The first audiobook I downloaded from my library was Classical Music 101, and it was a great choice. I’m only one chapter into it but I can already tell it is a special work. Don’t be fooled by the dull title (no doubt the work of the publisher). This book is most definitely not the equivalent of being crammed into a lecture theatre with a couple hundred bored students listening to a professor run through the old routine. From the first sentence, author/narrator Fred Plotkin transmits a deep passion for music and an even deeper humanism. This is more like a friendly conversation in a cozy study than a university lecture. There is homework though. My first assignment is to listen to Beethoven’s 7th symphony, which, thanks to the wonders of the web, I can download for free. Heck, if I want I can even read the score at the same time. This internet thing is getting unbelievably fun.
UPDATE: Fred Plotkin very kindly e-mailed to tell me that the “101” title was his idea—a more respectful alternative to the “for dummies” and “for idiots” series. As he says, “I assume my readers are intelligent and genuinely interested in these topics, but just have not had sufficient exposure with the right person.” Other books in the 101 series address opera (also by Plotkin), ballet, and jazz, and more titles are forthcoming.