In my activities as a listener and reviewer of classical music, discographer and record collector, I use a lot of different resources. Some are physical – that’s the old world I grew in: the records themselves, scores, books, record magazines and catalogues, label catalogues which I used to collect in the early days of the CD, when labels still saw it expedient to publish those lavish paper catalogs, etc.. This Resources & Links sections will list those resources at my disposal.
And then came the age of the Internet, and I’ve got to say that while I’m usually very defiant of what’s peddled on us in the name of “technological progress” (I’m not on Facebook, I still use my cell phone from over ten years ago, and I’d be happy if I could return to Windows 7, but no, usually it’s a one-way street…), I’ve found it a Godsend: it’s the realization of the ideal of the Enlightenment, universal knowledge two clicks away (and I’m a great fan of Wikipedia too). Of course the problem of the Internet is that too much info drowns the info, but if you know what you are looking for, there is so much available out there that it is simply incredible. And it makes possible research that simply would NOT have been possible in the era of “physical things”. About this, an anecdote:
[pop up: I was having an exchange of e-mails with the great Mahler discographer, Peter Fülöp, the man who owns in one form or another every single Mahler recording that was ever made, save about six. And, because I had provided him some info about some Vanguard CD reissues, he told me about an early recording which he had seen references to, but in forthy years of research had never been able to establish if it had actually ever been in existence: an early Vanguard 78rpm, for which the only indication he had was “Wunderhorn: M.Paull, K.Hieber Vanguard 3“. He asked me if I knew anything about it. Well, how was I going to know anything about it if in forty years of research the ultimate Mahler specialist has not been able to establish that this disc ever existed?
Well, other than references in various early discographies which were not enough to establish the actual existence of the record, an hour of Internet research fished out a review in, you’ll never guess, the Morning Herald, Hagerstown, Maryland, 28 March 1947 (!!!): “Off The Record New Releases Vanguard:–This new recording company’s first releases include A ten-inch disc containing two lovely, seldom-heard songs, Mahler’s “Wer Hat Dies Liedlein Erdacht?” and Franz’ “Zwei Welke Rosen” Well sung by Mary Paull, to the piano accompaniment of Kenneth Hieber, the surfaces are quiet and the recording quality is excellent.”
So this proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that the disc had indeed actually existed and further enabled to establish with relative precision its publication date. Whoever had the strange idea to put online the back copies of the Morning Herald, Hagerstown, Maryland, and took the time to scan all those pages from all those issues and upload them, BLESS THEM! That info would have been impossible to find in the pre-Internet era, because who would have even had the idea of going to the public library of Hagerstown, Maryland, to browse through the fine print of old, old copies of the Morning Herald? And what made it possible to find what I was looking for was not only the presence online of all those uploads, but also that through the absolute magic (or so it functions in my eyes) of computer technology, research engines were able to locate single and very specific words in the fine print of an anonymous page of and old back copy of an obscure local newspaper. Magic indeed. And I have many other similar anecdotes of the findings that the Internet makes possible. In many such cases, I’ve often reflected: “how would I have found that info before the invention of the Internet?” And the answer is always: “I wouldn’t even have started searching”.]
So, many of my favorite and most helpful resources are now online. By providing the link to all those websites I’d like to pay tribute and express my gratitude to all those who spent all those hours to make that information available to all.
PS 28 December 2020: about online resources for discographic research, see my blogpost from 10 April 2020.