Do John Lennon and Paul McCartney really belong up there in the Serious Music pantheon with the likes of Alban Berg, Igor Stravinsky, and Richard Strauss? The editors of the Phaidon 20th-Century Composers series obviously think so. What's more, author Allan Kozinn makes a strong scholarly case for the Beatles, who in a stunningly short time moved from fairly basic, four-chord ditties to musically sophisticated compositions that hold up well to the present day. Kozinn, a classical music critic for the New York Times,
is also a long-time Beatles aficionado who knows the difference between the stereo and monophonic versions (sometimes an extra "woo" creeps in) of the early songs. He appreciates them both as pop phenomenon and musical pathfinders, and his writing is consistently top-notch. As with all the Phaidon books in this series, there are no musical examples given, but Kozinn does a superb job within the restrictions of the series' format. Beatles fans will want to own this one, and classical music lovers interested in understanding the phenomenon might also give it a try.
This text is part of the 20th-century composers series, examining composers in a biographical context, and offering a comprehensive study of key figures in the creation of 20th-century music. None of the books in the series presume a knowledge of specialized terms or musical notation. Each book in the series features a list of works, a bibliography, and a discography.