Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century: The Oxford History of Western Music

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The universally acclaimed and award-winning Oxford History of Western Music is the eminent musicologist Richard Taruskin's provocative, erudite telling of the story of Western music from its earliest days to the present. Each book in this superlative five-volume set illuminates-through a representative sampling of masterworks- the themes, styles, and currents that give shape and direction to a significant period in the history of Western music.

This first volume in Richard Taruskin's majestic history, Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century , sweeps across centuries of musical innovation to shed light on the early forces that shaped the development of the Western classical tradition. Beginning with the invention of musical notation more than a thousand years ago, Taruskin addresses topics such as the legend of Saint Gregory and Gregorian chant, Augustine's and Boethius's thoughts on music, the liturgical dramas of Hildegard of Bingen, the growth of the music printing business, the literary revolution and the English madrigal, the influence of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, and the operas of Monteverdi. Laced with brilliant observations, memorable musical analysis, and a panoramic sense of the interactions between history, culture, politics, art, literature, religion, and music, this book will be essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand this rich and diverse period.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 930 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Revised ed. edition (July 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195384814
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195384819
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 2.4 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds

Customer Reviews

Four Stars

 on September 21, 2017
By Nicholas Meyer
It was a required book for class. It works.

Not your usual music history book

4 people found this helpful.
 on March 9, 2013
By Ledonna McGowan
“We start, as we must, in the middle” what an opening line, this has been a very informative book. Worth the price and then some.

Excellent book on Early Music by Richard Taruskin

3 people found this helpful.
 on August 7, 2014
By SueGrace
This is a fine book as a reference for the teaching of early music. The author challenges a purely chronological approach to music history and discusses international developments in detail. Fine for undergraduate or graduate students of early music, as well as other interested persons looking for a good read.


6 people found this helpful.
 on October 10, 2011
By demo
This is one of the best books on musical history I have ever read. The period covered has largely been neglected owing to the tradition of treating it as a prelude to the emergence of Bach, a footnote as it were. Taruskin is in his element here and he brings this music to life. As always he writes beautifully and his passion for (and knowledge of) the subject radiates from every page.

Good but has a big hole

2 people found this helpful.
 on April 10, 2014
By Jacques Bailhé
Excellent. A wealth of information. Although in passing he mentions some minor influence from popular music on that of the church and academia, I wish he considered it with the importance it deserves. As an example, so many of Luther’s hymns came from popular tunes and of course, these were the very foundation of so many of Bach’s works. Consider that for every church or academic composer there were some hundreds of pop composers. To me, this is a most regrettable oversight of so much musicology.

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