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The Gift of Music: Great Composers & Their Influence

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Originally published in 1978 and now in its third edition, this book is a great resource for Christians to study music history, even if the book is not—strictly speaking—a music history textbook. The primary purpose of this book, according to the prelude, “… is to encourage listening to the finest music with understanding and pleasure and to stretch one’s imagination.”

Coauthors Jane Stuart Smith and Betty Carlson were converted through Francis Schaeffer’s ministry in Switzerland and currently live at the L’Abri Fellowship. Both women have worked together on several book projects. Jane Stuart Smith is a trained classical singer and lecturer on the great composers, and provided much of the source material for this excellent book. Betty Carlson has studied music at the Conservatory of Music in Lausanne, Switzerland, and works as a writer at L’Abri. Not surprisingly, Francis Schaeffer wrote the forward to this book.

This book does not cover all types of music or musicians. The authors have focused on Western classical music. Nor have they written about all classical composers. They have, however, written honest portrayals of 44 of the most important composers, as well as included material on the Psalms in music, the influence of Shakespeare upon the great composers, and Christmas carols. The authors state in the prelude that they “… have attempted to present the historical facts accurately and to speak of the weaknesses and foibles of ‘our’ composers with compassion, recognizing that no one is perfect.” The authors also seek to “… show that what each artist believes in his heart and mind affects his creativity and influences those who follow him.”

The Gift of Music is 317 pages and is published by Crossway Books. Each chapter is relatively short and readable and concludes with a list of suggested reading and recommended listening. Its readers will gain a significant insight into Western classical music.

Grade: 10th - 12th
Book, 317 pages

Authors: Jane Stuart Smith, Betty Carlson

ISBN: 089107869X

ISBN-13: 9780891078692

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  1. About the book 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 08/09/2013

    I have just started the book. Only 2 chapters, but I have been telling my husband how much I like this book. We both read a lot, and usually it takes a few chapters into the book to see if we like it. Not this book. I have enjoyed it from the start. I am a NCTM, I have not read a music history book that I have liked better.

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