The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians

The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
Second edition of the New Grove, shelved
Author Multiple
Original title A Dictionary of Music and Musicians
Country United Kingdom, United States
Language English
Subject Music, musicology, music history, music theory, ethnomusicology
Genre Reference; encyclopedic dictionary
Publisher Oxford University Press
Official website
Publication date
Media type hardback, paperback, and online

The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians is an encyclopedic dictionary of music and musicians. Along with the German-language Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, it is one of the largest reference works on Western music. Originally published under the title A Dictionary of Music and Musicians, and later as Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, it has gone through several editions since the 19th century and is widely used. In recent years it has been made available as an electronic resource called Grove Music Online, which is now an important part of Oxford Music Online.

A Dictionary of Music and Musicians

A Dictionary of Music and Musicians was first published in four volumes (1879, 1880, 1883, 1889) edited by George Grove with an Appendix edited by J. A. Fuller Maitland in the fourth volume. An Index edited by Mrs. E. Wodehouse was issued as a separate volume in 1890. In 1900, minor corrections were made to the plates and the entire series was reissued in four volumes, with the index added to volume 4. The original edition and the reprint are now freely available online.[1][2] Grove limited the chronological span of his work to begin at 1450 while continuing up to the present day.

Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians

The second edition (Grove II), in five volumes, was edited by Fuller Maitland and published from 1904 to 1910, this time as Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians. The individual volumes of the second edition were reprinted many times. An American Supplement edited by Waldo Selden Pratt and Charles N. Boyd was added in 1920. This edition removed the first edition's beginning date of 1450,[3] though important earlier composers and theorists are still missing from this edition. These volumes are also now freely available online.[4] [5]

The third edition (Grove III), also in five volumes, was an extensive revision of the 2nd edition; it was edited by H. C. Colles and published in 1927.[6]

The fourth edition (Grove IV), also edited by Colles, was published in 1940 in five volumes (a reprint of the third edition, with some corrections). In addition to the American Supplement,[7] MacMillan also published (in New York[8] and London[9]) a Supplementary Volume edited by Colles.

The fifth edition (Grove V), in nine volumes, was edited by Eric Blom and published in 1954. This was the most thoroughgoing revision of the work since its inception, with many articles rewritten in a more modern style and a large number of entirely new articles. Many of the articles were written by Blom personally, or translated by him. An additional Supplementary Volume, prepared for the most part by Eric Blom, followed in 1961. Blom died in 1959, and the Supplementary Volume was completed by Denis Stevens. The fifth edition was reprinted in 1966, 1968, 1970, 1973, and 1975.[10]

The New Grove

First edition

The next edition was published in 1980 under the name The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and was greatly expanded to 20 volumes with 22,500 articles and 16,500 biographies.[11] Its senior editor was Stanley Sadie with Nigel Fortune also serving as one of the main editors for the publication.

It was reprinted with minor corrections each subsequent year until 1995, except 1982 and 1983. In the mid-1990s, the hardback set sold for about $2,300. A paperback edition was reprinted in 1995 which sold for $500.


Some sections of The New Grove were also issued as small sets and individual books on particular topics. These typically were enhanced with expanded and updated material and included individual and grouped composer biographies,[12] a four-volume dictionary of American music (1984; revised 2013, 8 vols.),[13] a three-volume dictionary of musical instruments (1984),[14] and a four-volume dictionary of opera (1992).[15]

Second edition

The second edition under this title (the seventh overall) was published in 2001, in 29 volumes. It was also made available by subscription on the internet in a service called Grove Music Online.[16] It was again edited by Stanley Sadie, and the executive editor was John Tyrrell. It was originally to be released on CD-ROM as well, but this plan was dropped. As Sadie writes in the preface, "The biggest single expansion in the present edition has been in the coverage of 20th-century composers".

This edition has been subject to negative criticism (e.g. in Private Eye) owing to the significant number of typographical and factual errors that it contains.[17] Two volumes were re-issued in corrected versions, however, after production errors originally caused the omission of sections of Igor Stravinsky's worklist and Richard Wagner's bibliography.

Publication of the second edition of The New Grove was accompanied by a Web-based version, Grove Music Online. It too, attracted some initial criticism, for example for the way in which images were not incorporated into the text but kept separate.

Grove Music Online and Oxford Music Online

Currently, the complete text of The New Grove is available to subscribers to the online service Grove Music Online.[18] Grove Music Online includes a large number of revisions and additions of new articles. In addition to the 29 volumes of The New Grove second edition, Grove Music Online incorporates the four-volume New Grove Dictionary of Opera (ed. Stanley Sadie, 1992) and the three-volume New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, second edition (ed. Barry Kernfeld, 2002), The Grove Dictionary of American Music and The Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments,[19] comprising a total of more than 50,000 articles. The current editor-in-chief of Grove Music, the name given to the complete slate of print and online resources that encompass the Grove brand, is University of Pittsburgh professor Deane Root. He assumed the editorship in 2009.[20]

The dictionary. originally published by Macmillan, was sold in 2004 to Oxford University Press. Since 2008, Grove Music Online has served as a cornerstone of Oxford University Press's larger online research tool Oxford Music Online, which remains a subscription-based service.[21] As well as being available to individual and educational subscribers, it is available for use at many public and university libraries worldwide, though institutional subscriptions.[22]

Grove Music Online identifies itself as the Eighth Edition of the overall work.[23]


The New Grove is often the first source that English-speaking musicologists use when beginning research or seeking information on most musical topics. Its scope and extensive bibliographies make it exceedingly valuable to any scholar with a grasp of the English language.[24]

The print edition of The New Grove costs between $1,100 and $1,500,[25] while an annual subscription to Grove Music Online as of October 23, 2009 is $295.[26]

The companion four-volume series, New Grove Dictionary of Opera, is the main reference work in English on the subject of opera.

Its principal competitor is the Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart ("MGG"), currently ten volumes on musical subjects and seventeen on biographies of musicians, written in German.


The 2001 edition contains:

Hoaxes and parodies

Two non-existent composers have appeared in the work:

Dag Henrik Esrum-Hellerup was the subject of a hoax entry in the 1980 New Grove. Esrum-Hellerup's surname derives from a Danish village and a suburb of Copenhagen.[27] The writer of the entry was Robert Layton. Though successfully introduced into the encyclopaedia, Esrum-Hellerup appeared in the first printing only: soon exposed as a hoax, the entry was removed and the space filled with an illustration.[12][28] In 1983, the Danish organist Henry Palsmar founded an amateur choir, the Esrum-Hellerup Choir, along with several former pupils of the Song School, St. Annae Gymnasium in Copenhagen.[29]

Guglielmo Baldini was the name of a non-existent composer who was the subject of a hoax entry in the 1980 edition. Unlike Esrum-Hellerup, Baldini was not a modern creation: his name and biography were in fact created almost a century earlier by the renowned German musicologist Hugo Riemann. The New Grove entry on Baldini was supported by a fictional reference in the form of an article supposedly in the Archiv für Freiburger Diözesan geschichte. Though successfully introduced into the encyclopaedia, Baldini appeared in the first printing only: soon exposed as a hoax, the entry was removed.[12]

Seven parody entries, written by contributors to the 1980 edition, and full of musical puns and dictionary in-jokes, were published in the February 1981 issue of The Musical Times (which was also edited by Stanley Sadie at the time).[30] These entries never appeared in the dictionary itself and are:


  1. The volumes of the first edition were published as follows:
    Vol. 1 (1879) A - Impromptu
    Vol. 2 (1880) Improperia – Plain Song
    Vol. 3 (1883) Planché – Sumer is icumen in
    Vol. 4 (1889) Sumer is icumen in – Z, Appendix, Supplement
    Index (1890)
    • Text-searchable copies are available at
    Google Books: vols. 1, 2, 3, 4, Index.
    • Additional copies (non-searchable PDF image files) are also available for download at IMSLP.
  2. The 1900 reprint is available in text-searchable format at the Internet Archive: vols.1, 2, 3, 4. (Vol. 4 includes the Appendix, Index, and a catalogue of articles listed by author.)
  3. Grove II, vol. 1, p. vii
  4. The volumes of the second edition were published as follows:
    Vol. 1 (1904) A–E (OCLC 250954613)
    Vol. 2 (1906) F–L (OCLC 250954626)
    Vol. 3 (1907) M–P (OCLC 250953930)
    Vol. 4 (1908) Q–S (OCLC 252807560)
    Vol. 5 (1910) T–Z, Appendix (OCLC 252807569)
    • Text-searchable copies are available at:
        Internet Archive: vols. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
        Google Books: vols. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
    • Copies (non-searchable PDF image files) are also available for download at IMSLP.
  5. For the American Supplement published in 1920, see OCLC 1077116, searchable copy at Google Books, and IMSLP file #93522.
  6. Blom 1954 (1970 reprint), p. iv.
  7. For the 4th edition American Supplement published in New York, see OCLC 74811413.
  8. For the 4th edition Supplementary Volume published in New York, see OCLC 248932279.
  9. For the 4th edition Supplementary Volume published in London, see OCLC 493270221.
  10. Blom 1954.
  11. Scott Kennedy, Reference Sources for Small and Medium-sized Libraries (1999) p. 216.
  12. 1 2 3 Oestreich, James R. (21 January 2001). "Words on Music, 25 Million of Them". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  13. The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, 4 volumes, 1984. ISBN 978-0-333-37879-3; 2013 (8 volumes): ISBN 9780195314281 .
  14. The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, 1984. ISBN 978-0-333-37878-6.
  15. The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, 1992. ISBN 978-0-333-48552-1.
  16. Grove Music Online – online version of the 2001 edition
  17. Michael Lorenz, "'Franz Schubert' in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2001)" (Vienna, 2013).
  18. "About Grove Music Online".
  19. Oxford Music Online, retrieved 8 May 2015 (subscription required)
  20. "Deane Root to be Editor in Chief of Grove Music Program at OUP" (press release), Oxford University Press.
  21. "About Oxford Music Online".
  22. Oxford Music Online: listing at WorldCat.
  23. Deane L. Root, "A History of Grove Music", 1 July 2012.
  24. Article by Kathleen McMorrow, University of Toronto, in CAML Review, 7 February 2010, accessed 30 January 2011 Archived October 7, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  25. Product page ISBN 978-0-19-517067-2. Retrieved 8 March 2010.
  26. "Grove Music Online Subscription Order Form". Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  27. Foreign-language webpage showing the original dictionary entry Archived August 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  28. Levison, Brian; Farrer, Frances (2007). "How the Danes Discovered a New Composer". Classical Music's Strangest Concerts: Extraordinary But True Stories From Over Five Centuries of Harmony and Discord. London: Robson Books. pp. 40–43. ISBN 978-1-86105-938-3.
  29. Foreign-language webpage for the Choir Archived August 25, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  30. [Stanley Sadie and others] "The New Grove", in The Musical Times, Vol. 122, no. 1656 (February 1981), pp. 89–91.
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Second edition:
Vol. 1 (1904) A–E, Vol. 2 (1906) F–L, Vol. 3 (1907) M–P, Vol. 4 (1908) Q–S, Vol. 5 (1910) T–Z, Appendix
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