Nicolas Slonimsky's first edition of Music Since 1900
came out in 1937--his entry into the world of lexicography--and this fifth edition, published in 1994, was the last book he wrote. But that's only one reason why this book should be acquired, cherished, and continually browsed. The "Descriptive Chronology" begins January 1, 1900, with the publication of Hector Berlioz's first volume of collected works, wends its way through Gershwin's first performance of "Rhapsody in Blue" (February 12, 1924) and the founding of the Polish Music Publishing Society (April 15, 1945), and ends with the death of Ernst Krenek, composer of "Jonny spielt auf," (December 23, 1991). With letters (such as those to Slonimsky from Charles Ives) and documents (such as the transcript of the House Un-American Activities Committee hearing on Hanns Eisler), a Dictionary of Terms (abecedarianism to Zen), and a comprehensive index, the result is a scrupulous, eccentric, irresistible music reference.
From Library Journal
This fifth edition by idiosyncratic centenarian Slonimsky incorporates material from the 4th edition (LJ 1/1/72) and the supplement (LJ 7/86) with over 1500 new entries. Again, the bulk of the work consists of the descriptive chronology, which now stretches to the death of Ernst Krenek in December 1991. Unlike similar works-Richard Burbank's Twentieth Century Music (LJ 9/1/84) or Charles J. Hall's A Twentieth Century Musical Chronicle (Greenwood, 1989)-this work is strictly chronological. Most index entries are by name, with individual pieces to be found under the composer's name; there are also a few topical index entries, e.g., "AIDS quilt," "endurance records." The value of the new edition is almost entirely in the coverage of post-1985 events and an improved format, as there is little evidence of any editing or correction of previously published material. (Composer Richard Felciano is still erroneously listed as Feliciano.) Taller and wider pages allow for an easier-to-scan two-column format, and date headers on each page are a welcome improvement. As in previous editions, coverage is heavily biased in favor of serious music-coverage of popular and jazz music is minimal. Despite its shortcomings, this is recommended for most music collections.Michael Colby, Univ. of California-Davis Lib.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.