This comprehensive encyclopedia gives an overview of the way music has developed, beginning with ancient civilizations through to the present day. The section on music-making shows how different instruments, ensembles and orchestras evolved and all the different elements that co-ordinate to make them function. The book then looks at the greatest composers, exploring the lives and works of the people who shaped the fabulous repertoire of pieces that have brought joy, sadness, excitement and passion to millions of listeners for hundreds of years. Each family of instruments is discussed in detail: strings, woodwind and brass, percussion and keyboards, as well as a section on the voice. All the modern orchestral instruments and their relatives are covered, plus a range of more unusual instruments and non-Western examples. The book then provides an illustrated guide to the most influential composers, starting from medieval times: those who have defined or developed particular styles of composition, and who have created for themselves a significant place in music history. There are biographies covering the life and times of each composer, listing their most important works and placing them in their historical context. Over 100 composers are featured, including the pre-eminent Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, other greats such as Vivaldi, Schubert and Tchaikovsky, and modern composers such as Carter, Boulez and Stockhausen. Each entry is accompanied by a portrait or photograph, illustrations of the places where they lived, scenes from their ballets or operas, and examples of their original manuscripts. Comprehensively written and beautifully illustrated with over 1000 paintings, drawings and photographs, this is an indispensable reference for music lovers everywhere.