Declassified: A Low-Key Guide to the High-Strung World of Classical Music

Putnam. Oct. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9780593331460. $27. MUSIC
Part–musical memoir, part–sardonic introduction to classical music, this rollicking read by touring classical violinist Warsaw-Fan Rauch is both entertaining and educational. The author takes readers by the hand, describing types of compositions, how the works are divided, and a thorough list of pieces (and even parts of pieces) to listen to, to better understand what classical music is—the pop music of its time. “You’ve been told by society’s subtle and not-so-subtle cues, that classical music is stuffy and boring and intellectual—and Not for You,” she writes. “Well, I’m here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.” The delicious pun in the book’s title is intriguing: Most people reading the word “declassified” would probably think of secret government documents becoming available after a period of time. However, many things can be classified, which—by definition—means grouped. Books in a library, sets of elements on the periodic table, and yes, musical instruments can be organized—“classified”—by the role they play in the ensemble.
VERDICT Sure to be a popular read for lovers and practitioners of music of all kinds. A must-have for public and academic libraries, especially at conservatories.
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