Baroque music, not long ago considered the province of the specialist, now occupies a central place in the interests of any music-lover. Not just Bach and Handel, but Vivaldi and Monteverdi, Couperin and Rameau, Purcell and Schutz are familiar and loved figures. There is place now for a survey that offers fresh perspectives on these men and the times in which they lived. That is what the Companion to Baroque Music is designed to offer, to all those who are attracted by the music of that crucial century and a half, 1600-1750, which we call 'the Baroque era'. Julie Anne Sadie, herself scholar, performer, and critic, brings to this survey two novel features. First, it is underpinned by a keen awareness of music as sound, intended to be played, heard, and relished by the listener-as witness the group of articles contributed by well-known specialists, such as Nigel Rogers and David Fuller, on the central issues of performance.
Secondly it is concerned not only with what the music is like but why it is as it is: and the series of essays, again by specialists, such as Michael Talbot (on Italy) and Peter Holman (on England) which places each region's music in its social and cultural contexts helps to explain its character. The lexicographical part of the book, in which the life of every significant musician of the era is charted and his or her work outlined, is subdivided geographically so as to convey with particular sharpness the special character of music-making in each part of Europe-and a system of cross-references defines the ebb and flow of influences as composers travelled from city to city or court to court, disseminating their tastes, their styles, their ideas. A detailed chronology enables the reader to take in at a glance the sequence of musical events across the entire period.
The Companion to Baroque Music, which contains a foreword by Christopher Hogwood, offers both reliable reference material and lively, enlightening reading to all those-amateur and professional, from the skilled practical musician to the person who has never played anything more demanding than a piece of stereo equipment-who love the music of the era that culminated in the great masterworks of Bach and Handel.