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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
There is a grave misconception that classical music is defined by Beethoven, Mozart and even Bach (although arguably Bach predated the true classical era). This confusion between the time period known as the classical era and the all-encompassing use of 'classical' to define music through the ages that isn't part of the popular sphere is quite common. Author of Beethoven and Me: A Beginner's Guide to Classical Music, Earl Ofari Hutchinson helps clarify the mystery behind the broader concept of classical music - music that isn't in the realm of popular. This includes the typical classical composers like Beethoven and Mozart, but it also includes more contemporary composers like Schoenberg and Hindemith, names not often appreciated or accepted as classical greats.
Hutchinson admits that he is not an expect musicologist, but rather an enthusiast who learned through appreciation. After listening to countless concerts, operas and recordings, the author created this wonderful guide to help others understand and genuinely appreciate the power of all forms of classical music. As quoted from Claude Debussy, Impressionist composer at the end of the nineteenth century: "There is no theory. You merely have to listen. Pleasure is the law."
Hutchinson divides the book into sections that address various musical styles like Baroque, African-American, Hispanic, Romantics and much more. There is even a chapter on opera and another one on classical female composers. Each chapter has sections that discuss specific musical compositions, accompanied by the author's personal experience of listening to these works.
The entire book is an interesting and informative read and would be very useful to those seeking a better understanding of classical music throughout time. In his last chapter, his Finale (appropriately titled with a musical term), Hutchinson challenges the reader to consider, "What will the future of classical music hold?" An excellent resource to help non-musical people both enjoy and appreciate all forms of classical music.