In between Simone de Beauvoir and William Faulkner, I read Stephen Fry’s Incomplete and Utter History of Classical Music as told to Tim Lihorean. The book served my purpose, which was to provide a contextual structure for the major composers, who influenced who, etc. The content was exceptional, but the tone of the book I found excruciating. It depends on whether you enjoy Stephen Fry’s schtick. I don’t.
The subject continues to fascinate me, and like the dangers of shandy or marijuana, Stephen Fry lead to harder stuff, in the form of the wonderful The Oxford History of Western Music by controversial musicologist Richard Taruskin.
>I wasn't aware of this series as classical music isn't really remotely my thing, but the description sounds interesting and OUP works tend to be reliable overall in my experience. Still, I loved that both you and that Guardian piece described Taruskin as "controversial" and yet the media shills for the publishing house said that the series had garnered "universal acclaim." Something doesn't quite up add there, does it, Anthony? In any event, looks like you have some wonderful reading ahead of you one way or another…
>My use of the word "controversial" is based on Taruskin's voicing of personal, sometimes idiosyncratic opinions in the writing of this history. There is a readership that expected a drier encyclopaedic approach, which lead not quite "universal acclaim." I like my historians to take sides.
>Anthony, has anyone told you that you are an over achiever? Slow down, your putting the rest of us to shame! 🙂
>Over achiever? Heh, not me, just relentlessly curious, a classic INTP (Meyers-Briggs).