Because I spent my childhood in Leipzig, a city which resounds with echoes of Bach and the entire musical world, I have always had the idea of one day preparing a pictorial history of music. This present book is the result; it combines elements of my professional life as a graphic historian and my private life as a happy lover of music.
A pictorial history of music can never be merely a picture album, however, for no amount of illustrative material can by itself create a meaningful panorama of music. There must be, in addition to pictures, an intrinsic plan, a unified point of view which the reader can grasp and use to achieve comprehension. The history of music which, to my mind, has always been distinguished by just these qualities, is Paul Henry Lang's Music in Western Civilization. In an age of specialization, Dr. Lang's book is unique in its broad outlook and vigorous presentation. This book seemed to me pre-eminently suited for adaption as a basic text for a pictorial history of music, and I was delighted to find that Dr. Lang's interest in such a project matched my own.
In condensing and adapting Music in Western Civilization I aimed at preserving the continuity of Dr. Lang's text and utilizing wherever possible its broad cultural viewpoint. As for the pictures, I endeavored to illustrate and emphasize those subjects and periods which would be of greatest interest to the reader, and therefore supplemented the chronological sequence of the text at logical points with pictorial, topical, or biographical surveys. Whenever the evolution of a particular school of music or the emergence of a commanding personality demanded more detailed scrutiny, I assembled a picture-text unit that supplements, but does not interrupt, the main narrative.
To give two examples: the discussion of Domenico Scarlatti seemed the appropriate place to complement Dr. Lang's history with a picture unit presenting the rise of the harpsichord. Similarly, the discussion of Richard Wagner was the logical point to survey pictorially his influence on the growth of the orchestra, and the consequent emergence of the modern conductor.
The history of music is a continuous development; and in order to understand and appreciate the more familiar 18th- and 19th-century musical literature, it is necessary to be aware of its roots in the past. Moreover, our musical horizons are expanding today; listeners are learning to enjoy Renaissance madrigals and Baroque choral works, as well as Romantic concertos, and for modern readers, no history of music would be meaningful without a survey of these early periods. As for post-Romantic music, we have provided a detailed coverage of the most recent developments. Dr. Lang has contributed new passages analyzing contemporary music, a task for which he is particularly well equipped both as musicologist and as one of this country's most respected music critics.
All the additional material makes A Pictorial History of Music essentially a new book. Its authors hope it will add to the reader's enjoyment of music by giving him a better understanding of how this divine art evolved.