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Baker, Theodore

Baker, Theodore

Baker, Theodore, American writer on music, and the compiler of the original edition of the present dictionary bearing his name; b. N.Y., June 3, 1851; d. Dresden, Oct. 13, 1934. As a young man, he was trained for business pursuits, but in 1874 he decided to devote himself to musical studies. He went to Leipzig, where he took courses with Oskar Paul. He received his Ph.D. there in 1882 for his diss. Über die Musik der nordamerikanischen Wilden, the first serious study of American Indian music. He lived in Germany until 1890, then returned to the U.S., and became literary ed. and translator for the publishing house of G. Schirmer, Inc. (1892); he retired in 1926 and went back to Germany. In 1895 he publ. A Dictionary of Musical Terms, which went through more than 25 printings and sold over a million copies; another valuable work was A Pronouncing Pocket Manual of Musical Terms (1905). He also issued The Musician’s Calendar and Birthday Book (1915–17). In 1900 G. Schirmer, Inc., publ. Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, which became Baker’s imperishable monument. The first ed. included the names of many American musicians not represented in musical reference works at the time; a second ed. was publ. in 1905; the third ed., rev. and enl. by Alfred Remy, was issued in 1919; the fourth ed. appeared in 1940 under the general editorship of Carl Engel. A Supplement in 1949 was compiled by Nicolas Slonimsky, who undertook in 1958 a completely rev. fifth ed. of the Dictionary and compiled the Supplements of 1965 and 1971. In 1978 Slonimsky edited the sixth ed., in 1984 the seventh ed., and in 1991 the eighth ed.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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