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The Harvard biographical dictionary of music /

Other Authors: Randel, Don Michael.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1996
Series: Harvard University Press reference library
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Review by Choice Review

For more than 50 years, Harvard Dictionary of Music (1969) has been a mainstay of all reference collections, but the entries have been restricted to musical topics, omitting biographical articles. Therefore, this source is a natural companion to its venerable ancestor. International in scope and covering all eras of music from the ancient to the present, this important new reference source has information concerning 5,500 individuals. Most are associated with classical concert music, although prominent jazz, rock, folk, and popular personalities are also represented: Madonna, Mozart, Zoot Sims, Mick Jagger, and Dolly Parton are included. Musicologists, educators, teachers, and reviewers, no matter how influential, are excluded. Entries consist of brief to long paragraphs that may include a bibliography or a list of compositions. Major composers such as J.S. Bach rate many pages. One may quibble over inclusions or exclusions and the volume is not perfect (Vincent Persichetti did not die on August 15), but this is an authoritative and significant new reference work which all libraries must purchase. Highest recommendation. J. L. Patterson University of Wisconsin--Eau Claire

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

A companion to The New Harvard Dictionary of Music, this biographical dictionary was prepared under the direction of a Cornell music professor; 18 contributors are acknowledged. There are entries for about 5,500 people, primarily from Western concert/art music. Each entry begins with the subject's date and place of birth and death and a basic categorization. For example, Duke Ellington is identified as a "jazz bandleader, pianist, and composer." A paragraph or more follows, with a thumbnail sketch of education and accomplishments, often noting some works. Some articles attempt to put the subject in perspective, e.g., James Brown "was instrumental in popularizing soul (of which he is often described as the godfather)." The longer entries may include a works list and/or bibliography. Entries vary greatly in length and treatment. The variations seem dictated by the (unsigned) writer's preference, rather than an overall plan, as does the presence of listings of works and bibliographies. Nevertheless, the information is adequate to identify and get a sense of the person. Subjects are largely from the twentieth century, and enough are from popular music (e.g., Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Harry James) to broaden usefulness. A bibliography of almost 100 works precedes the entries, some of which refer to these scholarly sources. However, citations are not limited to this list. No cross-references or pronunciations are given. The only source comparable in scope and currency is Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (8th ed., Schirmer, 1992), with 15,000 entries, generally considered a standard. Besides the basic edition, there is a Concise Edition (1994, $50) and a Portable Baker's (1995, $20). The Concise Edition is most comparable in price and scope to the Harvard Dictionary. The articles in Baker are generally longer and the listing of works more extensive, but sources are not cited, as they are in the Harvard Dictionary, and style and content are more idiosyncratic. Although its scope, currency, and scholarship commend the reasonably priced Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music to high-school, public, and academic libraries, it is unnecessary in smaller libraries owning Baker. Comprehensive collections may want both.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

Designed as a companion volume to The New Harvard Dictionary of Music (Harvard Univ., 1986), this volume primarily features brief entries on 5500 historical and contemporary composers of Western art and concert music, with some popular figures (e.g., Ray Charles) included. Compared with editor Nicolas Slonimsky's excellent Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (LJ 1/92. 8th ed.) or Michael Kennedy's Oxford Dictionary of Music (Oxford Univ., 1994. 2d ed.), HBDM comes in a weak third, with numerous contemporary performers (e.g., Eschenbach) and composers (e.g., Santos) missing. Additionally, no rationale for inclusion or omission is provided. Updating also is spotty, with many contemporary entries stopping in the early Eighties. Recommended only as a supplementary volume to the aforementioned titles for large music collections.¬ĎAnthony J. Adam, Prairie View A&M Univ. Lib., Tex. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.