* The major composers from Bach and Bartok to Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky
• Significant performers from Maurice Andre and Leornard Bernstein to Georg Solti and Yo Yo Ma
• The landmark works from Appalachian Spring to Don Juan
• A concise history of classical music
• A deconstruction of the art form
• The language of classical music
• Valuable resources for the Curious Listener
These final entries in NPR's "Curious Listener's" series maintain the fresh spirit and informative stance of the first two, which address opera and popular standards. Smith, music critic for the Baltimore Sun, and Schoenberg, a tenor saxophonist and jazz educator, provide basic introductions geared to lay readers, focusing on the essentials of their respective musical genres, including a history of the form, a description of genres, brief biographies of featured composers and performers, glossaries, and recommended pieces and recordings (50 CDs for each). The charm of this series is the manner in which the authors cover the important points in their own casual yet expert tone, pointing up details along the way with intriguing sidebars (concert etiquette for classical and various historical figures for jazz) or turns of phrase while presenting thought-provoking artist or repertoire selections that will encourage spirited debate. The jazz volume suffers from a few minor editorial glitches (e.g., incorrect alphabetizing and typos), but both books are well crafted and logically organized. Smith's book is reminiscent of Michael Walsh's Who's Afraid of Classical Music? with updated scholarship and some different perspectives, while Schoenberg's complements Gene Seymour's Jazz: The Great American Art. Highly recommended for their combination of reliable information and accessible style, these are real bargains for public libraries. (Indexes not seen.) Barry Zaslow, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.