RILM music encyclopedias is an ever-expanding full-text compilation of reference works, most of which are not available anywhere else online. In 2018, the collection includes 49 seminal titles published from 1775 to the present and comprising over 100,000 pages. This extensive global resource is designed to meet the teaching, learning, and research needs of the international music community. It provides comprehensive encyclopedic coverage of the most important disciplines, fields, and subject areas of historical musicology and ethnomusicology, with topics ranging from popular music, opera, instruments, blues and gospel, to recorded music and women composers. Its content spans multiple countries and languages—currently English, German, French, Italian, Czech, Dutch, Greek, Portuguese, and Slovak. This resource was developed in cooperation with EBSCO Information Services.
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Full Title List
Jozef Robijns and Miep Zijlstra. Algemene muziek encyclopedie. 2nd ed. Haarlem: De Haan, 1979–84. 10 vols., 2667 p.
The Algemene muziek encyclopedie, an encyclopedia of music history and musical terminology, was originally published in six volumes in Ghent, Belgium (1957–72). A large number of prominent musicologists in Belgium and the Netherlands provided contributions, headed by August Corbet and Wouter Paap. The Belgian musicologist Jozef Robijns (1920–93), Professor at Leuven University and librarian of the Bruges Conservatory, edited the second edition together with Miep Zijlstra, expanding it to ten volumes. This edition covers aspects central to the study of music history, organology, and music theory, including music not belonging to the classical canon. With its emphasis on Belgium and the Netherlands the encyclopedia is especially useful for scholars who seek information on the musical culture of the Low Countries.
Loewenberg. Annals of opera, 1597–1940.
3rd ed., revised and corrected. Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1978. xxv pages, 1756 columns.
With Annals of Opera (1st ed., 1943; 2nd ed., 1955) the German-born British musicologist Alfred Lœwenberg (1902–49) created a monumental work that contains information on 4,000 operatic works. It details premieres and international performances of operas from Monteverdi's day to 1940. In the print edition, individual entries are organized by country, subdivided by composer and opera, and specify title, details of the premiere, librettist and source of libretto, cast list, conductor, director, and other key aspects related to production and performance history. The author himself was aware of the daunting task, introducing it as “a skeleton history of opera, in dates and fact” (Preface). But it is more than that, as it provides all basic facts on opera. The third edition is in essence a reprint of the previous ones, with revisions and updates by Harold Rosenthal (Loewenberg died before the completion of the second edition). Edward J. Dent, who wrote the preface to the third edition, states that “Some alterations and fairly numerous corrections have been made, and many new dates and other facts added from the author’s notes. Further corrections from other sources have been accepted and incorporated, but essentially the Annals remain Loewenberg’s work, presented here as far as possible in his own revision. No attempt has been made to carry the records beyond 1940”. Operas that have been recently revived or performed in newer versions are marked with an asterisk. Although the volume contains only a fraction of the operas performed between 1597 and 1940, it is still the most comprehensive listing for this time period: an exhaustive work, indispensable as reference book. Similar in format, but including some 60,000 titles, is Franz Stieger’s Opernlexikon, which will be included in the RILM Music Encyclopedias in 2016.
E. Smith and Albert Stoutamire. Band
music notes. Revised ed. San Diego, CA: Kjos West, 1979. xxxvi, 299 p.
This is the most informative book ever published on the subject of music for bands and band music composers. Smith, band director at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, wrote Band music notes together with his McNeese colleague Albert Stoutamire. The revised edition is the result of two years of work, which Smith began just before his retirement from McNeese. The volume is widely used as a primary source of information about composers and compositions of band music, as it provides a comprehensive foundation.
Southern. Biographical dictionary of
Afro-American and African musicians. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1982. xviii, 478 p.
With the Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African musicians, Eileen Southern (1920–2002), who served on the faculty of Harvard University and before 1971 was known primarily as a Renaissance scholar, created a long-needed resource and a major research tool. It is the first single comprehensive volume of its kind that "attempts to correlate materials" concerning Afro-American and African professional musicians "from a historical perspective" (Preface). It contains information on well over 1,500 figures, the earliest being Sebastian Rodriguez, born ca. 1642, an African drummer who was active in Mexico and died in El Paso; the birth cutoff date is 1945 (with some obligatory exceptions, such as Kathleen Battle and Wynton Marsalis). Coverage is not limited to the United States and Africa. Sixty-five musicians from Canada, South America, and Europe are included as well. This is not another dictionary confined to jazz musicians, gospel performers, or those engaged in minstrelsy; it is a survey of the lives of black men and women who have contributed to any aspect of musical history, and as such an enormously useful reference book.
James Duff Brown. Biographical
dictionary of musicians, with a bibliography of English writings on music.
Paisley and London: A. Gardner, 1886. ii, 647 p.
This single-volume dictionary was compiled by the English librarian James Duff Brown (1862–1914), an early advocate of public music libraries. It features short entries devoted to performers, composers and their works, and instrument makers, and it gives special prominence to British musicians, including many minor figures. As Brown notes in the Preface, he has included only those foreign musicians who either “claim attention by their acknowledged eminence” or have a direct connection with Britain. The entries on many living musicians were revised and corrected by the musicians themselves, with whom Brown corresponded. The volume includes a bibliography of British writings on music, organized by subject. With its emphasis on British musicians and the bibliography of British writings, this dictionary is particularly useful for scholars of 19th-century British musical life.
Benedict Ho and Dmitry Feofanov. Biographical
dictionary of Russian/Soviet composers. New York: Greenwood Press, 1989. xxv, 739 p.
With more than 2,000 composers (including a supplementary list of composers with over 1,300 additional names, each with dates and compositions) and a discography listing over 3,400 items, the Biographical dictionary of Russian/Soviet composers is an essential volume for scholars and students of Russian and Soviet music. It is a major addition to the reference field, filling a sizable gap in up-to-date information on Russian and Soviet music before 1989, and is especially useful for scholars who do not possess a reading proficiency in Russian. It is the ideal supplement to other standard sources, as it contains information on many lesser-known composers, not found in other English reference works. The dictionary is an essential source of reference for the more obscure byways and some of the highways of Russian and Soviet music.
Fétis. Biographie universelle des
musiciens et bibliographie générale de la musique. 2nd,
expanded ed. Paris: Firmin Didot, 1866–81. 8 vols., 5321 p.
The influential music critic and music educator François-Joseph Fétis (1784–1871) published the first edition of his Biographie universelle between 1835 and 1844. The dictionary is one of the most impressive single-author music reference works of the 19th century. The original eight volumes provide detailed biographical entries on Western European musicians. The second edition is expanded by a two-volume bibliographical supplement, compiled by Arthur Pougin between 1878 and 1880. The Biographie universelle is testament to Fétis’s personality: he had notoriously strong opinions and was unafraid to express them. Fétis was in an unparalleled position to write a comprehensive biography of musicians. In 1827, he founded the Revue musicale, one of the earliest and most influential specialist music journals of the 19th century, and from 1833 until his death he served as the Director of the Brussels Conservatory. Fétis had a large network of musical colleagues across Europe, and corresponded personally with many of the subjects featured in the Biographie universelle. The Biographie universelle provides an essential window into 19th-century French and European musical life, as distilled through the viewpoint of one writer at the center of that culture.
Quellen-Lexikon der Musiker und Musikgelehrten der christlichen Zeitrechnung
bis zur Mitte des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts. Leipzig: Breitkopf &
Härtel, 1900–1904. 10 vols, iv, 4950 p.
Robert Eitner, an autodidact in matters of music, began his musicological activities in 1868 with the foundation of the Gesellschaft für Musikforschung, which is still in existence today. He initiated several publication series before devoting himself to the seminal Quellen-Lexikon—a pioneering work in its size and ambition. At the time when Eitner conducted his work in libraries throughout Europe, many of them did not have a separate music catalogue. Eitner’s achievement was truly remarkable, especially in that he recognized the necessity of establishing an inclusive indication of sources. He was a pioneer in music source documentation, coining the famous phrase that “music bibliography is the foundation of all historical knowledge” (Preface). Eitner’s work retains its validity even today, even though the premises for source documentation have fundamentally changed through revolutionary technological developments. Numerous collections cited by Eitner were lost or destroyed during the wars, and thus his references remain the only ones (many not even included in RISM). The work is much more than a listing of manuscripts and prints. With its perspective on the sources in their local and supraregional context, it provides insights about known and unknown compositions, personalities, and music institutions. In turn, it is itself a piece of music history. A lexicon of sources, the “Eitner”, as it has become known, is a classic in musical source study and an essential reference for musicologists.
Suppan and Armin Suppan. Das
Blasmusik-Lexikon: Komponisten – Autoren – Werke – Literatur.
5th ed. Kraichtal: HeBu-Musikverlag, 2010. 839 p.
In 1973 the first edition of Das Blasmusik-Lexikon, commissioned by the Bund Deutscher Blasmusikverbände, brought attention to the important sociopolitical and cultural role of wind music in society: from the Baroque period to avant-garde of our day, all the great composers have created masterpieces for wind instruments, from marches to symphonies, from light entertainment to dance music. In the succeeding decades four more editions of the lexicon appeared, each one expanded and revised. The lexicon is now an essential volume in public and research libraries. Its author, musicologist Wolfgang Suppan (1933–2015), served on the executive committee of the Bund Deutscher Blasmusikverbände from 1965 to 1997. With the fourth edition, his son Armin, a conductor and pedagogue highly active with wind music ensembles, joined as contributor. For several reasons, including the development of wind music in the last two decades, the fifth edition is newly conceived in its entirety. To bring the edition in line with international standards, each entry now consists of three parts, with a biographical section followed by works and literature.
Bloom. Broadway: Its history, people, and
encyclopedia. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2004. xvii, 679 p.
Theater historian Ken Bloom’s 1991 first edition of Broadway offered a fact-filled compendium of Broadway's theaters, personalities, awards, publications, and notable concepts (e.g., “stunts”), from the earliest days to the present. This new edition adds corrections and updates, and multiple cross references for easy browsing. The most substantial entries cover theaters, playwrights, composers, directors, performers, and producers; there is a special emphasis on composers and lyricists, because Bloom believes that “they had greater impact on American theatrical history” (Preface). This is not a show-by-show account (only a small number of major shows have solo entries), but a history of the Great White Way.
Ellen Koskoff, gen. ed. The concise Garland encyclopedia of world music. 2nd ed. New York:
Routledge, 2013. 2 vols., 1436 p.
First published in 2008, The concise Garland encyclopedia of world music remains true to the global inclusiveness and scholarly integrity of the original ten-volume edition, while reducing the page count by 95 percent. Some essays were shortened or updated, in-text references were removed, and scholarly terms were replaced with more familiar ones (such as “wind instrument” instead of “aerophone”). The arrangement is geographic, with a decided emphasis on Asian musical traditions, which take up all of the second volume. The essays focus more on instrumentation, contexts, and genres than on artists or recordings. Ideal for a nonspecialist readership, The concise Garland is also valuable for a specialist readership because of its up-to-date and complementary content.
Musiker and Reuben Musiker. Conductors
and composers of popular orchestral music: A biographical and discographical
sourcebook. Reprint. Hoboken: Taylor & Francis, 2013. xxiv, 335 p.
Reuben Musiker, formerly a Professor of Librarianship and University Librarian at the University of the Witwatersrand, and his wife, Naomi Musiker, who is also a trained librarian, provide biographical information and a discography for around 500 individuals who have written popular and mood music for film, show, and the theater. First published in 1998, this sourcebook delves deeply into the recent history of popular orchestral music, covering the latter half of the 20th century. The main focus is on the peak period for such music, the 1940s through the 1960s. The key players are from the U.S. and Great Britain, or became popular there. They include classically trained conductors (Morton Gould, Andre Kostelanetz), swing-era conductors and arrangers, composers for film and theater (Alfred Newman, John Williams), mood or background music composers, and relevant institutions (101 Strings, Reader's Digest). Those who composed for military and brass bands, dance bands, or jazz ensembles are, for the most part, excluded. While some of the more well-known names here can be found in other sources, this title is a useful addition to larger music collections due to its unique and narrow focus.
Gracian Černušák, Bohumír Štědroň, and Zdeněk Nováček. Československý hudební slovník osob a institucí. Praha: Státní Hudební Vydavatelství, 1963/1965. 2 vols., 1933 p.
Československý hudební slovník osob a institucí (The Czechoslovak music dictionary of people and institutions) took almost two decades of broad collaboration between leading Czech and Slovak music specialists involved in the academy and general musical life. The dictionary offers 9500 entries in either Czech or Slovak depending on the subject. Articles are devoted to Czech and Slovak personalities active in all kinds of areas of musical life; to institutions, organizations, and performing groups; to editions and publications such as music journals; as well as to individuals and organizations of amateur and folk music production. The dictionary was conceived as a postwar response to the then first modern Czechoslovak music dictionary, Pazdírkův hudební slovník naučný (1933–37 and 1938–40), which was censored by the Nazis and interrupted by World War II. Československý hudební correlated with the establishment of the first musicology institutes in Prague and Bratislava. Thus it reflects the beginnings of scholarly activities in postwar Czechoslovakia. The Czech portions have served as the basis for the 2008 online project Český hudební slovník osob a institucí, published by the Centrum Hudební Lexikografie at the Masarykova Univerzita in Brno.
Peter Matzke, Tobias Seeliger, Volkmar Kuhnle, and
Conny Bruckbauer. Das Gothic- und Dark
Wave-Lexikon: Das Lexikon der schwarzen Szene, von Ambient bis Industrial, von
Neofolk bis Future Pop und von Goth-Rock bis Black Metal. 2nd ed. Berlin:
Lexikon, 2002. 614 p.
This expanded edition of 1,400 entries is more than just a compilation of keywords describing the Goth scene. It is a volume that links music and cultural studies through topics such as esotericism and vampirism, role play and death. Das Gothic- und Dark Wave-Lexikon is the brainchild of Peter Matzke, a historian, music journalist, and director of the seventh Wave-Gotik-Treffen (and spokesperson for the tenth and eleventh). He had coauthored and edited several other books on Goth before embarking on this encyclopedia. Goth music and culture are commonly buried in reference works on youth culture and counterculture; this was the first German encyclopedia to cover the subject in depth, considering performers, styles, and concepts, and remains the only one.
Butterworth. Dictionary of American
classical composers. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2005. xi, 548 p.
Twenty years after Garland published A dictionary of American composers (1984) this second edition offers a fresh look at 650 composers from the 18th century to the present, with new, expanded, and updated entries. It gives a wealth of information on American-born or naturalized composers and their significant works. Composers of light music, jazz, and popular songs are omitted, with the exception of the historically significant Stephen Foster. An expanded appendix of composers, listed by teacher, is included. Though the entries are similar in scope to those in Grove’s music dictionaries, Butterworth (formerly of Napier University, Scotland) has included many entries that do not appear there or in other common reference works. The volume is thus unique.
Grove. A dictionary of music and musicians
(A.D. 1450–1880). London: Theodore Presser, 1895. 4 vols., ii, 3200 p.
A dictionary of music and musicians is the first edition of Sir George Grove’s eponymous music encyclopedia (now continuously updated as Grove Music Online). When the first volume was published in 1879, Grove intended to only publish two volumes, but as work on the dictionary continued, the size of the dictionary expanded to four. In this first edition, Grove limited the content of his dictionary to Western music composed after 1450. Unlike contemporaneous dictionaries such as those compiled by Fétis and Riemann, Grove’s did not isolate articles on persons and terms into separate volumes; rather, each volume contains articles on composers, performers, musical terms, music theory, instruments, and musical institutions and societies. Although the dictionary is comprehensive in coverage and international in scope, Grove noted in his Preface that he had thought it “right to treat English music and musicians with special care”. Grove, who trained as a lawyer and was self-taught as a music critic, wrote many of the articles himself, most notably the biographies of canonical composers such as Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Schubert. He also commissioned articles from over 50 writers spread across England, America, and continental Europe. The writers included highly trained amateurs, similar to himself, and music librarians and professors at conservatories and universities. As the first edition of the longest-running and most comprehensive English-language encyclopedia of Western music, A dictionary of music and musicians is an invaluable historical document.
Kostelanetz. A dictionary of the
avant-gardes. 2nd ed. Hoboken: Taylor & Francis, 2001. xxii, 735 p.
The encyclopedia by Richard Kostelanetz, an independent writer, filmmaker, and performing artist, brings together a wealth of information on aesthetic innovation in the arts, including music, film, literature, the visual arts, dance, and theater. The artists included were mainly active in the 20th century, with no birth date earlier than Edward Lear's (1812–88). They include such well-known subjects as Charles Ives, John Lennon, Igor Stravinsky, Edgard Varèse, and contemporary figures as environmental-artist Christo and performance-artist Laurie Anderson. The entries for Kinetic Art, Serial Musk, Mixed-Means Theater, Zaum (poetry), SoHo, and Something Else Press create a rich image of a period. The second edition is enlarged and revised, with an added photo insert. It makes the avant-garde art easily accessible to au courant researchers and fills a gap in reference collections.
Honegger, ed. Dictionnaire de la musique:
Les hommes et leurs oeuvres. Revised ed. Paris: Bordas, 1993. xv, 1372 p.
With the collaboration of more than 200 European, and American musicologists, in 1970 the French musicologist Marc Honegger (1926–2003) assembled the first edition of his comprehensive biographical encyclopedia. This new edition includes 5,500 entries over two volumes. The entries cover a diverse range of musical personalities, from composers and performers to musicologists, music theorists, instrument makers, and music editors. The composer entries include a list of works; most entries feature a bibliography. French musical life is a particular strength of this encyclopedia, which contains entries on French figures who are not included in Grove or MGG. Some 20th-century figures, such as the composer Olivier Messiaen, wrote autobiographical entries for the Dictionnaire de la musique, an uncommon feature that reveal how these composers wished to be remembered. In addition to these unique perspectives, the entries on standard subjects such as Beethoven, Mozart, or Schumann contain original insights that one might not expect to find in an encyclopedia of this length. This makes the Dictionnaire an essential reference tool for any researcher of French musical culture.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Dictionnaire de musique. Paris:
Veuve Duchesne, 1775. 2 vols., 1045 p.
First printed around 1767/68, Rousseau’s Dictionnaire de musique is one of the early music reference works. It has been considered radical and traditional at the same time; radical, because Rousseau advanced in it an idiosyncratic philosophy on opera and revealed his rejection of French music tradition; traditional in that he held on to existing categories—music as art and music as science—and to views on music theory accepted in the 18th century. As a historiographer Rousseau is far from outdated. His entry for “monologue” marks the first appearance of the term in French musical lexicography. It synthesizes principles drawn from poetics and dramaturgy with stylistic arguments developed during the Querelle des Bouffons. Rousseau also makes the first effort to overcome Eurocentrism in music lexicography. Rousseau's volume is a rich source of information on contemporary reception of Bach, Händel, Haydn, and Mozart. The RILM Music Encyclopedias features the 1775 printing.
Honegger and Paul Prévost. Dictionnaire
des œuvres de l'art vocal. Paris: Bordas, 1991–92. 3 vols., xv, xi, xi, 2367 p.
This three-volume encyclopedia, devoted to vocal compositions from any genre from popular song to opera, complements Honegger’s Dictionnaire de la musique. Its 3,500 entries are organized by work title (composers and librettists are indexed) and provide a history of the work’s composition and premiere, a summary of the text, literary and musical commentary, and a list of editions and bibliography. While international in scope, the Dictionnaire des oeuvres de l’art vocal is particularly strong on French vocal repertoire. Given Honegger’s research focus on 16th-century music, Renaissance scholars will find it a treasure trove as well.
Lichtenthal. Dizionario e bibliografia
della musica. Milano: Antonio Fontana, 1836. 4 vols., 1589 p.
Born in Preßburg (today Bratislava), Peter Lichtenthal (1780–1853) studied medicine at the University of Vienna and in 1810 moved to Milan, where he acted as a censor of the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia. A composer and music theorist by passion (and an early writer on music therapy), he published his seminal first edition of the Dizionario in 1826 (with a reprint in 1836). According to Fétis, who met Lichtenthal in 1841, the Dizionario was the result of 12 years of hard work. Its four volumes are divided into two parts, the first being a music dictionary, the second a general bibliography based on Johann Nikolaus Forkel’s Allgemeine Litteratur der Musik, translated with additions. Lichtenthal’s mission was to create an all-inclusive music encyclopedia, considering the theoretical and practical, the ancient and modern, the anthropological and historical, the aesthetic and philosophical, and not excluding the sciences, particularly physics and mathematics. Although full of factual errors, and being largely a translation of the dictionaries of Gerber (1790–92), Koch (1802), and Castil-Blaze (1821), and the bibliography of Forkel (1792), it is nevertheless a landmark in the development from dilettantism to modern, systematic bibliographic method and contains valuable genre definitions.
Bianca Maria Antolini. Dizionario degli editori musicali italiani, 1750–1930. Pisa: Edizioni ETS, 2000. 427 p.
With the support of CNR (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche) and SIDM (Società Italiana di Musicologia), 30 Italian experts contributed to the first major dictionary (after Claudio Sartori’s pioneering Dizionario degli editori musicali italiani of 1958) that comprehensively gathers information on publishers, printers, and booksellers of music, active in Italy between 1750 and 1930, a period hitherto ignored. In her foreword the volume’s editor, Bianca Maria Antolini, explains the timeframe: 1770 marks the beginning of a boost in Italian music publishing, while the 1930s constituted a pivotal change (new sound reproduction technologies altered music consumption, which affected the publishing world). The nearly 400 entries provide a structured frame of music publishing, production, and consumption in Italy. Publishers are presented with biographical information and company history (including changes of name, location, and ownership and mergers), modes of dissemination, and technology. The Dizionario is also an essential source for the dating of music publishing, as it includes lists of editorial numbers and plate numbers (such as for Lucca and Ricordi). It provides scientifically accurate and well-documented information on a significant part of European music publishing. As a solid point of reference, and complementing similar international initiatives, it is an important publication for musicologists, librarians, and bibliographers (of music and other topics).
Schmidl. Dizionario universale dei
musicisti. 2nd ed. Milano: Sonzogno, 1937–38. 2 vols. and supplement, ii, viii, 2454.
The Dizionario universale dei musicisti by the publisher and music historian Carlo Schmidl (1859–1943) is widely recognized as an important early biographical dictionary for Italian musicians. The second edition, published nearly a half-century after the first, constitutes a significant expansion, it contains two volumes rather than the original one and has a supplement. Articles on composers include lists of their works and details of first performances. The Dizionario is especially notable for its articles on Italian literary figures and their relationship to music, a feature uncommon among biographical music dictionaries.
Marcos Antonio Marcondes. Enciclopedia da música brasileira: Erudita, folclorica, popular. Newly rev. ed. São Paulo: Marcos Antonio Marcondes, 2010. 1000 p.
This revised and expanded edition of Marcondes’s ultimate reference work on music in Brazil covers all musical manifestations from the time of the country’s discovery until the present day. It contains biographies of composers, musicians, and performers of classical music, from Villa-Lobos and Bidu Saião to contemporary artists such as Almeida Prado and Nelson Freire; definitions of national rhythms and dances; and entries on performing organizations, each with additional references to facilitate further research. The Enciclopedia da música brasileira also features great interpreters and composers of Brazilian popular music, from Ari Barroso and Noel Rosa to João Gilberto and Chico Buarque, including names of the newer generation such as Marisa Monte. With more than 35,000 entries, the Enciclopedia da música brasileira is an essential reference work for those interested in the classical, popular, and folk musics of Brazil.
McNeil, ed. Encyclopedia of American
gospel music. New York: Routledge, 2005. xviii, 489 p.
With more than 60 contributors from universities and libraries as well as from gospel and folk-music organizations, the Encyclopedia of American gospel music provides historic and biographical information for hundreds of artists who have shaped gospel music for more than 100 years. Edited by W.K. McNeil, formerly Director of the Ozark Folk Center in Arkansas, the encyclopedia covers American gospel music in its entirety from the historical foundations in post-Colonial America to today: black and white gospel music (it is one of few comprehensive, scholarly reference works to combine the two), contemporary Christian artists, record labels, religious organizations, major song collections like The sacred harp, and musical styles. Brief bibliographies (including historical and current print titles), Internet sites, and selective discographies accompany most entries. This title is the definitive work on the subject and fills a gap in a field that has had only sporadic reference documentation.
Henderson and Lee Stacey. Encyclopedia of
music in the 20th century. Hoboken: Taylor & Francis, 2013. 801 p.
This concise, one-volume encyclopedia covers all aspects of 20th-century music from around the world, ranging from classical to popular genres, with entries devoted to composers, performers, genres and styles of music, countries, and regions. In addition to providing biographical and historical context, many articles contain suggestions for further reading and listening and cross-references to other relevant entries. The encyclopedia also features a biographical digest, with sentence-long descriptions of performers and composers, a glossary, a comprehensive bibliography, and an index. With its easy-to-read prose and user-friendly layout, this encyclopedia is particularly well-suited for entry-level students and a general audience seeking basic knowledge about 20th-century music.
W. Hoffmann. Encyclopedia of recorded
sound. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Routledge, 2005. 2 vols., xii, 1289 p.
Since the 1993 first edition, the Encyclopedia of recorded sound, written by Frank Hoffmann, a Library Science Professor at Sam Houston State University, has been the most thorough work available on this subject. Topics covered include technical concepts (e.g., oversampling), musical genres (e.g., rock music recordings), key figures in the development of recorded sound (e.g., Ray Dolby), recording groups and artists (e.g., Peerless Quartet), labels (e.g., Naxos), equipment manufacturers (e.g., Victor Talking Machine Co.), and even practical matters such as cleaning. The topics are largely centered on developments in the U.S., although contributions to the nation's musical life from other countries are not ignored. This second edition updates all entries and adds 60 percent new content, including information from the 1990s and early 2000s, such as the merger of AOL and Time Warner.
L. Junchen and Preston J. Kaufmann. Encyclopedia
of the American theatre organ. Pasadena, CA: Showcase Publications, 1985–95. 3 vols., 1390 p.
This three-volume encyclopedia provides a wealth of primary source material on the American theater organ, an instrument designed for the movie theaters of the silent film era that has now all but disappeared from American pop culture. The first two volumes contain articles about organ manufacturing companies. The third volume is devoted to “the mighty Wurlitzer”. Each entry is documented with primary source material such as photos, company records, stop lists, advertisements, drawings, and interviews and correspondence with organ makers. In addition, Junchen has provided an opus list detailing the histories of all of the organs built by each company. These materials will prove indispensable to anyone researching popular music in the silent-film era.
M. Komara, ed., Encyclopedia of the blues.
New York: Routledge, 2006. 2 vols., xiii, 1100 p.
Komara, the Crane Librarian at SUNY at Potsdam, assembled more than 2,000 articles for this two-volume blues encyclopedia. The exhaustive catalogue of biographical entries features blues artists, historians, songwriters, and label owners from all time periods and includes items that might seem obscure (e.g., the Chicago-based R&B band Big Twist and the Mellow Fellows). The encyclopedia also provides entries for important record labels, instruments, musical styles, individual songs, geographic regions, historiography, aspects of the business, and additional topics that have been lacking in other encyclopedic efforts: “cultural” entries such as Blues Folklore and Juke Joints. The blues often gets lumped together with jazz, folk, or gospel; it is rare to see it stand on its own as an encyclopedic subject. This title clearly fills a gap by offering multifaceted coverage in one place.
Albert Lavignac and Lionel de La Laurencie. Encyclopédie de la musique et dictionnaire du Conservatoire.Paris: C. Delagrave, 1920–1931. 11 vols., 7570 p.
The French musicologist Albert Lavignac (1846–1916) conceived the Encyclopédie de la musique et dictionnaire du Conservatoire as a monumental encyclopedic undertaking with monograph-length studies by reputable French scholars. After Lavignac’s death, Lionel de La Laurencie (1861–1931) continued the project, but with his passing in 1933 the Encyclopédie was abandoned. The work as its stands consists of two parts. The first (comprising five volumes, first published between 1913 and 1922) concerns the history of music, with specific sections on periods (antiquity to Middle Ages) and on selected countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. The number of entries allocated to non-European music is especially noteworthy. Joanny Grosset’s major article on India may be counted the beginning of modern interest in Indian music in the French-speaking world. Similarly notable is Maurice Courant’s Essai sur la musique classique des Chinois. The second part (comprising six volumes, published between 1925 and 1931) focuses on aesthetics and theory, instruments and performance, religious music and venues. La Laurencie’s expertise in French music from Lully to Gluck led to well-balanced contributions in that subject area. The Encyclopédie is a work of universal musicology written from the French perspective after the fin-de-siècle. It has enjoyed considerable reputation among historical musicologists and ethnomusicologist alike [see Robert Lachmann’s review in Music & letters 4, no. 3 (1923): 290–291] and is indispensable for historiographic research.
Bruno Nettl, Ruth M. Stone, James Porter, and Timothy
Rice, gen. eds. The Garland encyclopedia
of world music. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 1998–2002. 10 vols., 7929 p.
Garland Publishing first issued The Garland encyclopedia of world music between 1988 and 1994 as a ten-volume series of encyclopedias of world music. An updated second edition appeared between 1998 and 2002. It is widely regarded as an authoritative academic source for ethnomusicology. The volumes included in the RILM Music Encyclopedias are Africa (ed. Ruth M. Stone), The United States and Canada (ed. Ellen Koskoff), Southeast Asia (ed. Terry E. Miller and Sean Williams), South Asia: The Indian Subcontinent (ed. Alison Arnold), The Middle East (ed. Virginia Danielson), East Asia: China, Japan, and Korea (ed. Robert Provine), and Australia and the Pacific Islands (ed. Adrienne L. Kaeppler). Each volume consists of three sections that “cover the major topics of a region from broad general issues to specific music practices” (Preface): An introduction to the region, its culture, and its music as well as a survey of previous music scholarship and research; major issues and processes that link the musics of the region; and detailed accounts of individual music cultures. The entries synthesizes exhaustive fieldwork conducted since the 1960s, as well as recording, analysis, and documentation. This publication is a landmark achievement in ethnomusicology. While ethnomusicologists can appreciate The Garland for its critically designed components, non-ethnomusicologists can embrace the encyclopedia for its capacity to serve as a primer on world music.
Kutsch, Leo Riemens, and Hansjörg Rost, eds. Großes Sängerlexikon. 4th ed. Berlin: K.G. Saur, 2003. 7 vols., ix, 5371 p.
The Großes Sängerlexikon (usually briefly cited as Kutsch/Riemens, after its founding editors) is considered the world’s most comprehensive dictionary of singers—the famous, the less well-known, and the almost forgotten—from all over the world, active in opera, operetta, oratorio, religious and art song, and other mostly Western classical forms of vocal music. Karl Josef Kutsch (b.1924), a collector of records and singer biographies, and the Dutch musicologist Leo Riemens (1910‒85) started this endeavor in the 1950s. After Riemens’s death, the high school teacher Hansjörg Rost (b.1942) played a major role, becoming an official coeditor in 1994. The fourth edition is updated and vastly expanded, especially when compared with the 429-page first edition (1962). It spans seven volumes that contain nearly 20,000 biographies of singers from the 16th century to the present. The detail is unique: Each biographical article contains stage name, common name, register of voice, and biographical dates. This information is followed by details on the artist’s background and musical career organized by places of work, major works, a short list of biographically significant engagements and appearances, a voice characterization and, in the case of major artists, bibliographical details and references to recordings. The Großes Sängerlexikon is remarkable not only for the vast scope of its material but also for the extensive period of time and variety of genres that have dominated the art of singing since the late 16th century—opera, oratorio, aria, cantata, lied, religious vocal music—whilst remaining as up-to-date as possible. It is the standard reference work for any lover of singing.
Heinrich Eggebrecht and Albrecht Riethmüller, eds. Handwörterbuch der musikalischen Terminologie. Stuttgart: Steiner,
1971–2006. 6 folders, 2667 p.
The Handwörterbuch der musikalischen Terminologie is a lexicon specialized in the formation, history, and meaning of musical terms. After extensive preparatory work, it appeared between 1971 and 2006 as a loose-leaf collection in periodic installments, edited initially by Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht (1919–99), and after his death by the musicologist Albrecht Riethmüller. With the 40th loose-leaf delivery in the fall of 2005, the project has been discontinued. The Handwörterbuch comprises 247 terms on over 3700 pages (originally organized in six folders). The lexicographical discipline exercised by the contributors is remarkable; the initial summaries of the treatment accorded to the more complex articles are particularly helpful.
Hillilä and Barbara Blanchard Hong, Historical
dictionary of the music and musicians of Finland. Westport, CT: Greenwood
Press, 1997. x, 502 p.
The brainchild of the third-generation Finnish-American musicologist and music educator Ruth-Esther Hillilä and the musicologist Barbara Blanchard Hong, the Historical dictionary is the only comprehensive English-language reference source devoted to Finnish music culture. It is designed to “unlock Finnish music for scholars and others” (Preface). It provides information on Finnish music history from 50 B.C.E. to the late 20th century. It covers art music, including operatic and orchestral performers, musicologists, and music educators, but excludes popular music. The majority of the entries are biographical about individuals, but there are also entries for musical organizations such as choirs, festivals and competitions, and some entries for general music terms such as cantor. The encyclopedia also includes a pronunciation guide and a map of Finland that pinpoints locations of major music festivals. The authors draw their information from a variety of sources and document them at length. The breadth and quantity of the entries cannot be matched by more general sources. There is very little overlap with other encyclopedias, with the exception of a few composer entries and the Finnish musical elements discussed in Grove’s Finland article.
James Parish Robert and Michael R. Pitts. Hollywood songsters: Singers who act and
actors who sing—A
biographical dictionary. 2nd ed. New
York: Routledge, 2003. 3 vols., 1989 p.
This dictionary on the careers of singers who appeared in Hollywood motion pictures provides specialized information while also creating a broader overview of the subject area. The authors, who have worked in the entertainment field, have given 104 singers individual attention (among them familiar names such as Frank Sinatra, Sophie Tucker, and Mae West) with information on their recording activities and appearances in film. The volumes cover the first nine decades of the 20th century.
Hugo Riemann. Hugo
Riemanns Musik-Lexikon. 11th ed., edited by Alfred Einstein. Berlin: M.
Hesse, 1929. 2 vols., vii, 2146 p.
Riemanns Musik-Lexikon is one of the last comprehensive music encyclopedic endeavors undertaken by a single person: German musicologist and theorist Hugo Riemann (1849–1919). He published the first edition in 1882. Subsequent editions constantly expanded scope and, until the eighth edition of 1916, were largely edited and published by Riemann himself. His last edition, the ninth of 1919, appeared after his death. Musicologist Alfred Einstein completed it, and also enlarged and revised the subsequent editions, until his forced emigration from Nazi Germany. Because of Einstein’s later work in the English-speaking world, the lexicon became known and respected in Anglo-American musicology. The eleventh edition is of note because it is the first to appear in two volumes, showing the lexicon’s ever expanding scope. Yet at the same time, Einstein eliminated a great number of biographical entries from the previous edition, for names he deemed unimportant; this edition thus represents both expansion and selection in accordance with the zeitgeist of the late 1920s. It is an excellent source of information for research on musical life in Germany (and to some extent also other European countries) in the 1920s.
Andrea Sessa. Il melodramma italiano: Dizionario bio-bibliografico dei compositori, I: 1861–1900 and II: 1901–1925. Firenze, Leo S. Olschki Editore, 2003, 2014. 533 p.; x, 1012 p.
Il melodramma italiano is an unequalled source of detailed information about the figures who defined the golden age of Italian opera. It was conceived with the intention of satisfying scholars and enthusiasts interested in little-known aspects of a period of transition in theater history—from the unification of Italy to the advent of fascism. In addition to familiar composers such as Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini, lesser-known figures, whose careers were intertwined with those of their more famous colleagues but whose memory survives (at best) at the local level, are included; among them are not only musicians—conductors, bandleaders and kapellmeister, organists, and music teachers—but lawyers, judges, doctors, and engineers who had a passion for the stage. Entries on Italian and foreign composers working in the chosen time period and active in the Mediterranean theater circuit (particularly in Nice, Malta, Corfu, Dalmatia) represent the most important body of material in these volumes. Each quoted work contains a description of literary sources and the plot. The two volumes count altogether 1323 biographical entries from Gennaro Abbate (1874–1954) to Guglielmo Zuelli (1859–1941). They are enriched with a comprehensive bibliography. The first volume ends with an appendix that lists repertoire and other relevant information published in the Gazzetta musicale and Trovatore between 1861 and 1900. In this way the two volumes constitute a complete and comprehensive guide to 60 years of Italian opera, specifically highlighting those who made larger and small contributions to it.
I. Cohen. International encyclopedia of
women composers. 2nd ed. New York: Books & Music USA, 1987. 2 vols., 1242 p.
In 1981, Aaron Cohen (b.1906), a retired town planner living in Johannesburg, South Africa, published the first encyclopedia devoted to women composers. Its second, two-volume edition constitutes a significant expansion, comprising 6200 entries and 14 appendices. What makes this encyclopedia so unique is its sheer breadth. The earliest composer represented is Hemre (2723 B.C.E.), an Egyptian leader of court music. The geographical scope is equally broad, with nearly 300 composers from Asia and Central America. To date it is still the only comprehensive collection of nearly every known woman composer, with biographical information, list of compositions, list of publications by the composer, and a bibliography. This second edition also includes a discography and listing of recording companies.
Heister and Walter-Wolfgang Sparrer, eds.. Komponisten
der Gegenwart. Munich: Edition Text + Kritik, 1992 to present. 10,284 p.
The Komponisten der Gegenwart is the only music lexicon that focuses exclusively on 20th- and 21st-century composers. Musicologists Hanns-Werner Heister and Walter Wolfgang Sparrer founded the lexicon in 1992 and conceived it in loose-leaf format to ensure that its content could be continuously updated and expanded. It currently contains biographical and work-related information on about 850 composers. Each entry is divided into two sections: the first is biographical, providing an overview of life and achievement; the second is work-oriented, with information on aesthetic and compositional technique based on historical and analytical assessment. Over 200 entries feature works, a selective discography, and a selective bibliography. The KDG contains a wealth of information, especially on lesser known composers who have recently emerged and, when included, contain the most complete published worklists; it is unique as it is updated quarterly (these updates will be included in the RILM Music Encyclopedias), thus being not only a bestseller but a longseller.
E. Smith. March music notes. Lake
Charles, LA: Program Note Press, 1996. xxvi, 596 p.
March music notes is the most informative book ever published on the subject of march music for bands and march music composers. Since his retirement as band director at McNeese State University, Smith has devoted himself to this project, which comprises information on over 600 popular marches from three centuries and 380 biographies of composers from 30 different nations. Much of the biographical material has not been published elsewhere. An unusual feature is the lists of popularity polls of famous marches taken in several states and six foreign countries. No other encyclopedic work contains such an array of details on march music culture.
Ernst Ludwig Gerber. Neues historisch-biographisches Lexikon der Tonkünstler. Leipzig: A. Kühnel, 1812–1814. 4 vols., xxxii, 974 cols.; 823 cols.; 942 cols.; 844 cols.
After Ernst Ludwig Gerber (1746–1819) completed the two-volume Historisch-biographisches Lexikon der Tonkünstler (1790–1792), J.F. Reichardt and E.F.F. Chladni, among others, contributed substantial additions. Combined with new materials that Gerber himself assembled (in particular the work of Martini, Burney, Forkel, Reichardt, and Chladny), these formed the basis for the four-volume Neues historisch-biographisches Lexikon der Tonkünstler. The Neues historisch-biographisches Lexikon der Tonkünstler rethought information in light of the new material. Some entries are entirely rewritten, others contain additions; many of the entries found in the Historisch-biographisches Lexikon der Tonkünstler are omitted. Gerber did not aim at a critical approach: He created a historical and biographical dictionary of musicians that contains news of the life and works of music scholars, famous composers, singers, accomplished amateurs, music publishers, manufacturers of organs, and instruments of ancient and modern times and of all nations. There are obvious mistakes (place names confused for authors, incorrect dates); and while Germany is well covered, the treatment of the music cultures of other countries is incomplete and problematic, because of a limited and conservative aesthetic concept. In spite of these flaws, the lexicon has been considered since its publication a unique and valuable source, especially for late-eighteenth-century music, because of the quantity of material drawn from Gerber’s personal contacts with the great musicians of his time. Portions of it can be found in translation in music dictionaries by Choron-Fayolle, Sainsbury, and Lichtenthal. It continued to hold the interest of the scholarly world; Gerber himself compiled further additions, and Carl Mainberger (1816) and F.S. Kandler (1817–1820), among others, provided supplementary material. A new edition announced in 1825, however, did not come to fruition.
Franz Stieger. Opernlexikon/Opera catalogue/Lexique des opéras/Dizionario operistico. Tutzing: Schneider, 1975–1983. 11 vols., 1903 p. [1043 p., 328 p., 532 p.]
Franz Stieger’s Opernlexikon is one of the most frequently consulted of all opera catalogues. It also contains ballets, oratorios, and other stage works, all listed by title, composer, and librettist. Lists of serious operas, cross-indexing of titles, and identification of librettists are especially noteworthy. The concluding two volumes, titled Nachträge, contain corrections as well as additions. With over 60,000 titles of stage works, the Opernlexikon exceeds every other published opera catalogue in size. It provides the place and date of every work's premiere (when known), along with an identification of its genre and number of acts. The Opernlexikon is especially valuable for works written and performed before 1920. A short introduction by Franz Grasberger, librarian of the music division of the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, highlights the catalogue’s value in light of previously unpublished information. Grasberger also provides biographical information, not available elsewhere, on Stieger (1843–1938).
N. Tolika. Παγκόσμιο λεξικό της μουσικής: Ïστορία, Μουσικολογία, Έργα, Πρόσωπα, Νέες Τάσεις–Αρχαιότητα, Βυζάντιο, Αναγέννηση, Νεότεροι Χρόνοι, Σύγχρονος Κόσμος;
[Worldwide dictionary of music: History, musicology, works, people, new trends–antiquity, Byzantium, Renaissance, modern era, contemporary world]. 2nd ed.,
expanded. Athens: Ekdoseis Stochastīs, 1999. 578 p.
The Pagkosmio lexiko tīs mousikīs (Worldwide dictionary of music) by Olympia Tolika is the first music dictionary written in the Greek language. It focuses on Greek musical heritage, covering a broad array of topics from antiquity to the present. The author is a musicologist as well as a translator and linguist, who previously published the Epitomo Egkyklopaidiko lexiko tīs Vyzantīs mousikīs (Concise encyclopedic dictionary of Byzantine music). The second edition of Pagkosmio lexiko (the first appeared in 1995) contains 7,500 entries with musical terminology, prominent musical works (in the original language with Greek translations), instruments, dances, composers, performers, concert venues, theorists, festivals, trends and schools, publishers, librettists, and many others topics. All aspects of Greek musical life, both national and local, are represented. The volume is a product of the author’s personal research and experience, enhanced by the illustrations by Amalia Paraskevopoulos, especially designed for this work.
Pitou, The Paris Opéra: An encyclopedia of operas, ballets, composers, and
performers. Westport, CT: Greenwood
Press, 1983–90. 3  vols., 1020 p.
Spire Pitou, who served as Professor of French Language and Literature at the University of Delaware, produced in this book an exhaustively detailed encyclopedia of every opera and ballet produced at the Paris Opéra, or the later Opéra-Comique, from 1671 to the 1980s. It is of special value to those who requiring in-depth information on opera in France. Entries for operas and ballets include composer, librettist, choreographer, costumer, set designer, important performers, and a scene-by-scene/act-by-act analysis. Separate entries are also devoted to performers, composers, choreographers, librettists, genres, and scenographers. Each of the three volumes begins with a concise historical overview for its assigned time period, which is informative and helpful for anyone requiring orientation on French operatic tradition.
L. Barnhart. Percussionists: A
biographical dictionary. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000. xvi, 487 p.
With this biographical dictionary, Barnhart, a percussionist and Professor at the University of Wyoming, honors the universal language of percussion that transcends ethnic, economic, and sociopolitical boundaries. The volume offers thumbnail sketches of a huge number of percussionists born around 1950 (or earlier) who have performed primarily as soloists (e.g., Keiko Abe, Vida Chenoweth), but also orchestral performers (e.g., Fred Hinger, Vic Firth) and jazz musicians (e.g., Jo Jones, Lionel Hampton). Included are figures who made important contributions to the making and development of percussion instruments (e.g., Avedis Zildjian III). The performers covered are predominantly American and European, with some Asians and South Americans and a very few Africans. Biographies range from a few lines to a page in length and are based on both published sources and correspondence with the subjects. A selected bibliography follows each entry and includes works both by and about the subject; many entries include selected discographies and videographies.
Honegger, ed. Science de la musique:
Formes, technique, instruments. Paris: Bordas, 1976. 2 vols., xv, 1266 p.
This two-volume encyclopedia, devoted to musical terms, complements Honegger’s Dictionnaire de la musique: Les hommes et leurs oeuvres. The result of collaboration among 170 French, European, and American musicologists, Science de la musique contains articles on such diverse topics as music theory, aesthetics, form, technique, musical instruments, music history, and countries and cities. Most articles feature extensive bibliographies.
Suppan. Steirisches Musiklexikon.
2nd. ed., completely revised. Graz: Akademische Druck- und Verlags-Anstalt,
2009. xi, 825 p.
Between 1962 and 1966 Wolfgang Suppan (1933–2015) conceived the only existing encyclopedia on the musical culture of Styria, an extensive work of seven volumes. Its content was heavily rooted in the collection of the Wamlek family. Hans Wamlek (1892–1959), a writer and composer based in Graz, conceived the vision of the lexicon and had collected original manuscripts, iconography, and correspondence of Styrian composer since the 1930s. Circumstances prevented publication. In 1957 Suppan picked up the threads and transformed the content into the Steirisches Musiklexikon. Forty years later he issued a completely revised edition, which remained a historical reference work focusing on regional aspects. It contains information not found anywhere else (e.g., Franz Liszt’s visit to Styria in June 1846, and information on Styria’s dynastic musical families) and provides solid entries on the music history of individual cities. It excludes post–1945 developments.
A. Jasen, Tin Pan Alley: An encyclopedia
of the golden age of American song. New York: Routledge, 2003. xvi, 492 p.
In Tin Pan Alley, David Jasen, a Professor of Communications at C.W. Post College (Long Island University) and an authority on ragtime and popular song, tells the story of American popular song, as it was composed, published, and marketed from its heyday in the 1880s to Tin Pan Alley’s demise in the 1950s. It does this through over 400 individual entries, each featuring a composer, lyricist, performer, publisher, style, or song title. One entry of particular interest is headed Hit Songs. Twenty pages cover the years from the 1890s to 1955; for each year, four or five successes are described with recording details and annotated entries for the era's blockbusters. Since Tin Pan Alley was essentially a publishing movement, Jasen includes publisher entries, often with dates and addresses. Tin Pan Alley is a unique compendium on American popular song and the business of selling music.
Tobias Bröker. The 20th century violin concertante: A repertoire catalogue of the compositions for violin concertante written between 1894 and 2006.
3rd ed. Stuttgart: Tobias Bröker, 2016. 2847 p.
The 20th century violin concertante is the only comprehensive repertoire compendium of compositions written in and around the twentieth century for violin in a solo role in combination with an ensemble or other instruments. Bröker's interpretation of the term "concertante" is very inclusive, embracing any composition that contains at least a solo violin part and an accompaniment by an orchestra or larger ensemble; works featuring the violin within a group of solo instruments; and works that carry the words concerto, concertante, or their derivatives in their titles and feature prominent solo violin parts. The catalogue therefore includes tone poems, concert works, and even short miniatures of less than two minutes. The catalogue lists 13,000 compositions by more than 7000 composers, with additional information on the works. Names of Arab, Armenian, Georgian, Greek, and Persian composers are given in original script as well as in roman transcription. The catalogue does not provide any sources, though in his preface Bröker assures readers of the accuracy and integrity of the data, which largely stem from bibliographies and from the composers themselves. Because of its comprehensive approach and its wide representation of composers and works, some of which are little known and not represented elsewhere, The 20th century violin concertante is an important addition to any reference collection.