BANQ Digital Resources for Music Research

The Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec offers a valuable selection of digital music resources that might be easily overlooked. It’s materials are not part of larger aggregates like the Internet Archive or Gallica. The catalog offers both materials that are part of the public domain and documents that can be accessed with an annual fee. At present the collection of free digital scores totals about 2,050 tiles, with a focus on French vocal sheet music and French opera vocal scores. The collection of digital audio files offers about 1,400 works, again with a focus on French vocal music. Public domain offerings also include a modest selection of opera librettos and several musical revues. Collectively these resource enable an interesting research perspective of opera and its related popular vocal music in Québec in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

RetroNews available for free during Covid-19 crisis

RetroNews is not normally included in MusRef because it is a “pay for” resource. In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, it is temporarily available for free during a two-week period. For those who are not familiar with RetroNews, it is a site developed by the Bibliothèque nationale de France that offers full text searching for about 600 historical newspapers dating from 1631 to 1950. “In addition to the resources available on Gallica, RetroNews is a digital archive consultation space, a research tool, and a magazine for all those interested in discovering history through press archives. The press archives come either from collections available in Gallica or from collections digitized by BnF-Partners. In all cases, the newspapers are indexed in Gallica: if a result is returned by the Gallica search engine, the complete fascicle can be viewed free of charge on RetroNews. RetroNews also offers advanced search tools specific to press collections and additional editorial content (articles, long formats, video, audio, etc.) for discovering the story through the press: access to these additional services is [normally] by subscription.”

Swiss Music Journals at

A growing number of historic and current music journals can be found at large aggregate sites devoted to publishing journals online. Some of these sites are nationally oriented and cover a wide variety of disciplines. Others may be sponsored by an institution, including universities and conservatories. Some of these aggregates which I monitor and use to identify electronic journals for MusRef include,, iremus.cnrs, and

This post will draw attention to e-periodica, a Swiss effort to make a wide variety of publications available for free online. The music offerings include publications dating from the early 20th century to the recent past. Some of these publications are useful as historic primary sources, while others offer relatively recent musicological research. The e-periodica site is careful to document the history and evolution of periodical titles over time. For example, the information page for the Schweizer Jahrbuch für Musikwissenschaft outlines the history of the periodical dating back to the Mitteilungen that first appeared in 1934. The information page also provides a link to the current sponsoring organization for the journal.

The music journals currently offered in and indexed in MusRef can be found at this link. As a side note, the journal for modern music Dissonance is currently available at a separate website, but the current site indicates back issues of Dissonance will soon be accessible at

JSCM Instrumenta

The Society for Seventeenth-Century Music maintains an active website useful for both musicologists and music librarians ( In addition to current information about the organization and its membership, the site offers links to the society’s free online journal ( and an interesting series of bibliographic publications collectively titled JSCM Instrumenta. The series currently consists of five noteworthy publications, resources that might not be well-known among music librarians.

Volume 1 : Chambonnières: A Thematic Catalogue, compiled by Bruce Gustafson
Volume 2 : A Catalogue of Motets, Mass, Office, and Holy Week Music Printed in Italy, 1516–1770, compiled by Jeffrey Kurtzman and Anne Schnoebelen
Volume 3 : Thematic Catalogue of Chamber Cantatas by Marc’Antonio Pasqualini, compiled by Margaret Murata
Volume 4 : A Thematic Locator for the Works of Jean-Baptiste Lully, compiled by Bruce Gustafson with Matthew Leshinskie
Volume 5 : Worship Culture in a Lutheran Court Chapel: Sacred Music, Chorales, and Liturgical Practices at the Dresden Court, ca. 1650–1680, compiled by Mary E. Frandsen

The left sidebar displays the contents of each source with links to separate sections displayed online in a PDF format chapter by chapter. Individual resources are described separately and also presented as links to PDF pages. These resources are mostly recent publications and volumes 1 and 2 were updated in late 2019 and January 2020. All are indexed and accessible through MusRef here

Les musiques du cinéma français

Lacombe, Alain, and Francois Porcile. Les musiques du cinéma Français. Paris: Bordas, 1995.

An important history of French cinematic music from 1895 to 1990. The first portion consists mostly of brief biographical sketches for key composers placed in their historical context and written by Lecombe. This biographical history is followed by a sixty-page listing of films by the same composers (alphabetical by last name, then chronologically by film). The listing is international and not strictly limited to French productions. A third section consists of a collection of essays on various topics related to French film music subtitled “Une esthétique des contraires et des contraintes” (An aesthetics of opposites and constraints) written by François Porcile. The book includes numerous photographs in black and white. It includes two indexes, one for composers and performers, and a second for film titles.

For a review see Diapason: Le magazine de la musique classique, no. 421 (November 1995): 24.

For related reference sources in MusRef click here.

The Opera Manual

index (1)This second edition of Nicholas Ivor Martin’s operatic repertoire guide was published earlier this year as a part of the Scarecrow press’ “Music Finders” series. It assists opera production staff in selecting operas during season planning, as well as in preparing for an opera production. Martin includes operas that are most often performed and/or are most likely to remain in the repertory over the long term, with preference given to works for which scores are readily available. Organized alphabetically by original-language title, entries include information about sets, acts, length, arias, staging hazards, scenes, categorization of roles, chorus roles, dance, orchestration, publisher, and score copyright. The volume includes five indexes: Operas by Title, Operas by Composer, Librettists, Arias, and One-Act Operas.

Abraham Myler, research assistant

Women in Music: A Research and Information Guide

women in musicRoutledge Music Bibliographies presents its own contribution to the topic of women in music in their annotated bibliography Women in Music: A Research and Information Guide.

Authors Karin Pendle (Professor Emerita of Musicology, College-Conservatory of Music at University of Cincinnati) and Melinda Boyd (Assistant Professor of Music History, University of Northern Iowa) have created a collection of sources that covers this broad, yet extremely relevant, area of study within music and culture.

Over 3,000 entries can be found in the second edition of this bibliography, published in 2010.  Aimed at scholarly audiences, Women in Music maintains a relevant focus of scope, targeting sources (mainly books, scholarly articles, dissertations, and some electronic sources and documentaries) that refer specifically to gender and feminism in scholarly music literature published since 1980.

Major subtopics falling under the large umbrella that is “women in music” are included in this volume.  Such source topics range from general histories of women in music to more specific areas such as music education, ethnomusicology, and other issues of gender such as homosexuality and women’s financial support within the industry.  In addition to these topical headings, several chapters in Women in Music focus on bibliographical sources. Entries about female composers and musicians from both classical and popular music genres are covered.  While the sources cited in this volume are mainly in English and other Western European languages, their content reaches an international level (more so than its earlier edition).   Indexes by name, author/editor/translator, and subject are also provided.

Hannah Johnson, research assistant

Mahler Discography

Fans of Gustav Mahler may find a great deal of value in a volume such as Péter Fülöp’s extensive Mahler Discography.  Through this volume, readers may experience Mahler’s works in a way that is novel and relevant.

Fülöp describes the discography as including “all known Mahler recordings ever issued for sale or given out as complimentary or promotional copies” in disc format.  While there is an emphasis on American recordings, the discography does have an international scope.

One of the primary unique aspects of Mahler Discography is its means of presenting information with multiple approaches.  Each of Mahler’s major works has its own section within the discography.  Recordings are listed by work title, artist, label, and timings.  Fülöp’s method of organizing each individual recording involved creating unique accession numbers for every entry.  Once the reader understands the accession number (which is explained in detail in the preface), it becomes fairly easy to locate entries and derive information from them.  Several details about each recording are provided, including conductor name, major performers’ names, recording date, and matrix number are included for most entries.

Hannah Johnson, research assistant

The Encyclopedia of French Art Song

frenchIn the world of music reference, are used to seeing many books by a few giant publishers play a dominant role in the collections. There are, however, less dominant houses that continue to release excellent and highly useful reference books. Frank Daykin’s Encyclopedia of French Art Song is an example of this.

Published by Pendragon Press, this encyclopedia (which also functions as a simple dictionary for some terms) is designed to acquaint users with the meaning and cultural context of any word they will see printed on a page of French art song by any of the four cornerstone french melodists, be that word in the poetry, in a performance instruction, or elsewhere. Entries include song titles, poets, proper nouns, artistic movements, poetic terms, idioms, song dedicatees, nouns, and adjectives. The organization is alphabetical with standard, cross-referenced entries.

This encyclopedia does not include reference or biographical information on the composers themselves, as that area is throughly covered in a variety of previously published sources.

The Clarinet Quintet

ClarinetQuintetThe online catalog The Clarinet Quintet ( is an attempt to bring together all the repertoire of one specific chamber ensemble, the string quartet with one clarinet. The website evolved from the personal records of Donald Oehler, clarinet professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who has collected information over decades of professional career in chamber music and clarinet performance and pedagogy. Graduate students and librarians at the UNC-CH library developed this idea into a WordPress website managed by Prof. Oehler.

At the time of this post, the website lists about 370 clarinet quintets, though an additional 230 have been identified and eventually will be added. Each entry includes (where this information is available) the title, composer, composer’s country of origin, year of composition, publisher(s), duration, type of clarinet, and a sample page. Users can view a list of the quintets sortable by composer, year, and duration or browse by clarinet type, range of years, duration, country of origin, female composers, and works in the International Clarinet Association’s collection. Featured works date from the late 18th century to today, beginning with the composition that inspired the genre, Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet in A (1789). Users with additional information or corrections on compositions are welcome to comment on the individual entries, subject to moderation.

Peter Shirts, guest contributor