The Classical Music Lover's Companion to Orchestral Music Robert Philip

Publication date:
08 Sep 2020
Yale University Press
968 pages: 254 x 178mm
Sales territories:

Buy this eBook

You can purchase this title from a number of online retailers:

An invaluable guide for lovers of classical music designed to enhance their enjoyment of the core orchestral repertoire from 1700 to 1950

Robert Philip, scholar, broadcaster, and musician, has compiled an essential handbook for lovers of classical music, designed to enhance their listening experience to the full. Covering four hundred works by sixty-eight composers from Corelli to Shostakovich, this engaging companion explores and unpacks the most frequently performed works, including symphonies, concertos, overtures, suites, and ballet scores. It offers intriguing details about each piece while avoiding technical terminology that might frustrate the non-specialist reader.
Philip identifies key features in each work, as well as subtleties and surprises that await the attentive listener, and he includes enough background and biographical information to illuminate the composer’s intentions. Organized alphabetically from Bach to Webern, this compendium will be indispensable for classical music enthusiasts, whether in the concert hall or enjoying recordings at home.

Robert Philip was a senior lecturer in music at the Open University, and is a well-known presenter on BBC Radio. He is the award-winning author of Performing Music in the Age of Recording.

“Other guides to the orchestral repertoire offer neat thumbnail sketches, but Philip delves deeper as he surveys the history and analysis of 400 concert works from Corelli to Shostakovich.”—Richard Fairman, The Financial Times (Books of the Year 2018)

“If readers want to understand or expand their knowledge of orchestral music, this is the book most needed. This is the one to buy.” —Ian Lipke, Queensland Reviewers Collective

 “This is a book the musically curious will want to keep handy to dip into for sheer enjoyment, or to seek an informed opinion before listening to a live or recorded performance.” —Susan Nickalls, Classical Music Magazine

“In this new book, which has been painstakingly prepared over a number of years, Philip turns his attention to more than 300 orchestral works dating from late 17th century Corelli and Vivaldi to 20th century Britten and Tippett. The scale is breathtaking, the choice both comprehensive and representative, but most importantly the scholarship is profound, perceptive and concise, with a directness of language that completely avoids pomposity.” —Ken Walton, The Scotsman

“Readers will be enticed to listen to familiar compositions with new ears” — Keith Bruce, The Herald

“A collection of authoritatively written programme essays on some 400 works by 68 composers from Bach to Webern”—Richard Osborne, Oldie

“An ambitious project and elegantly published” —Gavin Plumley, Gramophone

“What I like best about the book: that Philip is unafraid of voicing his opinions, and that the opinions are so often convincing” —Stephen Brown, Times Literary Supplement

"The Classical Music Lover’s Companion to Orchestral Music is a real treasure...Philip has the rare ability to write about music in a highly accessible, casual style, free from overly technical language, while nevertheless offering much that even experts will value."—David D. Corey, Law & Liberty

“Robert Philip's book is an astonishing achievement: a crisp, compendious and penetrating account of virtually every well-known piece of orchestral music the listener could hope to hear. Full of insight and illuminating description, it's an encouragement to listen, and an encouragement to explore. Dip in, and immerse yourself in some of the greatest music ever written—with a truly knowledgeable guide for company.”—Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director, Barbican Centre

“Robert Philip achieves the almost impossible with his erudite, accessible and hugely informed commentary, covering a wide range of works, often calling on significant composer correspondence and charting the course of each piece with a tiller’s hand. When he writes about music you know and love, you suddenly realise why you love it so much. A masterly exegesis beautifully written.”—Rob Cowan

“In a class of its own for scope, detail and depth of insight. Philip’s sheer knowledge is staggering. It’s hard to think of any other British musicologist who could have produced such a magnum opus and written with equal illumination across 250 years of repertoire.”—Richard Wigmore

“Robert Philip’s new book, covering four hundred works by sixty-eight composers, is an engaging companion that offers intriguing details about each piece for all music lovers in an accessible, non-technical manner.”—Marin Alsop