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 Favourites, Christmas Gift Ideas - Music Education & History Books

Gift Guide 2020 For our final Christmas gift guide for 2020, we offer some suggestions for educational books that will teach children about the instruments of the orchestra and the story of music through the centuries, as well as some more general books on music history.

Educational & Children's Books

Mary Auld; Wayland; Hardback

Learn about the different instruments of the orchestra with this beautifully-illustrated book, produced in association with the London Symphony Orchestra and introduced by Sir Simon Rattle. With accompanying CDs, downloadable music, and information on all the pieces featured, this is the perfect introduction to the orchestra for children aged seven and upwards.

Available Format: Book

In 1848, Robert Schumann wrote his famous Advice to Young Musicians, a book that is still deeply relevant today. In this volume, celebrated cellist Steven Isserlis has taken Schumann's words of wisdom and set them in a modern context with his own extensive commentary. By turns practical, humorous and profound, this book is a must for music-lovers of all ages.

Available Format: Book

Dorling Kindersley; Hardback

A compelling celebration of more than ninety of the world's most influential composers from the medieval period to the present day, revealing the fascinating stories of their lives, loves, and works. Lavishly illustrated, this book introduces the key influences, themes, and working methods of each individual, setting their works within a wider historical and cultural context.

Available Format: Book

Budding music fans will love this visual journey through the world of music, where they can discover musical geniuses of every era from Mozart to David Bowie. Featuring instruments and genres from across the world, this book looks at music throughout history, beginning with the first-known melody and covering modern music phenomena from K Pop to hip-hop.

Available Format: Book

What on Earth Books; Hardback

Learn about how different genres started - including classical, folk, jazz, gospel, rock 'n' roll, country, punk, grunge and pop. Discover the stories of maestros including Beethoven, Django Reinhardt, The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, David Bowie, Maria Callas, Nina Simone, and Louis Armstrong. Marvel at the orchestra with a huge illustration set in the Royal Albert Hall, and find out about ancient instruments from all over the world.

Available Format: Book

Mick Manning; Franklin Watts; Hardback

This inspiring introduction to music history showcases diverse composers and artists through the ages, from Vivaldi, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky, to Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Chuck Berry, Aretha Franklin, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Bjork, and Kraftwerk. The friendly text and illustrations help children to appreciate the music, highlighting interesting biographical facts and picking out key details.

Available Format: Book

Katherine Woodfine; Simon & Schuster; Hardback

This gorgeously-designed retelling of The Nutcracker will make the perfect Christmas present for ballet fans! In snow-covered St Petersburg, young dancer Stana's dreams have finally come true - she has been chosen to play the lead role in Tchaikovsky's ballet. But with all eyes looking at her, can Stana overcome her nerves and dance like she's never danced before?

Available Format: Book

Tracy Newman; Abrams Press; Hardback

This picture-book biography of violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman will inspire young readers. Despite enormous obstacles including a near-fatal bout of polio that left him crippled for life, Itzhak persevered, honing his extraordinary gift. Gorgeously illustrated with extensive back matter, this book recounts Itzhak's childhood journey from a boy with a dream to an internationally-acclaimed violin virtuoso.

Available Format: Book

Music History & Reference Books

Robert Philip; Yale University Press; Paperback

Covering 400 works by sixty-eight composers from Corelli to Shostakovich, this engaging companion explores the most frequently performed works, including symphonies, concertos, overtures, suites, and ballet scores. It identifies key features in each work, and includes background and biographical information on each composer.

Available Format: Book

Opening with a personal letter from Queen Elizabeth II, this book celebrates 150 moments that have shaped the Royal Albert Hall over the last century and a half. From The Beatles to the Suffragettes, Albert Einstein to Winston Churchill, Mohammed Ali to B.B. King, few other buildings have housed such a stunning variety of people and events. With never-before-seen images, insights and more, this is the ultimate celebration of a British architectural icon which continues to inspire audiences from around the world.

Available Format: Book

Max Wade-Matthews & Wendy Thompson; Lorenz Books; Hardback

This beautifully-illustrated reference book is a guide to the history of music, instruments of the orchestra and the most influential classical composers. All sections of the orchestra are covered, as well as historical, rare and non-Western instruments. An authoritative guide to over 100 of the most famous classic composers then follows.

Available Format: Book

John Mauceri; Weidenfeld & Nicolson; Hardback

With a lifetime of experience, celebrated conductor John Mauceri helps us to reap the joy and pleasures classical music has to offer. He helps us understand what it is we hear when we listen to classical music: how it expresses the deepest recesses of human feeling and emotion, and how the concert experience allows us to discover music anew.

Available Format: Book

Ethan Mordden; Oxford University Press; Paperback

Building on the original Opera Anecdotes, this book continues where the original left off, bringing into view the new corps of singers that arose after the first book's publication in 1985 such as Renée Fleming, Roberto Alagna, Deborah Voigt, Jonas Kaufmann, Kathleen Battle, and Jane Eaglen. Almost all the stories are completely new, taking in many historical developments, from the rise of the conductor to the appearance of the "bari-hunk" who refuses to play any role in which he can't appear shirtless.

Available Format: Book

Arthur Elgort; Steidl Publishers; Hardback

Arthur Elgort pays homage to his first love in this new collection of photographs. On this journey through the hallways and rehearsal spaces of some of the world’s most distinguished ballet schools, including the New York City Ballet and the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet, we see images of legends such as Balanchine, Baryshnikov and Lopatkina.

Available Format: Book

Vaughan Williams's The Lark Ascending has come to define the mythical concept of the English countryside. Yet, the landscape is not really an unaffected utopia, but a living and working environment that has forged a nation's musical personality. Taking us from post-war poets and artists to the free party scene embraced by the acid house and travelling communities, Richard King explores how Britain's history and identity have been shaped by the mysterious relationship between music and nature.

Available Format: Book