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Preface to The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1980)


Preface

THE ‘NEW’ GROVE. When, in 1969, my colleagues and I began to lay our plans, we thought of the work we were preparing as the sixth edition of the dictionary first prepared by Sir George Grove in the 1870s and 1880s. As time and work went on, however, it became clear that we were producing not a new edition but a new dictionary. In his Preface to the fifth edition, my eminent predecessor Eric Blom wrote of his hopes that it would ‘continue showing the personality of its founder’, and added that ‘Much of the old “Grove”…remains’. I would echo his hopes. But little of the old dictionary can now stand. The world – certainly the world of musicology – has changed more, and more fundamentally, in the 25 years that separate Grove 5 from the new dictionary than it did in the 75 years from 1879 (when the first complete volume of the first edition appeared) to 1954. A very much smaller proportion of material – under three per cent – has been retained from earlier editions than was retained in any preceding edition; any such material has been reedited and, where appropriate, equipped with new bibliographies and work-lists.

We have tried to ensure that something of the fine humane traditions of the earlier editions of Grove are to be seen in our pages. Intelligent critical and evaluative writing still have a place in musical lexicography, especially in a work designed to serve a wide range of users. But in many ways this dictionary is different in kind from earlier editions. It belongs to an era in which musicological studies have greatly developed, not only in Europe but particularly in the United States and other countries where European traditions have taken root, as well as in numerous ‘third world’ countries, eager to preserve and study their own musical heritage. It belongs to an era that sets wider boundaries to music as a human activity, and even within the traditional boundaries has seen the development of new attitudes increasingly scientific and objective in character, to its study – as is reflected in the existence and the nature of such reference works as MGG (Die Musik in Geshichte und Gegenwart) and RISM (Répertoire international des sources musicales; International Inventory of Musical Sources). The effects of this will be seen not only in the dictionary’s extent, and the space it devotes to substantial bibliographies and informative work-lists, but also in its approach to such topics as the sources of early music and their evaluation, the bibliography of music, the significance of social forces and their bearing on tradition and its nature, and in general in the wider spread of cultures it attempts to embrace in its discussion of many aspects of the art and the materials of music. The net of contributors has been cast much more widely in the pursuit of breadth, authority and excellence: whereas in the fifth edition British contributors outnumbered others by more than five to two, here they make up about one fifth of the total number.

All this, and much more, was bound to affect the shape, the character and the philosophy of the dictionary. To call it the sixth edition of Grove’s Dictionary would have been misleading, and – although it may cause problems for future editors – ‘The New Grove’ seemed to be the most accurate title it could bear.

CONTENTS, SCOPE. To quote Eric Blom again: ‘Grove aims at being encyclopedic and universal’. The New Grove, one might say, is even more universal than its predecessors, for the musical universe has expanded. It seeks to discuss everything that can be reckoned to bear on music in history and on present-day musical life.

Although its changes are principally in other areas, the dictionary’s first task, traditionally, is to treat of the people who have written music; more than half the entries are on composers, from ancient and even mythological times to the present. For example, virtually every known medieval composer is entered; and a composer of the Renaissance will have and entry if a set of his works was published, if five or more of his works survive in printed anthologies or a substantial number in manuscript, or if he is known by a smaller number of works but in addition useful biographical information is available about him. Grove cannot include every known composer of the past; it is a critically organized repository of historically significant information, not a directory (that role is served by other kinds of reference work). In more recent times, the criteria have necessarily to be more closely linked with critical judgment. Previous editions of Grove have tended to retain the bias towards the 19th century, or, to put it more exactly, have tended to retain the bias towards the 19th century that is implicit in the updating of a dictionary dating from that era. Now, in the late 20th century, the 19th must take its place as part of musical history, with consequently different emphases, rather than appear as part of the recent past on which the dust has still to settle. A dictionary that runs to many successive editions, even of increasing size, cannot be cumulative; each generation must reassess it according to its own particular requirements. Specialists working on 19th-century music can always consult earlier editions, which anyway are closer to their sources.

Other persons entered in the dictionary fall into five broad categories. First, performers: from the past, those who sang or played in the first (or important early) performances of major works, those who had particular influence on composers or styles of composition, and those whose names appear frequently in contemporary source material; from the present, those of outstanding attainment – again I should stress that Grove is not a directory and that entries are accorded only to those of international reputation or of specially important national achievement. This category includes leading and influential figures in the worlds of jazz and popular music. A second category consists of scholars, writers on music, theorists and administrators; these are included according to the depth and the influence of their work. A third category comprises people eminent in other arts whose work was in some way important to music and musicians. Clearly librettists merit entry in a substantial musical dictionary; so, too, do authors who did not write directly for musical setting but whose works often inspired musicians and affected the nature of their works. Entries will also be found on certain dancers, designers, theatre producers (directors), men of letters, philosophers, scientists, and others whose contributions entitle them to a place in a work dealing with musical history. Fourth, patrons (sometimes families of patrons) are entered where they exercised a significant influence on musical composition or performance. Fifth, people concerned in the business of music – in its printing and its publishing, and in the making of musical instruments – are entered according to their importance; such entries are often on firms rather than families or individuals.

In line with the traditions of the dictionary, the terminology of music is fully treated. Foreign-language words in occasional use and carrying only their literal dictionary meaning are not generally included. There are comprehensive historical entries on musical genres and forms. Early liturgies, Eastern and Western, are discussed. The instruments of music are extensively treated. Entries will be found on many non-Western instruments, especially those of considerable historical or organological importance, or of wide cultural distribution; those specific to particular cultures may be discussed primarily in the entry on the culture itself (see also Introduction, §10, below). There are entries on many cities and towns with significant musical traditions, in Europe, America and other parts of the world. Numerous institutions – orchestras, choirs, societies, colleges etc – have individual entries, but those within cities and towns that are entered in the dictionary in their own right are normally discussed within the appropriate city entry (indicated by a cross-reference if necessary) since they represent a part of that city’s musical life.

There are substantial articles on many topics new to Grove, ranging widely – for example, Aesthetics, Analysis, Computers, Electronic music, Ethnomusicology, Historiography, Iconography, Performing Practice, Popular music, Psychology, Sociology, and Theory; while others on more traditional topics (like Counterpoint, Expression, Harmony, Melody, Mode, and Musicology) are treated much more broadly, or ‘conceptually’, than hitherto, with a wider cultural perspective. There are extensive articles on acoustical topics. The entries on bibliographical and reference material – for example Dictionaries and Encyclopedias, Editions, Libraries, and Periodicals – are much more comprehensive than in earlier editions and are supported by extensive lists.

The treatment of bibliographies is discussed in the Introduction, §8, but one particular departure should be mentioned here: the inclusion of a series of extended bibliographies on early music. Some of these are arranged by country (England, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and Spain and Portugal), others by medium or genre (Organum and Discant, Keyboard music etc). These are additional to the bibliographies attached to individual articles on such topics. Another major departure in the coverage of early music is represented by the group of articles on sources, of which that on Sources, MS is particularly extensive in its descriptive coverage of Western manuscript source material before 1600.

The biggest departure, however, lies in the dictionary’s treatment of non-Western and folk music, far more extensive and more methodical than anything of the kind attempted before. There are entries on the music of virtually every country in the world. So that this material be readily accessible, it is organized for the most part within entries under the names of individual countries. Modern political boundaries do not, of course, always correspond to cultural ones; articles thus often have to be linked by cross-reference, and in some significant cases individual cultural groups are separately treated (again, such entries are indicated by cross-references in the entries on the countries concerned). The treatment of individual national folk music traditions under the collective rubric ‘Folk music’, preferred in Grove 5, has been abandoned. Many entries on countries are however divided between ‘art music’ and ‘folk music’. In some cases such division is admittedly simplistic, and occasionally the content of these sections may overlap; nonetheless, this treatment is the most practicable one, both from the user’s point of view, to facilitate reference, and from and editorial or organizational one. Besides the entries on countries’ folk music traditions, there is a series of ‘overview’ entries designed to give a broader picture of the musical traditions of entire continental areas under such headings as Africa, East Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Terms used in articles on non-Western and folk music are indexed in Appendix A, a substantial new feature of the dictionary (see Introduction, §10).

Grove, by long tradition, is the standard multi-volume musical reference work for the English-speaking world. It is a fully international dictionary. But it is proper if in some respects it reflects the tastes and the preferences of the English-speaking countries, for example by admitting marginal figures from those countries who might have been excluded had they come from elsewhere. The dictionary must serve the needs of the public by which it will primarily be used. Particular efforts have however been made to do justice to the composers and other musicians of certain areas often neglected in Grove and in other large-scale reference works of the past, notably the smaller countries of eastern Europe, Spain and Portugal, and Latin America.

The dictionary is written by almost 2500 people, and it no doubt embodies many contradictions. Contradictions on matters of interpretation are not of course unwelcome; it is part of a dictionary’s role to represent a variety of standpoints. Contradictions of fact, however, are anathema. Every effort has been made to compare articles and, where discrepancies have been found, to establish which statements are true and which false. This has involved much checking by our editorial staff of primary sources, and prolific correspondence between the editorial office and contributors. The results have not always been conclusive. (For example, the contributors concerned are not in full agreement that the year in which Veracini first played in front of Tartini is the same as the year in which Tartini first heard Veracini; in both entries attention is drawn to the discrepancy of opinion.) Users of the dictionary are asked to write to the editorial office, c/o Macmillan, Little Essex Street, London WC2R 3LF, to notify us of errors or omissions so that they may be recorded and set right in the future.

The ensuing introduction is designed to explicate the editorial procedures of the dictionary for the benefit of the reader.

STANLEY SADIE
London, 1979


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