A History of Western Music (Eighth Edition)

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The Eighth Edition of A History of Western Music is a vivid, accessible, and richly contextual view of music in Western culture.
Building on his monumental revision of the Seventh Edition, Peter Burkholder has refined an inspired narrative for a new generation of students, placing people at the center of the story. The narrative of A History of Western Music naturally focuses on the musical works, styles, genres, and ideas that have proven most influential, enduring, and significant—but it also encompasses a wide range of music, from religious to secular, from serious to humorous, from art music to popular music, and from Europe to the Americas. With a six-part structure emphasizing the music’s reception and continued influence, Burkholder’s narrative establishes a social and historical context for each repertoire to reveal its legacy and its significance today.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1152 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 8 edition (January 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393931250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393931259
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.7 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.6 pounds

Customer Reviews

A Wonderful Book With Excellent Supplementary Material !

19 people found this helpful.
 on August 14, 2014
By Gene Williams
I am reviewing the hardcover edition — This is a truly wonderful book! Although it was designed as a music school text, it is a truly great source for an individual learner who loves music; and Norton (unlike many textbook publishers) has done an excellent job of integrating the supplementary material on the web and making that accessible to anyone who purchases a new book. In the book, the maps and illustrations do a good job of putting the musical content in an appropriate context. I treasure this book and I imagine that you will, too.

Great book. My theory professor recommended it

 on March 10, 2016
By Amazon Customer
Great book. My theory professor recommended it. It gives a great overview of everything you need to know about Western music. The layout of the pages enables for easy reading, such as the timelines and short composer bios. Probably the most underrated part of the book is the recommended reading section in the back. The book offers more specific texts for certain topics, which is tremendously helpful. I would say that this is a must have for serious musicians. Every serious musician should at least have it on their bookshelf to reference to.

The Definitive Work on European Music

 on December 18, 2015
By António da Costa
I had a paper to write on the evolution of European music. If you have to write a paper like I, or if you have intellectual curiosity, I would wholly recommend this book. It spans from the Ancient Greeks to Schoenberg, and the detail and references provided are simply astounding. You could take a whole year of classes based off of what is in this book. Don’t let it’s publication date fool you, this book shines above all others. Truly the definitive work on European music.

The cover shows a bit more wear than advertised (listed …

 on January 24, 2017
By Kevin
The cover shows a bit more wear than advertised (listed as minor, but has sizable tear near the corner), but otherwise everything else was exactly as described. The pages also seem to be in almost new condition from what I have seen.

good but a little uneven and confusing

48 people found this helpful.
 on January 30, 2010
By JWaters
i’m just a neuropsychologist who is interested in music – very interested, but not a formal student or teacher. I’ve studied clarinet, piano, recorder in some detail… I got this for an overview and general grounding, and also in the hopes of being able to obtain a good deal of detail when i wanted it. for the most part it does both, but, as to the latter – depth/detail – some things are covered in great detail and others in what i would call a cursory manner, with a couple sentences. In some cases, i myself know there is much more easily available, just from my lifetime of perusing liner notes, watching PBS or listening to NPR, the occasional book, and other ways of learning about music. Of course, the editors/writers had to pick and choose, but i just think some areas are under-represented; the book is already big so there would be little downside to it being even half again bigger. Maybe i just hoped for more because i already knew what was in there. My background is admittedly uneven.

Exactly what You Think

 on December 13, 2016
By Drew Pascoe
This book also comes with online access, which I used more than the physical book. The ability to search within the textbook was great. The content of the matter of the book is dry, but that is expected.

Incredible book. I’m reading it slowly but loving it …

8 people found this helpful.
 on November 1, 2014
Incredible book. I’m reading it slowly but loving it. Easy-ish reading style, very comprehensive. Used for most music hist classes, but I’m reading it for pleasure and knowledge. It makes your music make more sense.

Industry Standard, Excellent Resource

One person found this helpful.
 on December 28, 2012
By Akanna24
As a student, I was required to use this text book for music history (1750 – ) and, unlike most other textbooks, I actually read this one! I was very impressed with both the depth and breadth of the text, as I found the text to include an impressive balance of both.

Great book

 on January 31, 2011
By ppandpgirl
This book is great. It contains a lot of information about music history that is helpful to anyone studying music. I have found this book to contain a lot of interesting facts about music and how it has developed over the years. My professor said that this book has everything that you will ever need to know about music history in it and that is why he had me use it for my music history class.

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