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Spotlight On

The Oxford History of Western Music online offers an unmatched account of the evolution of Western classical music by one of the most prominent and provocative musicologists of our time, Richard Taruskin. Since its original publication in print Taruskin’s landmark study has received universal acclaim and numerous awards.

The full text, which was printed in five thick volumes in print, is now available for the first time in an interactive digital format. The online version includes all 1.25 million words, 500 images, and 1,800 musical examples from the updated paperback edition with sophisticated search and browse functionality designed to maximize the dynamic possibilities of online reading and research.

The online version offers convenient access for anyone interested in Taruskin’s essential history of Western music, from first-time readers to long-time fans of the work, from students assigned chapters in a course to experienced scholars seeking a handy point of entry for their research. Readers can easily search across the entire work to pinpoint quotations or follow up references. They can jump across chapters through the browsable Table of Contents or through an editorially designed index.

For users that also have access to Grove Music Online, Taruskin’s text is accompanied by editorially selected links to relevant articles in Grove. The selection of links follows the course of Taruskin’s narrative through each era of Western music. Links to Grove Music Online are listed under the See Also headings that are found in the left-hand navigation bar. If you are reading about Mozart’s symphonies, for example, you can follow See Also links to the biography of Mozart, an article on the symphony in the 18th century, and an overview of the classical style, all available in Grove Music Online.

Laced with brilliant observations, memorable musical analyses, and a panoramic sense of the interaction between history, culture, politics, art, literature, religion, and music, the Oxford History of Western Music is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the rich and diverse tradition of Western music. Starting with the invention of musical notation more than a thousand years ago, Taruskin sweeps across centuries of musical invention and European intellectual history to provide a nuanced and stimulating historical account. He combines an emphasis on structure and form with a discussion of relevant theoretical concepts in each age, illustrating how the music itself works and how contemporaries heard and understood it. He also describes how the context of each stylistic period – key cultural, historical, social, economic, and scientific events – influenced and directed compositional practices.