Book Review: The Bible in Music

Robert Letellier’s productivity and his wonderful understanding of music, history, religion and context of time and place with regards to composition is brilliantly brought to the fore in this beautifully produced book, which offers such a wealth of easily digestible information.

It is also a superior reference book for anybody interested in the topic at hand. In the five chapters he covers biblical themes in music, pulling out for example characters from the old and new testament, representations of choral music, and oratorical and dramatic music with biblical themes in opera and ballet.

9781443873147There are comprehensive lists which serve as reflections on all of the music composed over many years, the majority of which never reach our ears. The sections are prefaced by historical vignettes which allow for an understanding of the relation of the music to the compositional era. These describe the origins of oratorio and “sacred opera”, as we progress through history the importance of an alteration of both intellectual and musical styles which contribute to this field.

Known for his detailed knowledge of Giacomo Meyerbeer, the last chapter gives a synopsis of his relevant compositions. Throughout the text many pieces are selected for detailed description and the myths that relate to the music often explained: sections of the libretti are also given where helpful.

This is an astonishing repository of knowledge, utterly user friendly and so well organised that anybody interested in music, but particularly in sacred music, opera and oratorio should have it on their bookshelves. Cambridge Scholars Publishing have produced another book of outstanding quality and have included in the middle a section of 258 largely coloured images to augment a very professional book.

Michael Trimble

For more information about The Bible in Music and to order a copy, click here.

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