The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music

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An incomparable guide to the thousands of characters, from humble artisan to lofty genius, who people the unfolding history of music, this volume brings together all the pertinent biographical information about composers, performers, music theorists, and instrument makers from the days of praise chants to the bop and pop of today. A long-awaited companion to The New Harvard Dictionary of Music, and compiled with the same meticulous scholarship and delight in detail, this biographical dictionary emphasizes ...

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Overview

An incomparable guide to the thousands of characters, from humble artisan to lofty genius, who people the unfolding history of music, this volume brings together all the pertinent biographical information about composers, performers, music theorists, and instrument makers from the days of praise chants to the bop and pop of today. A long-awaited companion to The New Harvard Dictionary of Music, and compiled with the same meticulous scholarship and delight in detail, this biographical dictionary emphasizes classical and art music, but also gives ample attention to jazz and blues, rock and pop, and hymns and showtunes across the ages--with unusual care devoted to coverage of the twentieth century.

That the Belgian composer Jean Absil was professor of fugue at the Brussels Conservatory is a little-known fact. And few are aware that Roy Acuff began his country-and-western career in medicine shows. The writings of the seventeenth-century organist Jakob Adlung may be obscure, while Theodor Adorno's are widely read and studied. But they can all be found in the A's, along with 218 more entries, from Herb Alpert and the Andrews Sisters to Carl Friedrich Abel and Emanuel Ax. And this is only the beginning.

Here then is the information you need about 5500 figures in the world of music--the major, the minor, the famous, the nearly forgotten, from Bach and Beethoven to Irving Berlin, Benny Goodman, and Bruce Springsteen--capsule summaries of the lives and careers behind the music enjoyed in every era. The volume is enlivened with illustrations, some revelations in themselves.

A compendium that no music lover should be without, this rich volume, along with The New Harvard Dictionary of Music, constitutes the standard reference work for the musically inclined, the curious, the informed, and the expert.

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Editorial Reviews

Times Literary Supplement

Together, these two books [The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music and The New Harvard Dictionary of Music] deserve a place in any educated person's library.
— Wilfrid Mellers

Choice
For more than 50 years, The Harvard Dictionary of Music 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 areas of music from the ancient to the present, this important new reference source has information concerning 5,500 individuals...[T]his is an authoritative and significant new reference work which all libraries must purchase. Highest recommendation.
The Independent

With 5,500 composer and performer entries, useful jazz and blues emphasis, plus an unexpected bonus of bibliographies, [The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music] is comprehensive.
— Dermot Clinch

Philadelphia Inquirer

[A] comprehensive, erudite, authoritative [volume].
— Carlin Romano

Denver Post
Don Michael Randel has done everyone a great service in undertaking the editorship of The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music.
Times Literary Supplement - Wilfrid Mellers
Together, these two books [The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music and The New Harvard Dictionary of Music] deserve a place in any educated person's library.
The Independent - Dermot Clinch
With 5,500 composer and performer entries, useful jazz and blues emphasis, plus an unexpected bonus of bibliographies, [The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music] is comprehensive.
Philadelphia Inquirer - Carlin Romano
[A] comprehensive, erudite, authoritative [volume].
Library Journal
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.Anthony J. Adam, Prairie View A&M Univ. Lib., Tex.
Booknews
Illuminates the lives and careers of 5,500 composers, performers, music theorists, and instrument makers from the time of praise chants to our own era. The emphasis is on classical and art music, but ample attention is also given to jazz and blues, rock and pop, and hymns and showtunes. Capsule summaries of the lives and careers behind music<-- >from Bach and Beethoven to Irving Berlin, Benny Goodman, and Bruce Springsteen<-->are occasionally enlivened by period illustrations. No index. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Don Michael Randel, former Professor of Music at Cornell University and Professor of Music and President of the University of Chicago, is President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    The who's who of music

    This book can help anybody who is intrested in music, espescialy those in music majors. Why? Because it tells of any and all of the famous and not so famous composors, perfect for education.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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