The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians

The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians is an encyclopedic dictionary of music and musicians. Along with the German-language Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, it is one of the largest reference works on western music. Originally published under the title A Dictionary of Music and Musicians, and later as Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, it has gone through several editions since the 19th century and is widely used. In recent years it has been made available as an electronic resource called Grove Music Online, which is now an important part of Oxford Music Online.

The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
Second edition of the New Grove, shelved
Original titleA Dictionary of Music and Musicians
CountryUnited Kingdom, United States
SubjectMusic, musicology, music history, music theory, ethnomusicology
GenreReference; encyclopedic dictionary
PublisherOxford University Press
Official website
Publication date
Media typehardback, paperback, and online

A Dictionary of Music and Musicians

A Dictionary of Music and Musicians was first published in four volumes (1879, 1880, 1883, 1889) edited by George Grove with an Appendix edited by J. A. Fuller Maitland in the fourth volume. An Index edited by Mrs. E. Wodehouse was issued as a separate volume in 1890. In 1900, minor corrections were made to the plates and the entire series was reissued in four volumes, with the index added to volume 4. The original edition and the reprint are now freely available online.[1][2] Grove limited the chronological span of his work to begin at 1450 while continuing up to the present day.

Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians

The second edition (Grove II), in five volumes, was edited by Fuller Maitland and published from 1904 to 1910, this time as Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians. The individual volumes of the second edition were reprinted many times. An American Supplement edited by Waldo Selden Pratt and Charles N. Boyd was added in 1920. This edition removed the first edition's beginning date of 1450,[3] though important earlier composers and theorists are still missing from this edition. These volumes are also now freely available online.[4] [5]

The third edition (Grove III), also in five volumes, was an extensive revision of the 2nd edition; it was edited by H. C. Colles and published in 1927.[6]

The fourth edition (Grove IV), also edited by Colles, was published in 1940 in five volumes (a reprint of the third edition, with some corrections). In addition to the American Supplement,[7] Macmillan also published (in New York[8] and London[9]) a Supplementary Volume edited by Colles.

The fifth edition (Grove V), in nine volumes, was edited by Eric Blom and published in 1954. This was the most thoroughgoing revision of the work since its inception, with many articles rewritten in a more modern style and a large number of entirely new articles. Many of the articles were written by Blom personally, or translated by him. An additional Supplementary Volume, prepared for the most part by Eric Blom, followed in 1961. Blom died in 1959, and the Supplementary Volume was completed by Denis Stevens. The fifth edition was reprinted in 1966, 1968, 1970, 1973, and 1975.[10]

The New Grove

First edition

The next edition was published in 1980 under the name The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and was greatly expanded to 20 volumes with 22,500 articles and 16,500 biographies.[11] Its senior editor was Stanley Sadie with Nigel Fortune also serving as one of the main editors for the publication.

It was reprinted with minor corrections each subsequent year until 1995, except 1982 and 1983. In the mid-1990s, the hardback set sold for about $2,300. A paperback edition was reprinted in 1995 which sold for $500.

  • ISBN 0-333-23111-2 – hardback
  • ISBN 1-56159-174-2 – paperback
  • ISBN 0-333-73250-2 – British special edition
  • ISBN 1-56159-229-3 – American special edition


Some sections of The New Grove were also issued as small sets and individual books on particular topics. These typically were enhanced with expanded and updated material and included individual and grouped composer biographies,[12] a four-volume dictionary of American music (1984; revised 2013, 8 vols.),[13] a three-volume dictionary of musical instruments (1984),[14] and a four-volume dictionary of opera (1992).[15]

Second edition

The second edition under this title (the seventh overall) was published in 2001, in 29 volumes. It was also made available by subscription on the internet in a service called Grove Music Online.[16] It was again edited by Stanley Sadie, and the executive editor was John Tyrrell. It was originally to be released on CD-ROM as well, but this plan was dropped. As Sadie writes in the preface, "The biggest single expansion in the present edition has been in the coverage of 20th-century composers".

This edition has been subject to negative criticism (e.g. in Private Eye) owing to the significant number of typographical and factual errors that it contains.[17] Two volumes were re-issued in corrected versions, however, after production errors originally caused the omission of sections of Igor Stravinsky's worklist and Richard Wagner's bibliography.

  • ISBN 0-333-60800-3 – British
  • ISBN 1-56159-239-0 – American (cloth: alk.paper)

Publication of the second edition of The New Grove was accompanied by a Web-based version, Grove Music Online. It too, attracted some initial criticism, for example for the way in which images were not incorporated into the text but kept separate.

Grove Music Online and Oxford Music Online

Currently, the complete text of The New Grove is available to subscribers to the online service Grove Music Online.[18] Grove Music Online includes a large number of revisions and additions of new articles. In addition to the 29 volumes of The New Grove second edition, Grove Music Online incorporates the four-volume New Grove Dictionary of Opera (ed. Stanley Sadie, 1992) and the three-volume New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, second edition (ed. Barry Kernfeld, 2002), The Grove Dictionary of American Music and The Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments,[19] comprising a total of more than 50,000 articles. The current editor-in-chief of Grove Music, the name given to the complete slate of print and online resources that encompass the Grove brand, is University of Pittsburgh professor Deane Root. He assumed the editorship in 2009.[20]

The dictionary, originally published by Macmillan, was sold in 2004 to Oxford University Press. Since 2008 Grove Music Online has served as a cornerstone of Oxford University Press's larger online research tool Oxford Music Online, which remains a subscription-based service.[21] As well as being available to individual and educational subscribers, it is available for use at many public and university libraries worldwide, through institutional subscriptions.[22]

Grove Music Online identifies itself as the Eighth Edition of the overall work.[23]


The New Grove is often the first source that English-speaking musicologists use when beginning research or seeking information on most musical topics. Its scope and extensive bibliographies make it exceedingly valuable to any scholar with a grasp of the English language.[24]

The print edition of The New Grove costs between $1,100 and $1,500,[25] while an annual subscription to Grove Music Online as of 23 October 2009 is $295.[26]

The companion four-volume series, New Grove Dictionary of Opera, is the main reference work in English on the subject of opera.

Its principal competitor is the Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart ("MGG"), currently ten volumes on musical subjects and seventeen on biographies of musicians, written in German.


The 2001 edition contains:

  • 29,499 articles in total
    • 5,623 entirely new articles
  • 20,374 biographies of composers, performers and writers on music
    • 96 articles on theatre directors
  • 1,465 articles on styles, terms and genres
    • 283 articles on concepts
  • 805 articles on regions, countries and cities
    • 580 articles on ancient music and church music
    • 1,327 articles on world musics
    • 1,221 articles on popular music, light music, and jazz
  • 2,261 articles on instruments and their makers, and performance practice
    • 89 articles on acoustics
  • 693 articles on printing and publishing
    • 174 articles on notation
    • 131 articles on sources

Hoaxes and parodies

Two non-existent composers have appeared in the work:

Dag Henrik Esrum-Hellerup was the subject of a hoax entry in the 1980 New Grove. Esrum-Hellerup's surname derives from a Danish village and a suburb of Copenhagen.[27] The writer of the entry was Robert Layton. Though successfully introduced into the encyclopaedia, Esrum-Hellerup appeared in the first printing only: soon exposed as a hoax, the entry was removed and the space filled with an illustration.[12][28] In 1983, the Danish organist Henry Palsmar founded an amateur choir, the Esrum-Hellerup Choir, along with several former pupils of the Song School, St. Annae Gymnasium in Copenhagen.[29]

Guglielmo Baldini was the name of a non-existent composer who was the subject of a hoax entry in the 1980 edition. Unlike Esrum-Hellerup, Baldini was not a modern creation: his name and biography were in fact created almost a century earlier by the renowned German musicologist Hugo Riemann. The New Grove entry on Baldini was supported by a fictional reference in the form of an article supposedly in the Archiv für Freiburger Diözesan Geschichte. Though successfully introduced into the encyclopaedia, Baldini appeared in the first printing only: soon exposed as a hoax, the entry was removed.[12]

Seven parody entries, written by contributors to the 1980 edition, and full of musical puns and dictionary in-jokes, were published in the February 1981 issue of The Musical Times (which was also edited by Stanley Sadie at the time).[30] These entries never appeared in the dictionary itself and are:


  1. ^ The volumes of the first edition were published as follows:
    Vol. 1 (1879) A - Impromptu
    Vol. 2 (1880) Improperia – Plain Song
    Vol. 3 (1883) Planché – Sumer is icumen in
    Vol. 4 (1889) Sumer is icumen in – Z, Appendix, Supplement
    Index (1890)
    • Text-searchable copies are available at
    Google Books: vols. 1, 2, 3, 4, Index.
    • Additional copies (non-searchable PDF image files) are also available for download at IMSLP.
  2. ^ The 1900 reprint is available in text-searchable format at the Internet Archive: vols.1, 2, 3, 4. (Vol. 4 includes the Appendix, Index, and a catalogue of articles listed by author.)
  3. ^ Grove II, vol. 1, p. vii
  4. ^ The volumes of the second edition were published as follows:
    Vol. 1 (1904) A–E (OCLC 250954613)
    Vol. 2 (1906) F–L (OCLC 250954626)
    Vol. 3 (1907) M–P (OCLC 250953930)
    Vol. 4 (1908) Q–S (OCLC 252807560)
    Vol. 5 (1910) T–Z, Appendix (OCLC 252807569)
    • Text-searchable copies are available at:
        Internet Archive: vols. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
        Google Books: vols. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
    • Copies (non-searchable PDF image files) are also available for download at IMSLP.
  5. ^ For the American Supplement published in 1920, see OCLC 1077116, searchable copy at Google Books, and IMSLP file #93522.
  6. ^ Blom 1954 (1970 reprint), p. iv.
  7. ^ For the 4th edition American Supplement published in New York, see OCLC 74811413.
  8. ^ For the 4th edition Supplementary Volume published in New York, see OCLC 248932279.
  9. ^ For the 4th edition Supplementary Volume published in London, see OCLC 493270221.
  10. ^ Blom 1954.
  11. ^ Scott Kennedy, Reference Sources for Small and Medium-sized Libraries (1999) p. 216.
  12. ^ a b c Oestreich, James R. (21 January 2001). "Words on Music, 25 Million of Them". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  13. ^ The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, 4 volumes, 1984. ISBN 978-0-333-37879-3; 2013 (8 volumes): ISBN 9780195314281 .
  14. ^ The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, 1984. ISBN 978-0-333-37878-6.
  15. ^ The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, 1992. ISBN 978-0-333-48552-1.
  16. ^ Grove Music Online – online version of the 2001 edition
  17. ^ Michael Lorenz, "'Franz Schubert' in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2001)" (Vienna, 2013).
  18. ^ "About Grove Music Online".
  19. ^ Oxford Music Online, retrieved 8 May 2015 (subscription required)
  20. ^ "Deane Root to be Editor in Chief of Grove Music Program at OUP" (press release), Oxford University Press.
  21. ^ "About Oxford Music Online".
  22. ^ Oxford Music Online: listing at WorldCat.
  23. ^ Deane L. Root, "A History of Grove Music", 1 July 2012.
  24. ^ Article by Kathleen McMorrow, University of Toronto, in CAML Review, 7 February 2010, accessed 30 January 2011 Archived 7 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ – Product page ISBN 978-0-19-517067-2. Retrieved 8 March 2010.
  26. ^ "Grove Music Online Subscription Order Form". Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  27. ^ Foreign-language webpage showing the original dictionary entry Archived 19 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ Levison, Brian; Farrer, Frances (2007). "How the Danes Discovered a New Composer". Classical Music's Strangest Concerts: Extraordinary But True Stories From Over Five Centuries of Harmony and Discord. London: Robson Books. pp. 40–43. ISBN 978-1-86105-938-3.
  29. ^ Foreign-language webpage for the Choir Archived 25 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ [Stanley Sadie and others] "The New Grove", in The Musical Times, Vol. 122, no. 1656 (February 1981), pp. 89–91.

External links

Second edition:
Vol. 1 (1904) A–E, Vol. 2 (1906) F–L, Vol. 3 (1907) M–P, Vol. 4 (1908) Q–S, Vol. 5 (1910) T–Z, Appendix
1500s in music

The first decade of the 16th century marked the creation of some significant compositions. These were to become some of the most famous compositions of the century.

1648 in music

The year 1648 in music involved some significant events.

Aeolian mode

The Aeolian mode is a musical mode or, in modern usage, a diatonic scale also called the natural minor scale. On the white piano keys, it is the scale that starts with A. Its ascending interval form consists of a key note, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, half step, whole step to return.

Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart

Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart (MGG) is the largest and most comprehensive German music encyclopedia, and among Western music reference sources, only The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians is comparable to it in size and scope. It is published by Bärenreiter-Verlag in collaboration with J. B. Metzler’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung.

The first edition (1949–1968, supplemented 1973–1986) comprises 17 volumes, of which two are supplement volumes, and one is an index or register. The current second edition (1994–2007, supplemented 2008) consists of a subject encyclopedia (Sachteil) in 10 volumes (including the index or register) and a biographical encyclopedia (Personenteil) in 17 volumes and an index or register volume, which are continuously updated. An additional supplement volume, addressing both subjects and personages, was published in May 2008.

A CD-Rom version of the second edition is also available in a few libraries, mainly in Germany.

Dorian mode

Dorian mode or Doric mode can refer to three very different but interrelated subjects: one of the Ancient Greek harmoniai (characteristic melodic behaviour, or the scale structure associated with it), one of the medieval musical modes, or, most commonly, one of the modern modal diatonic scales, corresponding to the white notes from D to D, or any transposition of this.

Ionian mode

Ionian mode is a musical mode or, in modern usage, a diatonic scale also called the major scale.

It is the name assigned by Heinrich Glarean in 1547 to his new authentic mode on C (mode 11 in his numbering scheme), which uses the diatonic octave species from C to the C an octave higher, divided at G (as its dominant, reciting tone/reciting note or tenor) into a fourth species of perfect fifth (tone–tone–semitone–tone) plus a third species of perfect fourth (tone–tone–semitone): C D E F G + G A B C (Powers 2001a). This octave species is essentially the same as the major mode of tonal music (Jones 1974, 42).

Church music had been explained by theorists as being organised in eight musical modes: the scales on D, E, F, and G in the "greater perfect system" of "musica recta" (Powers 2001b, §II: "Medieval Modal Theory"), each with their authentic and plagal counterparts.

Glarean's twelfth mode was the plagal version of the Ionian mode, called Hypoionian (under Ionian), based on the same relative scale, but with the major third as its tenor, and having a melodic range from a perfect fourth below the tonic, to a perfect fifth above it (Powers 2001c).

John Tyrrell (musicologist)

John Tyrrell (17 August 1942 – 4 October 2018) was a British musicologist. Born in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe), he studied at the universities of Cape Town, Oxford and Brno. He was a Lecturer in Music at the University of Nottingham (1976), becoming Reader in Opera Studies (1987) and Professor (1996). From 1996 to 2000 he was Executive Editor of the second edition of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2001). From 2000 to 2008 he was Research Professor at Cardiff University

He published several books on Leoš Janáček, including an authoritative and largely definitive two-volume biography.

He died in 2018 at the age of 76.

Locrian mode

The Locrian mode is either a musical mode or simply a diatonic scale. On the white piano keys, it is the scale that starts with B. Its ascending form consists of the key note, a half step, two whole steps, a further half step, and three more whole steps.

Macbeth (Strauss)

Macbeth, Op. 23, is a symphonic poem written by Richard Strauss between 1886 and 1888. The work was his first tone poem, which Strauss described as "a completely new path" for him compositionally. Written in some semblance of sonata form, the piece was revised more thoroughly than any of Strauss's other works; these revisions, focused primarily on the development and recapitulation sections, show how much the composer was struggling at this point in his career to balance narrative content with musical form. Bryan Gilliam writes in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians that, "New path or not, Macbeth failed to find a firm place in the concert repertory, because it lacked the thematic cogency and convincing pacing of musical events so evident in the two antecedent works [Don Juan and Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration)]. And despite revisions to the orchestration, in an attempt to restrain inner voices and highlight principal themes, Macbeth still falls short of Don Juan and Tod und Verklärung in sonic clarity."

The piece is scored for 3 flutes (3rd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, bass trumpet, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, snare drum, cymbals, tam-tam and strings.

Neoclassicism (music)

Neoclassicism in music was a twentieth-century trend, particularly current in the interwar period, in which composers sought to return to aesthetic precepts associated with the broadly defined concept of "classicism", namely order, balance, clarity, economy, and emotional restraint. As such, neoclassicism was a reaction against the unrestrained emotionalism and perceived formlessness of late Romanticism, as well as a "call to order" after the experimental ferment of the first two decades of the twentieth century. The neoclassical impulse found its expression in such features as the use of pared-down performing forces, an emphasis on rhythm and on contrapuntal texture, an updated or expanded tonal harmony, and a concentration on absolute music as opposed to Romantic program music.

In form and thematic technique, neoclassical music often drew inspiration from music of the 18th century, though the inspiring canon belonged as frequently to the Baroque and even earlier periods as to the Classical period—for this reason, music which draws inspiration specifically from the Baroque is sometimes termed neo-Baroque music. Neoclassicism had two distinct national lines of development, French (proceeding partly from the influence of Erik Satie and represented by Igor Stravinsky, who was in fact Russian-born) and German (proceeding from the "New Objectivity" of Ferruccio Busoni, who was actually Italian, and represented by Paul Hindemith). Neoclassicism was an aesthetic trend rather than an organized movement; even many composers not usually thought of as "neoclassicists" absorbed elements of the style.

Phrygian mode

The Phrygian mode (pronounced ) can refer to three different musical modes: the ancient Greek tonos or harmonia sometimes called Phrygian, formed on a particular set of octave species or scales; the Medieval Phrygian mode, and the modern conception of the Phrygian mode as a diatonic scale, based on the latter.


Staccato ([stakˈkaːto]; Italian for "detached") is a form of musical articulation. In modern notation, it signifies a note of shortened duration, separated from the note that may follow by silence. It has been described by theorists and has appeared in music since at least 1676.

Symphonic poem

A symphonic poem or tone poem is a piece of orchestral music, usually in a single continuous movement, which illustrates or evokes the content of a poem, short story, novel, painting, landscape, or other (non-musical) source. The German term Tondichtung (tone poem) appears to have been first used by the composer Carl Loewe in 1828. The Hungarian composer Franz Liszt first applied the term Symphonische Dichtung to his 13 works in this vein.

While many symphonic poems may compare in size and scale to symphonic movements (or even reach the length of an entire symphony), they are unlike traditional classical symphonic movements, in that their music is intended to inspire listeners to imagine or consider scenes, images, specific ideas or moods, and not (necessarily) to focus on following traditional patterns of musical form such as sonata form. This intention to inspire listeners was a direct consequence of Romanticism, which encouraged literary, pictorial and dramatic associations in music. According to Hugh Macdonald, the symphonic poem met three 19th-century aesthetic goals: it related music to outside sources; it often combined or compressed multiple movements into a single principal section; and it elevated instrumental program music to an aesthetic level that could be regarded as equivalent to, or higher than opera. The symphonic poem remained a popular composition form from the 1840s until the 1920s, when composers began to abandon the genre.

Some piano and chamber works, such as Arnold Schoenberg's string sextet Verklärte Nacht, have similarities with symphonic poems in their overall intent and effect. However, the term symphonic poem is generally accepted to refer to orchestral works. A symphonic poem may stand on its own (as do those of Richard Strauss), or it can be part of a series combined into a symphonic suite or cycle. For example, The Swan of Tuonela (1895) is a tone poem from Jean Sibelius's Lemminkäinen Suite, and Vltava (The Moldau) by Bedřich Smetana is part of the six-work cycle Má vlast.

While the terms symphonic poem and tone poem have often been used interchangeably, some composers such as Richard Strauss and Jean Sibelius have preferred the latter term for their works.


A symphony is an extended musical composition in Western classical music, most often written by composers for orchestra. Although the term has had many meanings from its origins in the ancient Greek era, by the late 18th century the word had taken on the meaning common today: a work usually consisting of multiple distinct sections or movements, often four, with the first movement in sonata form. Symphonies are almost always scored for an orchestra consisting of a string section (violin, viola, cello, and double bass), brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments which altogether number about 30 to 100 musicians. Symphonies are notated in a musical score, which contains all the instrument parts. Orchestral musicians play from parts which contain just the notated music for their own instrument. Some symphonies also contain vocal parts (e.g., Beethoven's Ninth Symphony).


The terms Tanbur, Tanbūr, Tanbura, Tambur, Tambura or Tanboor can refer to various long-necked, string instruments originating in Mesopotamia, Southern or Central Asia. According to the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, "terminology presents a complicated situation. The term tanbur (or tambur) is applied to a variety of distinct and related long-necked string instruments used in art and folk traditions in Iran, India, Iraqi Kurdistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Tajikestan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan. Similar or identical instruments are also known by other terms."

Tetratonic scale

A tetratonic scale is a musical scale or mode with four notes per octave. This is in contrast to a heptatonic (seven-note) scale such as the major scale and minor scale, or a dodecatonic (chromatic 12-note ) scale, both common in modern Western music. Tetratonic scales are not common in modern art music, and are generally associated with prehistoric music.

The New Grove Dictionary of Opera

The New Grove Dictionary of Opera is an encyclopedia of opera, considered to be one of the best general reference sources on the subject. It is the largest work on opera in English, and in its printed form, amounts to 5,448 pages in four volumes.

First published in 1992 by Macmillan Reference, London, it was edited by Stanley Sadie with contributions from over 1,300 scholars. There are 11,000 articles in total, covering over 2,900 composers and 1800 operas. Appendices including an index of role names and an index of incipits of arias, ensembles, and opera pieces.

The dictionary is available online, together with The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

Trio sonata

The trio sonata is a genre, typically consisting of three or four movements with contrasting two melody instruments and a continuo. Originating in the early seventeenth-century, the trio sonata was a favorite chamber ensemble combination in the Baroque era.

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