Music & Dance Reference

Bio-Bibliographies and Composer Resource Manuals

Bio-bibliographies and composer resource manuals are an excellent place to begin research on a composer. Frequently, they describe the current state of scholarly research, important developments in the research history, and highlight important experts in the field. They also furnish other useful information such as the locations of manuscripts and archives important to research on this composer. As is evident from the name, bio-bibliographies usually consist of two major components: a biography providing a linear overview of the composer’s life and significant compositions followed by a bibliography, which occupies the majority of the book.

In general, a bio-bibliography lists the most significant resources available on the composer while striving to provide a representative view of the literature. For lesser-known or obscure composers for which little literature is available, attempts may be made at reasonable comprehensiveness. A bio-bibliography on a popular composer, however, may narrow its scope to a representation of simply the best research or resources. In any case, most bibliographies consist of scholarly publications, dissertations and theses, and articles from scholarly periodicals. Some may also include reviews of performances or premieres. Increasingly common are discographies/videographies/filmographies. Citations are almost always grouped by resource type or subject (e.g., encyclopedias, analyses of compositions, composer histories, reviews) and then organized alphabetically within these classifications by author’s name (or by title if no author is present). At minimum, entries consist of a bibliographic citation and an annotation; at most, an ISBN or ISSN and LC call number will also accompany.

Two established series of bio-bibliographies are “Guides to Research” by Routledge and “Bio-Bibliographies in Music” published by Greenwood Press. By and large, they are similar in content and composition; however, it is worth noting that the Greenwood Press series typically includes a complete works list, while the Routledge series does not.

Bio-bibliographies are typically assigned call numbers under the Library of Congress classification of ML 134, integrated with the thematic catalogues.

Selected Examples:

Ayotte, Benjamin McKay. Heinrich Schenker: A Guide to Research. Routledge Music Bibliographies. New York: Routledge, 2004.

Abravanel, Claude. Claude Debussy: A Bibliography. Detroit Studies in Music Bibliography 29. Detroit, Michigan: Information Coordinators, 1974.

Flury, Roger. Pietro Mascagni: A Bio-Bibliography. Bio-Bibliographies in Music 82. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2001.

Langford, Jeffrey Alan. Hector Berlioz: A Guide to Research. Garland Composer Resource Manuals 22. Garland Reference Library of the Humanities 1,025. New York: Garland, 1989.

Marvin, Clara. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina: A Guide to Research. Routledge Music Bibliographies. New York: Routledge, 2002.

Namenwirth, Simon Michael. Gustav Mahler: A Critical Bibliography. 3 vols. Wiesbaden: O. Harrassowitz, 1987.

Parker, Mary Ann. G. F. Handel: A Guide to Research. 2nd ed. Routledge Music Bibliographies. New York: Routledge, 2005.

Perone, James E. Louis Moreau Gottschalk: A Bio-Bibliography. Bio-Bibliographies in Music 91. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Richart, Robert W. György Ligeti: A Bio-Bibliography. Bio-Bibliographies in Music 30. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1990.

Saffle, Michael. Richard Wagner: A Research and Information Guide. 2nd ed. Routledge Music Bibliographies. New York: Routledge, 2010.