Annotated Bibliographies by Topic (ML 128 and VARIOUS)
Ho, Allan, and Dmitry
Feofanov, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Russian/Soviet Composers.
See Dictionaries and Encyclopedias—Biographical Dictionaries
comp. Russian Composers and Musicians: A Biographical Dictionary.
See Dictionaries and Encyclopedias—Biographical Dictionaries
Abraham, Gerald, Hugh Macdonald, Geoffrey Norris, Rita McAllister, and Boris Schwarz. The New Grove Russian Masters 2. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1986. ML 390 .N48x 1986 (Stacks NOT Music Reference)
Use: Modified short biographies about Russian master composers. The biographies are derived from The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (London, 1980).
Coverage: Book I covers Mikhail Glinka, Alexander Borodin, Mily Balakirev, Modest Musorgsky, and Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky. Book II covers Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, Alexander Skryabin, Sergey Rakhmaninov, Sergey Prokofiev, and Dmitry Shostakovich.
Organization: Both books are divided into sections, each one focusing on a different composer. There are chapters within each of these sections. Each section ends with a work-list and a bibliography.
Pros: The original authors made corrections to their entries in the 1980 New Grove’s Dictionary. In particular, the Tchaikovsky text was supplemented in light of what was then recent research.
Cons: This resource was published in 1986.
Use: Traces the development of Soviet composition.
Coverage: Criteria for inclusion is unclear.
Organization: Divided into four parts: Part one provides the historical, ideological, political, geographical, and semantic framework for Soviet music. Parts Two, Three, and Four consider Soviet composers of, respectively, the old, middle, and younger generations. Periods of training, location at critical times, and period of creative activity determine which generation each composer is classified under (rather than birthdate). Each part begins with an introduction to the period and composers discussed in that part, followed by the chapters, each dedicated to a different composer.
Cons: Source may be considered outdated in some respects since it was printed in 1970.
Use: Provides a history of Russian Music from Early Russian Church Music to the period of Shostakovich.
Coverage: Author does not specify his criteria for inclusion, although it is obvious that he focuses on those composers who play a significant role in the history of Russian music.
Organization: Divided into eighteen chapters, each focusing on a specific composer or historical/political setting surrounding a time period of composition.
Cons: Printed in 1957 and, therefore, outdated in many respects.
Use: An extensive bibliography of books and periodical articles by and about Russian composers in English. Useful to the scholar, teacher, or those interested in finding books or articles on Russian composers and their works.
Coverage: Restricted to English language publications. Includes publications of composers born in USSR, and well-known Russians in non-music fields who also composed. Popular music is not covered. Folk and church music are included only when they are used in an actual composition. Horn bands of the 18th-century are included. Also includes some unpublished works, and theses devoted mainly to Russian composers.
Organization: All entries are arranged chronologically by publication date and numbered. (Numbers are not sequential. The number is found by looking up the author or composer’s name in the index.) The first part of the book lists bibliographies with general information on music and groups of composers. The second part is sectioned alphabetically by composer, with genre subheadings. Entries here include bibliographical information and one-line abstracts on the book or articles. Late amendments to the text follow each entry, and are listed by letter.
Pros: Good cross referencing given for spelling discrepancies.
Cons: Confusing typographical layout. The author notes that some entries have not been personally examined, and may have incomplete bibliographies (These are marked with an asterisk).
Reviews: Norris, Goeffrey. Music and Letters; Great Britain LVIII/3 (July 1977): 330-31; Shank, William. Lib. j. CII/14 (August 1977): 1627.
Use: A biographical dictionary of Russian Composers.
Coverage: According to the author, two motives determined which composers are included: 1. An attempt to meet a demand for information on certain Russian composes whose names appear frequently in concert programs. 2. An attempt to create a demand for the hearing of compositions popular in Russia, but still unknown to the west. All composers included were ones that the author felt reflected the spirit of the time.
Organization: Chapter I surveys Russian musical history. The rest of the chapters each focus on a different composer.
Cons: Printed in 1970 so may be somewhat outdated.
Use: Provides information about Russian composers and repertoire in the early twentieth-century that was not readily available previously.
Coverage: Includes those composers who wrote and worked in Russia in the 1920s and in the period leading up to this point. Composers who emigrated are included if their important work was done in Russia. Does not include Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Khachaturyan, or Myaskovsky because much has already been written about these composers.
Chapter 1 contains historical background. The rest of the book classifies
the composers into seven categories:
I. The Precursors
II. The Big Three
III. The Smaller Five
IV. The Reluctant Avant-Gardists
V. The Jewish School
VI. Composers in Exile
VII. Musicologists and Transients
Chapters, each devoted to a different composer, are contained within these sections.
Book includes an appendix, “Further Scores for Study and Reference.”
Pros: Includes many musical examples which is beneficial because many of the scores of music discussed are difficult to find.
Cons: Seems to cater to pianists.
Use: Profiles somewhat obscure composers from contemporary Russia and the former Soviet republics.
Coverage: Draws together composers of contrasting personalities and styles. Specific criteria for inclusion seems arbitrary.
Organization: Each chapter is dedicated to a different composer and is loosely ordered by generation–senior, middle, and junior.
Pros: Fairly current (1997) and concentrates on contemporary composers.