In this remarkable book, Antony Hopkins shows how the entire orchestra acts as a distinct musical instrument, one which composers have played upon over the centuries to express every mood, from the most sublime to the most frivolous. In so doing, he explains the ways in which a composer's "signature in sound" develops, from the subtly exotic pattern of a Bartok theme to the sensuously evocative chords in Debussy.
Hopkins offers an in-depth look at the origins of the orchestra itself, an evolutionary process that took the better part of two centuries in Europe, yet finds its roots in our ancient past. He begins his discussion in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, moves through the music of medieval Europe, and ultimately reaches a watershed moment in the history of the orchestra as we now know it: the composition of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos in the early eighteenth century. Having introduced the various instruments, explained the development of their groupings, and demonstrated how the blending of their tones led to the orchestral sounds of the modern era, he provides an incisive examination of actual compositions. Expertly guiding readers through representative pieces by Mozart, Schubert, Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, and Britten, Hopkins offers a unique and insightful companion for beginning and more seasoned concert-goers alike.show more