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  • An Index to Music in Historical Anthologies of Western Art Music by Mara Parker
An Index to Music in Historical Anthologies of Western Art Music. By Mara Parker. Middleton, WI: A-R Editions, 2019. (MLA Index and Bibliography Series.) [2 vol. xxxii, 759 p. ISBN 978-0-89579-874-9 (Vol. 1); 978-0-899579-885-5 (Vol. 2). $80 each]

For those of us who have waited patiently for a follow-up to Sterling Murray's Anthologies of Music: An Annotated Index, 2d ed. (Warren, MI: Harmonie Park Press, 1992) we can breathe easier now that Mara Parker's monumental index has been published. Although she includes many anthologies which overlap with Murray's selection, she has the benefit of at least an additional two and a half decades of publications to investigate. She explores 112 historical anthologies, using a well-thought-out, if at first blush somewhat complex set of criteria for inclusion as outlined on p. viii, focusing on multicomposer works dealing with genres, periods, or general music history or analysis, and readily accessible to readers or libraries.

Similar to Murray, she organises the entries alphabetically by composer, including life-span dates when known or approximate dates to supply historical context, with anonymous works or those recognised by title only preceding the composer listings in their own alphabetical arrangement. The volumes divide fairly neatly with introductory matter, lists of the anthologies by short reference as well as by full citation, and composers through HAM in part 1, while part 2 starts with HAN and goes through Z, including useful indices of authors and literary names as well as titles at the end.

The introductory materials are exceptionally helpful in explaining how each entry is set out, and the use of bold print to delineate each entry as well as having a numbering system up to 4,910 different entries is particularly useful, since it makes index references much more compact. Within multi-movement works such as symphonies or operas, each section has a decimal number under the main one, a good way to keep this information collated; these are not bold, showing them more as a subheading.

To keep the index from becoming unwieldy, Parker wisely eschews coverage of multivolume ongoing sets (monuments, etc.) in favor of concentration on single monographs or selfcontained anthologies issued in multiple volumes at the same time. She uses 1930 as a starting point in recognition of Sydney Robinson Charles's comment quoted from the Grove Music Online entry, "Editions, historical" that "editorial standards in these publications [post 1930] are generally higher" (p. xv). Her listing of anthologies includes many of the most familiar names anyone who has been through a music history programme since at least the 1970s will recognise (in various editions, cleverly delineated with an Arabic numeral after the short reference), along with some newer titles representing the most current scholarship. She also helpfully uses a Roman numeral to indicate whether there are multiple volumes in an anthology.

Not surprisingly, old favourite composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach occupy a large portion of the Index, but it is gratifying to see many contemporary names and especially more entries for women composers, as well as more pieces included since Murray's publication for some of the women he did address (such as Clara Schumann). The inclusion of women's music in anthologies has progressed apace since 1992, so this is not that surprising. The "western art music" designation takes a bit of a broad-brush approach, including diverse figures from jazz or blues such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington (both of whom appeared in Murray, the latter with fewer entries, though). A few composers who fall into both categories (i.e., women's music and jazz/blues), such as Bessie Smith or Florence Price, have at least one entry. An outlier would seem to be Richard Rodgers, who is represented by two songs with words by different lyricists, but I would assume Parker is not picking and choosing which titles to include—if the original anthologist decided, these are not questioned. [End Page 167]

While following a structure similar to that used by Murray, who covered the years 1942–1991 (Murray, p. x), Parker includes much more information on each piece, such as the type of score and whether there are texts, translations, or explanatory notes. This is especially helpful when the same piece is covered in a variety of anthologies, so that users can choose whatever layout or arrangement best suits their needs at the time. Her time frame encompasses 1942–2014 for printed collections of music, with the online anthology having more currency as it is being periodically updated.

The cross-reference structure is helpful; one wonders, though whether the idea to place titles under the article beginning the title (e.g., The Star-Spangled Banner, p. 77), which all require references from their main first word, was the wisest choice, since most libraries would file under the first word following the article (e.g., under Star rather than The). Perhaps because she has so many languages to deal with, it was less cumbersome to make a blanket decision, but again there are so many references, sometimes right below or above the intended destination, which can make the text seem a bit cluttered. To be fair, Murray used this type of alphabetisation too.

Parker's inclusion of the A-R Online Music Anthology (ARMA) alongside the various print titles she indexes is appropriate, given that this anthology is one of the only current examples of a born-digital title within this subject area, and is a worthy representative of that format. One hopes its availability will induce more publishers to explore the possibilities of releasing music anthologies in this technologically-friendly way.

A few fairly major composers are also missing, such as Amilcare Ponchielli, William Walton, and Alexander Zemlinsky, but perhaps they were not represented in anthologies to the extent that their works are still performed (nor are they treated in Murray).

Parker's background and scholarly pursuits have made this a worthy successor to her previous titles on the string quartet (e.g., String Quartets: A Research and Information Guide, 2d ed. [New York: Routledge, 2010]) and violoncello and eighteenth-century musics. Evidence of great care is everywhere noted and one searches vainly for egregious errors. The text is printed in a clear font in an easy-to-read contrast, with stark white pages in a fairly compact 9.5-inch height. The two volumes are divided evenly with about half the total pagination in each, making them easy to manage (one drawback of many older titles was trying to cram so much into one volume that the binding would break fairly quickly, which is definitely not the case here). Parker is to be congratulated for this wonderful addition to the library reference shelf, which will serve readers for many years to come.

Barry Zaslow
Miami University (Oxford, OH) Libraries

Additional Information

ISSN
2471-156X
Print ISSN
0015-6191
Pages
167-168
Launched on MUSE
2020-06-26
Open Access
No
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