Here are the primary sources for my Sept. 11 class, "10 Tunes That Shook the World."
Beethoven’s Ninth and Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”: “First Nights: Five Musical Premieres” by Thomas Forrest Kelly. Kelly, who teaches this popular class at Harvard, writes stylishly about the social, economic, political and artistic currents that swirled around five important musical premieres: Claudio Monteverdi’s opera, “Orfeo,” Handel’s “Messiah,” Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Hector Berlioz’s "Symphonie Fantastique" and Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.”
Beethoven’s Ninth: “The Symphony” by Michael Steinberg. The late music critic for the Boston Globe writes about composers and their symphonies from Beethoven to William Walton with deep knowledge and colorful musical descriptions.
“The Rite of Spring”: “The Rest is Noise” by Alex Ross. One of my favorite books about music, this is a smart, engaging history of the tumultuous music and culture of the 20th century. Ross is a music critic for The New Yorker.
Biographical information on Mozart, Beethoven and Stravinsky: “The Lives of the Great Composers” by Harold Schoenberg. A fun read, this out-of-print survey of composers from Bach to Bartok by the late chief music critic of The New York Times is witty and opinionated.
Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music: “Inside Early Music” by Bernard D. Sherman. The early music writer interviews two-dozen musicians and scholars about style, performance practice and controversies over “authenticity” in music from plainchant to Brahms.
I also found Wikipedia helpful for information on the function and evolving styles of chant in church music, for biographical information on composers and translations of texts.
For contemporary events that occurred in each century, I used this web site: World History — InfoPlease.
David Stabler is a pianist, writer, dad and cyclist. He's working on a novel based on his childhood years living in Africa and plans to ride across America with his brother this summer.