Music in Western Civilization

$5.00 By Paul Henry Láng NORTON
THIS formidable volume of over 1100 pages is an extraordinary achievement, and it is hard to imagine a book which music-lovers will cherish more than this one. Professor Láng is that very rare thing, the ideal critic. Not only is he a prodigious collector of facts, but, what is still better, he knows how to put them in relation. The does not look upon music as an isolated phenomenon, an art apart. He relates it to the time, and to the politics and the other arts of the time. He is at once historian and biographer, whose functions, when need be, he combines with those of a critic of literature and art. Immensely intelligent, he sees all artistic activity as an integral pattern, in which music is a single if very important ingredient. Moreover, his tastes in the matter of music are catholic; he maintains a balance between the various schools with a precision singularly detached and lacking in prejudice. To every human manifestation, be it social or religious or wholly personal, he allots its place in the scheme of things. In this respect, his Wagner essay, to take an isolated example, is a masterpiece of exposition, which even the layman may enjoy with unalloyed delight. As a history of the art of music from the Greeks to our own time, Mr. Láng’s study has a value impossible to overestimate. The illustrations are singularly felicitous. This book implores a place on the permanent shelf and should not be denied it. J.C.