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The Gift of Music: Great Composers and Their Influence

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One of the finest achievements of Western culture is its brilliant heritage of classical music. A Gift of Music looks at the lives of the greatest composers who have given us this heritage, and especially at how their music was shaped by their beliefs. The result is a remarkable and inspiring book, showing the importance of Christian faith for many composers, and the effect One of the finest achievements of Western culture is its brilliant heritage of classical music. A Gift of Music looks at the lives of the greatest composers who have given us this heritage, and especially at how their music was shaped by their beliefs. The result is a remarkable and inspiring book, showing the importance of Christian faith for many composers, and the effect of this upon their music. But it also shows how the lack of faith has brought profound change in the meaning and form of contemporary music. Thus A Gift of Music seeks to open up a whole new world of music--to encourage listening to the finest compositions with new understanding and pleasure, and to stretch our ears and imaginations. It is a book which will be greatly appreciated by those who already love classical music, and by others who want to explore this delightful world for the first time.


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One of the finest achievements of Western culture is its brilliant heritage of classical music. A Gift of Music looks at the lives of the greatest composers who have given us this heritage, and especially at how their music was shaped by their beliefs. The result is a remarkable and inspiring book, showing the importance of Christian faith for many composers, and the effect One of the finest achievements of Western culture is its brilliant heritage of classical music. A Gift of Music looks at the lives of the greatest composers who have given us this heritage, and especially at how their music was shaped by their beliefs. The result is a remarkable and inspiring book, showing the importance of Christian faith for many composers, and the effect of this upon their music. But it also shows how the lack of faith has brought profound change in the meaning and form of contemporary music. Thus A Gift of Music seeks to open up a whole new world of music--to encourage listening to the finest compositions with new understanding and pleasure, and to stretch our ears and imaginations. It is a book which will be greatly appreciated by those who already love classical music, and by others who want to explore this delightful world for the first time.

30 review for The Gift of Music: Great Composers and Their Influence

  1. 5 out of 5

    Myersandburnsie

    I read this alongside my CC Ch2 class. Only selected readings are required for CC. I finished the entire book because it is lovely and a far better look at composers than offered by the Classical Music for Dummies that Ch2 students read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Samuel

    Through reading The Gift of Music, I was entertained at the skills and talents these composers had and how they created the path to modern day music. To many modern people, Classical Music may be as yucky as Goya or something. In fact, when I went to borrow this book, the librarian told me I was the first person to do so. But, I felt that Classical Music leads to modern music. This book features 30~40 composers, describing each of their musical characteristics. Where I felt this connection from cl Through reading The Gift of Music, I was entertained at the skills and talents these composers had and how they created the path to modern day music. To many modern people, Classical Music may be as yucky as Goya or something. In fact, when I went to borrow this book, the librarian told me I was the first person to do so. But, I felt that Classical Music leads to modern music. This book features 30~40 composers, describing each of their musical characteristics. Where I felt this connection from classical to modern music is in their musical characteristics. Today’s music seems to be constantly changing, and if it is new, it is better. On the other hand, Classical Music seems to be the serious, strict, boring type of music that never changes. Not so. This becomes especially clear in the later half of the book, but even within the Classical Music era music was constantly changing. We have figures like Bach and Beethoven who is said to be the bridge to the next classical period, bringing new features. Ravel studied hard to master music and he “was never afraid to imitate” the techniques of other composers. Dvorak was influenced by the New World and his music shows his harvest from America, but still mixed with the music of his homeland Czechoslovakia. There are too many names to list, but every composer was influenced by someone and influenced someone in return. In this short amount of time, music has gone from strictly religious music to a blend of multiple cultures, and has created the foundation of modern day music. I don’t like it when Classical fans say something like, “Modern day music is trash because there is no musical talent in it, just notes”, or “nothing can surpass the holy music of Bach” or “Modern music should be destroyed!” Classical Music leads to Modern music, and Modern music points back to Classical Music. It is interesting to see how these music were composed, and if you pick up this book and read it, you may find connections with your favorite music.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    As a musician, I greatly enjoyed and appreciated this book. The premise behind this book is that God has given us the gift of music and so as Christians, we can and should appreciate it. God even gifted those who didn't believe in him. For example, Beethoven is one of the greatest composers of all time and yet he led a very troubled life. He was clearly not a believer and yet God gave him such a great gift and so as Christians, we can see God's beauty in his music and glorify Him even though Bee As a musician, I greatly enjoyed and appreciated this book. The premise behind this book is that God has given us the gift of music and so as Christians, we can and should appreciate it. God even gifted those who didn't believe in him. For example, Beethoven is one of the greatest composers of all time and yet he led a very troubled life. He was clearly not a believer and yet God gave him such a great gift and so as Christians, we can see God's beauty in his music and glorify Him even though Beethoven never professed faith in God. The book gives a brief biography of many composers and is organized in chronological order. I read about some composers in whom I would have no interest reading a full-length biography on and yet reading a chapter on them was very edifying. At the end of each chapter is a list of recommended readings and listening. There is also a chapter on the use of Psalms in music, Shakespeare's influence on music, and Christmas carols. I highly recommend this book. Even if you didn't want to sit down and read the whole thing, it would be a good book to use as a reference. I only had two complaints which were that first of all, in the beginning chapters on composers of the baroque, classical, and romantic eras, the author would interject her disdain for twentieth century music and how older music was much more beautiful than more recent classical music. I thought that this was totally unnecessary. She would also switch to first person and interject her own thoughts right in the middle of a discussion about a composer. This interrupted the flow of the book and was rather odd to me. However, this book was based on lectures so I could see how those thoughts would have flowed better in a lecture. Despite these setbacks, the book was definitely still worth reading.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    Intriguing to read about the composers' lives and an analysis of their works. Very inspiring. Intriguing to read about the composers' lives and an analysis of their works. Very inspiring.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Roberts

    Great, short biographies of history's greatest composers. We read this book aloud over the course of two years while studying history 1600-present. I loved the insight into the lives of these creative geniuses, and we tried to pair each reading with listening to a piece of their music. Great, short biographies of history's greatest composers. We read this book aloud over the course of two years while studying history 1600-present. I loved the insight into the lives of these creative geniuses, and we tried to pair each reading with listening to a piece of their music.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    A good introduction to many of the great composers. Written from a Christian viewpoint. Includes recommended listening for each composer.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Eva

    excellent resource on the lives of composers. Written from a Christian perspective, this book can add a new dimension to anyone's love for music. excellent resource on the lives of composers. Written from a Christian perspective, this book can add a new dimension to anyone's love for music.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Going through my list of to read books and noticed some we have already read but never marked...krb 10/28/21 This is not a book we read all the way through. We would read the section of the Composer we were studying during that term. This is a great book to do that with.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    I used this as a text for a music history class I taught this year. It worked for that purpose, but the writing was not particularly great.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Wheeler

    Interesting chapter book about the many great composers who influenced the music world, that we used in our Dialectic homeschool history studies.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Davis Smith

    This is a pretty good, but certainly not stellar, introduction to the wondrous world of classical music from a Christian perspective. The essays/biographies of the composers are well-written and fascinating, and much of the authors’ analysis of the composers’ worldviews gives a clear lens through which to view their art. However, there are legions of historical inaccuracies and much personal bias in this book. For one, the authors repeat several dubious legends of classical music as fact (Napole This is a pretty good, but certainly not stellar, introduction to the wondrous world of classical music from a Christian perspective. The essays/biographies of the composers are well-written and fascinating, and much of the authors’ analysis of the composers’ worldviews gives a clear lens through which to view their art. However, there are legions of historical inaccuracies and much personal bias in this book. For one, the authors repeat several dubious legends of classical music as fact (Napoleon and Beethoven’s Third, quoting “Testimony” on Shostakovich, etc.) And many of the evaluations are either totally unfair, unnecessarily gushing, or try to force Christian elements in. For example, the excessive praise lavished on Bruckner. They do however; do a good job at highlighting how one cannot enjoy beautiful music without understanding the consequences of its philosophical foundations, as highlighted through Mahler and Debussy (though if Mahler is criticized, then why isn’t Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique?). Also, the “Recommended Listening” sections need to be pared down significantly. However, these things are really only of consequence to the classical music enthusiast, and carry no bearing on the novice who reads this as a solid introduction.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nikiandcory

    Covering many of the greats in the development of music, I found this book to be quite informative. There were some musical terms I, a novice in music literature, could not understand so I highlighted everything that I wanted to go back and look up. Every chapter covered a new influential musician/writer with suggestions for music listening so that a reader could gain both an appreciation and a better understanding of the musical tools used by each subject in the chapter. The fact that one of th Covering many of the greats in the development of music, I found this book to be quite informative. There were some musical terms I, a novice in music literature, could not understand so I highlighted everything that I wanted to go back and look up. Every chapter covered a new influential musician/writer with suggestions for music listening so that a reader could gain both an appreciation and a better understanding of the musical tools used by each subject in the chapter. The fact that one of the authors met or sang some of the music was a bonus.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    This is not a run-right-out-and-get-it book. It is, however, a very interesting collection of succinct biographies of the world's great composers, what influenced them, and how they influenced music and the world, with a particular attention to their Christian connections. This book was loaned to me by someone who thought I might enjoy it, and they were right. It's an easy read and can easily be nursed along, reading a composer at a time as time allows. I appreciated learning more about the comp This is not a run-right-out-and-get-it book. It is, however, a very interesting collection of succinct biographies of the world's great composers, what influenced them, and how they influenced music and the world, with a particular attention to their Christian connections. This book was loaned to me by someone who thought I might enjoy it, and they were right. It's an easy read and can easily be nursed along, reading a composer at a time as time allows. I appreciated learning more about the composers, their Christian influences, and the relationships the composers had among each other.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kerri

    We are using this as our text for Composer Study in our homeschool. We have liked it. We usually read two or three paragraphs each week before we listen to a selection by that composer. My children have found it interesting in small doses. I don't usually finish reading the entire chapter to them, but I try to hit the highlights. This is not to say that the book is not interesting. It hits the main points of the composers life and what they contributed to music as well as a bit of historical bac We are using this as our text for Composer Study in our homeschool. We have liked it. We usually read two or three paragraphs each week before we listen to a selection by that composer. My children have found it interesting in small doses. I don't usually finish reading the entire chapter to them, but I try to hit the highlights. This is not to say that the book is not interesting. It hits the main points of the composers life and what they contributed to music as well as a bit of historical background.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Annie Kate

    A great introduction to the history of music, full of anecdotes and music recommendations. We used it for our homeschool and enjoyed it. Unfortunately, we had no access to the music itself (our living room computer is too old to play YouTube), but that would have made it much better, and we hope to do that in the future while reviewing the biographies. The authors' knowledge of music is evident, but the writing itself is occasionally scattered. A great introduction to the history of music, full of anecdotes and music recommendations. We used it for our homeschool and enjoyed it. Unfortunately, we had no access to the music itself (our living room computer is too old to play YouTube), but that would have made it much better, and we hope to do that in the future while reviewing the biographies. The authors' knowledge of music is evident, but the writing itself is occasionally scattered.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Barry Black

    Great book for those who are interested in learning about music and composers. I bought this book many years ago when I knew little or nothing of Classical music. This book is a good introduction to the lives of many of the composers of the various eras. At the end of each chapter (a chapter to each highlighted composer) is a list of their works worthy of your listening time.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    really interesting. i am not very knowledgeable in classical music but that didnt matter. some of the facts and backrounds of these composers were shocking. very interesting. not dry reading. good author.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Darcy

    Terrific! Just terrific!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alayna Mitchell

    Dry and boring. I've read other books on music that are way more interesting. Dry and boring. I've read other books on music that are way more interesting.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sam

  21. 4 out of 5

    Naughtbutchrist

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lily

  23. 4 out of 5

    Esther Waite

  24. 4 out of 5

    Angie Liu

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rania

  26. 4 out of 5

    Aislinn Sinnamon

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jan Knibbe

  28. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Lise

  29. 5 out of 5

    Corey

  30. 4 out of 5

    Amy Jo

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