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Theatre Arts 425: Advance of the American Musical   Tags: american, music, musical theater, theater  

History, Development and Analysis of the American Musical Theatre
Last Updated: Sep 9, 2017 URL: Print Guide

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Caption: "Chas. E. Blaney, the Napoleon of the Farce Comedy"

A completely creepy poster for the "musical review"A Female Drummer, c1898. From the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog, digitized by the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.).


Wikipedia Is Not Evil

Wikipedia can be a great jumping-off point for research. While the content of the pages themselves may be suspect, often the list of references at the end are very helpful. Evaluate these sources as you would any online or print reference.


There is an abundance of scholarly biographical sources in the library. Begin here before going to questionable Web sources. It's also a good idea to consult several sources to get the full biographical picture.

American Songwriters: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary. David Ewen.
Ref. ML390 .E825 1987
    A fine source by one of the most respected musical theater writers.

Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. Nicolas Slonimsky, editor emeritus ; Laura Kuhn, Baker’s series advisory editor.
Ref. [q.] ML105 ; .B16 2001, vol. 1-6
    Already known as one of the premiere biographical sources for classical music figures, this latest set also pays hommage to popular composers and librettists.

The New Grove Dictionary of American Music. Edited by H. Wiley Hitchcock and Stanley Sadie.
Ref. [q.] ML101.U6 N48 1986, vol. 1-4
    Most likely a rehashing of the information in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, but may be worth a look.

The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed. Edited by Stanley Sadie; executive editor, John Tyrrell.
Ref. ML100 .N48 2001, vol. 1-29
    No longer the bastion of dead European males, this 2001 edition has become more inclusive. Also in an online version.

Popular American Composers from Revolutionary Times to the Present: A Biographical and Critical Guide. David Ewen.
Ref. ML390 .E845
Ref. ML390 .E845 Suppl.
In this case, "the present" means 1962. The accompanying supplement was published in 1972.

American National Biography is published by Oxford University Press under the auspices of the American Council of Learned Societies. You can be sure the information gleaned here will be accurate.

If you are looking at a contemporary composer/lyricist/choreographer, that person will likely have a website. If you find one, inspect it carefully to make sure it is sanctioned by that person and is not a fan site.

Internet Broadway Database is always helpful for biographies, but, as always, consult two or three reliable sources.



Search multiple electronic databases and the library catalog at the same time using OneSearch. You will get items in the library plus electronic sources the library has access to such as journal articles, newspaper articles, reviews,etc. To expand your search to items for interlibrary loan, choose "" from the left side bar.


    Library Catalog for Biographies

    The library catalog is a goldmine for finding books about the biggies in the field of composers, lyricists, choreographers, etc. Search Subject in Advanced Search for the person's last name. You will NOT get scores and recordings with this search; these media are not about someone and therefore the composer's or lyricist's names will not appear in this field.

    You can also see "books about" at a glance by doing a Browse search for a person's last name.


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