Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Do you use Grove? I'm jealous of those who can access it electronically without having to pay $US295 or 200 pounds per year, as we have to in Australia. But I should count my blessings, because a friend who used to work for MacMillans provided us with a copy of the 10 volume 5th paperback edition at half price post free in the 70s, then gave us an imperfect but perfectly serviceable copy of the 20 volume New Grove [1980 edition] in the 90s, and last week gave us a brand new copy of the 29 volume second edition of New Grove. We would never have been able to afford the $AUS 2000 the first edition was priced at here, and certainly not the $AUS 7000 for the second. As I hold a volume in my hands, I reflect on the fact that each of the 29 volumes is worth over $200!

Although hypertext linking has greatly enhanced using multivolume works electronically, there is still something about a book, I think.

It has been interesting to wade through the prefaces and introductory material and see how complicated making a work like this must be. There were thousands of contributors and over 100 editors, consultants, proof readers and admin staff. It has 21 million words and 29,000 articles.

This is a far cry from the 4 volume work published by Sir George Grove in 1879. In those days his dictionary only began with the Renaissance in 1450 and he deliberately excluded all investigations into the music of barbarous nations!

The New Grove, in contrast, even includes us barbarous Aussies! I'm hoping to use it as a resource this year when I take my U3A Music Appreciation class through some of our own music.

I love this new second edition, but will miss some of the great articles in the first edition: I notice that the article on St Augustine, for example, is quite different. We don't have the room for 49 volumes, and so I must part with the 1980 edition. I will certainly miss Volume two of the first edition, because I loved its title Back to Bolivia! Who would have thought there was a composer called Back?

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