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The first book in the English language on the history of baroque music does not need either apology or justification. Histories of music have been written usually as quick surveys of the entire field and if they specialize at all they concentrate as a rule on a single composer. It is a strange though incontestable fact that by far the great majority of music books deal with composers rather than their music. This attitude is a survival of the hero-worship that characterizes the nineteenth-century approach to music as well as the other arts. In a history of a single musical period the shortcomings of such an approach become particularly obvious. A musical era receives its inner unity from the musical style and can be historically understood only in terms of stylistic development. It is for this reason that in the present history of baroque music the stylistic approach has consistently been adopted. I have written this book for the music student and music lover with the aim of acquainting him with a great period of musical history and helping him to gain a historical understanding of music without which baroque music cannot fully be appreciated and enjoyed.

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