Monday, December 22, 2008

Opera Based On Literature

Scene from "Lucia di Lammermoor," at Her Majesty's Theatre: "Lucia," Mdlle. Piccolomini, "Edgardo," M. Giuglini, in The Illustrated London News (5/23/1857), from the Art, Music & Recreation Center's Picture File (Operas folder)

The San Francisco Opera recently premiered The Bonesetter’s Daughter, an opera by Stewart Wallace based on the Amy Tan novel. There is a long history of creating operas from existing literary works from all times. Here is a listing of operas based upon famous literature.

Operas have been adapted from Greek and Roman classics–-L’Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi is based upon Ovid, and Hector Berlioz’s Les Troyens is based Virgil’s Aenid. Other opera composers have found inspiration in Shakespeare’s works. Giuseppe Verdi alone wrote operas based upon Othello, MacBeth and Falstaff. Charles Gounod composed Roméo et Juliet and more recently Benjamin Britten wrote A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Plays by Pierre Beaumarchais have provided the basis for two operatic masterworks—Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (based upon La Folle journée) and Gioacchino Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia. Victor Hugo has also been the source for great operas—both Verdi’s Rigoletto (based upon Le roi s’amuse) and Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia.

Abbé Prevost’s novel Manon Lescaut has been adapted to the operatic stage by both Jules Massenet and Giacomo Puccini. Walter Scott’s Bride of Lammermoor became Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti. Modest Mussorgsky employed an Aleksander Pushkin short story as the basis for his opera Boris Godunov. Dubose Heyward’s novel Porgy became the basis for George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.

During the past few decades the San Francisco has commissioned several operas based upon great literature. Wallace Stegner’s novel Angle of Repose was the basis for an opera by Bay Area composer Andrew Imbrie in 1976. Pierre Choderlos de Laclos Les Liasons dangereuses became San Francisco Conservatory faculty member Conrad Susa’s 1994 opera The Dangerous Liasons. Tennessee William’s play A Streetcar Named Desire was composed as for the San Francisco Opera in 1998 by André Previn.

To learn more about opera you can visit the Oxford Music Online website through the Library’s Articles and Databases page which includes the full content of the New Grove Dictionary of Opera.

Additional reading:

Bringing Opera to Life: Operatic Acting and Stage Direction. (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1968. (Appendix C - Operas and background texts - details operas based on literary works).

Fate! Luck! Chance!: Amy Tan, Stewart Wallace, and The Making of The Bonesetter's Daughter Opera by Ken Smith. (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2008).

Literature as Opera by Gary Schmidgall (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977).

Opera as Drama by Joseph Kerman. New and revised edition. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988).

Shakespeare and Opera by Gary Schmidgall. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990).

The Walter Scott Operas: An Analysis of Operas Based on The Works of Sir Walter Scott by Jerome Mitchell. (University: University of Alabama Press, 1977).

This entry originally appeared in At The Library 39 /12 (December 2008), p. 4.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

American And English Popular Entertainment

Punch and Judy, drawn by F. Barnard, from the "Puppets" folder of the Art, Music & Recreation Center picture file

Nowadays information seekers have become accustomed to a world where they can enter a few words into a search engine and be greeted with, and perhaps overwhelmed by, waves of information. In addition to the content created for the web, full texts of magazines and books are also available to search and read online.

In the days prior to the internet and online databases students, scholars and librarians relied upon bibliographies to locate information on a topic. Bibliography was a valued pursuit because it could make information available about obscure but valuable areas of study and research. Bibliographies were often annotated, i.e., provided a summary of the works reviewed and their value.

This blog will occasionally introduce bibliographies that remain valuable because they open up information that cannot yet be located online, or because they provide an avenue of access that is more careful and systematic than online sources. One such source is American and English Popular Entertainment: A Guide to Information Sources by Don B. Wilmeth (Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1980)--volume 7 of Gale’s Performing Arts Information Guide series.

Popular entertainment in this volume comprises activities like circuses, fairs, carnivals, variety and minstrel shows, puppetry, panoramas and dioramas. This annotated bibliography includes books and articles, both scholarly and popular. Circus here comprises various animal acts and performance specialists including clowns. Works on carnivals include P.T. Barnum’s shows, various sorts of side and freak shows, dime arcades, and wax museums. Another section lists books and articles about amusement parks, roller coasters, merry-go-rounds. Other forms of entertainment covered in this bibliography include medicine shows, vaudeville, and magic shows.

The book also includes a helpful index that can lead to information about individual performers, places, and theaters. There are also references to more general topics like censorship, farce, impersonation, melodrama, and quackery. Fascinating sources indexed in this volume include articles detailing the relationship between the art of the Hudson River School and panorama painters, the “Yankee” as a character type on the stage, and the classification of circus techniques.

The author concedes that his book is not exhaustive. But since his entries are annotated it is possible to understand the value of each title and the author’s criteria for their selection.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Dewey Decimal System And Musical Scores

-->Today, December 10, 2008, is the 157th anniversary of Melville Dewey’s birth. Libraries and their users of course owe a great deal to Dewey and his Dewey Decimal System that has existed since 1876. (Dewey is also reputed to have invented the vertical file, a method that we continue to use).

The Dewey Decimal System ideally allows library users to browse the shelves and find related material on the same subject. This works particularly well with musical scores. We have created a webpage that enumerates the Dewey Decimal numbers used for the score collection at the San Francisco Public Library.

Using this list allows musicians to scan for scores on the shelves by form or instrumentation. It is also possible to scan the contents of our collection through our online catalog. The library catalog has a query window for searching by call number. Every call number consists of two, or sometimes three parts—the call number proper, the cutter, and sometimes a number for the year or edition of the work.
Here are some common call number searches:

782 – Piano/Vocal scores of operas

782.7 – Piano/Vocal scores of musicals and operetta

784.5 – Piano/Vocal scores of popular songs

786.4 – Piano solos

787.11 – Violin and Piano solos

787.61 – Guitar solos

788.51 – Flute solos

The call number proper is a three digit number, sometimes followed by digits after the decimal point. The cutter starts with a letter, usually followed by some numbers that denote the primary author of the work followed by an additional letter or letters to refer to the exact work. The third line, when there is one, is employed to differentiate editions of a work by their year of publication.

Take the following call number for a piano reduction of the Nutcracker Suite (called Shchelkunchik in the original Russian) by Tchaikovsky.


The Dewey Decimal number 782.9 is used for piano scores of ballet music. “T219” is the cutter for Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky. The following “s” refers to the official title (known in library circles as the uniform title) of the work, Shchelkunchik. Finally 1968 at the end distinguishes this Tschaikovsky Foundation published in 1968 from other editions in the same format.

The San Francisco Public Library score collection has some long standing idiosyncrasies in its application of the Dewey Decimal System. Many scores continue to have what is called a “partial cutter”—a now obsolete method of saving time in cataloging where the first two or three letters of an author or composers last name is used instead of the preferred combination of letters and numbers. In our example above, Tchaikovsky would be given “Ts” instead of “T219.”

We also use a number of specialized prefixes to cutters. The letter “M” in front of the cutter for the call number 785 (the number for full scores) is used for miniature or study scores. The letter “O” used on the cutter of the same call number refers to sets of parts for orchestral works. The letter “X” on the cutter of a call number is used for a category of scores in our collection known as “x-class.” This practice that has been used at the San Francisco Public Library for nearly 100 years allows scores in softer bindings to be shelved together. These are often works containing multiple parts. A final cutter prefix to consider is the letter “Z.” This is used to distinguish books about musical forms or instruments from scores. 782.9 without a “Z” is a piano reduction of a ballet score. A “Z” in front of the cutter is used for books about ballet music.

If you are visiting the Library for the first time, the score collection is located in the Art, Music & Recreation Center on the Fourth floor of the Main Library. Circulating scores are shelved separately from the book collection and are located directly behind the Art, Music & Recreation Center reference desk. Please visit or call the reference desk if you have any questions.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Holiday Music For the Beginning Pianist

Every holiday season we transfer a selection of holiday songbooks to the Art, Music & Recreation Center reference desk for your convenience.

In addition to conventional arrangements of Christmas, Hanukkah and other holiday songs arranged for choruses or vocal soloists, we also have collections of holiday music compiled for beginning pianists. These are suitable for piano instruction, for beginning pianists who are self-learners, or simply playing for enjoyment. In addition to being simplified, this music is often published with larger note-heads and includes fingerings to assist in learning the songs. These books also occasionally include a second duet part for an instructor to play along.

786.3 Sn642 -- Snowfall: 50 Holiday Favorites / easy piano. Milwaukee, WI : Hal Leonard, 2003.

783.6 F5864 -- 5 Finger Christmas Fun: 11 Delightful Melodies / arranged for piano with optional duet accompaniments by Tom Gerou. Van Nuys, CA : Alfred Pub. Co., 2008.

783.6 C464 -- Christmas Favorites: For Piano, For Beginners of All Ages / compiled, arranged, and edited by Wesley Schaum. Milwaukee, Wis.: Schaum Publications, 1961.

786.41 M9904 -- My First Book of Christmas Songs: 20 Favorite Songs in Easy Piano Arrangements / arr. by Bergerac; with illustrations by Marty Noble. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, 1997.

783.6 L6268 -- A Lighter Shade of Christmas: 15 Christmas Favorites for Early-Intermediate Piano Solo / arranged by Joseph Scianni. New York: Carl Fischer, 2001.

783.6 D6321p -- Disney's Princess Christmas Album / easy piano. Burbank, Calif.: Wonderland Music, 2008.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Images from Life

Life was a weekly magazine published from 1936-1972 renowned for the quality of its photo-journalism. While the magazine ceased publication some time ago, Time-Warner Inc. has retained rights to its image archive. In collaboration with Google they have recently made a sizable part of their image archive available to view online.

Two million images have so far been scanned out of an eventual ten million. Naturally, historical events are well-represented, especially those of that time period. For the connoisseur of photographs, however, one of the primary attractions of this resource is the access it provides to work of the great photographers of the 20th century, many of whom worked for Life. Cornell Capa, Andreas Feininger, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Carl Mydans, Margaret Bourke-White, W. Eugene Smith, Gordon Parks, Hansel Mieth and Peter Stackpole are all well-represented.

Of course there are many photographs of celebrities as well as public figures of all kinds. Unfortunately the database lacks a librarian’s hand—the only indexing is by keywords, and the words used to describe the images are not always accurate or helpful. The shortcomings of the indexing and organization of this resource makes access to many of its wonderful and significant images almost serendipitous. Furthermore, each database query only brings up a maximum of 200 results even when the digital archive contains many more images. There are other quirks to the database. A search for Eugene Smith brings up no results, while a search for W Eugene Smith does; a search for Gordon Parks (without quotes) brings up no results, while a search for “Gordon Parks” (in quotes) does.

To search this resource visit the Life Photo Archive, or go to the image search page in Google and add the words source:life to your query.

This online effort considerably supplements the best printed index to images in Life magazine, Art in Life by Jane Clapp published in 1959 and its 1965 supplement. Art in Life has a different approach than the online resource. The author of this work is only interested in “provid[ing] immediate reference to reproductions of paintings and graphic arts in Life.” It includes images of architecture, decorative arts like jewelry and furniture, mythological figures, and portraits.

Art in Life does not index the spectacular photojournalism described above. It does, however, lead one to many important artistic images throughout the ages. It is particularly helpful in locating reproductions, often of the fine arts, by subject. Because very few of the images that Clapp has indexed have yet been scanned in online Life image database, Art in Life remains a valuable reference source.

Below are links to headings in the San Francisco Public Library catalog to monographs of works by Life’s famous photographers:

Cornell Capa -- Andreas Feininger -- Alfred Eisenstaedt --Carl Mydans -- Margaret Bourke-White -- W. Eugene Smith -- Gordon Parks -- Hansel Mieth -- Peter Stackpole

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Aurora Mandolin Orchestra at San Francisco Public Library

The Aurora Mandolin Orchestra will be performing from its repertoire this Saturday, November 22 at 3pm. The Orchestra is made up of professional and amateur musicians and features musicians playing mandolin, mandola, mandocello, guitar, string bass, accordion, flute and percussion. Their varied repertoire includes traditional and semi-classical works from Italy, Russia and Spain and contemporary orchestral works. In addition, audience members will be treated to a demonstration by dancers to a selection of Strauss waltzes.

There is a long history of Italian mandolin music in San Francisco. These ensembles were originally concentrated in the City's North Beach neighborhood and later spread through the Bay Area. Those interested in learning about this rich tradition should read Mandolins, Like Salami: A History & Personal Memoir by Sheri Mignano Crawford. This richly illustrated book provides a history of the local mandolinists and their repertoire.

This program will be held in the lower level of the Main Library in the Koret Auditorium and is free and open to the public.

Thanks to the Friends of the Library for sponsoring this event.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Final Curtain

Motion picture actors and actresses - Death. That's the rather morbid subject heading that the Library of Congress has assigned to the book Final Curtain: Deaths of Movie and T.V. Personalities, 1915-1992 by Everett G. Jarvis.

The heading nevertheless fits. This book does provide the death dates and causes of death of more than 4,000 deceased movie and television personalities. This information is organized both by year and by name. It also includes a directory of 83 star cemeteries, and a directory of interment locations both by name and by location. And if you are interested there is also a "statistical summary of deaths." (Note: heart attack is the principal killer of the stars).

We keep a copy of this book at our reference desk to answer ready reference questions. There is also a second copy to loan.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Amy Beach in the Classical Music Library

Recently the San Francisco Public Library has begun providing access to databases of streaming audio for library users and library card holders. These databases are African American Song, American Song, the Classical Music Library, Contemporary World Music and Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries. They are all found on the Library's Articles and Database page after following the link for Art & Music.

The Classical Music Library includes 38 works by Amy Beach. To find these works, follow the Search tab on the database's front page. From here it is possible to browse by composer's last name.

It is also possible to create playlists. Library staff have created a short playlist including some of Beach's birdsong-themed piano music, and her Piano Quintet. To listen to this playlist select the "Playlist Folders" tab. At the bottom of this page go to the "Course Folders" and select the playlist entitled Amy Beach.

Performed by Joanne Polk:

1) A Hermit Thrush at Eve, op. 92, no. 1
2) A Hermit Thrush at Morning, op. 92, no. 2
3) A Hummingbird, op. 128, no. 3

Performed by the Endellion String Quartet with Martin Roscoe, pianist.

Quintet in F-sharp minor for piano and strings, opus 67

4) 1st movement: Adagio - Allegro moderato
5) 2nd movement: Adagio espressivo
6) 3rd movement: Allegro agitato

Program cover from the October 28, 1915 San Francisco performance of Beach's Piano Quintet

Beach's music sounds not unlike Brahms, but her harmonic language is somewhat impressionistic like early Debussy. The two "Hermit Thrush" movements incorporate birdsong-like figures into the music, while "A Hummingbird" instead captures the bird's frenetic tempo.

Remember to attend programs of Beach's music and to visit our exhibit--Amy Beach: Her Blissful Years In San Francisco.

Program notes from the October 28, 1915 performance

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Grove Music Online Is Now Called Oxford Music Online

The Grove Music Online database has recently been combined with some other databases and is now known Oxford Music Online—named after the Oxford University Press who owns the product.

Searching Oxford Music Online now will produce results for Grove Music Online, The Oxford Dictionary of Music and the Oxford Companion. It is possible to search all three databases separately or togther.

Grove Music Online still includes entries from the The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2nd Edition, 2001), The New Grove Dictionary of Opera (1992), and The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz (2nd Edition, 2001).

The Oxford Dictionary of Music provides concise explanations of musical terms and concepts, plus brief biographies of musicians and brief entries about famous musical works. The Oxford Companion to Music is very similar in coverage, but the articles are more expansive and often include a brief bibliography. Both of these resources focus their attention upon Euro-American classical music, though they do give cursory coverage to popular music, world music and jazz music and musicians.

Grove Music Online overlaps considerably with the preceding two resources in subject matter. It, however, provides much more detailed scholarly articles that can sometimes go beyond the understanding of the casual music lover. Since it is an online representation of more than 50,000 articles, its coverage is also much broader. Most articles include a substantial bibliography to assist with further research. Another very important feature of Grove Music Online are the listings of works included with articles about composers.

Oxford Music Online can be accessed at any San Francisco Public Library branch or the Main Library. It is also available anywhere the internet is available to San Francisco Public Library library card holders. From the Library’s homepage follow the Articles and Databases link. From there select the category Art & Music.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Amy Beach at the Panama Pacific International Exposition

Amy Beach (Mrs. H. H. A. Beach) was a regular fixture in San Francisco musical circles during 1915, the year of the Panama Pacific International Exposition. There were numerous salon concerts and receptions honoring Amy Beach and featuring her music throughout the spring and summer of 1915. Her Panama Hymn (op. 74) for mixed chorus and orchestra, organ, or piano, a setting of a poem by Wendell Phillips Stafford, was commissioned for the event. It was performed throughout the duration of the Exposition in an arrangement for military band.

Amy Beach was featured as a composer and pianist at the American Composers Day concert at the Festival Hall on August 1, 1915. Here she performed her Piano Concerto in C# minor, op. 45. On October 28, 1915 the San Francisco Quintet Club performed Beach’s Quintet in F-sharp Minor for Piano and Strings, opus 67 with the composer at the piano. Alfred Metzger wrote in the Pacific Coast Musical Review of November 16, 1915:

Mrs. Beach unquestionably understands how to create emotions of a stirring character. She played this piano part with splendid musicianship, securing from it every musical requirement which the score called for. Mrs. Beach is an executive as well as creative musician, and she is entitled to all the honor and respect which a grateful public is able to bestow upon her. She was surely deserving of the enthusiastic ovation which her audience so readily accorded her.

The San Francisco Quintet later renamed itself the Chamber Music Society of San Francisco and commission Beach’s Theme and Variations for Flute and String Quartet, op. 80.

The Chamber Music Society of San Francisco (1916)

We are very fortunate in San Francisco to have two performances of major works by Amy Beach scheduled for the near future.

The Ives Quartet, consisting of Bettina Mussumeli, violin, Susan Freier, violin; Jodi Levitz, viola; and Stephen Harrison, cello with perform the Quintet in F-sharp Minor with the assistance of pianist William Wellborn at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on October 27, 2008 at 8:00 PM. For more information about the Ives Quartet, visit their website. For ticket information about this concert visit the website for the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

On Sunday, November 9, 2008 at 3 PM, Symphony Parnassus will perform Beach’s Piano Concerto with Dan Glover as the piano soloist and Dawn Harms guest conducting. They will perform at the Herbst Theatre at 401 Van Ness Street. Visit the Symphony Parnassus website for ticket information.

Remember to visit our exhibit, Amy Beach: Her Blissful Years in San Francisco, which will be displayed in the Steve Silver / Beach Blanket Babylon Room on the 4th floor of the Main Library through December 4, 2008.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Maloney’s Antiques & Collectibles Resource Directory

It’s possible to collect anything—anything that stirs ones fancy or rouses ones admiration. It may be teddy bears or Toby mugs, insulators, posters, majolica or jade, music boxes or musical instruments, or even motor cycles or automobiles of a certain vintage. But if you want to add to your collection, or to dispose of an item, or to simply establish its value beyond the worth you yourself attach to it, you will need Maloney’s.

Maloney’s Antiques & Collectibles Resource Directory, now in its 7th, rev. edition is the undisputed No.1 resource for collectors, dealers in antiques, attorneys, insurance companies, authors, lecturers and anyone with an interest in collectibles and personal property. It does not give definitions or illustrations, but provides the names and addresses of more than 20,000 collectors, buyers, dealers, experts and appraisers, clubs, societies and associations, museums and centers of specialized research. Many of these entries include websites and e-mail addresses. It also lists reproduction sources, repair/restoration services and suppliers of parts. For some collectibles it provides information on antiques buying trips, internet and gallery auctions, specialized periodicals and computer software for collectors.

The directory also offers resources that provide information about recognizing fakes and reproductions and reports on stolen art, along with listings of government offices that can give information on the laws governing items made from endangered species.

The directory lists more than 3,200 collectibles topics arranged alphabetically, many with See and See also directions. There is “User’s Guide” and a clear and simple index that will help to identify the most appropriate term. So if you collect teddy bears, for example, the first thing to do is to look for “Teddy Bears” in the index. There you will see it is a main heading, and looking in the body of the directory you will find:

Teddy Bears


Under each heading is a lengthy listing of Appraisers; Clubs/Associations; Collectors; Dealers; etc. with addresses and areas of expertise.

If you are a collector of jade carvings, for example, the index gives you “Jade” as a main heading and you will find:



If you are not interested in jade jewelry so you may try ORIENTALIA where you see the usual list of Appraisers, Dealers, Experts, etc. There is also a subheading, Chinese Items, with its own list of Appraisers and Dealers, but no heading to guide you to jade carvings.

You decide to go back and try GEMS & JEWELRY, Jade. But there, again, you find only the names of Dealers.

Still, there is no need to give up. Anyone among the appraisers and dealers in the categories you found has knowledge about jade, and some of them will undoubtedly be able to guide you to collectors, dealers and experts on jade carvings.

If you consider yourself an expert on a particular type of collectible (Jade Carvings, for example), Maloney’s invites you to submit your name and present your credentials and prove your knowledge on the subject. Be aware, though, that your claims will be thoroughly investigated before our name appears in the directory. Perhaps then you may even convince the author to include “Jade Carvings” as a directory heading.

Collectors, almost by definition, are emotional, even passionate. Maloney’s reminds its readers repeatedly in small bullet boxes not to forget basic courtesies: Do not call collect; remember time zone differences; include a stamped, self-addresses envelope if you asked for information through the mail, always ask if there are charges for the service you request.

The directory is not a finished, complete document. It is continually updated and refined to ensure both currency and inclusiveness.

Maloney’s values lies in the easy, clear access to a monumental amount of data and information The directory deserves its fame and reputation and David Maloney, its author, merits the appreciation and gratitude of all involved in the antiques and collectibles trade and related industries.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Amy Beach: Her Blissful Years in San Francisco

Amy Beach: Her Blissful Years in San Francisco, an exhibit of photographs, scores, sheet music and archival material focusing on the San Francisco works of classical composer Amy Marcy Cheney Beach, will be displayed in the Steve Silver Beach Blanket Babylon Music Center on the Library's Fourth Floor through December 4, 2008.

Amy Marcy Beach (Mrs. H. H. A. Beach) was one of the leading woman composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born September 5, 1867 in Henniker, New Hampshire she had precocious musical abilities. At age four she could play music by ear and had created her first piano pieces. She was endowed with perfect pitch – the ability to identify or sing and note on demand.

Growing up in the conservative Victorian New England her mother initially limited her access to music. Her talents were appreciated and encouraged, however, by her “Aunt Franc” -- Emma Frances Clement from San Francisco, who visited her in New Hampshire. In 1875 her family moved to Boston which afforded her the opportunity to advance as a pianist and become a successful performer. At 18 she married Dr. H. H. A. Beach. Acceding to her husband’s wishes she curtailed her concert performances, but with his encouragement she devoted her energies to composition.

She has been described by the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians as “the first American woman to succeed as a composer of large-scale art music.” While best known as a composer of works for the piano, choral music and songs, she also wrote large scale works for orchestra (The Gaelic Symphony and a Piano Concerto) and nearly a dozen chamber works.

While Amy Beach spent most of her professional career in the Northeast she made couple of important sojourns to San Francisco that contributed to her development as a composer. In 1878 she visited her Aunt Franc and her cousin Ethel Clement. She later wrote of San Francisco as the “city, which I had first learned to love at ten years of age when I spent a blissful year there.” After leaving San Francisco she corresponded regularly with her aunt and cousin who to whom she dedicated several works.

After the death of her husband in 1910 she was better able to travel and promote her works and spent several years in Europe. Beach was invited to San Francisco in 1915 to participate in the musical activities of the Panama Pacific Exposition. Her “Panama Hymn” commissioned for this occasion was performed frequently through the exposition. Enjoying the company of her family in San Francisco she considered taking up permanent residence in our City, even registering to vote here in 1916. During this period she participated actively in the City’s musical and social life and composed several works.

Ultimately Amy Beach returned to the East Coast. She finished her days in New York, passing away there on December 27, 1944.

Amy Beach in 1878, photographed at Louis Thors' Photography Studio, 1025 Larkin Street, San Francisco (photograph courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of New Hampshire)

This exhibit benefited greatly from the research of Adrienne Fried Block, in particular her book Amy Beach: Passionate Victorian (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998) and from Gail Smith’s collection The Life and Music of Amy Beach: The First Woman Composer of America. (Pacific, Missouri: Creative Keyboard Publications, 1992). We also received assistance from Roland Goodbody, manuscripts coordinator at the University of New Hampshire, The Special Collections Department of the University of Missouri, Kansas City, the MacDowell Colony, Marie Harris of Barrington, New Hampshire, Helene Whitson of Berkeley, and Carol James of San Francisco.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dorothy Starr: San Francisco’s First Lady of Sheet Music

The Art, Music & Recreation Center is exhibiting images of sheet music from the Dorothy Starr Sheet Music Collection through December 6, 2008. Dorothy Starr (1908-1990) was the beloved proprietress of the Music Stand, a used music store on Hayes Street. The Friends of Dorothy Starr in cooperation with the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library acquired the stock of Dorothy Starr’s store in order to continue to make the music available to the musicians of San Francisco.

The Library has created a separate database for the Dorothy Starr Sheet Music Collection containing more than 30,000 catalog records. This database indexes vocal sheet music of all varieties, including Tin Pan Alley songs, showtunes, popular songs of all eras, folksongs, art songs, operatic arias and choral music.

The Dorothy Starr Sheet Music Collection is a special collection of the Library – all of the songs are carefully preserved and protected. Because much of the music is fragile, we prefer that musicians use our extensive songbook collection before consulting this collection. Nevertheless, we do make the music available to musicians when all are resources are exhausted.

The current exhibit is located in three wall cases on the Main Library’s Fourth Floor. The first case contains images of sheet music about or published in San Francisco. The second case presents cover images from the “golden age” of sheet music during the first half of the twentieth century. The third case presents covers from pop and rock era of the 1960s and 1970s.
The Library’s webpage has more information about Dorothy Starr and the Dorothy Starr Sheet Music Collection as well as the database for this collection.

A Duke Ellington medley from the Dorothy Starr Collection

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Poster Collection - Music Posters

A sampling of the Art, Music and Center’s poster collection is regularly on exhibit in a case adjacent to the Steve Silver Beach Blanket Babylon Room. We rotate posters from our collection throughout the year. Currently we are displaying music posters.

While most of the posters are for performances in San Francisco and the Bay Area, some others are from more far-flung sources. A photographic collage shows the dancers who interpret Isaac Albeniz’s suite, “Iberia ” in the film by Carlos Saura. The painting used in the poster to promote art from the Harlem Renaissance depicts a couple dancing in the middle of the horn section. The composition gives a sense of the rich vitality of the time and place. The poster art for "Medea: the Musical," presented by the Stage Door Theatre in 2000, is simpler, but like the other posters, distills through graphic art what would take many words to say.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Artists in California: 1786-1940

The two volume, 1249 page reference work, Artists in California: 1786-1940 by Edan Milton Hughes, is a biographical dictionary containing the names of close to 20,000 California artists. It covers the time period from 1786 when Gaspard Duché de Vancy, a member of a French expedition, painted Carmel Mission to the time of the Golden Gate International Exposition of 1939-1940. It includes painters, printmakers, woodcarvers, lithographers, illustrators, sculptors, craftsmen, etchers, and artists in pastels and clay.

The arrangement of the dictionary is alphabetical and the format follows the standard pattern: the artist’s full name, dates and place of birth and death (if known), then a biographical sketch which may include the artist’s schooling and when he came to California. This is followed by the medium in which he or she worked, as well as a list of memberships, exhibitions, awards and the locations where his or her works are held. A ¶ symbol announces the bibliographic sources.

The author, a collector of California art, admits to some difficulty over who to include. Since the time of the earliest colonial explorations the mystique of California has attracted artists. Some of them have only stayed a short time, but their works are suffused with the spirit and the beauty and adventure of the untouched new land. He warns not to be deceived by the length and detail of some biographies. Sadly, very little is known of some of California’s finest early artist, painters like Grace Carpenter Hudson, Will Sparks, Edward Rufus Hill and others. They frequently left an impressive body of work, but no written records, diaries or letters. Fragments of information on them had to be pieced together from many sources. No records exist either of the lives of many minor California artists, artists attached to early expeditions, ‘49ers who turned to art when gold eluded them, or refugees from a Europe caught up in revolutions. Then there are artists whose significance to California art is minor, but their achievements elsewhere have been documented and their biographies, consequently, are well filled out.

The author has included two short papers that should be read by anyone interested in California art. The first is an essay entitled “A Brief History of Early California Art,” and it is just that--a lively, entertaining, intimate summary of how the arts became established in California. The second is called “Chronology,” and it describes in chronological order, beginning with 1850, the important events that shaped the California art world.

This reference book, now in its third edition, is an essential resource for the collectors, scholars, and lovers of California art.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Fiddling Around The World

Image from the Art, Music & Recreation Center's picture file

Even though summer has come to an end you can still travel the world with a violin and San Francisco Public Library card. The library offers a number of musical scores that provide violinists the opportunity to explore international folk music styles.

The violin is one of the world’s most versatile musical instruments. While it is a core instrument in Western classical ensembles like the orchestra and the string quartet, it is also used by many folk and non-Western cultures.

We offer collections of fiddle tunes that range from bluegrass, Cajun, Celtic, gypsy, klezmer, tango and beyond.

Here is a sampling of the possibilities:

787.11 Am3541
The American Fiddler: Old-time, Bluegrass, Cajun, and Texas Style Fiddle Tunes of the USA selected and arranged by Edward Huws Jones.
[London]: Boosey & Hawkes, 1998.

787.1 L953b
Bluegrass Fiddle: A Guide to Bluegrass and Country Style Fiddling / by Gene Lowinger.
New York: Oak Publications, 1974.

787.11 C124
The Cajun Fiddle Tune Book: A Collection of Cajun Fiddle Tunes / compiled and arranged by Deborah Greenblatt.
Anaheim Hills, CA: Centerstream, 2001.

787.11 C3321
The Celtic Fiddler / selected and arranged by Edward Huws Jones.
London: Boosey & Hawkes, 2003.

787.11 C441
Chinese Violin Solos: A Collection of Music for the Traditional Chinese Two-Stringed Fiddle / selected and transcribed for performance on the Western violin by Jonathan Stock.
Mainz: Schott, 1998.

787.11 Ea778
Eastern European Fiddle Tunes: 80 Tunes for Folk Violin from Poland, Ukraine, Klezmer Tradition, Hungary, Romania, and the Balkans / edited by Pete Cooper.
Mainz: Schott, 2007.

787.11 En355
English, Welsh, Scottish & Irish Fiddle Tunes / selected, introduced and annotated by Robin Williamson.
New York: Oak Publications, 1976.

787.11 K6795
The Klezmer Fiddler: Jewish Music of Celebration / selected and arranged by Edward Huws Jones.
London: Boosey & Hawkes, 2001.

787.1 C7872m
Cooper, Pete.
Mel Bay's complete Irish fiddle player / by Peter Cooper.
Pacific, MO: Mel Bay Publications, 1995.

787.11 M4806
Mel Bay's gypsy violin / by Mary Ann Harbar.
Pacific, MO: Mel Bay Publications, 1997.

787.11 Se822
Sevdah: traditional music from Bosnia / selected and arranged by Edward Huws Jones and Mehmed Velagić.
[London]: Boosey & Hawkes, 1997.

787.11 T1567
The tango fiddler / selected and arranged by Edward Huws Jones.
London : Boosey & Hawkes, 2006.

787.11 V6755
The Viennese fiddler / selected and arranged by Edward Huws Jones.
[London]: Boosey & Hawkes, 2001.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Current Museum Exhibition Catalogs

This summer, the museums in San Francisco have a wide variety of quality exhibits for art lovers to visit. One of the ways museum shows can be enjoyed over and over again is through the catalogs which are published in conjunction with the exhibits. These are limited edition and often expensive publications with gorgeous reproductions and scholarly information about the works and biographical information about the artist or artists. San Francisco Public Library has a special purchasing plan with Worldwide Books to help us ensure that these catalogs arrive in our library in a timely fashion. Although this expedites the process, it may not receive a catalog until the exhibit has been underway for a time.

Among the catalogs we currently have available is “Women Impressionists,” an exhibit at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. This exhibit brings together over 140 works by Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Eva Gonzalès, and Marie Bracquemond for the first time ever. San Francisco is the only U. S. stop for this show, so don’t miss seeing the art of four major women artists of the Impressionist movement. This exhibit ends September 21.

“Chihuly at the De Young,” at the M. H. DeYoung Memorial Museum, is an extraordinary collection of major works and installations by this master glass artist. The show closes September 28.

Another woman artist is being honored with a major retrospective at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. “Frida Kahlo” is a massive show honoring the centennial of the artist’s birth and includes paintings from all periods of her career as well as rare photographs and film footage of the artist in her personal life. This show also closes September 28. We also have a catalog for the exhibit “Half-Life of a Dream: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Logan Collection.” This will be showing at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art through October 5, 2008.

We also have the book published for the “Power and Glory: Court Arts of China's Ming Dynasty” now showing at the Asian Art Museum. This exhibit is a collaboration effort with the Palace Museum (Forbidden City) in Beijing, the Nanjing Municipal Museum, the Shanghai Museum, and the Asian Art Museum. It will close on September 21, 2008.

Even if these books do not appear in the library catalog, the library may have them available to view at the Art & Music Reference desk in the Main Library. At the conclusion of each show, we will send them to be processed and added to our online catalog and reference collection.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dictionary of Architecture & Construction

The Dictionary of Architecture and Construction, edited by
Cyril M. Harris, is the accepted authority on architectural terminology. It is consulted not only by architects and other professional users, but also by courts of law.

The dictionary provides clear, unequivocal definitions for both current and arcane terms. There are frequent "See" and "See also" references to help users navigate and refine their searches. The book is replete with illustrations that speak for themselves on the maxim that one picture is worth a thousand words.

Architecture and construction and their associated fields are constantly changing and evolving and the new edition includes modern concepts and phrases like noise control or air-conditioning system. Concepts like very-high-output fluorescent lamp stand matter-of-factly next to vesica pisci, an elongated oval frame often used in antiquity and the Middle Ages.

An extremely useful feature is the inclusion of acronyms and abbreviations. If you want to know what ASHRAE stands for, the dictionary tells you it is the abbreviation for “American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers” and that FOHC stands for “free of heart centers,” a term used in the lumber industry.

Monday, August 11, 2008

San Francisco Theatre Research

Lotta Crabtree as a Child (from San Francisco Theatre Research, Volume 6)

In addition to the reference sets of California Art Research and The History of Music in San Francisco, the Works Progress Administration also produced another important work entitled San Francisco Theatre Research. This 20 volume set, edited by Lawrence Estavan, was also sponsored by the City and County of San Francisco between 1938 and 1942.

This series is made up of volumes about famous thespians of San Francisco, genres of theater, ethnic theater as well as on theater buildings.

Andre Ferrier's French Theatre (from volume 9)

The following are the contents of San Francisco Theatre Research:

Vol. 1 - Introduction to The Series / Stephen C. Massett / Joseph A. Rowe

Vol. 2 - Tom Maguire / Dr. David G. (Yankee) Robinson / M.B. Leavitt

Vol. 3 - The Starks / the Bakers / the Chapmans

Vol. 4 - Junius Brutus Booth, The Elder / Junius Brutus Booth, The Younger / Edwin Booth

Vol. 5 - Lola Montez / Adah Isaacs Menken / Mrs. Juda

Vol. 6 - Lotta Crabtree / John McCullough

Vol. 7 - The History of Opera in San Francisco, Part 1

Vol. 8 - The History of Opera in San Francisco, Part 2

Vol. 9 - Foreign Theatres: The FrenchTheatre in San Francisco / The German Theatre in San Francisco

Vol. 10 - Foreign Theatres: The Italian Theatre in San Francisco

Vol. 11 - Edwin Forrest / Catherine Sinclair

Vol. 12 - Little Theatres

Vol. 13 - Minstrelsy

Vol. 14 - A History of Burlesque

Vol. 15 - Theatre Buildings, Part 1

Vol. 16 - Theatre Buildings, Part 2 / Famous Playhouses

Vol. 17 - Famous Playhouses

Vol. 18 - Famous Playhouses

Vol. 19 - Famous Playhouses

Vol. 20 - James O’Neill

A woodblock print from volume 9 - Foreign Theatres

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Opera Preview

(image from the San Francisco Opera website)

Each Thursday at noon throughout the month of August the Art, Music and Recreation Center with the Audiovisual Center will present a series of large screen video presentations of operas. These are abridged screenings of works that will be performed during the upcoming San Francisco Opera Season.

August 7, 2008 - Simon Boccanegra by Giuseppe Verdi. A 2002 production from Wiener Staatsoper, with Thomas Hampson as Simon Boccanegra, Cristina Gallardo-Domas as Maria Grimaldi and Ferruccio Furlanetto as Fiesco. Daniele Gatti conducts.

August 14, 2008 - Die Tote Stadt by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. A 2001 production from the Opera National Du Rhin, with Torsten Kerl as Paul, Angela Doneke as Marietta/Marie. Jan Latham-Koenig conducts.

August 21, 2008 - Idomeneo by Wolfgang Amedeus Mozart. A 2006 production from the Salzburger Festspiele, with Ramon Vargas as Idomeneo, Magda Kozena as Idamante, Ekaterina Siurina as Ilia and Anja Harteros as Electra. Sir Roger Norrington conducts.

August 28, 2008 - Boris Godunov by Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky. A Royal Opera House production from the Mariinsky Theatre, with Robert Lloyd as Boris Godunov, Alexei Steblianko as Dimitri and Olga Borodina as Marina. Valery Gergiev conducts.

The videos will be shown at the Koret Auditorium in the Lower Level of the Library. All programs at the Library are free.

These programs are supported by the Friends of the Public Library.

Monday, July 21, 2008

SFSU Flute Choir

On Sunday, July 27, 2008 at 2:00 PM the San Francisico State University Flute Choir will present "Flavors of Flute," a concert featuring piccolos, bass, alto & Eb flutes, and our old friend the "C" flute. Come meet members of the flute family and enjoy their beautiful sounds in this fun and informative setting.

This concert will be performed at the Koret Auditorium in the lower level of the Main Library. All events at the San Francisco Public Library are free and open to the public.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

History of Music in San Francisco by the WPA

Sisters Yasuko and Akiko Takakuwa from Fifty Local Prodigies (vol. 5)

One of the Works Progress Administration’s significant contributions to San Francisco was the seven volume History of Music in San Francisco. This work, edited by Cornel Adam Lengyel and sponsored by the City and County of San Francisco, is the first and only sizable work describing the early musical life of our City. The following are the contents of this series:

Vol. 1 Music of the Gold Rush era [1939] – a sketch of early San Francisco music history starting from the Mission and Alta California days and the Gold Rush and Barbary Coast era through the City’s earliest choral, orchestral and operatic groups. This book also includes chapters about instrument makers and minstrelsy in the City.

Vol. 2 A San Francisco Songster, 1849-1939
[1939] – a collection of song lyrics on California topics to well-known songs from the time. Includes songs about the ‘49ers, songs relating to early City life as well as songs of working people.

Vol. 3 The Letters of Miska Hauser, 1853 [1939] – Hauser was an Austrian violinist and composer who during an American tour spent time performing in Gold Rush era San Francisco. This volume excerpts and translates letters he regularly sent to a German newpaper describing his impressions of San Francisco’s musical life.

Vol. 4 Celebrities in El Dorado : 1850-1906 [1939] – details notable musicians who performed in San Francisco between 1850-1906. Appendices include a chronological record and alphabetical listing of visiting musicians as well a listing of visiting chamber ensembles, orchestras, bands, and operatic companies.

Vol. 5 Fifty Local Prodigies [1940] – an innovative study of San Francisco musical child prodigies active between the years 1900-1940. This volume includes over 40 biographical sketches including famed musicians like Leon Fleischer, brother and sister Yehudi and Hephzibah Menuhin, Ruggiero Ricci, Ruth Slenczynski, and Isaac Stern.

Vol. 6 Early Master Teachers [1940] – includes biographical sketches of Ernst von Hartmann, Henry Heyman, Hugo Mansfeldt, Henry Bickford Pasmore, Oscar Weil, Eugenio Bianchi, Gustav Hinrichs, Louis Lisser, John P. Morgan, John Haradan Pratt, Julian Rehn Waybur, Margaret Alverson, Emil Barth, John B. Beutler, Giovana Bianchi, Inez Fabbri, and Louisa Marriner-Campbell.

Vol. 7 An Anthology of Music Criticism [1942] – collects examples of music criticism from San Francisco newspapers and magazines from 1850 to 1940 to trace the history, development, and scope of music in the City. This volume also includes a Calendar of Musical Events (1849-1940), as well as short biographies of prominent music critics.

A woodcut from Music of the Gold Rush Era (vol. 1)

The exhibit, WPA Years A New Deal Explosion of Art, Public Works and Labor on the Main Library's 4th floor has been extended through August 10, 2008

Friday, July 11, 2008

Allgemeines Kuenstler-Lexikon, pt. 2

The Supplemental Register

All encyclopedias built along alphabetical principles have one limitation: they require key terms. In the case of the Allgemeines Kuenstler-Lexikon it is the artist’s name. Geographical or chronological connections, stylistic or historical ties can only be discovered through research in the individual biographical texts. Questions about any particular country and the artists it produced or sponsored cannot be answered without much time consuming research and, conversely, neither could questions about artists, painters, architects, sculptors, and the countries they worked in.

To make this kind of cross country, cross cultural research easier the publisher and the editors decided after publication of the encyclopedia’s 10th volume to compile a register that complements and enhances the Allgemeines Kuenstler-Lexikon. This register consists of two parts:
1. Teil, Länder (Part 1, Countries) and
2. Teil, Künstler Berufe (Part 2, Artists’ Professions.)

The entries in Part 1 begin with individual countries, in alphabetical order, with Ägypten (Egypt) and end with Zaire. Last is a list of artists without country affiliation. Within each country the professions are listed, i.e. architects, painters, sculptors. Under each profession the artists’ names are given in chronological order with the volume and page number where they may be found in the Allgemeines Kuenstler-Lexikon.

In Part 2 the first level is the artists’ professions, with countries as the second grouping and artists’ names following. Thus all architects, painters, sculptors, etc…, are grouped together and subdivided by their professions.

For every ten volumes of the Allgemeines Kuenstler-Lexikon one volume each of Part 1 and Part 2 are published.

Bio-Bibliographical Index

By the time twenty some volumes of the Allgemeines Kuenstler-Lexikon, up to the letter D, had been published, covering more than 110,000 biographies, it became obvious to the editors that a means had to be found for researchers to quickly and easily obtain basic information. More than half the enquiries continuously coming into editorial offices have to do with a few precise items of biographical information: date and place of birth or death, verification of artists’ names, which over the centuries had been dealt with in sometimes arbitrary ways. And so the red, 10-volume, Bio-Bibliographical Index (Bio-Bibliographischer Index) came into being.

The entries in this index consists of the artist’s verified name, profession, birth and date information (when available), and an abbreviation for the countries where the artist worked. This is followed by an open book symbol that contains abbreviated citations to other encyclopedic works where information on the artist may be found. There are frequent cross-references that are particularly helpful in navigating the variety of transliteration and transcription possibilities for many names.


The Allgemeines Kuenstler-Lexikon is a unique work. Even in its incomplete form it is a singular achievement. It brings together all that is known of artists of the visual arts of all regions and all periods and presents that enormous body of knowledge in a system of precise, accurate, inclusive, authenticated biographies. This has never been available before and its value in time, effort, and trust to historians and art professionals is incalculable.

The value to the layman is different, of course (the German reading layman, that is). But it is fair to say that anyone who has browsed through some of the Allgemeines Kuenstler-Lexikon biographies will look at a work of art in new way and see the man, or the woman, behind it.

He may look at Dürer’s Praying Hands or his Young Hare and admire the elegance of line and delicacy of brushstrokes, and he will think of the great artist, the theoretician on geometry and human proportion, the humanist who wrote his books in the in vernacular German rather than in Latin, and he will probably chuckle remembering Dürer, the clever business man. Dürer, godson of a printer, was the first artist to have representatives throughout Europe to sell impressions of his copper engravings. He died wealthy.

Visiting Florence and gazing up at Brunelleschi’s dome he must marvel at the mind who conceived a dome made of bricks reaching 83m to the sky. Brunelleschi was an “inventore,” a goldsmith, a sculptor, an architect, a mathematician, a builder, an inventor, the quintessential Renaissance man.

And looking at one of Canaletto’s sparkling cityscape of Venice, of the Grand Canal with the hump of the Rialto and Saint Mark in the background, each palazzo distinct and recognizable, he cannot help but muse wryly that Canaletto’s paintings were the postcards of this time, bought by visiting princes and wealthy merchants to take home. (Aah, but to get such a postcard.)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Allgemeines Kuenstler-Lexikon, pt. 1 - A Work of 630 Authors

The name of this reference work is Allgemeines Kuenstler-Lexikon: die Bildenden Kuenstler aller Zeiten und Voelker, which means Universal Encyclopedia of Artists: the Visual Artists of all Times and Peoples. The title is no exaggeration. It is the most extensive, up-to-date, authoritative tool for research in the history of art and is acknowledged by scholars, art historians, museum curators, gallery owners, collectors, etc. as the definitive work in the field of visual arts.

The ancestry of the encyclopedia goes back to the end of the 19th century when it was first published and consisted of three volumes. This small edition formed the foundation upon which three famous scholar-editors, Ulrich Thieme, Felix Becker and Hans Vollmer, built to bring out their venerable editions, familiarly referred to as “Thieme-Becker, published between 1907 and 1950, and “Vollmer, between 1953 and 1962.

The present edition is published under the aegis of the Comité Internationale d’Histoire de l’Art, who appealed to its members around the world to contribute and share knowledge and expertise. It continues the impeccable scholarship and scientific integrity of its predecessors and will be the largest, most authoritative, international publishing enterprise in art history. The first volume, with an authorship of 630 scholar-editors, came out in 1991.

At this point 56 volumes, covering letters A to Go, have been published. They include artists active in every imaginable arena of the visual arts: architects, engravers, painter, sculptors, restorers, calligraphers, goldsmiths, jewelers, set and scenery designers, artists in mosaic and enamel, photographers and many others. “Inventore,” is used as a label for some artists, primarily of the Italian Renaissance, who worked in many areas and whose genius transcends any classification. The editors admit that there is at times a fine line between artist and artisan, but reserve the right of selection.

They are also aware that the Allgemeines Kuenstler-Lexikon is eurocentric, that the artists of central and western Europe predominate. The explanation offered is that simply more information exists on European artists, more original data and more documentation about their works. Every effort is being made now correct this imbalance and scholars all over the world are asked to contribute their knowledge and insight and truly make the Allgemeines Kuenstler-Lexikon an encyclopedia of all peoples and all times.

How to Read Individual Biographies

The arrangement, as with most encyclopedic works, is alphabetical. Written in German, the German “Umlaute”—Ää, Öö, Üü—are placed in the alphabet as ae, oe, ue, i.e. the vowel followed by e. Dürer, therefore, is listed as if his name were spelled Duerer. Diacritical marks of other languages are ignored for the purpose of alphabetization. For documents written in languages that do not use the Roman alphabet commonly accepted transliterations are used. For Russian and Bulgarian, for example, those of the ISO (Intenational Organization for Standards) are employed, for Arabic the guidelines of the Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft, a respected society for the study of the Orient, are used.

To condense the monumental volume of information and make it manageable, pages upon pages of intimidating abbreviations were necessary, made twice as forbidding because they are in German. After some perusal and a little practice, though, many reveal themselves as self-evident and are easily recognized. By way of example, Chersiphron, the architect and builder of the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the seven wonders of antiquity, was active during “l.H.6.Jh.v.Chr.” which translates to “1st half, 6th century, BC.”

The entries for each artist follow a uniform pattern. They begin with the artist’s name, in bold print, with all its variant forms and with sufficient detail to differentiate him from others bearing the same name, followed by pseudonyms, maiden names and the names of previous false attributions, then nationality, if applicable, and the profession or professions in which he was active. This is followed birth date and place, denoted by an * and death date and place indicated by † symbol. For Russian artists birth and death dates are given in the Julian as well as the Gregorian calendar.

The biographical detail, needless to say, varies. For artists from the ancient world or non-European regions it can be sparse, information simply does not exist or is difficult to come by. On the other hand, European artists have been studied, discussed and written about and the knowledge about them can be extensive. The entries cover the writings of contemporaries, family chronicles, letters, the artist’s diary, centuries of analysis and deductions by art historians. In some cases the editors have unearthed new, previously unpublished information.

After the personal information a series of small symbols aid in an easy, clear overview of the various sections of the rest of the article.

A symbol that must be a museum , is followed by the locations of the institutions and museums that own works of the artist. Original titles are given, if in a major language, and listed in alphabetic order. Where appropriate, a chronological order is used or works may be collected into distinct groups.

Another symbol , a small envelope, denotes the artist’s own writings or other personal testimony.

The next section is identified by an almond like shape, a mandorla, with a dot in its center. It announces exhibitions. Mandorlas with an “E” indicate one-man exhibitions, with a “G” they identify group exhibitions or a participations in exhibitions.

Finally, a symbol of a tiny open book introduces the bibliography along with references to unpublished sources. Articles without attribution have been written by the editors under the direction of specialists listed in each volume.