The Indispensable Composers by Anthony Tommasini

Staff Pick

“What’s the big deal about Mozart? About Verdi?” That’s what Anthony Tommasini sets out to answer about his list of The Indispensable Composers (Penguin Press, $30). Tommasini, the chief classical critic of The New York Times, expands on the essays he wrote for his 2011 Top Ten Composers series. Those articles elicited 1,500 impassioned reader responses, both for and against Tommasini’s choices as well as for the project itself (conductor Leon Botstein: “dangerous and despicable”: composer Nico Muhly: “a horror”). But Indispensable is a worthy updating of the “introductory” music books of the past; it is neither pedantic nor rigid in its approach. Tommasini engagingly mixes short biography, insightful analysis of key works, and anecdotes from his years as a piano student and teacher, critic, and concert-goer. Starting with Monteverdi, Bach, and Handel, and ending with Schoenberg, Stravinsky, and Bartók, Tommasini takes us through the lives of seventeen composers, and the reasons their works still move us—whether in recordings from generations ago, or in fresh interpretations by today’s young soloists and ensembles.

The Indispensable Composers: A Personal Guide By Anthony Tommasini Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594205934
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Penguin Press - November 6th, 2018