Thursday, March 29, 2007

Heyer's Historical sets, collected editions, and monuments of music

Historical Sets, Collected Editions, and Monuments of Music: A Guide to their Contents by Anna Harriet Heyer is one of the essential reference tools in the field of Western classical music. The original edition of the work was published in 1957 and there have updated editions in 1969 and 1980. During this time it expanded from 485 to 1105 pages.

Over the past 90 years the San Francisco Public Library has purchased hundreds of sets of collected editions and monuments of music. A collected edition can be either the complete collected works of a single composer, or a series of works by various composers grouped according to a historical time period, a musical style, or a geographic area. These sets are based on the best scholarship known at the time and include the most accurate editions of the scores. Sets of complete works by a composer should include every work that the composer has written no matter how obscure.

At the San Francisco Public Library, complete works of composers are shelved using the 780.8 call number. The majority of these sets are for library use only, but there are a few on the circulating shelves as well. Many of these sets can be searched online using our online catalog, however, there are also many that are not yet in the database. These must be found using the score card catalog, or by browsing the shelves.

A search of the online catalog does not usually retrieve the contents of the individual volumes of these large sets. Heyer's book is important because it details the contents of these sets. Furthermore, every set has idiosyncracies in they way that it is organized. Additionally, several sets may be difficult to use because they are in foreign languages that may not be familiar to every musician. The overview provided in Heyer can save alot of time in locating a work.

More recently, George R. Hill and Norris L. Stephens have completed a work entitled Historical Sets, Collected Editions, and Monuments of Music: A Bibliography. In many respects this work is an update of Heyer's 1980 edition. However, Hill and Stephens' work does not replace the Heyer in one important way - it provides only a bibliographic citation for the collected works of single composers and does not show the contents of each volume.

There is another way to locate works within a composer's collected works set. Articles on composers in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians usually give a detailed list of works by that composer. Often these works lists will provide the volume and page number for individual works within the collected works of that composer. Remember, that all San Francisco Public Library card holders have access to the New Grove as a database. To find the New Grove online go the Library's Articles and Databases webpage.

Heyer's book and Hill & Stephen's book also index volumes of musical monuments, historical sets and series. For additional help, come to the Art, Music and Recreation Center reference desk on 4th floor of the library. We also have in-house indexes to some collected works sets not indexed in Heyer or the New Grove.

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