From the Troubadours to Frank Sinatra

Charles Rosen reviews The Oxford History of Western Music by Richard Taruskin, in the New York Review of Books:

A history of Western music is, more or less, a history of all the music that has a history—that is, a large body of musical works that stretch from a distant past to the present through a series of stylistic revolutions. Other civilizations, India in particular, have magnificent musical traditions, but few authentic, documented musical works survive from their past. Only in the West was there an elaborate system of notation that delivered the musical artifacts of more than a millennium to the future, and, as a consequence, only in the West has there been an extravagant historical development from the Gregorian chant of the tenth century to the symphonic complexities of Wagner and Stravinsky, and the contested triumphs of modernism. Western music, in short, has a history that can be placed in richness and complexity by the side of a history of literature and a history of the visual arts.

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