Writer, editor, and music scholar. Previously publications editor at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, England.
(Editor, with Stanley Sadie) Stanley Sadie's Brief Guide to Music, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1986.
(Assistant editor, with Stanley Sadie) The Norton/ Grove Concise Encyclopedia of Music, Norton (New York, NY), 1988.
(Editor, with Roger Parker) Verdi in Performance, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2001.
(Editor, with Stanley Sadie) The Cambridge Music Guide, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2001.
(Editor) The Oxford Companion to Music, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2002.
(Editor) Sing, Ariel: Essays and Thoughts for Alexander Goehr's Seventieth Birthday, Ashgate (Burlington, VT), 2003.
(Editor) The Oxford Dictionary of Musical Works, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2004.
The Norton/Grove Concise Encyclopedia of Music, coedited by music scholar Alison Latham and Stanley Sadie, provides a single-volume reference covering a wide variety of musical genres, styles, and time periods. Condensed from the twenty-volume New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, the book includes drawings, diagrams, musical examples, and tables. The core of the book offers listings and brief biographical information on performers, composers, publishers, and other professionals. Listings include brief descriptions of instruments and instrument makers, plus more than one thousand titles and nicknames of musical works. Coverage is given to both Western and non-Western forms of music. Geraldine Ostrove, writing in Notes, found a British bias in the encyclopedia, which is ostensibly aimed at an American market. However, the book "stands alone as a reliable, up-to-date-one-volume desk encyclopedia of music in English," Ostrove remarked. For students, writers, and browsers "needing a handy book in order to look up something about music quickly without keeping an entire library on the shelves, The Norton/Grove Concise Encyclopedia of Music will take care of the situation," observed Harold C. Schonberg in the New York Times Book Review.
Verdi in Performance, edited by Latham and Roger Parker, originated in a 1995 conference, Performing Verdi, held at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. "Verdi in Performance summarizes the current state of research in the fertile, yet surprisingly underdeveloped field of Verdi performance," commented Nicole Baker in Notes. The first section of the book covers staging in Verdi performances, addressing issues of whether modern performances should try to recreate Verdi's contemporary performance conditions or if they should be staged in today's fashion. Part two explores vocal and instrumental performance in Verdi's works, while part three delves into issues of dance and ballet. Part four provides detailed discussion of editions of Verdi's work and the fundamental differences between a static, printed edition and a dynamic, unique, one-time performance that cannot be duplicated.
"The editors and participants are to be commended for seeing their ideas into print, for even though many of the issues discussed are specific to performing Verdi, much of the material is clearly applicable to modern performance of a wide range of music," stated Stephen A. Willier in Opera Quarterly. "The overall result of the collection is a fascinating, stimulating collection of reference materials, research, opinions, and arguments about four critical areas of Verdi scholarship," Baker wrote.
Latham and Sadie also edited The Cambridge Music Guide, an illustrated reference work on Western classical music. The guide offers definitions and discussion of topics such as musical structure, history, instruments, elements, and more. Brief biographies discuss individual composers, their works, and their musical eras. Also included are "listening notes" with detailed information on musical compositions. Lists and tables allow quick reference to common musical information, terms, and definitions. "I'd recommend this attractive and colorfully illustrated book as a first choice to anyone looking for a concise, scholarly, but not intimidating guide to classical music," stated Philip Haldeman in American Record Guide.
Latham is the sole editor of The Oxford Companion to Music, an exhaustive one-volume reference to Western classical music traditions throughout the world. First published in 1938 as The Oxford Companion to Music, Self-Indexed and with a Pronouncing Glossary, by Percy A. Sholes, and last updated in 1983 as The New Oxford Companion to Music, edited by Denis Arnold, Latham's book owes much to the volumes that came before it but is a distinct work from its predecessors. More than 150 scholars and writers contributed to the more than 8,000 entries in the volume. More than seventy percent of the book is new material since the 1983 volume and includes information on jazz, popular music, dance music, and other genres. Entries cover topics such as composers, theorists, some performers, instruments, forms, political influences on music, music from individual countries, musical terms, and more.
Tim Wadham, writing in School Library Journal, called The Oxford Companion to Music "a definitive work useful for both browsing and research," and "an accessible, authoritative resource." A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that "the compendium is solidly researched, with useful biographical information and lists of suggested reading." Rick Jones, writing in Evening Standard (London, England), remarked that "Latham's Companion is certainly useful—you can never have too many reference books—but as a work it lacks a strong personality" and is "bereft of humour." But Strings reviewer Heather K. Scott called it "a rich reference for anyone interested in music history, theory, study, and/or application." And Tim Homfray, writing in Times Educational Supplement, concluded that "this is probably the best one-volume music reference book going."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Record Guide, May-June, 2001, Philip Haldeman, review of The Cambridge Music Guide, pp. 259-260.
Booklist, November 15, 2002, review of The Oxford Companion to Music, pp. 621-622.
CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, October, 2002, J. Tsou, review of The Oxford Companion to Music, p. 257.
Evening Standard (London, England), March 11, 2002, Rick Jones, "Not Such a Good Companion," review of The Oxford Companion to Music, p. 51.
Instrumentalist, September, 2002, James Sellers, review of The Oxford Companion to Music, pp. 4-8.
Lancet, August 31, 2002, Thomas Sherwood, review of The Oxford Companion to Music, p. 257.
Library Journal, June 15, 2002, Bonnie Jo Dopp, review of The Oxford Companion to Music, p. 58.
Musical Times, spring, 2004, Arnold Whittal, review of Sing, Ariel: Essays and Thoughts for Alexander Goehr's Seventieth Birthday, pp. 97-101.
Music Educators Journal, January, 2003, review of The Oxford Companion to Music, p. 76.
New York Times Book Review, October 8, 1989, Harold C. Schonberg, review of The Norton/Grove Concise Encyclopedia of Music, p. 10.
Notes, March, 1991, Geraldine Ostrove, review of The Norton/Grove Concise Encyclopedia of Music, pp. 796-797; December, 2002, Nicole Baker, review of Verdi in Performance, pp. 348-350.
Opera, March, 2002, Richard Law, review of Verdi in Performance, pp. 362-363.
Opera Quarterly, autumn, 2002, Stephen A. Willier, review of Verdi in Performance, pp. 592-601.
Publishers Weekly, July 31, 2000, review of The Cambridge Music Guide, p. 88; May 13, 2002, review of The Oxford Companion to Music, p. 60.
School Library Journal, November, 2002, Tim Wadham, review of The Oxford Companion to Music, p. 102.
State (Columbia, SC), June 12, 2002, William W. Starr, review of The Oxford Companion to Music.
Strings, October, 2002, Heather K. Scott, review of The Oxford Companion to Music, pp. 89-90.
Sunday Times (London, England), March 10, 2002, Hugh Canning, "Who's In, Who's Out in the Fickle World of Classical Music," review of The Oxford Companion to Music, p. 39.
Times Educational Supplement, April 19, 2002, Tim Homfray, "Critics' Choice," review of The Oxford Companion to Music, p. 8.
Times Literary Supplement, February 1, 2002, Peter Porter, "Lost in the Byways," review of Verdi in Performance, p. 19; January 17, 2003, David Schiff, "Maddening Multitudes," review of The Oxford Companion to Music, p. 18.*