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Music Biographical Research: Biographical Research

Biographies Online

I probably don't need to tell you that some of what you find online might not be entirely true...

Proceed with caution when using any webpages as sources in your biographical research, considering:

  • Your person has a legitimate personal website that can be verified.
  • The biographical information is posted on a trusted news website or reputable organization site.

This isn't always as easy as it sounds.  There may be a fan page, or information copied from other sources... with changes.

Biographical Databases

Each of the following databases contains biographical information, although some will have more than others.

A great place to start is Oxford Music Online, which includes biographical information on composers and musicians from all periods and styles.

A good resource is with Credo Reference, which is a collection of online encyclopedias where you might find multiple biographies for the person you're researching.

If you're not finding enough, or if your artist is still alive, you might also want to explore one of our current events databases.  Here you will find performance and recording reviews, interviews, etc.

Biographical Books & Encyclopedias

The Library has a large collection of biographical books (including dictionaries and encyclopedias), which cover a wide range of subject areas. 

The easiest way to find these types of materials is through the Books & Media tab on our homepage.

Try using the keyword biography in combination with your artist's name, and see what you get!

Hard To Find People

It may be difficult to find biographies on some musicians, especially if they are very current or not very well known.

In these cases, you might consider searching for articles about them, instead of strictly looking for biographies.  Sometimes you can piece together a complete picture by using bits and pieces from different sources (performance and recording reviews, interviews, obituaries, etc.).