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* UC Irvine access only

Music: Encyclopedias & Bibliographies

Starting points for research in music

Background Information & Facts - Online

Use these ONLINE resources to locate authoritative factual information such as biographies, dates, and works listings. This is generally the sort of information you need when starting research projects and for writing program notes.


Oxford Music Online * contains several important resources including New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (the place to go for information when you think you wanted to go to Wikipedia instead) and other specialized encyclopedias. Use this site to find biographies of composers and performers. Also important for the complete works listings of each composer providing essential information for program notes. Make sure to also check out some of the TOPICAL entries and other helpful features available like the following (and many more):

MGG Online * is an essential German language music encyclopedia. This online version contains the second editions (published between 1994-2008). It's particularly good in that some of its more important older articles are being regularly updated and new articles for emerging people and musical concepts are being added. While this is in German, it has Google translate embedded into the platform so you can easily get a rough translation. 

Classical Music Reference Library * brings together about 40 different music reference resources. Most notable are Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (all 6 volumes) and Women Composers (all 8 volumes). Other resources include books like the following selections (and many more):



African American Music Reference * contains essays and liner notes related to blues, jazz, spirituals, civil rights songs, slave songs, minstrelsy, rhythm and blues, gospel, and other forms of black American musical expression. Includes books like the following selections (and many more):


Garland Encyclopedia of World Music * is the best starting point for finding basic information about music from all over the world. Be aware that if you plan to browse this resource that it is arranged geographically, not alphabetically.

  • Also available in print: 1st floor Langson Library - ML100.G16 1998


Oxford Bibliographies Online: Music* provides lengthy annotated bibliographies by experts on each subject. Use one of the bibliographies to quickly locate the essential readings on a given topic. Includes entries on topics like the following (and many more):


Gale Virtual Reference Library * is an excellent resource for a plethora of electronic encyclopedias and dictionaries. Very few offered here are specific to music, but many of them can be helpful. For example, if looking up information on queer musicians, you will find some excellent information in the Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History. Another example: Use something like Encyclopedia Judaica to find information on Jewish music. Be a researcher and look everywhere!

Background Information & Facts - Print

(General music encyclopedias focused on my music of a particular country/culture)