Histoire générale de la musique
depuis les temps les plus anciens jusqu’à nos jours
(Paris: Didot, 1869-1876)
Fétis wrote extensively on music history; his most important books were the Biographie universelle des musiciens et bibliographie générale de la musique (a reference work that appeared in installments beginning in 1835) and the Histoire générale de la musique. The Histoire générale is impressive in scope; although Fétis believed in the primacy of the Western musical tradition, he did not stint in his coverage of ancient and non-western music, allotting it no fewer than three full volumes. He aspired to be equally comprehensive in his discussion of Western music, but he died before completing the eight volumes he had planned; he got only as far as Volume 5, which ends in the 15th century.
Volume 1, which we have selected for display, focuses on the music of the ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians, and Hebrews. It is lavishly supplied with illustrations; the one seen here is from the tomb of Ramses IV, the king of Egypt from 1156 to 1150 BCE.