Notes 60.3 (2004) 703-706
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Women and Music in America Since 1900: An Encyclopedia. Edited by Kristine H. Burns. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002. 2 vols. [xxx, 747 p. ISBN 1-57356-267-X (set). $150; ISBN 1-57356-308-0 (v.1). $74.95; ISBN 1-57356-309-9 (v.2). $74.95.]
With the impact of feminist study on historical and cultural inquiry, the literature on the history of women in music has emerged somewhat akin to a bud emerging ever so slowly and deliberately until just the right combination of environmental conditions at once brings forth a burst of blossom. As the extensive bibliography to Women and Music in America since 1900: an Encyclopedia demonstrates, American women musicologists and historians have been establishing a theoretical groundwork for feminist music study and promoting the lives of musical women since 1948, the date of publication of Sophie Drinker's groundbreaking book, Women and Music: the Story of Women in Their Relation to Music (New York: Coward-McCann, 1948; reprint, New York: Feminist Press, 1995), which, according to Ruth Solie's article in Grove Music Online was, "the first—and for some thirty years the only—attempt to address the history of women in music" (Ruth A. Solie, "Drinker, Sophie Lewis," in Grove Music Online , www.grovemusic.com, accessed 26 November 2003). Surprisingly, there is no entry for Drinker in Women and Music in America since 1900.
As Burns states in the preface (p. vii), the American focus of this encyclopedia refers to women's contributions to the musical culture of the United States. Women whose biographies appear in the encyclopedia were born in the United States or resided in the United States, and maintained the major part of their career or made significant contributions in the United States. Listing only 259 biographical entries for women participating in American music in the twentieth century in virtually all genres, and as composers, conductors, performers, educators, musicologists, and a variety of other professions, the encyclopedia is selective rather than exhaustive. Thus, selected for inclusion are women who have "advanced the role of women in music" (p. viii), as demonstrated by awards, leadership, honors, pioneering accomplishments, or having major successes as a musician.
The preface delineates editorial policies and explains the organization of the encyclopedia. Each article is signed with the contributor's name and is written in a clear, straightforward style. The cadre of writers comprises librarians, applied music faculty, musicologists, music theorists, doctoral candidates, independent scholars and musicians, and freelance authors. Short, selective bibliographies lead the user to further resources. The encyclopedia is well organized, with multiple indexes to allow the user to find entries beyond the A-Z arrangement of the text. Subject articles and biographical entries are interfiled, an arrangement which at times does little to assist the user in getting quickly to the information sought. Since the encyclopedia is published in two volumes, users might have been better served if the biographical entries were in one volume and the subject entries in another. The major benefit of this encyclopedia is that the topical entries —on gender and feminist theory (37 entries), music education (16 entries), broad music genres (36 entries), honors and awards (15 entries), organizations (38 entries), and professions (31 entries)—place the women included in the encyclopedia within a larger social and cultural milieu, demonstrating an important link between the environment in which they created, contributed, and excelled and the facts of their lives. In this respect, users will find the combined subject and biographical approach very similar to that originating with The Musical Woman: An International Perspective(Judith Lang Zaimont, ed., 3 vols. [Westport: Greenwood Press, 1983- 90]), but pared down, of course, to the basics. Pseudonyms and name variations are provided with "See" references to the main article on the individual. "See also" references are appended to subject articles to lead to related topics. The comprehensive bibliography at the end of the second [End Page 703] volume is excellent. The editor could have added another ten pages of hard content...