THE COMPLETE GILBERT & SULLIVAN OPERA GUIDE, by Alan Jefferson (Facts on File, $22.95). The key word in the title is "Complete." Jefferson includes three operas (Thespis, Utopia Limited and The Grand Duke) that are not in Martyn Green's similarly arranged and generally excellent Treasury of Gilbert & Sullivan. These three are, of course, marginal items in the G&S canon but still fascinating to diehard Savoyards. Both books offer full texts of the chosen operas; Green scores heavy points over Jefferson by including the principal melodies and his own copious and uniquely knowledgeable notes. Jefferson provides a useful introduction to each opera and to the book as a whole, and his illustrations (some in color) are clearly superior.
THE SCIENCE OF MUSICAL SOUNDS, by John R. Pierce (Scientific American Library, $27.95). Strictly speaking, this is neither a music book nor a picture book, but it should fascinate music-lovers of a philosophical or scientific turn of mind, and its illustrations are outstanding. Pierce is not a musician, but an electrical engineer at the Bell Laboratories; he is also a pioneer in the development of computer-generated electronic sounds which are the new, barely explored frontier of music, and he is passionately dedicated to the study of psychoacoustics, the mathematics of sound waves, auditory and musical perception, and the organization of sounds into artistically useful forms. In this book, hediscusses the nature and properties of sound, the historic processes through which man has come to understand it and use it, and the artistic possibilities that are just beginning to unfold and are awaiting geniuses who can relate fully and creatively to the amazing riches now becoming available. Two brief recordings accompany the book and illustrate some of the points; a more extended cassette is also available separately.
A STRAVINSKY SCRAPBOOK: 1940-1971, by Robert Craft; illustrations chosen by Patricia Schwark (Thames and Hudson, $24.95). The title is exact as far as it goes, though something might be aded to indicate that it is also, in large measure, a Robert Craft scrapbook. Craft is the chief proprietor of the small but flourishing Stravinsky industry. He earned this role honestly in a long, close association with the composer that will leave future generations of scholars pondering and quibbling about who did what in which context. Craft supplies abundant fuel for such pondering and a variety of other miscellaneous information on the long autumn of Stravinsky's American years. Included here, for example, are the Stravinksy' health records, including a medical diary, beginning in 1956, that chronicles his physical condition and its relation to his activities almost on a day-to-day basis.
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH: Life, Times, Influence, edited by Barbara Schwendowius and Wolfgang Domling (Yale University Press, $35). Bach lived a relatively uneventful life (at least to nonmusical observers) in a quiet corner of a turbulent world. He was born into a Europe still assimilating the primary shock waves of the Renaissance. He died at the dawn of the generation that would produce the American and French revolutions. This book, an early entry in what will probably become a tidal wave during his 300th aniversary next year, gives a vivid visual impression of the man and the times with which he often seemed out of touch. The accompanying essays originated as notes for the Deutsche Grammophon Archiv recording of Bach's works a decade ago. They could be more complete and up-to-date, but they are a useful introduction for the general reader and the illustrations are superb.