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Music research with dictionaries and encyclopedias

An overview of music dictionaries and encyclopedias.


What do they do?

Music encyclopedias allow you to find comprehensive, reliable, scholarly information on composers and other musicians; musical works, forms and genres; historical and stylistic periods; and musical life in countries and cities around the world.

Where are they?

Browse in the Reference Room under these call numbers:

ML 100 General works (multi-subject)
ML 101 .A-Z  General works arranged by region or country
ML 102 By topic, for example:
ML 102 .J3 Jazz
ML 102 .M88  Musicals
ML 102 .O6 Opera
ML 105 Biographical dictionaries (of composers, performers, and other musicians), international in scope
ML 106 Biographical dictionaries arranged by country
ML 108 Dictionaries of musical terms
ML 109 Pronouncing dictionaries


Browse the list of all music encyclopedias ~

~ Browse the list of all music dictionaries ~

Comprehensive works

These titles are the most significant sources for scholarly entries on music.

[Oxford, England] : Oxford University Press
Stanford Libraries » Online resource » eResource
2., neubearbeitete Ausg. / Kassel ; New York : Bärenreiter ; Stuttgart : Metzler, 1994-
Music Library » Reference » ML100 .B658 1994 PERSONENTEIL 1


Biographical dictionaries generally include entries for composers, performers, and other significant musical figures.

Centennial ed. / New York : Schirmer Books, 2001.
Green Library » Information Center » ML105 .B168 2001 V.1
Entries for more obscure musicians were added and removed as newer editions were produced; a thorough search will include the 5th through the present editions. The preface to the 6th and 7th editions, by Nicolas Slonimsky, provide a fascinating gimpse into the creation of this remarkable work.
London, England : Europa Publications Limited, c2002-
Green Library » Information Center » ML106 .G7 W4 ED.35 2019
4., erw. und aktualisierte Aufl. München : K.G. Saur, c2003.
SAL3 (off-campus storage) » For use in Archive of Recorded Sound » ML105 .K83 2003 BD.1


Beow are examples of encyclopedias and dictionaries devoted to specific topics.

2nd ed. New York : Schirmer Books, c2001.
Green Library » Information Center » ML102 .M88 G3 2001 V.1
New York : Routledge, 2003.
Music Library » Reference » ML102 .P66 J37 2003
New York : Garland, 1994-
Music Library » Reference » ML102 .K44 E56 1994 V.1
Rev. and updated [ed.]. London : Virgin in association with Muze UK Ltd., 2004.
Music Library » Reference » ML102 .J3 V57 2004


Dictionaries of music terminology may be general, or may focus on specific topics or eras. Note also the pronouncing dictionary at the end of this list.

2nd ed., rev. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2006.
Music Library » Reference » ML100 .K36 2006
Cambridge [England] ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1994.
Music Library » Reference » ML108 .S88 1995
Warren, Mich. : Harmonie Park Press, 1990.
Music Library » Reference » ML108 .K21 1990
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1995.
Music Library » Reference » ML108 .J67 1995
Bloomington : Indiana University Press, c1996.
Music Library » Reference » ML109 .F73 1996