Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians

Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians is a major reference originally compiled in 1900 by Theodore Baker, PhD, and published by G. Schirmer Inc. The publication is now in its ninth edition.

Edition history

The 5th edition of 1958, 8th edition of 1992, and 9th edition of 2001 were major rewrites and expansions. The 5th edition was rewritten by new editor Nicolas Slonimsky, who would remain editor for several decades (through the 8th edition in 1992) and have a considerable influence on the style and content of the dictionary. In preparing the 5th edition, Slonimsky expanded the size of the work (to 1,855 pages), and undertook a thorough review of the existing entries, expending considerable effort verifying and correcting biographical details such as birth and death dates by reference to archival sources.

The 8th edition of 1992 revised 1,300 entries and added 1,100 new ones, coming to 2,115 pages, with an emphasis on expanding coverage of female and Asian musicians, multimedia composers, performance artists, and ethnomusicologists. The 9th edition of 2001, billed the "Centennial Edition", was the first not to be a single-volume work, taking up six volumes, partly due to expanded coverage and partly due to somewhat more generous formatting to improve readability. The 9th edition included a focus on increasing coverage of popular and jazz music.

History of its publishers

G. Schirmer Inc., publisher of Baker's since the first edition, was sold to Macmillan Inc. in 1969.[1] Macmillan then sold G. Schirmer, except for its reference, to Music Sales Corporation of London in 1986. The Schirmer Reference is currently owned by Gale, a division of Cengage Learning.


Edited by Theodore Baker (1851–1934)

Edited by Nicolas Slonimsky (1894–1995)

Edited by Laura Diane Kuhn, PhD (born 1953)


  1. G. Schirmer is Sold, The New York Times, May 16, 1986


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