The eighteenth century arguably boasts a more remarkable group of significant musical figures, and a more engaging combination of genres, styles and aesthetic orientations, than any century before or since, yet huge swathes of its musical activity remain under-appreciated. The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Music provides a comprehensive survey, examining little-known repertories, works and musical trends alongside more familiar ones. Rather than relying on temporal, periodic and composer-related phenomena to structure the volume, it is organised by genre; chapters are grouped according to the traditional distinctions of music for the church, music for the theatre and music for the concert room that conditioned so much thinking, activity and output in the eighteenth century. A valuable summation of current research in this area, the volume also encourages readers to think of eighteenth-century music less in terms of overtly teleological developments than of interacting and mutually stimulating musical cultures and practices.
'This must have been a very difficult book to edit, and Simon Keefe (together with David Wyn Jones, who planned the volume) deserves unqualified congratulations for having engaged the work of so many gifted contributors and for having lurked in the detail (as it were) to such good effect … one cannot doubt the immense significance of this volume in its authoritative engagement with a repertory that speaks at every turn to the central importance of music as a vital expression of eighteenth-century thought.' Music and Letters