A BRIEF HISTORY OF ORCHESTRAL MUSIC ONLINE
Up through the early 1970s, it was very hard to find durations of orchestral
music, short of just putting on a record and timing it, or attending a concert
and bringing a stopwatch. A few books and publishers' catalogs featured durations,
but they weren't terribly reliable. Soon after David Daniels headed his first
orchestra, he also realized that conductors needed more than the duration; they
needed to know the numbers of players required for each piece, in order to secure
enough musicians; they also needed music on the program that would give the trombone
players enough to keep them happy, etc. etc. conductors also needed to know where to
buy or rent the music.
When Daniels told people in the field that a good reference book was necessary to
address those needs, his opinion was met mainly with derision. The one person who
encouraged him was Helen Thompson, Executive Director of ASOL. No one else imagined
such a resource would be useful. Despite such widespread skepticism, Daniels pursued
his conviction. In 1968, he received a grant from Knox Collegefunded by the Rockefeller
Foundation. Daniels spent the spring and summer collecting information, mainly at the Eastman
School of Music (Sibley Library), the Fleisher Collection (Free Library of Philadelphia)
and the Library of Congress.
In 1969 Daniels was hired by Oakland University in Rochester Michigan. Despite the fact
that he was leaving, Knox generously gave him the money for a second summer of research.
He continued at Oakland, with hopes of getting his handbook published.
After submitting a 50-page sample of the ugly computer printout to Scarecrow Press,
they nonetheless accepted Daniels' work. In 1972 the first edition of Orchestral Music:
A Source Book was published. An unattractive book in all caps, which was typical of
computer printouts at the time, the volume covered the standard repertoire for American
orchestrasmore than 2,500 worksputting instrumentation, duration and publisher of each
work at the fingertips of conductors and managers. A few hundred copies were sold to
libraries, but reaching professionals in those early years was achieved mainly by word of mouth.
Ten years later, a second edition was published. Unhappy with the way the first edition
looked, Daniels typed every page on an IBM Selectric typewriter that allowed umlauts and
other accents. Every time he wanted italics, he had to change typeballs, a laborious process,
but well worth the time and effort. Besides these cosmetic changes, the book also featured
approximately 35% additional entries and a more useful system of appendixes, including a
breakdown of orchestral works by size of instrumentation.
By 1996, when the third edition was published, computer technology helped simplify the
collection of information. Daniels found a very flexible database that would do what he
wanted. Containing more than 4500 compositions, the book featured clearer entries and
improved indexes, drawing praise from both Choice and Library Journal.
The fourth edition, published in 2005, used that same database, but added the Orchestra
Library Information Service. In addition to containing nearly 2000 more compositions, this
most recent print version included a number of new and improved features, including a larger,
easier to read format, more contents notes and durations of individual movements, lists of
required percussion equipment, and more intuitive formats for instrumentation.
From a 300+ page book that sold a few hundred copies more than thirty-five years ago,
Orchestral Music: A Handbook
has grown in both size and stature to become an
internationally acclaimed resource and the recognized standard for conductors, orchestras,
musicians, and musicologists throughout the world.
Orchestral Music Online is the most recent iteration of this classic repertoire
reference work. Based on the critically acclaimed fourth edition of
Music: A Handbook this online resource provides greater and easier access to
more information on composers and works.
Orchestral Music Online features:
Access to information on more than 6700 works by some 900 composers
Quick search by composer, title, or keyword
Browsing by composer
Advanced search by duration, instrumentation, chorus type, and soloists
Ability to cut and paste data into rehearsal schedules and other documents to save time and to eliminate transcription errors
Monthly updates with new composers, new works, additional information, and corrections
More than 1,000 changes since publication of the 4th print edition
Links from individual works to music publishers and other sources