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Doing Historical Research in Music: Composers' Writings

Composers' letters

Composers' letters and other written communications can yield valuable insight into:

  • the creative process
  • the circumstances in which a specific work was written
  • its performance history
  • its publication history
  • the composer's own opinion of it


Published letters

Many composers' letters have been collected and published. To locate a specific composer's published letters, search the Library's catalog or WorldCat using the following subject heading:

  • [Composer's name] -- Correspondence.


Indexes in books

Don't forget that scholarly books have indexes. You can use the index to quickly locate discussion of specific works, or specific people the composer corresponded with or mentioned, within the book.

Subject Guide

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Leslie McCall
Office: 251 ZSR Library
Phone: 336-758-5474