The History Of Music


Howard Goodall – The Story Of Music

It has been one of the most informative books I have read.

Howard Goodall’s history of music has been providing a very meaningful explanation to the various historical events that defined the music of today.

As an amateur musician, one of my greatest desires was to study the history of music and understand why music is what it is today. To be frank, this book provided answers to almost all of my questions regarding the music of the 21st century.

As you can appreciate however, it is only after we understand our musical past that we can explain our present and plan better for our future. Music is no exception to actual life.

Howard Goodall dedicated 35 pages at the Age of Discovery where the origins of music are described. Until 1450 AD a very small amount of musical elements (documents or instruments) is saved to this day. It is, after all during early 14th century that Guido of Arezzo gave us the notation basics as we know them today (stave). The Age of Penitence (from 1450 AD until 1650 AD) has been incredibly important to the history of music not just because of polyphony but also due to some musical masterminds such as Claudio Monteverdi. Age of Invention (1650 AD until 1750 AD) is a remarkable era which has given us some incredible musical pieces (Four Seasons, Hallelujah) as well as some more musical masterminds such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi and George Frideric Handel.

During the Age of Elegance and Sentiment (1750 – 1850 AD) we have the greatest composers of all time that is Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Their magnificent concertos and symphonies have given room to more musical instruments. Important figures such as Chopin, Schubert and Felix Mendelssohn also made their presence during this period and have given us some extraordinary music. The Age of Tragedy (1850 – 1890) is dominated by Richard Wagner who gave enormous power to orchestras. Wagner was key to the theatrical performances as we know them today. It is true that theaters built today, still follow the principles introduced by Wagner to accommodate large orchestras and ensure the acoustics are up to the standards.

The Age of Rebellion (1890 – 1918 AD) introduces Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Claude Debussy and Igor Stravinsky. Finally, we still have the Popular Age (1918 – 1945 AD) where we can distinguish, among others, George Gershwin for the jazz touch he gave to classical music as well as Carl Orff. It is true that several musical movements begin to establish themselves very well during those times (the Blues). For the most recent present, the Beatles, Stevie Wonder and various others have shaped the sound as we know it today.

The history of music has been produced for TV by the BBC. I would advise all interested to watch the series.

Episode 1 :  The age of Discovery

Episode 2: The age of Invention

Episode 3: The age of Elegance and Sentiment

Episode 4: The age of Tragedy

Episode 5: The age of Rebellion

Episode 6: The Popular Age