The first chapter of Hirschmann's work examines source materials for Parker's life and work: recordings and soundtracks of Parker's music, manuscripts, letters, photographs, official documents, surviving conversations and interviews. Much new light is cast on the subject. Consideration of Parker in secondary literature looks at publications in both jazz journals and academic publications, discographies, bibliographies and transcriptions of Parker's music. The chapter on Parker's biography collects people's comments relating to all periods of his life. An appendix provides a chronological listing of Parker's surviving first recordings and later versions of his compositions. Hirschmann's book is extremely well conceived and executed. Rarely is such a specifically bibliographical work at the same time so eminently readable. Much new and interesting detail about Parker emerges, in writing characterised both by academic precision and fluency. Hirschmann's bibliographical sources extend as far as 1989.
The Bregman/ Bukowski/Saks discography of 1993 (an earlier version was privately printed in 1989) contains a comprehensive listing of all known Parker recordings. With only a few exceptions, all official and unofficial recordings are verified and documented in 219 entries, which include details of ensemble, time and place of recording, tracks and label numbers of issued recordings. [bh/dkl]
This guide has two kinds of articles: analyses of single works by approximately 100 composers, and general articles on composers who feature less frequently in the concert repertoire. Twentieth century figures, both male and female, are well-represented. The analyses are not particularly extensive, averaging about 30 lines in double columns, and a number of entries summarize several works together, often with just a terse sentence on each composition. There is also a glossary of important musical terms, and an index to personal names and works. Those who value precise and searching analyses more than mere number of entries would be better advised to use Reclams Konzertführer (15th ed., 1994) (DM 36.00) or Knaurs Konzertführer (6th ed., 1969) (DM 12.80). [rn/dkl]
This narrative history of opera is aimed not just at the specialist, but also at a wider readership with an interest in opera. It is coloured by the author's personal views, and is based on her firm belief that operatic development reaches its culmination in the nineteenth century with Wagner. Contemporary opera is dealt with in a fairly summary fashion, and the author relies here on the opinions of others, most notably the twentieth century specialist Hans Heinz Stuckenschmidt. The material is arranged by country and operatic genre, and the work includes a name and title index, together with a selective bibliography. General works on the history of opera are plentiful, and include Werner Oehlmann's Oper in vier Jahrhunderten (1984) and Ulrich Schreiber's Opernführer für Forgeschrittene (1988-). In comparison with these Abert's book looks rather fussy and pedestrian. [rn/dkl]
The Reclam guide to opera and operetta is distinguished by its pocket-sized format, and is aimed at the theatre-goer who wants information on what he or she is seeing just before the lights go down. This requirement dictates the arrangement of the work. Thumbnail sketches of composers are followed by descriptions of selected works, which include brief details about first performances, synopses of the action in varying degrees of detail, and finally a stylistic and historical evaluation. Since the guide is composed of two works which are also available separately, it does not have a single sequence of pagination, and has separate indexes to composers, to operas and to operettas. The contents vary considerably from earlier editions, as the guide tries to reflect contemporary repertory whilst remaining a manageable size, so that the various inclusions and exclusions from edition to edition provide a history of operatic taste in the twentieth century.
The Handbuch der Oper covers 270 works, 90 more than the Reclam guide. Its intended readership embraces performers, critics and musicologists as well as the opera-going public, and thus it gives more detail on orchestration and lists vocal parts. Plots are described more fully, reference made to different versions, and more emphasis laid on present-day opera and current trends, with analyses of works by composers such as Bialas, Blacher and Nono. There is an index, and a short bibliography which has not been updated since the 1985 revision, on which the current edition is based.
The Reclam guide to musicals follows the pattern established for opera and operetta: details of original production, cast, location and period, an act by act description of the plot, and a short evaluation. Recording details of original Broadway casts are also included. Musicals are arranged chronologically according to year of first production, and there is also an index by title and by personal names. The Herder-Handbuch des Musiktheaters (1992) (RREO 94-1-101) also includes musicals, but the Reclam guide is far more informative and more expert in its evaluations.
The Heyne-Musical-Lexikon is the most comprehensive and informative of such works in German. It includes not only the best-known musicals of Broadway and the West End, but is equally detailed in its listings of French and German works. Musicals are arranged alphabetically by original title. Also included are a list of German-language premieres, an index of composers, another of films, and a detailed bibliography. Usual details about productions are complemented by a complete index to songs and musical numbers, and equal consideration is given to all subsequent adaptations and revisions, and to both filmed musicals and musicals made purely for film. Recommended.
Renner's guide to opera, operetta and musicals actually includes very few musicals, though it does have some Italian and German titles not listed in the other guides. A special feature is a short chapter on music theatre for children. As regards the musical, it is a slightly odd complement to the more standard works of reference considered above. [rn/dkl]
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Last update: July 31, 2000 [RD]
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