Portrait of a composer

Finding Information
on Composers
at the WCC Library

Portrait of another composer

Glossary of terms on this page:

Sources of information about composers, their lives, and their works may be found in:

Keys to finding information on your composer:

Books, Scores, Videos, Sound Recordings, etc.

You may find materials in the UH Libraries that are either by or about a composer by using the Hawaii Voyager Catalog.

In some cases, you'll find alternate spellings for a composer's name, such as Rachmaninoff and Rachmaninov. Be sure to search using both spellings, or you may miss a great source!

Look for items on the musical period (baroque), musical style (opera), or area (German music) associated with your composer. Use the table of contents and index in such books to find information about your composer.

Some Reference Books at the WCC Library

WCC REF ML100 .N48

The New Grove dictionary of music and musicians. 2nd. ed. Edited by Stanley Sadie. London: Macmillan, 2001.

Short to long signed articles including information on historical composers. Articles include lists of works and bibliography.

WCC REF ML390 .E815 1982
Ewen, David. American composers : a biographical dictionary. New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, c1982.

WCC REF ML105 .B16 199
Baker, Theodore. Baker's biographical dictionary of musicians. 8th ed. Revised by Nicolas Slonimsky.
New York : Schirmer Books , c1992.

Short articles about historical and contemporary musicians and composers, including a list of works and bibliographies.

WCC ML385 B61 1971 v. 1-2 (Reserve Collection at the Circulation Desk)

Bingley, William. Musical biography; memoirs of the lives and writings of the most eminent musical composers and writers who have flourished in the different countries of Europe during the last three centuries. New York: Da Capo Press, 1971.

This set, first published in 1834, contains short articles. Use the Index to locate articles about particular composers.

WCC REF ML106.U3 B87 1984

Butterworth, Neil. A dictionary of American composers. New York : Garland Pub., 1984.

Short articles on contemporary and historical American composers.

WCC ML385 .C7 1969 v. 1-2 (Reserve Collection at the Circulation Desk)
Cross, Milton John and David Ewen. The Milton Cross new encyclopedia of the great composers and their music. Revised and expanded. Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, 1969.

Long articles on composers from the 18th century through the 1960s. Includes biographical information as well as "analytical notes" on the major works.

WCC REF CT100 .C8 1946-
Current Biography Yearbook. New York : H.W. Wilson, 1940-.

Long, signed articles on contemporary figures in all fields. Use the Cumulated Index 1940 - 1985 to see if there's an article on your composer, and which year it appeared. Use the index at the back of the 1990 Yearbook to find articles for 1986 - 1990, and the index in the back of the most recent yearbook to find articles from this decade.

WCC REF ML105 .D53 1978

The Dictionary of composers. Edited by Charles Osborne. New York : Taplinger Pub. Co., 1978, c1977.

Signed articles on historical and contemporary composers.

WCC REF ML118 .T5 1973b

Thompson, Kenneth. Dictionary of twentieth-century composers (1911-1973). New York: St. Martin's Press, [1973].

Short articles on historical composers with lists of each composer's works. Also includes good bibliographies that point out other literature on the composer in general, and to literature on individual works by the composer.

Journal and Magazine Articles

Use Academic Search Premier from EBSCO to find magazine and journal articles about your composer.

Web Sites

You may find information about your composer on the Internet, but be sure to closely evaluate any information you find to ensure its quality.

Be sure to cite all your sources, including your Internet sources, in your paper. For guidelines on citing, see the Citing Sources Page on the WCC Library website

To locate information on your composer on the Internet, begin with some of the websites listed below.

Classical Net - Search classical.net

Use this mini search engine to find information on your composer within the Classical.net website. This may have links to outside websites with information on your composer.

Worldwide Internet Music Resources: Composers

This collection of links was put together by the Library of the Indiana University School of Music

Classical Composers Archive

DW3 Classical Music Resources

Large collection of links to classical music resources.

From All Media Guide, this is a biographical dictionary and discography.

Classical Music Archives

This commercial site allows you to listen to 5 classical music tracks per day for free.

Music History 102

The history of Western classical music, including many articles, audio clips, and images.

Classical Music - Biography Index

From About.com this has several links to online biographical sources with information on composers.

Classical Composers Archive

Mostly useful for finding portraits of composers. Some biographical information is provided for a portion of the entries.

Essentials of Music

Click on "Composers" to see short biographies of 70+ composers. Listen to audio clips of each composer's work.
Updated September 21, 2006