Classic FM: The Friendly Guide to Music by Darren Henley ISBN 978-0-340-94019-8. Hodder Arnold 2006

The Classic FM Friendly guide to Music is the book about Classical music for people who wouldn’t normally consider buying a book on the subject, but who are interested in developing a greater understanding of classical music. It gives a friendly, jargon-free overview of classical music from its earliest times right through to the present day, concentrating on the composers who are played regularly on Classic FM.

Foreword by Tony:

A Friendly Word before we get started:

I’ve never been one for treating music as hallowed or sacred. When the brainy kid at school first played me the opening bars of Beethoven’s Fifth on a scratchy 78, I didn’t drop to my knees in awe. To be frank, it didn’t occur to me that it was a particularly different sort of thing from Duke Ellington or John Coltrane or Buddy Holly or any of the other good music I was listening to at that time. I just whooped and shouted, “Isn’t that great!” And I feel exactly the same today – Rhapsody in Blue, Ol’ Blue eyes, even Elton John and Blue are all logged in the same big file in my head marked “Great Music that everyone should Hear.” So, when Classic FM approached me to present The Friendly Guide to Music – with “no tosh, no twaddle, and definitely no snobby bits” – I thought- “You bet. This is a job that was made for me!”

The book which accompanies the series aims to tell you enough, but not too much, about lots of different areas of classical music: from what Hildegard wrote when Barbarossa was crowned, to what Hans Zimmer wrote when Nelson Mandela was released. It’s not meant to be a learned treatise, but if it makes you curious to read and hear more, then I say, “Isn’t that great?”