- Orchestral Music Online
For information regarding the scope of this column, consult the headnote in the September 2009 issue (p. 129 of this volume). The dates of access for each review of an online source indicate the dates during which the reviewer was evaluating the resource. All Web sites were last accessed to verify availability on 19 August 2009.
David Daniel’s Orchestral Music has been, for decades, an invaluable resource for all who work with the programming and performance of music for orchestra. First published as Orchestral Music: A Sourcebook by Scarecrow Press, in 1972, the print version is now in its fourth edition, titled Orchestral Music: A Handbook (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2005; reviewed by Joseph Boonin in Notes 62, no. 4 [ June 2006]: 949–50). The newest edition incorporates entries and practices from the Orchestra Library Information Service, which has expanded the size of the database and led to more precise indications of instrumentation.
Orchestral Music was a natural candidate for electronic distribution, and that has been realized with Orchestral Music Online (OMO), an Internet-based subscription service that debuted in 2008. OMO is provided by Scarecrow Press, the publisher of all four printed editions. Data from OMO can also be integrated into an organization’s implementation of the Orchestra Planning and Administration System, a software suite sold by Fine Arts Software. This review, however, will concentrate on Scarecrow’s Web-based product, which represents, in many ways, a significant upgrade over the print version.
There are two main ways to access the entries in OMO, by browsing or searching. The browsing function is quite straightforward, though not always very efficient. Browsing is available by composer only, presented in separate alphabetical lists for each initial letter, with twenty entries per page. It is not possible to type the beginning of a composer’s name, or to move forward or back by a specified number of entries. One is restricted to Previous, First, Next, and Last pages. For most initial letters this is not a major handicap, as each list requires but a few pages. Clicking a composer’s name will present an alphabetical list of the composer’s works. Here the limitations of the browsing function are more apparent. Presented with a list of 343 of Mozart’s works, twenty per page, with no way to jump around in the list, can be daunting. The search function also defaults to displaying twenty results per page, but the user can increase that number via a dropdown menu on the Search page. The first entry in the Mozart list is for the composer himself, with no title entry. This listing provides a brief, helpful explanation of Köchel numbers, and of how the database references the various editions of the catalog. Such explanatory entries are included for Bach (J.S., C.P.E., and P.D.Q.), Beethoven, and Vivaldi, among others. A more surprising note under Tchaikovsky’s name explains that, for the Russian master’s works, the system uses TH numbers, taken from The Tchaikovsky Handbook: A Guide to the Man and His Music, v.1, compiled by Alexander Poznansky & Brett Langston (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002). More specific notes on editions and sources occur for individual works and groups of works as well. A note under Bruckner, Symphonies, mentions that the database includes the most widely-performed versions of the symphonies, and uses the [End Page 377] Cahis numbering system. Some what strangely, there is no mention of the confused numbering of Dvorak’s symphonies.
The search facility is very powerful despite a certain disregard for the Boolean operators so dear to librarians’ hearts. One can combine searches for Composer, Title, and Keywords. The Keyword search encompasses composers, titles, movement titles, and explanatory notes, so just about every bit of information in the record is accessible. The system defaults to connecting all search terms and fields with a Boolean AND, and...