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MUSIC RESEARCH GUIDE: Classical Music Research

Resources for music research and for finding materials in Parsons Music Library


To get an overview of a classical music topic, try Grove Music Online.  It gives background information and bibliographies.

Composer Resource Manuals take a detailed look at scholarship on individual composers.  They include annotated bibliographies.


Select "Subject Heading Browse" in the "within" box on the BASIC SEARCH screen, then...

  • For books about a composer, enter his or her last name and first name.  Click SEARCH and scan the results list for terms like BIBLIOGRAPHY or CRITICISM AND INTERPRETATION.  These will most likely give you the best result.  You can also try entering the phrase COMPOSERS BIOGRAPHY to find more general studies.
  • For books about classical music in a specific country, enter the word MUSIC followed by the country's name.  The results list will often be divided into centuries.  Again, those headings with BIBLIOGRAPHY or HISTORY AND CRITICISM should be the most useful.
  • For books about a musical genre, enter your genre term as a singluar noun ("sonata," not "sonatas"). Click SEARCH and scan the results for the phrase HISTORY AND CRITICISM. 
  • You can also try an ADVANCED SEARCH, changing the "within" box to SUBJECT.

If you have trouble, ask for the book Music Subject Headings, which is behind the circulation desk in the Music Library.  It contains the correct subject phrases to enter for particular musical topics.


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Linda Fairtile's picture
Linda Fairtile
Parsons Music Library
Modlin Center for the Arts
University of Richmond, VA 23173
804 287-6849
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