The Sinfonias Books
The list of suggested readings is a highly selective list of printed material that will lead the listener from the general to the more detailed paths of the history of classical music. Composer biographies, works lists, repertoire analyses, dictionaries, and histories of classical music are extremely useful to the listener as they provide the background to what he/she is listening. The selections are listed in alphabetical order by author's last name or title.
As our selections may be in print or out of print, you may check the sources below for availability:
Any library in your area
Barnes and Nobles
Online Bookstores Directory
Any other Bookstore in your area
Instruments of the Orchestra
Genevieve Helsby. Meet the Instruments of the Orchestra! CD Included. Naxos Books, 2007.
Composers and their Works (Analysis)
David Dubal. The Essential Canon of Classical Music. North Point, 2001. Good for biographical essays and listening suggestions of major composers.
Eric Guilder. The Dictionary of Composers and their Music. A Listener's Guide. Gilder, 1985. Good for the selected works lists and comparative chronological tables of classical music history.
Amanda Holden. Ed. The New Penguin Opera Guide. Penguin, 2001. Good for extensive opera plots and other opera related data per composer and work.
Joe Staines and Duncan Clark. The Rough Guide to Classical Music. 4th ed. Rough Guides, 2005. Good for short composer biographies, selective repertoire, and listening suggestions.
John Stanley. Classical Music. The Great Composers and their Masterworks. Octopus 2005. Good for biographies of well known composers, works lists and listening suggestions.
Main works of classical music composers are analyzed, compared and conrasted.
Jonathan D. Kramer. Listen to the Music. A Self-Guided Tour Through the Orchestral Repertoire. Shirmer, 1988.
Michael Steinberg. The Symphony. A Listener's Guide. Oxford Un. Press, 1995.
Michael Steinberg. The Concerto. A Listener's Guide. Oxford Un. Press, 1998.
Francois-Rene Tranchefort. Guide de la musique symphonique. Fayard, 1986. (in French)
Francois-Rene Tranchefort. Guide de la musique de piano et de clavecin. Fayard, 1987. (in French)
Francois-Rene Tranchefort et al. Guide de la musique de chambre. Fayard, 1989. (in French)
Francois-Rene Tranchefort et Claire Delamarche. Guide de la musique sacree et chorale profane. Fayard, 1993 (in French)
History of Classical Music
Every pocket-size book in the Naxos basic series below is a short introduction to the main classical music periods. Each copy includes a pin number that gives you access to a specially prepared site of the Naxos label with music examples referred to in the books.
Jenkins Lucien. Discover Early Music. Free Music Website Access Included. Naxos Books, 2007.
Clive Unger-Hamilton. Discover Music of the Baroque Period. Free Music Website Access Included. Naxos Books, 2007.
Stephen Johnson. Discover Music of the Classical Era. Free Music Website Access Included. Naxos Books, 2007.
David McCleery. Discover Music of the Romantic Era. Free Music Website Access Included. Naxos Books, 2007.
David McCleery. Discover Music of the 20th Century. Free Music Website Access Included. Naxos Books, 2008.
The Prentice-Hall History of Music series consists of university-level textbooks.
Jeremy Yudkin. Music in Medieval Europe. Prentice-Hall, 1989. (Previous book in the same series Albert Seay. Music in the Medieval World. 2nd ed. Prentice-Hall, 1975.
Howard M. Brown and Louise K. Stein. Music in the Renaissance. 2nd ed. Prentice-Hall, 1999.
Claude V. Palisca. Baroque Music. 3rd ed. Prentice-Hall, 1991.
Reinhard G. Pauly. Music in the Classical Period. 4th ed. Prentice-Hall, 2000.
Rey M. Longyear. Nineteenth-Century Romanticism in Music. 3rd ed. Prentice-Hall, 1988.
Eric Salzman. Twentieth-Century Music: An Introduction. 4th ed. Prentice-Hall, 2002.
Joseph Machlis. The Enjoyment of Music. 5th ed. Norton, 1984. A compehensive introduction to classical music, major composers and their works.
Stanley Sadies and Alison Latham. Eds. The Cambridge Music Guide. Cambridge Un. Press, 1985. An introduction to classical music history, periods, instruments, composers and works.
Donald J. Grout and Claude V. Palisca. A History of Western Music. 4th ed. Norton, 1988. A standard comprehensive history of classical music.
Paul Griffiths. Modern Music and After. Directions since 1945. oxford Un. Press/Clarendon, 1995. A compehensive account of the complex history of Modern Music.
Dictionaries/Encyclopedias (one-volume, normal size)
Paul Griffiths. The New Penguin Dictionary of Music. Penguin, 2006.
Michael Kennedy and Joyce Bourne. The Oxford Dictionary of Music. 2nd Ed. Oxford Un. Press, 1995.
Ted Libbey. The NRP Listener's Encyclopedia of Classical Music. Free Music Website Access Included. Workman, 2006.
Stanley Sadie and Alison Latham. The Norton/Grove Concise Encyclopedia of Music. Norton, 1994.
Don Michael Randel. Ed. The New Harvard Dictionary of Music. 1986.
Random House Encyclopedic Dictionary of Classical Music. Random House, 1997.
Nicolas Slonimsky and Richard Kassel. Baker's Dictionary of Music. Schirmer, 1997.
Dictionaries/Encyclopedias (one-volume large or multi-volume)
Nicholas Slonimsky. Ed. Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. 7th Ed. Shirmer, 1984. This is a normal price book with biographies of substantial length and works lists of a large number of classical music composers who had become prominent until the late 1950s.
Nicholas Slonimsky and Laura Kuhn. Ed. Baker's Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians. Shirmer, 1997. This is a normal price book with biographies of substantial length and works lists of a large number of classical music 20th century composers who had become prominent until the 1990s.
Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 20 vols, 1980 and later reprints or 29 vol. 2004 or Grove Music Online (by subscription). This is the standard multi-volume reference in the English language. If you really need the extended biographical data and complete works lists for the pre-1970s composers, search for the 20 volume older edition which is a lot cheaper compared to the last printed one or the online version.
Classical Music Magazines (General and International only)
The latest news, reviews and other information about classical music, i.e. the current scene.
American Record Guide
BBC Music Magazine
Classical Record Collector (focuses on historical recordings)
Diapason (in French)
Classical Music magazines online
CD/DVD Buying Guides
Chris Woodstra et al. Eds. All Music Guide to Classical Music. Backbeat Books, 2005. If you have no problem with very small print, this is a nice guide to both the basic repertoire and recordings of a very large number of classical music composers.
Alexander J. Morin. Ed. Classical Music. The Listener's Companion. Third Ear. Backbeat Books, 2002. A comprehensive guide with suggested recordings written in essay form. Emphasis on both American and European conductors, orchestras, and soloists. Includes even out of print recordings. Very useful for those who would like to have a knowledge of important recordings even if they are not available at present and just in case they reappear in the future.
The Gramophone Classical music Guide. Gramophone, Annual Edition. Collection of annual reviews published in the Gramophone magazine.
The Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music 2008. Annual Edition. A standard annual music media/files guide which may not include recordings from certain labels.
Ted Libbey. The NRP Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection. Workman, 1999. An older basic buying guide still useful to the novice.
Sinfonias © 2009-2010 by D. I. Loizos