What Makes It Great?


Read an excerpt:

What Makes It Great? online:

Barnes and Noble

Published by Wiley
September, 2011
Hardcover, 320 pages

By Rob Kapilow

Rob Kapilow has been helping audiences hear more in great music for two decades with his What Makes It Great? series on NPR's Performance Today, at Lincoln Center, and in concert halls throughout the US and Canada.

In his newest book, WHAT MAKES IT GREAT?: Short Masterpieces, Great Composers (Wiley, ISBN: 978-0-470-55092-2; Cloth / 320 Pages / $26.95) he focuses on short masterpieces by major composers to help you understand the essence of each composer's genius and how each piece—which can be heard on the book's web site—transformed the musical language of its time. Kapilow's down-to-earth approach makes classical music easy to grasp no matter what your musical background.

Just a few highlights from WHAT MAKES IT GREAT? include:

  • Explores the musical styles and genius of great classical composers, including Vivaldi, Handel, J.S. Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Chopin, Puccini, Wagner, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, and Debussy.

  • Features an accompanying web site where you can see, hear, and download each short masterpiece and all of the book's musical examples.

  • Introduces you in depth to popular pieces from the classical repertoire, including "Spring" from The Four Seasons (Vivaldi), "Dove Sono" from The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart), the Prelude to Tristan and Isolde (Wagner), and "Trepak" from The Nutcracker Suite (Tchaikovsky).

Many have acclaimed composer, conductor, and pianist Rob Kapilow: "You could practically see the light bulbs going on above people's heads" (The Philadelphia Inquirer); "Rob Kapilow is awfully good at what he does" (The Boston Globe); "A wonderful guy who brings music alive!" (Katie Couric).

WHAT MAKES IT GREAT?, along with the music on the companion web site, is an ideal starting point for anyone interested in classical music, whether first-time listener, experienced concertgoer or performing musician, offering an entrée into the world of eighteen great composers and a collection of individual masterpieces spanning almost two hundred years.

Read an excerpt:
"Beginnings Are Everything"

Read reviews:
Gramophone, April, 2009
Gramophone, January, 2009

All You Have To Do Is Listen online:

Barnes and Noble

Published by Wiley
September, 2008
Hardcover, 256 pages

By Rob Kapilow

  “Rob Kapilow leaps into the void dividing music analysis from appreciation and fills it with exhilarating details and sensations.”
       — The New York Times

Rob Kapilow, star of public radio’s Performance Today, has written an engaging new book about listening to music. His accessible and refreshing approach is designed to help today’s listeners – whether newcomers to classical music or experienced concertgoers – to understand music from the inside out.

In his book, All You Have to Do is Listen: Music from the Inside Out (Wiley, September, 2008; $25.95 / Cloth; ISBN: 978-0-470-38544-9), Kapilow helps readers become great listeners by explaining and expanding on his belief that the core of real listening has less to do with musical terminology and historical facts than with our ability to pay attention and to listen closely.

Kapilow demonstrates in this book how to listen to music from the inside out, from the composer’s point of view; he highlights the things composers intended to be heard but that listeners so often miss.

Kapilow has often been compared to Leonard Bernstein because of his ability to help both new and experienced listeners enjoy classical music more deeply. He uses fresh, accessible language and a new, ‘hands-on’ approach to help enrich the musical experience of today’s listeners. Additionally, at the heart of the book is a unique, online resource enhancing the reader’s experience: recorded and notated musical examples with an animated scrollbar that follows the music in real time, available for download via a dedicated web site. This feature allows readers, no matter what their musical background, to follow and understand the book’s detailed discussions even if they can’t read music.

Kapilow gives readers a non-traditional listening toolbox filled with ideas and suggestions to enrich the reader’s musical experiences; Wiley’s technology does the rest!

The book is organized like a piece of music, introducing topics as they might arise in the course of careful listening. The focus gradually broadens as the book progresses from idea to phrase and from section to movement. Each chapter explores a single simple concept or metaphor drawn from everyday life and designed to help readers listen to and think about music differently. All You Have To Do Is Listen.