This book is a guide to every aspect of the long and ongoing story of Western classical music. It reveals in a stimulating and lively way the exceptionally gifted individuals who have shaped the musical landscape over a millennia, from the chanting monks of the middle ages to the bold exponents of minimalism of the last 100 years. Personal and creative profiles of composers, both major and minor, form the heart of the book and offer rich insights into the qualities of their music and an ideal introduction to the range and diversity of the Classical repertoire. The opening section, "Introducing Classical Music," explains in clear and simple language all you need to know about the building blocks of the artform, from the instruments and members of an orchestra, to the key terms used to describe music, to the characteristic elements of style and form of specific genres or movements. The book's second section, "The History of Classical Music," is divided into a number of defined "periods" or "movements" that are organized chronologically. Each of these seven sub-sections [Early Music (1000-1600); The Baroque Era (1600-1750); The Classical Era (1750-1820); The Romantic Era (1810-1920); Romantic Opera (1810-1920); National Schools (1830-1950); and Modern Music (1900-)] begins with an introduction that offers a clear definition of the particular styles and characteristics of the music of that era, along with a timeline that charts the evolution of musical styles and forms, and instruments. Each sub-section then profiles the most significant composers of that particular epoch, providing details of their lives, important milestones and details of their musical output, and information on their key works. Entries on less famous or celebrated composers are also included, ensuring each period is defined from the the broadest possible perspective.