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Doing Historical Research in Music: Biography

Historical Biographical Sources

Early reference sources

Some composers' and performers' reputations wane over time, and they may no longer be given entries in current reference works. This makes older reference works valuable sources of information on persons who are little known today.

Some early biographical dictionaries:

Gerber, Ernst Ludwig. Historisch-biographisches Lexikon der Tonkunstler. Published 1790-1834. Call number: ML105 G38.

Riemann, Hugo. Musik-Lexikon. Orignally published 1882 (we have 10th ed.). Call number: ML100 R52 1922.

Eitner, Robert. Biographisch-bibliographisches Quellen-Lexikon der Musiker. Originally published 1900 (we have reprint of 2nd ed.). Call number: ML105 E4 1959.

Pazdirek, Franz. Universal-Handbuch der Musikliteratur. Published 1904-1910. Call number: Ref ML113 U6.


Foreign reference sources

An Italian or French encyclopedia is likely to have entries for more Italian or French composers, performers, etc. than an Engish-language reference work.

Some foreign music encylopedias:

Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart (MGG). Call number: ML100 M92.

Dizionario enciclopedico universale della musica e dei musicisti. Call number: ML100 D5 1983.

Encyclopedie de la musique et dictionnaire du Conservatoire (edited by A. Lavignac). Call number: ML100 E5.

Diccionario de la música española e hispanoamericana. Call number: Ref ML101 S7 D53 1999.


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