot of research and he makes sure that you get it all. So we get details of events
Autumn Meier
Feb 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Thorough and interesting--everything such a book should be.
William Schram
Oct 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is really good. It's a history of Europe through the eyes of some composers starting with Handel. It also covers some of the food they would have eaten and the situations they would have lived in at the time. It is a really interesting book. There are some people that weren't covered, but whatever. This book is long enough already.

It starts from Handel because of a reason printed in the book itself. I believe it had something to do with music being established at the time as an art for
Jasmin K.
Aug 16, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
Martin Witchard
I've only just dipped into this rather weighty tome which does an exhasutive treatment of many composers. Unlike the Jeremy Nicholas book this is not a bedtime read. It requires steely concentration but certainly delivers the information in a generous if pragmatic way.
Nov 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a really well prepared book on the Composers. It is by date and area and focuses on the changes.
Dec 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fic
Poor binding on my copy
Nov 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Great reference book!!!
Jason Chiu
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Jun 11, 2017
Suzzanne Bloom
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Goldie Marie
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Jul 14, 2008
Icon Books
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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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