Review by Choice Review
One wonders whether Theodore Baker (1851-1934) had any notion when he published the edition on which this book is based, Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (1900), that his name would be inextricably linked to an enormously prestigious biographical dictionary. In the intervening century, due in no small part to the efforts of Nicolas Slonimsky, who edited the 5th (1958), 6th (1978), 7th (1984), and 8th (1992) editions, it has come to be indispensable to reference work in music. Working in the meticulous Baker/Slonimsky tradition, Kuhn admits her volume "relied heavily upon Slonimsky's work." Both she and associate editor McIntire worked alongside Slonimsky to prepare for producing this reliable, fastidious, and scrupulous work. Universal in scope, the dictionary's entries are "restricted to contemporary classical musicians only with complete works lists and carefully selected bibliographies." First performance dates are usually provided, especially for large significant works. The dictionary is a gold mine, surely must be considered a momentous and noteworthy contribution to music lexicography, and should be included in all reference collections, from the smallest public to the largest university library. J. R. Belanger; San Diego Public Library
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
This work is a spin-off of the well-known and prestigious Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, first published in 1900, of which the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth editions were all edited by Nicolas Slonimsky. He died in 1995 at the age of 101, making the eighth edition [RBB F 1 92] his last. Kuhn, who worked with him on the eighth edition, states in her preface that this is the first of "a series of specialized Baker's volumes, representing particularized musical periods and styles." Entries are very similar to those in the parent volume. Some new musicians, such as mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli, violinist Sarah Chang, and bass-baritone Bryn Terfel, have been added. There are 500 new entries in all. There has been updating to make the volume current--for example, the works lists and bibliographies include 1996 publications, mention is made of Kathleen Battle's controversial dismissal from the Metropolitan Opera in 1995, and Slonimsky's death date is noted, as is that of Frank Zappa. What is Frank Zappa doing in a volume devoted to classical musicians? The editor states that pop and jazz artists have been "excised" from this volume, set aside for inclusion in future specialized editions; but one can still find entries here for David Byrne, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and Andrew Lloyd Weber, among many others found in the parent Baker's but not usually thought of as "classical" musicians. Slonimsky was noted for his unusual style, both humorous and opinionated, and the stamp of his personality (and idiosyncrasies) is retained in this volume. His famous style is especially apparent in the Glossary of Terms borrowed from his Music since 1900 and included in the present volume. Since, according to the editor, the standard, complete Baker's will continue to be published, smaller libraries that own the eighth edition may just want to wait for the ninth. This new volume is recommended for all larger public and academic libraries and is essential, of course, for music libraries.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review
Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians first appeared in 1900 and was written and edited by the amazing and recently departed Slonimsky since 1958. It is now considered one of the most important single-volume reference works in music. The eighth edition (LJ 1/92) weighed in at more than 2100 pages and pushed the envelope in terms of both size and coverage. Each new edition was faced with decisions not only of whom to add but also of whom to delete. Sporadic coverage of persons in jazz and pop music complicated matters as well. This title is the first in a planned series of ten works that should go a long way toward resolving these problems by splitting up the vast scope of original work into more manageable units defined by periods and genres. Coverage here is sharply limited to contemporary classical musicians, making possible the addition of 500 new entries. Also, existing entries have been revised, updated, and expanded (some significantly), and most works lists are now complete. In all, more than half of the text is completely new, much of it written by Slonimsky before his death; the entire work was edited by long-time Slonimsky collaborator Kuhn. The first in a promising series, this is an essential purchase.Michael Colby, Univ. of California, Davis (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.