A History of Western Music

Front Cover

Building on his monumental revision of the Seventh Edition, PeterBurkholder has refined an inspired narrative for a new generation ofstudents, 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.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - mezamashiman - LibraryThing

This book serves as a wonderful introduction to the history of European and American art music. The book is structured in an interesting way. Instead of being a simple chronology of music history ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Who are we to review the Bible of western classical music history? I'll try.
What I do like: each edition gets slighly better at being more inclusive and more attuned to context.
What I don't like: Middles of chapters get bogged down in theory and analysis - this is really only going to be comprehensible to undergrads if they already have a theory class or two under their belt. Women, minorities, and popular musics don't make sense in the narrative (not that they shouldn't be there, of course) - they are poorly glued onto the edges rather than integrated into the narrative. The CD set doesn't always have the most representative pieces of the concepts being described - and many of the pieces discussed in depth in the book don't show up on the CD. Some canonical composers and pieces are mentioned and said to be great, but there's no explanation as to why - we just have to trust the authors. Most chapters begin with historical/contextual information, but many chapters fail to integrate this information into musical discussions.
By this point in musicology history, we really should have better social history/ "new musicology" textbooks.
Lastly - I don't recommend this for a gen ed music history. You'll end up being frustrated because of the constant problem of what to do with the theory/analysis sections. And you'll waste time searching your school's music library (if you have one) or YouTube for better and more complete musical examples.


The ancient Near East showing the location of the main cities and civiliza
The Christian Church in the First Millennium
The diffusion of Christianity

64 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

Donald Jay Grout, late professor of music at Cornell University, also wrote a standard history of opera.

J. Peter Burkholder is Distinguished Professor of Musicology at Indiana University. He has written and edited four books on Charles Ives, as well as numerous articles on topics spanning from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century for The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Journal of the American Musicological Society, Journal of Musicology, Musical Quarterly, 19th-Century Music, Music Theory Spectrum, and other journals. He has served as President, Vice President, and Director-at-Large of the American Musicological Society and on the board of the College Music Society. His writings have received awards from the American Musicological Society, the Society for American Music, and ASCAP.

Claude V. Palisca, late professor of music at Yale University, began his collaboration on A History of Western Music with the Third Edition. Among his many publications are a history of Baroque music and a collection of scholarly essays on Italian Renaissance music.

Bibliographic information