Musicians, students, historians, and other readers wishing a detailed narrative about the career, patronage, musical influences, reception, and creative production of western composers, as well as the development of musical styles will find this a fascinating and satisfying resource. In a feat reminiscent of scholars of the 19th century, Taruskin (musicology, U. of California, Berkeley) single- handedly undertook the task of writing a history of all of western music, maintaining a vision and narrative focus throughout. Unlike a repetitive survey, and avoiding the survey's tendency toward positivism, this history does leave out some composers, including significant ones, in order to adhere to a contextual approach emphasizing music history as an interwoven mixture of influences. He covers tremendous amount of material, with 1,800 musical examples included as part of the text. The volumes are chronological, from the earliest notations to the end of the second millennium, with two separate volumes on the 20th century. The final volume (v.6) is given over entirely to resources: a lengthy chronology, a checklist of books in English, lists of musical examples in order of appearance and by composer, and a comprehensive index.