Music & Drama » Music » Opera & Classical Music

You can use our reading lists to find the best books on operas and classical music books ever written on a variety of subjects.

Our book recommendation interviews look at the best books on individual composers, such as the best Wagner books, as well as the best books on classical music in general.

We also have a number of opera singers recommending the best opera books, and composers picking the best biographies of classical composers.

The best books on Handel, recommended by Andrew Gant

George Frideric Handel was born near Leipzig, became established in Italy, and ended life as England’s national treasure. Andrew Gant—author of a new book on Handel’s most famous composition—selects the five best texts for gaining an understanding of Handel’s life and work, and explains why opera divas were the premiership footballers of the Baroque period.

The best books on Verdi, recommended by Francesco Izzo

Nearly everyone knows the photo of Verdi’s funeral, the streets of Milan packed with people paying homage to the great composer. How did the son of an innkeeper from Le Roncole become not only one of the most famous opera composers of all time but also a prominent symbol of Italy’s Risorgimento? Verdi expert Francesco Izzo discusses the books to read to best understand the man, the myths, and the music.

The best books on Wagner, recommended by Michael Tanner

Richard Wagner’s works are as immense as they are influential: the four-part, 15-hour saga Der Ring des Nibelungen is the most analysed opera of all time. And yet, Wagner was arrogant and virulently anti-semitic. Can we separate the musical genius from the man? Opera critic Michael Tanner recommends the best books on Wagner.

The best books on The Lives of Classical Composers, recommended by Giles Swayne

From Bach to Stravinsky, British composer Giles Swayne discusses the most insightful books for getting to know the real lives of classical composers. “You can have people who are really extremely mediocre with huge careers, and people who are wonderfully good but don’t have wonderful careers. Bach was one of those.”

The best books on Opera, recommended by Robert Lloyd

The opera singer says most people of his age feel that the quality of singing has given way to the providing of a dramatic spectacle. His book selection spans Italian opera and revelations of an opera manager

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