Composer Datasets

Composer datasets usually take the form of biographical articles (typically in a largely unstructured free-text format, making them difficult to transform into a statistically usable form), or sometimes as neatly formatted lists of basic information such as dates and places of birth and death, gender and nationality. Composer information may also appear in other datasets – record guides and concert programmes, for example, often include details of composers. General encyclopedias and histories of music are also valuable sources of composer information. For some additional datasets related to women composers, see this article.

Dataset Comments
Mattheson (1740)1 About 150 composer biographies. In German. Available at
Burney (1789)2 A general history of music, unstructured text. Includes an index of about 2,000 names. 2 vols. Available at
Gerber (1790 & 1812)3 Biographical dictionary with 3,000 (1790) & 5,000 (1812) names. In German. 2 vols (1790), 4 vols (1812). Available at
Fétis (1835 & 1878)4 7-10,000 composers. In French. Each 8 vols. Available at
Mendel (1870)5 About 7,500 composers (plus musical terms etc). In German. 11 vols. Available at
Grove (1879)6 First edition included about 2,000 composers (plus musical terms etc). Forerunner of Oxford Music Online. 4 vols (first edition). Various editions available at
Brown & Stratton (1897)7 4,000 British composers and other figures. Available at
Baker (1900)8 About 7,000 composers, with a contemporary bias. Various editions available at
Eitner (1900)9 Around 16,500 composers and other figures, particularly strong on pre-1800. In German. 10 vols. Available at
Detheridge (1936)10 Dates and nationalities of 2,500 composers. Two volumes (1936/7).
Oxford Music Online General music encyclopedia with around 50,000 biographical articles. Subscription required.
Wikipedia Information on several thousand composers, as well as various lists by category.
Classical Net Dates and nationalities for around 400 composers
ClassicCat Dates and nationalities for around 800 composers
Naxos Dates, nationalities and biographical articles for around 13,000 composers
Musicalics Dates, nationalities and other information for around 28,000 composers
Composers-Classical-Music Dates, nationalities and other information for around 21,000 composers
Dolmetsch Dates, nationalities and other information for around 12,000 composers
MUSIClassical Dates, nationalities and other information for around 2,600 composers
World Composers Dates and nationalities for over 43,000 composers.
Cite this article as: Gustar, A.J. 'Composer Datasets' in Statistics in Historical Musicology, 11th July 2017,
  1. Mattheson, J. 1910 [1740]. Grundlage einer Ehren-pforte. Berlin: L. Liepmannssohn.
  2. Burney, C. 1935 [1789]. A General History of Music, from the Earliest Ages to the Present Period. Mercer, F. (Ed.). New York; London: Dover Publications.
  3. Gerber, E. L. 1790. Historisch-biographisches Lexicon der Tonkünstler. Leipzig.
    Gerber, E. L. 1812. Neues historisch-biographisches Lexikon der Tonkünstler, etc. Leipzig.
  4. Fétis, F.-J. 1862 [1835] & 1878. Biographie universelle des musiciens et bibliographie générale de la musique. Paris: Firmin-Didot.
  5. Mendel, H. 1870. Musikalisches Conversations-Lexikon. Leipzig.
  6. Grove, G. (Ed.), 1879–89. A dictionary of music and musicians (AD 1450–1880). London: Macmillan.
  7. Brown, J. D. & Stratton, S. S. 1897. British Musical Biography. Birmingham: S. S. Stratton.
  8. Baker, T. 1900. A Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. New York: Schirmer.
  9. Eitner, R. 1900. Biographisch-bibliographisches Quellen-Lexikon der Musiker und Musikgelehrten christlicher Zeitrechnung bis Mitte des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts. Leipzig
  10. Detheridge, J. 1936. Chronology of Music Composers: 820–1810. Birmingham: J. Detheridge.
    Detheridge, J. 1937. Chronology of Music Composers: Volume 2 1810 to 1937. Birmingham: J. Detheridge.