Richard's Fawkes book "The History of Classical Music" is fantastic introduction for all of us who are interested in the history of music, but how do not have energy to read long treatises. Fawkes book takes us on an interesting journey from the beginnings of western music, starting from mystic chants of Hildegard of Bingen, through renaissance and baroque classical music to modern music of such giants like John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen or Henryk Górecki.
It has also some interesting parts that describe opera music.
The book is certainly more scholar and more "popular" one than "The Rest Is Noise" (described here), but it gives a good ground for understanding the transformations of music through centuries. Sometimes, it lacks some deep details that could be interested for us, readers (I missed more information about Bach and/or Mozart), but my overall opinion is positive.
The book ends with beautiful short parable: "Yet, having started this journey with Greogorian chant, it seems appropriate to conculde with a world, that perhaphs, would not sound so unfamiliar with the devout of Dark Ages. Arvo Part, the Estonian composer, born in 1935 has his roots in chant, yet his minimalism is a distinctly XX century voice. The spiritual qualities, the spiritual message of the Westeren musical tradition is undimmed, even into XXI century..."