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Music: Biographical Information

A guide to resources for study and research in Music

Research Guides

Research guides (also called bio-bibliographies)  contain biographical information and list books, articles, and other sources about composers and their works.

Shelved in Reference at ML 134, alphabetical by composer.

Thematic Catalogs

These books list a composer's works, usually with the opening phrase of music (incipit), information on manuscripts, published editions, and sometimes bibliography. Useful for identifying a piece or verifying information about it.

Shelved in reference at ML 134, alphabetical by composer.

Library Search

Find books, articles, and more at WMU

Directories

In the library:

Composers on the Web

Biographies of Musicians

Biographies are shelved at ML 385-ML 429. Major categories:

Individual

  • ML 410 Composers
  • ML 416-417 Keyboardists
  • ML 418 String Players
  • ML 419 Other instruments
  • ML 420 Singers
  • ML 421 Performing groups
  • ML 422 Conductors

Collective

  • ML 390 Composers
  • ML 396-397 Keyboardists
  • ML 398 String players
  • ML 399 Other instruments
  • ML 400 Singers
  • ML 402 Conductors

Each category includes musicians of all genres (classical, jazz, popular, folk, etc.)

Composers' Lives & Music

Biographies of individual composers are shelved at ML 410, alphabetical by composer. Collective biographies, which include multiple composers, are at ML 390.

Most biographies emphasize the composer's life, but many include information about and even some analysis of the music.

Books specifically on appreciation and analysis of composers' works are at:

  • MT 100  Opera
  • MT 115  Choral
  • MT 120-121  Songs
  • MT 125  Orchestral
  • MT 135  Band
  • MT 140-145  Chamber and solo instrumental

See also the Biographical Information page of this guide.

Guides to analyses:

    Primary Biographical Resources

    Biographical dictionaries are shelved in Reference at ML 105 and ML 106. Biographies are also included in many Dictionaries & Encyclopedias.

    Collected Works

    These are generally the most authoritative editions of a composer's works. They are shelved at M 3.

    To find a work in the editions: find the composer's biography in Grove Music Online (in Oxford Music Online) and go to the list of works. It usually indicates in which volume of the edition(s) a work appears.

    Access to Oxford Music Online is under the Dictionaries & Encyclopedias tab above.

    Composers' thematic catalogs (Ref ML134) may also have this information.

    Composers from Underrepresented Groups