A Biographical Dictionary of Musicians

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Theodore Baker
Read Books, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 660 pages
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Originally published in 1900. BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF MUSICIANS COMPILED AND EDITED by THEODORE BAKER, Text extracted from opening pages of book: PREFACE: CONCISE biogiaphical dictionaries of musicians are no longer a novelty; but their contents and tendency are too apt to be influenced by the immediate environment, the nationality, or the idiosyncrasies of the compilers. In the present lexicon it has been the editor's endeavor to give an impartial general view of musical biography, past and piesent, favoring no nation or period unduly. It has been his especial aim to make up foi the scant attention which leading English and American musicians have received at the hands of foreign biographers; in this point, no other work of similar scope can compaic with this in completeness, recentness, and accuracy. It will be noticed that living musicians have, in general, a somewhat larger relative space allotted them than those whose career is closed. The reasons which determined this course aie, firstly, that full and correct information about contemporaries is frequently unavailable for the general public, being either scattered in numerous periodicals and books of reference, or not published at all; secondly, that earlier lexica already contain the life-histories of most musicians of prominence. It is true, that in such published biographical sketches many errois of fact occm; in the difficult matter of dates, especially, much requires rectification. Hundteds of emendations are contained in the present work, which will, it is hoped, prove more trustworthy than its predecessors. A careful collation of the standard works of reference has resulted in a weeding-out of very many mistakes, due tocarelessness or inadvertence, in the biographical matter belonging to past epochs. A laige amount of reliable and valuable information has been obtained by direct correspondence with musicians and writers of note, though many inquiries icmained unanswered. The comparative bievity of sketches of certain prominent contemporaries is due to the impossibility of gathering sufficient and reliable data. A feature of j ) eculiar interest and value is presented in the three hundred accompany ing pen-and-ink vignettes, by the Russian artist Gribayedoff, after authentic portraits or recent photographs. In their selection, again, a preponderance of contemporary over deceased musicians will be observed, the general plan having been, to portray individuals in whom a personal interest is felt. It was impossible to make the list as complete as projected, owing to the difficulty of procuring originals. Despite all vigilance, many of the statements made in the neaily six thousand biographies given in the Dictionary doubtless require correction.

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