October 2014

Music in American Life

American LifeEditor Jaqueline Edmondson states in the preface to this encyclopedia: “The intent of these volumes is to capture some of the many ways that music affects life and culture in the United States, as well as the ways American culture in all its complexities influences music.” It is most useful for high school and undergraduate students as a starting point for research projects and papers, and each entry has suggestions for further reading. There are about five hundred entries, which average two to three thousand words each. They cover a wide range of topics, including musicians, places, events, instruments, and more. The organization is alphabetical, and the whole encyclopedia is well indexed. The authors have also included a selected general bibliography and discography, and a list of informative web sites for further reading.

Abraham Myler, research assistant

Operas in English: A Dictionary

operas in EnglishThis two-volume dictionary by Margaret Ross Griffel, now in two volumes, was released in 2013 by the Scarecrow Press. Since all of its over 4,400 entries are devoted to opera titles originally written for an English libretto, it contains many less-famous operas that other, more general reference sources had to leave out because of space considerations. This makes it a truly unique source of information.

It is organized alphabetically by opera title. Entries provide at least some of the following information for each opera: composer, librettist, plot source, first performance information, synopsis, themes and unique characteristics, famous excerpts, score location, and bibliography. There are appendixes of composers, librettists, authors and sources, and a chronology. The second volume also includes selective bibliography and indexes of characters and names.

Margaret Ross Griffel has written a similar dictionary of operas in German, which is currently under revision for The Scarecrow Press.

Abraham Myler, research assistant

Portuguese Piano Music: An Introduction and Annotated Bibliography

portugueseClassical musicians rarely perform, or even learn much about, Portuguese music. With this research guide, Nancy Lee Harper opens this world up to pianists. Performers on all instruments can also use this guide to discover new composers.

Harper includes compositions by and printed materials about major and minor Portuguese composers of music for the piano, along with known works. Entries range from the 18th century to 2010. The guide is organized by time period, within which composers are listed alphabetically. Composer entries provide a list of known works grouped by type under Solo Piano, Chamber Music, Four Hands, etc. Biographical information provided in some entries.

Abraham Myler, research assistant, and Kiersten Favero

Art Song in the United States, 1759-2011: An Annotated Bibliography

art songThis repertoire guide is especially for performers who are interested in broadening their knowledge and repertoire of American art songs. It includes art songs composed between 1759 and 2011 by American composers, or composers who immigrated before age thirty-three and either naturalized or participated enough in American culture to be adopted as Americans. Carman excludes most concert and operatic arias, songs composed for occasional use (such as church solos), and folk song settings. Piano reductions of larger orchestral or chamber accompaniments are included selectively. Some songs from previous editions have been removed from the fourth edition (2013) due to dated texts or various musical considerations.

Entries are arranged alphabetically by the composer’s last name, then by song title. Each entry provides the poet’s name, publisher, publishing date, date of composition if known, key, vocal range, tessitura, meter(s), tempo, length, difficulty level, voice type, mood, difficulties in the voice part, difficulties in the piano part, and possible uses of the song. A separate section, containing songs by American composers in foreign languages, follows the main bibliography. These are alphabetized first by language, then by composer last name, then by song title.

The volume also includes a discography, a chronological list of composers, and a list of the publishers represented. It is indexed by composer, poet, title, special characteristics, and subject.

Abraham Myler, research assistant, and Shawn Mikkelson