Music, according to Aaron Copland, can thrive only if there are "gifted listeners." But today's listeners must choose between classical and rock, opera and rap, and the choices can seem overwhelming at times. In The Essential Canon of Classical Music, David Dubal comes to the aid of the struggling listener and provides a cultural-literacy handbook for classical music. Dubal identifies the two hundred forty composers whose works are most important to an understanding of classical music and offers a chronological guide to their music—singling out the sixty most significant with comprehensive essays covering all aspects of their lives and works. Dubal has searched beyond the traditional canon to introduce readers to little-known works by some of the most revered names in classical music—Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Haydn—as well as to the major works of lesser-known composers. In a spirited and opinionated voice, he seeks to rid us of the notion of "masterpieces" and instead to foster a new generation of master listeners. The result is an uncommon collection of the wonders classical music has to offer for the novice and experienced listener alike.