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MU 343 - Music of the Modern Era


The following guide is intended to provide an overview of some of the resources available in the library and online for the study and research of modern art music. For further research assistance, please take advantage of the reference services available to you in the Geisel Library. Stop by the Reference Desk in person or online at Ask a Librarian.


Research Basics

The reference librarians have created a group of Web pages named Research Help, designed to help teach you the basics of library research and to introduce you to Geisel Library. On the Research Help pages, you will find a guide on Research Basics and a helpful guide about evaluating your Web sources, our guide on Evaluating Websites. Please take advantage of these resources.


Reference Sources for Background Information

Reference materials can provide basic background information on your topic and help you identify keywords for further searching. Many reference resources provide bibliographies at the ends of each entry or volume, which will point you to additional books and journal articles worth exploring. Check for the books in our library catalog, and use Journal Finder to see if the journals are available electronically or in print. The following reference books are good starting points.


Music Reference and Research Materials: An Annotated Bibliography
     Ref ML 113 .D83

Bibliography of Electronic Music
     Ref ML128.E4 C76


New Harvard Dictionary of Music
     Ref ML100 .A64

Oxford Dictionary of Music
     Ref ML100 .K35

Dictionary of Musical Quotations
     Ref ML66 .C86

Dictionary of Contemporary Music
     Ref ML100 .V55


Women and Music in America since 1900
     Ref ML82 .W625

Twentieth Century Music
     Ref ML197 .B85

The Thames and Hudson Encyclopedia of 20th-Century Music
     Ref ML197 .G87

Music since 1900
     Ref ML197 .S634

Biographical Sources

New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
     Ref ML100 .N48

New Grove Dictionary of American Music
     Ref ML101.U6 N48

Contemporary Composers
     Ref ML105 .C75

Baker's Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians
     Ref ML105 .S612

History and Background

Musical Instruments of the World
     Ref ML 102. I5 D5

New Oxford History of Music Series
     Ref ML 160 .N44
         The Modern Age, 1890-1960 - vol. X

The Orchestra Origins and Transformations
     Ref ML 1200 .O75
         see pp. 583-600, "The Extended Orchestra."

Writing About Music
     Ref ML3797 .W54


Classical Music: the Listener's Companion
     Ref ML 156.9 .C58

Penguin Companion to Classical Music
     Ref ML 100 .G84

Penguin Guide to Compact Discs and DVDs
     Ref ML 156.9 P46


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Electronic Reference Sources

Encyclopaedia Britannica Online
Find background information, keywords, biographies, and bibliographies.

Oxford Reference Online: Performing Arts
        The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music
        The Oxford Companion to Music
        The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Opera
        Who's Who in Opera
Please remember to click "log out" when finished with this resource.


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Find Books/Secondary Sources

Subject Headings Suggestions for searching the Catalog

Composers by name, last name first.

For example: Schoenberg, Arnold

Music - 20th century

Serialism (Music)
Twelve-tone system
Electronic music
Computer music

Searching the Catalog.

Because many music titles are similar (Symphony, Concerto, etc.), libraries use "uniform titles" to group different versions of the same work. For example, different title pages of the same piano concerto by Mozart might begin with different letters of the alphabet, depending upon the language of the country of publication, or particular wording used by the publisher.

  • Concerto in A major for piano, K. 488
  • Konzert A Dur, K. 488 fur Klavier
  • Piano Concerto in A Major, K. 488

Indiana University has a thorough explanation of uniform titles on their website.

Keyword suggestions for searching the Catalog. Consider combining keywords using the connector "and".

  • Name of composer
  • Name of instrument
  • Words in the title of the music
  • Geographic area: Vienna, Paris, Germany, etc.
  • Types of musical form: symphony, sonata, concerto, quartet, orchestral music, vocal music, ballet, opera, etc.

If you are unable to locate materials in the Geisel Library Catalog, search libraries worldwide using WorldCat.


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Find Journal Articles

MasterFILE Premier
Similar to the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature, "this multidisciplinary database provides full text for nearly 1,950 general reference publications with full text information dating as far back as 1975. Covering virtually every subject area of general interest, MasterFILE Premier also includes 316 full text reference books, 88,000 biographies, 83,500 primary source documents, and an image collection of 107,000 photos, maps and flags."

Academic Search Premier
Gain access to full-text as well as indexing and abstracting for a wide range of journal titles covering the arts and music, business, social sciences, humanities, general science, and education. Full-text titles include Computer Music Journal; Contemporary Music Review.

Search here for full-text articles from major journals in the humanities and social sciences, including American Music; International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music; Journal of the American Musicological Society; Latin American Music Review, and others. Coverage is generally from the beginning of publication to within 5 years of the current issue.

Arts & Humanities Citation Index
Provides indexing to the world's leading arts and humanities journals and selections from social science and science journals. Includes articles, bibliographies, editorials, letters, and reviews. (1980-current)  Does not include full-text of the articles.

New York Times
"The New York Times (1851-2003) offers full page and article images with searchable full text back to the first issue. The collection includes digital reproductions providing access to every page from every available issue."


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Find Recordings

Geisel Library has extensive recordings on compact disc that are available for listening in the library as well as for check-out. Most CDs are located at the Periodicals Desk of the lower level of the library. When searching for a particular piece of music, remember that uniform titles are used for recordings as well as printed music. To find a recording using the Geisel Library Online Catalog:

  • Search for the recording by title, or author (composer-last name first).
  • Press the "Limit/Sort Search" button.
  • Pull down the menu at "Material Type", and select "Sound Record".
  • Press the submit button at the bottom to complete the search.

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Find Scores

Geisel Library has a variety of scores, including complete works of classical composers. They are located in the general collection of the library. When searching for a particular piece of music, remember that uniform titles are used for printed music as well as recordings. The easiest way to locate a score is to use the Geisel Library Online Catalog:

  • Click on "Author" search, and type the composer's name (last name first).
  • Press the "Limit/Sort Search" button.
  • Pull down the menu at "Material Type", and select "Printed Music".
  • Press the submit button at the bottom to complete the search.

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Selected Websites

Music Research Guides: Meta-Websites

These are the most complete music metasites on the web, offering a huge range of music-related links to information. These pages contain links that will only work for the college that produced the website but also include many links that are open access.

Concordia College Music Research Guides
University of Indiana Music Research Guides

Composer Websites

Every composer listed has information on the web although some may not have their own website. Many living composers do have their own websites. In addition to those, there are organizations that promote the music of deceased composers and these also have websites. Youtube has videos of unusual performances as well. The links given below are representative of what may be found, but there is much more information on the web than these. If a name is not linked, it is because there is no single site that is devoted to that composer.

John Adams
Milton Babbitt (numerous interviews online)
Samuel Barber
Béla Bartók
Lucio Berio
Benjamin Britten
John Cage
Aaron Copland
Philip Glass
     Philip Glass Website
     GlassPages: Philip Glass on the Web
     YouTube: Philip Glass: Glassworks
Paul Hindemith
Charles Ives
Gyorgy Ligeti
Olivier Messiaen
     Boston University Messiaen Project
     The Olivier Messiaen Page
Krzysztof Penderecki
Sergey Prokofiev
Maurice Ravel
Steve Reich
Erik Satie
     The Satie Audio Archive
     Jazclass: Erik Satie
Arnold Schoenberg
     Arnold Schoenberg Archives: Information Resources
     Arnold Schoenberg Center
Aleksandr Scriabin
     Scriabin Society of America
     YouTube: Pogorelich Plays Scriabin
Dmitri Shostakovich
Richard Strauss
     Richard Strauss Online
Igor Stravinsky
Edgard Varèse
Anton Webern

Miscellaenous Music Websites

Music Reviews and Audio Files:

Classical Net
Features reviews of over 2,000 CDs, and offers over 3,800 links to other classical music websites. Includes links to commercial sites (publishers, CD labels), composers, musicians, ensembles and orchestras, festivals, instruments and instrument makers, societies and organizations, etc.

Music Forms:

Genres and Types of Music - Links from Indiana University
Links to a variety of musical forms, including chamber, choral, and orchestral music.

Music on the web:

Classical Music Online

Websites Selected by Your Textbook

Wadsworth Music
At the top of the publisher's webpage, under Discipline Resources use the pull-down menu to select "Listen to "i-Audio" or "WWW Links".


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Documenting Your Sources

Work cited in this class should use formats as described in the Chicago Manual of Style.


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