This book can be used as a reference, or be read from beginning to end, or both. If someone wants to have ONE book on Western Classical Music, this is it. With generous illustrations (both art and music samples), it is a very clear reference, explaining the overall development of music, and with specific entries for individual composers. For each composer there is a short account of his (mostly his) life, a very useful summary of his works, and characteristics of his music. There are some technical analytical examples, and a list of Further Listening. It is an excellent Account. For a History proper one should turn to Lang or certainly to Taruskin.