Finding Information About a Musical Work
Other Places to Look
This guide will help you find commentary about
a specific piece of Western art music. If you need a score or sound recording of the work itself, refer to the Searching CUNY+
guide. The following books are shelved behind the circulation desk and are for use in the library. Look first at each title to determine a books scope; to find commentary on a symphony, for example, you would need to consult a book on orchestral music or the symphony (not chamber music). Ask a staff member to see any likely titles and then check their tables of contents to see whether your piece is included.
Berger, Melvin. Guide to Chamber Music.
N.Y.: Dodd, Mead, 1985.
Berger, Melvin. Guide to Sonatas: Music for One or Two Instruments.
N.Y.: Anchor Books, 1991.
Biancolli, Louis. The Analytical Concert Guide.
Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1951.
Downes, Edward. The New York Philharmonic Guide to the Symphony.
N.Y.: Walker, 1976.
Ferguson, Donald Masterworks of the Orchestral Repertoire; A Guide for Listeners.
Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1954. Gilman, Lawrence. Orchestral Music; An Armchair Guide.
N.Y.: Oxford University Press,
1951. Holoman, D. Kern. Evenings with the Orchestra; A Norton Companion for Concertgoers.
N.Y.: Norton, 1992.
Moore, Earl. The Symphony and the Symphonic Poem; Analytical and Descriptive Charts of the Standard Symphonic Repertory.
6th ed. Ann Arbor, Ulrichs Books, 1974.
Steinberg, Michael. Choral Masterworks: A Listeners Guide.
N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Steinberg, Michael. The Concerto; A Listeners Guide.
N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Steinberg, Michael The Symphony; A Listeners Guide.
N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Tovey, Donald. Essays in Musical Analysis.
London: Oxford Univ., H. Milford, 1935-39.
Grove Music Online
This multi-volume set contains longer and more technical analyses of a smaller number of pieces than the above books. Music examples are included.
v. 1: Symphonies
v. 2: Symphonies, Variations, and Orchestral Polyphony
v. 3: Concertos
v. 4: Illustrative Music (for example, overtures, symphonic poems)
v. 5: Vocal Music
v. 6: Miscellaneous
(full text of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
, 2d ed., London: Macmillan, 1992). Online version available from library homepage to CCNY users both on campus and off; paper version (29 v.) behind circulation desk. This is the main encyclopedia for music. If you do not find a separate commentary on your piece, Grove
will probably include some comments (perhaps more general) that you can apply. Find the article on your composer (in the online version, type the composers last name in the box at the upper right of the search screen), and then find the relevant portion of the article.
Cuny+ Subject Search: from the Cuny+ Basic Search screen, select Subject begins with as search type. Then type in the composers name, or another subject heading, such as Orchestral musicAnalysis, appreciation or SymphoniesAnalysis, appreciation. (You will probably not find an entire book about a single piece of music.)
Books about composers and their music are shelved alphabetically by composer in the ML/410 section of the stacks on the lower level of the library. Go to the shelves and check the index in the back of each of book that seems likely in order to determine what information it may contain about your piece.
Notes accompanying sound recordings vary in quality, but sometimes offer valuable commentary. Remember that each different recording the library owns will have its own accompanying material, so you may want to consult more than one.
The following indexes will lead you to material in other sources. Music Index
are online; the others are shelved behind the circulation desk (ask a staff member).
Diamond, Harold. Music Criticism: An Annotated Guide to the Literature.
Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1979. Divided into chapters on Concertos, Symphonies, etc., and alphabetical by composer within each chapter. Composer/title indexes. Fully annotated.
Music Index Online
(Sterling Heights, MI: Harmonie Park Press, 1949-). Indexes more than 775 international music periodicals in all styles and genres. Online (1976-to date) available to CCNY users from library homepage. Paper version (from 1949 on) shelved on index table in Music Library.
RILM Abstracts of Music Literature.
Available online to CCNY users from library homepage. International coverage of scholarly music and music-related articles, books, and dissertations since 1967. Abstracts in English.
Voorhees, Anna. Index to Symphonic Program Notes in Books.
Kent, Ohio: School of Library Science, Kent State University, 1970. Arranged by composer. Each title is followed by one or more symbols standing for the books listed in the bibliography (p. 110). Call numbers are penciled in for books owned by the library.
Wenk, Arthur. Analyses of Nineteenth-and Twentieth-Century Music: 1940-1985.
Boston: Music Library Association, 1987. Index to technical material of an analytical nature on specific compositions. Arranged by composer and work. For more advanced music students.
To find a book for which you have a citation, look in Cuny+ to see whether the library owns it and then find it by call number in the stacks. Most books circulate for home use. For journals available online, consult the list of E-Journals under Quicklinks from the librarys homepage. For journals the library owns in paper, do a Journal Title search in Cuny+. Current issues are shelved behind the circulation desk, and older, bound volumes are shelved alphabetically on the lower level.