Human beings have always made music. Music can move us and tell stories of faith, struggle, or love. It is common to all cultures across the world. But how has it changed over the millennia?
Robert Philip explores the extraordinary history of music in all its forms, from our earliest ancestors to today’s mass-produced songs. This is a truly global story. Looking to Europe, South America, Asia, Africa, and beyond, Philip reveals how musicians have been brought together by trade and migration and examines the vast impact of colonialism. From Hildegard von Bingen and Clara Schumann to Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin, great performers and composers have profoundly shaped music as we know it.
Covering a remarkable range of genres, including medieval chant, classical opera, jazz, and hip hop, this Little History shines a light on the wonder of music—and why it is treasured across the world.
“Robert Philip surveys the vast sweep of a vast subject in A Little History of Music.”—John Check, Wall Street Journal, “Holiday Gift Books: Music”
“To find a guide as thoughtful, as frank and as readable as Philip’s is good news indeed. . . . It’s a pleasure to make the journey in such wise and perceptive company.”—Richard Bratby, Gramophone
“Philip’s deft prose, thoughtful explanations and pacy storytelling make for a compelling and refreshingly open-minded read.”—Katy Hamilton, BBC Music Magazine
“His literary style is enviably informative and welcoming, with the result that I found the book difficult to put down, so compelling and enveloping is its scope and clarity.”—Robert Matthew–Walker, Musical Opinion
“This inexpensive and most admirable publication deserves wide circulation. It is a major achievement and is thoroughly recommended—just what is needed at the present time.”—Robert Matthew–Walker, Musical Opinion
“Covering a huge array of types of music and associated aspects across cultures and time periods, this book provides both depth and breadth. . . . As a reference source and exposition of the connections between genres, it could hardly be bettered.”—Terry Freedman, Teach Secondary
“The impossible elegantly achieved: a history of music spanning five continents and thousands of years in just 278 lucid, friendly pages. Whether you are musically expert or you don’t know your opera from your hip-hop, it’s a joy to read.”—John Rutter, composer and conductor
“An engrossing, often surprising book that helps break the classical music silo. Philip places the development of the art form alongside contemporary social, political and religious developments and connects the European masters to issues of global identity and nationalism, with fascinating results.”—Petroc Trelawny, BBC Radio 3 broadcaster
“An astonishing feat of concision, this Little History covers all known kinds of music, ever, from everywhere. It’s written with fairness and balance, but also enthusiasm and love for the activity of music-making. The foregrounding of popular music in the twentieth century is particularly striking and original.”—Judith Weir, composer and Master of the King’s Music