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The New Grove Dictionary Of American Music

July 2024
1min read

edited by H. Wiley Hitchcock and Stanley Sadie; Grove’s Dictionaries of Music Inc.; four volumes; $495.00.

Here is a masterful achievement, a well-written, handsomely presented, definitive encyclopedia of American music and musicians. An outgrowth of the twenty-volume New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians published in Britain in 1980, this set not only provides much greater depth on American musical subjects, it also shows greater breadth than its predecessor, giving equal weight to popular, jazz, folk, and “serious” music. The article “Detroit” treats the history of symphony societies and educational institutions there, but although it is accompanied by a photograph of the Motown record company, it contains only one sentence on recent popular music; another article, “Motown,” tells the story behind that picture. Such cultural schizophrenia is probably inevitable, since today’s musical spheres are so disparate, but The New Grove nearly succeeds in overcoming it, treating all subjects with equal scholarly care and thoroughness. The result, a work in which you can read equally instructive entries on Walter Piston and lggy Pop, is truly refreshing, both entertaining and wise.

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