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Classical Music: Background Research

Resources for the study of all genres of classical music, including opera.

Music Reference Sources

All call numbers beginning with REF are shelved in the Reference Section of the library.

Electronic resources are accessed by links indicated by blue text.

New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed. – REF ML 100 .N48 2001 vols. 1-29.  The first-stop source for a broad range of musical topics, the New Grove is considered the most authoritative music encyclopedia in the English language. Covers all aspects of music including composers and musicians, compositions, music history and criticism, musical instruments, popular and non-Western music. Also available online in Oxford Music Online.

Oxford Companion to Music – REF ML 100 .S37 2002. Partially revised online edition (2011) in Oxford Music Online and Oxford Reference Online. A reliable one-volume reference book containing definitions of musical terms as well as longer articles. Scope is centered around, but not limited to, Western Classical music and music history.

Oxford Dictionary of Music, 6th ed. (formerly Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music)Oxford Reference Online. Brief definitions of musical terms, topics, composers and musicians.

Harvard Dictionary of Music – REF ML 100 .A64 2003. An authoritative dictionary for musical terminology, including entries on basic terms, styles, genres, historical periods and countries. Covers popular styles and non-Western music as well as Western Classical music.

Oxford Dictionary of Music, 2nd ed. Revised – REF ML 100 .K35 1997. A reliable dictionary centered around Western Classical music. Includes entries on composers and musicians as well as musical terminology and topics. Articles range from short definitions to substantial essays. Available online in Oxford Music Online.

New Grove Dictionary of Opera – REF ML 102 .O6 N5 1992 vols. 1-4.  A comprehensive guide to opera, including descriptive entries on operatic works, performers, librettos, opera history and criticism, and costume. Also available online in Oxford Music Online.

Grove Book of Opera Singers, 2nd ed. - Oxford Reference. Contains biographies of over 1500 opera singers from the earliest times to the present day.

Grove Book of Operas, 2nd ed. - Oxford Reference.  Plot synopses and descriptions of over 250 operas.

Oxford Dictionary of Opera – REF ML 102 .O6 W37 1992. A reliable one-volume reference to all aspects of opera.

A Dictionary of Opera Characters, 2nd. ed.Oxford Reference. Guide to characters in operas.

Kobbe’s Opera Book – REF MT 95 .K52 1987. Plot outlines and other information for many of the most popular operas from all periods.

All Music Guide to Classical Music – REF ML 100 .A42 2005. Guide to recordings of classical music with information on individual composers and pieces.

Music in American Life, 3 vols. - REF ML 101 .U6 M87 2013. Also available in Gale Virtual Reference Library. Covers major American classical composers and genres.

Encyclopedia of African-American Music - EBSCO eBook Includes African-American composers and contributions to classical music.

Oxford History of Western Music – REF ML 160 .T18 2005, vols. 1-6. A comprehensive historical survey by an important musicologist.

Music Since 1900 – REF ML 197 .S634 1971 and Supplement. A celebrated chronology of first performances, works completed, and other events related to Western Classical music from 1900 to 1969. Supplement covers the years 1970-1985.

Cambridge Mozart Encyclopedia – REF ML 410 .M9 C257 2006. An encyclopedic treatment of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s life, works, and period.

Oxford Composer Companions. Haydn – REF ML 410 .H4 H3177 2002. An encyclopedic treatment of the composer Joseph Haydn.

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Andrew Kearns<br> Coordinator of Library Instruction's picture
Andrew Kearns
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