Today’s blog is meant as an introduction to a rather clever author with a complete lack of reverence for the subject of music history. If you’ve ever considered reading about the great composers but fear you don’t have the attention span for Grout’s History of Western Music (if the amount of times I fell asleep while reading this venerated tome in college is any indication, you probably don’t), I would highly recommend borrowing or buying a copy of Bach, Beethoven and the Boys: Music History as it Ought to be Taught by David W. Barber, illustrated by Dave Donald.
This short, illustrated (PICTURES!), humorous book is full of the sort of amusing factoids that a more serious music history book might skip over. Bach, Beethoven and the Boys takes the reader on a quick jaunt through the history of music, covering topics ranging from early music through the 20th century. Along the way, Barber hits the major highlights with biting wit and good-natured parody. The illustrations Dave Donald has provided are the perfect addition to an already entertaining read; who doesn’t love a great caricature?
Best of all, Bach, Beethoven, and the Boys is an interesting and appetite-whetting introduction to the somewhat overwhelming subject of music history. Starting with a light-hearted introduction, maybe just what the doctor (or in the case of many of the great composers, the barber surgeon) ordered. Should you need MORE tongue-in-cheek music history, Mr. Barber has written several music history books delving into the world of opera history, the Baroque era, in addition to a few music dictionaries; all of which provide a chuckle or five.