BSB Unveils a New Libretto Portal

At the IAML conference in Vienna this past summer, Franz Juergen Goetz of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich unveiled a new “Libretto Portal.” The site is a new search engine to access the scanned libretti from the Christian Her Collection (approximately 5,600 items) and also scanned libretti from the Deutschen historischen Instituts in Rome (about 1,500 items). The holdings of the combined collections date from the 17th through the 20th centuries. The new portal offers enhanced search capabilities over the previous access available through ViFaMusik.

Metadata for the corresponding libretti will be searchable in WorldCat, Europeana, and the HMT Library at Liepzig.

Goetz indicated that future plans include additional indexing of other digitized libretti collections and the possibility of full-text searching.

Qualities and Characteristics of Five Major Music Periodical Indexes – By Erin Durham

The diversity of online music periodical databases contributes to research ease and accessibility. A comparison and contrast of the relative strengths and weaknesses of RILM, RIPM, IIMP, the Music Index, and BMS Online illustrates the areas of research each is best suited for. Drawing upon the strengths of each database leads to quality contributions in the field of scholarship. Knowing the unique characters of each helps to make research more effective and efficient.

Each periodical has unique criteria for its coverage by year and the number of sources it contains. The indexing for RILM began in 1967 and continues into the present. It boasts 12,014 indexed journals (as of February 2013) and over 700,000 citations. New citations are added every month. This database has the widest coverage and range of journal sources out of all the periodicals. This is in part due to the fact that RILM indices are compiled by committees in 60 different counties that index music articles from a wide range and variety of periodicals. Thus it contains music topics from a variety of periodicals both within and outside of strict music journals.

Additional periodicals provide areas of coverage that are not indexed by RILM. For example, RIPM covers a span of about 150 years before RILM indexing begins. RIPM is primarily focused on the historic preservation of journals roughly from 1800 to 1950. RIPM contains 189 journals and 684,000 citations. The only other database that offers retrospective indexing into the 1800s is IIMP, which provides select coverage for specific journals. RILM offers retrospective coverage in two areas only: it indexes conference reports to the year 1835 and Festschriften to 1840. RILM has the most extensive coverage for academic sources, while RIPM is the best source for historic research before the 1960s.

The Music Index indicates cover-to-cover indexing of 480 journals, with select coverage for an additional 200. This database begins in 1970, although on its list of periodicals there are a handful of journals that have a few years of retrospective indexing extending into the 1960s. BMS online begins its coverage in the year 1950 and continues to the present. It pulls sources from over 600 journals and holds over 300,000 individual citations. One of BMS online’s unique strengths is its coverage of the gap between the end of RIPM indexing in 1950 and the start of RILM in 1967.

The bulk of IIMP’s coverage is very recent. Most articles referenced begin and 1996 and continue to the present. It covers about 425 journals; on the website listing there were 502 titles of individual periodicals. Finally, IIMP’s citations number over 770,000. 200,000 of these feature articles that were published before 1996, and a few may extend as far back as 1874. IIMP covers a wide variety of popular and classical sources, so it may best benefit a research attempting to over a popular genre such as folk music from the last ten years.

These databases’ contribution to retrospective indexing, access to full text, and quality of abstracts varies as well. As before stated, RILM indexes conference reports and festschriften retrospectively. The Music Index has a few journals with coverage before 1970, but such are very rare. IIMP provides selective access for specific journals for as far back as 1874. However, its main focus is on very recent periodicals. Currently BMS does not have retrospective sources, although its website announces that projects are underway to index articles from the early 20th century. RIPM is entirely retrospective with its analysis from 1800-1950. These periodicals, RILM, The Music Index and RIPM provide full text access to the BYU community through BYU’s subscription to EBSCO host and its holdings. IIMP provides full text access to 140 of its sources, while RIPM allows full text browsing on its online archives. BMS online offers some links to full text articles.

The quality of abstracts differs as well among the periodicals. RILM by far has the best quality of abstracts. Sometimes the abstract is as many as 250 words, and they are often written by the article author or by RILM staff writers. IIMP’s abstracts are generally made up of one to two sentences. The Music Index generally does not include abstracts, although it may rarely have a single sentence description. When BMS online does include an abstract they are generally brief and are predominantly in the German language. RIPM does have some abstracts, although they are not as detailed and thorough as those of RILM.

Some of the databases provide indexing to non-periodical literature. BMS online includes references to scores, festschriften, conference reports, monologues and anthologies. RIML also includes essay collections, conference reports, facsimiles, and festschriften. The Music Index references dissertation abstracts, while RIPM and IIMP are exclusively devoted to periodicals only.

Of the five databases, RILM, BMS and RIPM prove to be the most scholarly in their selection of sources. BMS online is the German contribution to RILM and so the two are similar. RIPM is unique in that advertisements in the journal are indexed for historical research. In contrast, IIMP and he Music Index reference more popular magazines and include many types of reviews. RIPM includes every review for its historical merit. RILM and BMS online are selective, and include only the most scholarly reviews with academic research interest. The Music Index and IIMP are the best sources to find coverage of reviews.

Foreign language sources are most abundant in RILM, which covers 214 languages and 151 countries. BMS online has decent language representation, although it is focused primarily on Western European languages. For its focus on retrospective journals RIPM seeks wide coverage. Its website states that it has indexes in fourteen different languages. From a brief survey of the Music Index periodical titles, it seems that about 100-150 of its journal titles are in different languages, although the exact number is not known. The International Index of Music Periodicals (IIMP) has by far the least extensive foreign language holdings with its claim to journals from only twenty different countries.

It is helpful to know the most outstanding feature of each database. RILM has by far the most extensive international coverage. It contains the best quality abstracts and is unique in its inclusion of music articles from sources outside of core music journals. RILM is generally the best starting point for research.

The Music Index’s strength lies in its extensive coverage of reviews. IIMP also holds a substantial number of reviews, as well as access to full text. For sources between the years 1950 and 1967, BMS online is an essential database as it partially fills the gap between the coverage of RILM and RIPM. BMS online also provides reference to unique sources that may not accessible through other databases. RIPM is unique as the only fully retrospective journal with all its articles being taken from past journals. Thus, RIPM is the perfect source for historical research. In addition, it is the only database that includes the advertising as well as articles and is the only periodical that is indexed journal-by-journal rather than year-by-year.

It is clear from the different dates of coverage, article types, and strengths that each database makes a unique contribution to the body of available research.  Selecting the database that is best suited to your specific query will result in more effecient and effective research.

The last of the six volumes of Handbuch der Systematischen Musikwissenschaft is Helga de la Motte-Haber’s Lexikon der Systematischen Musikwissenschaft (2010). Previous volumes in the Handbuch cover the subtopics of systematic musicology, including music aesthetics, theory, psychology, sociomusicology, and acoustics. While previous volumes are collections of authored essays, this Lexikon consists of concise articles on narrower topics and terms. This newest volume is described as “the first comprehensive reference work on systematic musicology,” bringing together into one dictionary descriptions of terms relating to the various subdisciplines of systematic musicology and providing a useful reference for the new student of systematic musicology. Each entry includes a detailed description of the term followed by brief bibliographic references. Related terms are cross referenced within the text of each entry. Often, entries are organized by their relevance to the topics explored in previous volumes of the series. For example, the entry “Erfahrung/Erleben” is organized by three subheadings: psychological, sociological, and aesthetic (topics explored in volumes 3, 4, and 1 of the series, respectively). So, while the volume’s main function is as dictionary of systematic musicology in general, it can also function as a detailed glossary to previous volumes of the Handbuch.

– Charlotte Heiner

Beta Online Version of the Handbook of Musical Terminology Available through ViFa Musik

The ViFa Musik blog announced the online availability of the Handbook of Musical Terminology (HMT) in August 2012. According to an announcement on the ViFa Musik homepage, as of 4 April 2013, the beta version of HMT is available to search in full text on their website ( While an online version of the handbook itself is not currently directly accessible, users can enter terms in the search box of the ViFa Musik homepage and find links to HMT entries in the search results under the heading “Hit pocket Dictionary of Musical Terminology.” The actual entries are accessible via the “Read online” link located to the right of the entry description. Once the user has accessed the HMT entry, searched keywords are highlighted within the text. It is also possible at that level to search within the HMT directly. In this beta version there does not appear to be a way to access the HMT directly outside of ViFa Musik. For quick citation, each online HMT page has been assigned a permalink (located above the search box). In addition, links to the sources cited within the given HMT entry are listed in the left column of the HMT page.

– Charlotte Heiner

Gervink and Bückle’s Lexikon der Filmmusik

Bückle, Matthias, and Gervink, Manuel. Lexikon der Filmmusik. Laaber: Laaber-Verlag, 2012.

Gervink and Bückle’s Lexikon der Filmmusik is a dictionary of the composers, theory, practice, genres, and history of film music compiled for inquisitive film music fans. Entries are organized alphabetically, providing easy access to information on diverse subjects related to film music. Composer entries include dates of birth and death, a brief biographical sketch, and the film scores they composed. Entries for theoretical and other terms describe the history, use, and significance of each term. A list of sources and the article’s author are listed after each entry. The Appendix includes a list of online magazines, film music streaming websites, and film composers’ websites and forums for further study.

–Charlotte Heiner

The Musical: A Research and Information Guide, 2nd edition

William A. Everett’s The Musical: A Research and Information Guide (2011), 2nd edition, is a bibliography that focuses primarily upon the history, creators, performers, and the production of American musical theatre from the late nineteenth century to the present day.  It contains 1,474 items such as reference works, websites, articles from both scholarly and popular periodicals, recorded anthologies, essays, and dissertations and theses. Within his definition of ‘musical,’ Everett includes filmed and television musicals alongside the more traditional stage musicals, both mega-musical and obscure.  Although the focus is predominantly American musical theatre, a few small sections also address European musicals, French operetta, and Bollywood.  The broad majority of citations include annotations, as well as ISBN and Library of Congress call numbers when appropriate. Excluded from coverage are anthologies of “greatest hits,” cast and studio albums, soundtracks, and solo albums with a Broadway or Hollywood theme. As with all print publications citing websites, these items have the potential to disappear; however, the internet resources Everett chose to include are all reliable, popular reference sites that are unlikely to disappear from the Internet or change domains anytime soon. Students performing research on musical theatre will find this volume useful, as will those interested in expanding their knowledge on the subject.

Lindsay Weaver
Research Assistant 

Cambridge Mozart Encyclopedia

Edited by Cliff Eisen and Simon P. Keefe, the Cambridge Mozart Encyclopedia (2006) is an excellent reference work that not only encapsulates current academic thought about Mozart, but also offers a guide to understanding the composer and his world through over 500 entries addressing a variety of topics such as people, musical works, places, genres, and society. Entries can range in length from a large paragraph to long, meaty essays. Five useful appendices conclude the work such as a complete workslist, a collection of theatrical biopics about Mozart, a selective list of his operas on DVD and video, a directory of Mozart organizations, and a list of useful Mozart websites. Extremely up to date, this book contains topics and subjects which have never before been addressed in English-speaking scholarship, and is recommended for students, scholars, and layman audiences.

Lindsay Weaver
Research Assistant 

The Madrigal: A Research and Information Guide

Susan Lewis Hammond’s The Madrigal: A Research and Information Guide (2011) is a selective bibliography of 1,237 items intended as a guide to the best scholarship written on the subject of polyphonic Italian madrigals. Specifically, she includes within her scope the canzonetta, villanella, and spirit madrigal), English and German adaptations to the genre, lute intabulations, hybrids and transitional forms of monody, and madrigals with basso continuo accompaniment. This book is useful to students and anyone researching this subject because the annotations clearly identify which sources are important to the understanding of various aspects of the madrigal and why these works ought to be consulted.

Lindsay Weaver
Research Assistant 

The Music Library of a Noble Florentine Family: A Catalogue Raisonné of Manuscripts and Prints of the 1720s to the 1850s

A result of the collaborative of efforts of Robert Lamar Weaver, John Karr, and Caterina Pampaloni, edited by Susan Parisi The Music Library of a Noble Florentine Family (2012) is a catalogue raisonné of the Ricasoli Collection acquired by the University of Louisville in 1989, which consists of music and pedagogical books collected by the Ricasoli family during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This particular catalogue builds upon the work of nineteenth-century inventories already completed for this collection; therefore, while the majority of the collection is housed at the University of Louisville, the catalogue will occasionally items not in the University’s possession either because they’re been lost or separated from the collection as a result of private sales before the acquisition.

Historical Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Classical Music (2012)


Nicole V. Gagné’s Historical Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Classical Music (2012) surveys modern and contemporary classical music dating from 1890 to the present day, representing composers on an international scale. Although biographical information on composers and musicians who specialize in modern or contemporary music constitutes the primary focus of this book (350 entries), Gagné also includes 60 entries on relevant musical topics such as compositional methods and styles, which provides reader with better understanding of the music discussed. Composers in jazz, pop, and rock have typically been excluded on the basis that these genres are too broad and varied to be adequately addressed within the scope of this work; however, individuals like Duke Ellington whose musical accomplishments extend into the realm of the concert hall have been included, as well as musicians like The Beatles whose work left such an indelible, “radical” mark in their own field that it is appropriate to discuss them within the book’s context. Biographical entries typically provide dates of birth and death, nationality, career overview, important compositions, and cross-references to relevant topic entries. As for the topic entries, these typically discuss the historical overview of the subject, its characteristics, its important or prominent proponents, and often cross-reference to the entries of said proponents.

Beyond the dictionary proper, Gagné supplies a useful introduction discussing the musical history of the time period considered by this book, a chronology, and a lengthy bibliography citing books, articles, reviews, and websites. The citations are exclusively English-language, with the majority of books published after 1970.  Because the bibliography is divided into sections concerned with a specific publication type, and entries often grouped by the subject composer, readers will find it easy to quickly locate citations pertaining to a specific individual. Historical Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Classical Music is recommended for scholars and students (musician or otherwise) who are performing research in this field or are interested in learning more about this corpus of music and the individuals who create it.

Lindsay Weaver
Research Assistant