Cover image for World musicians
World musicians
Thompson, Clifford.
Publication Information:
New York : H. W. Wilson Co., [1999]

Physical Description:
xiv, 1181 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML385 .W67 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room-Reference-Music

On Order



In biographies ranging from one to five pages, this encyclopedia chronicles living performers (with the sad, unintentional exception of Robert Shaw) from many genres who have been influential with either originality, popularity, or brilliance in their particular fields. The lives of 404 performers, composers, conductors, and bandleaders are profiled, and each subject's contribution to his or her area of music is defined. Most entries include expert commentary and have a suggested reading and discography. The index cross references the musicians, citing their mention in other subject's entries. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

With this volume, Wilson adds a new title to its distinguished series of biographical dictionaries. International in scope, it covers contemporary musicians whose specialties range from classical to pop, opera to rap, bluegrass to rock. Editor Thompson consulted with two professors of music at leading institutions and other advisors to choose the 404 bandleaders, composers, conductors, and performers featured in this compilation. Their goal was to select living musicians who are noted for making original contributions to their areas of music and those who have achieved world-renowned status as practitioners, a high degree of popular recognition, or a long-standing reputation as serious, highly respected artists. Sadly, several entrants, including Yehudi Menuhin, Robert Shaw, and Joe Williams, have died since the volume was compiled. Among the other musicians included are Joan Baez, Wynton Marsalis, Beverly Sills, Michael Stipe, and Krystian Zimerman. Surprisingly, considering the diversity of musical genres represented in its pages, this work virtually ignores new-age musicians, and it omits a number of well-known contemporary musicians who would appear to meet its criteria, such as Herb Alpert, Garth Brooks, Van Cliburn, and Dionne Warwick. The entries, many of which are revised and updated versions of essays originally published in Current Biography, reflect the general format and tenor of that publication. Written in a lively style and ranging in length from 500 to 3,500 words, the articles cover each musician's personal and professional life and are frequently spiced with quotations from published interviews with the subject and excerpts from critical commentary. Many entries include a black-and-white photo of the musician, and all conclude with a selected bibliography of additional publications and recordings. The index, which keys the names of musicians and musical groups to the titles of articles in which they are mentioned, provides a fascinating glimpse into connections and influences between artists that transcend differences in musical styles and genres. However, indexes that categorized the entrants by their types of music, instruments, or specialties would have been even more helpful. The biographical profiles in World Musicians are much more extensive than those in Gale's multivolume Contemporary Musicians (1989^-1999), but the latter covers approximately four times as many individuals as this volume, and it is not limited to living musicians. However, because the Gale set focuses primarily on popular figures, it does not include a number of the less widely known classical musicians who are featured in World Musicians. In addition, some of the entries in the earlier volumes of Contemporary Musicians are now somewhat dated, while all of the articles in World Musicians are reasonably current. Suitable for high-school, public, and academic libraries, this volume maintains the high standards of other Wilson biographical sources, and it is a worthy addition to any collection that supports an interest in contemporary music. Those libraries that have electronic access to either Wilson Biographies, Wilson Biographies Plus, or Wilson Biographies Plus Illustrated should be aware that those databases include the full text of the articles in World Musicians.

Library Journal Review

The "Wilson Author" series, begun in 1942, has now reached its 14th installment. This hefty single volume covers authors who obtained prominence in the early to mid-1990s. It differs from previous volumes in that it includes introductory overviews for each of the 320 writers and 130 autobiographical essays written by the authors themselves. These improvements are an asset to the work, allowing both a better understanding of scope and providing a sense of the writing style and personality of each author. Entries range from a single page to several pages, and many include a photograph of the writer. Also included is an in-depth essay on the author's body of work, often book by book (play or poem), and a sense of the critical reception of the work. Each entry concludes with suggested reading and a short list of selected works. The criteria for inclusion is a bit elusive ("critical attention and acclaim"), and thus authors range from John Grisham and Brad Meltzer to E. Annie Proulx, Pico Iyer, and Jonathan Raban. The lack of defining scope aside, this work captures many of the writers shaping the literary decade and should be of particular use to those seeking an overview of an author's work. Recommended for academic libraries and large public libraries.DNeal Wyatt, Chesterfield Cty. P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Following the precedent set by World Authors (CH, Sep'80) and World Artists (1984), both published by Wilson, this volume, in articles ranging in length from 500 to 3,500 words, profiles some 500 "renowned and accomplished" living musicians active in diverse genres of music. An index of musicians referred to in the articles can be used to trace personal and artistic influences of musicians on one another. Like other Wilson products, this work offers biographical information about people that interest general readers and suggested readings that often refer to literature available in most libraries, such as Time, New York Times, Rolling Stone, Vogue, Chicago Tribune. World Musicians might be compared in content and intended audience with Contemporary Musicians (1989- ; CH, Dec'89). It is indexed in Wilson's fee-based Web source Wilson Biographies Plus Illustrated . For collections that need a useful musical biographical tool that does not require the support of an extensive music collection. C. A. Kolczynski Boston Public Library