Library Blog

Oxford Music Online

Monday, July 2, 2018

The Library provides members with access to a variety of electronic resources—current popular magazines, historical newspapers, scholarly journals, e-books, audiobook downloads, reference sources, and more. The Library blog is the ideal forum to highlight the digital riches available from our website, and in this post we offer an introduction to Oxford Music Online. See our previous posts on Oxford Reference Online and Times Literary Supplement Historical Archive, 1902-2013.

To explore what we offer, click the Electronic Resources tab at the top of our home page. If you have any questions, ask at the reference desk or email To use our electronic resources, you will need your Library login. If you don’t have one, email the help desk:

Oxford Music Online is a portal that allows users to search multiple acclaimed Oxford University Press reference sources from one easy-to-use platform. The centerpiece of OMO is Grove Music Online, which began as a print dictionary in 1878 and has been continuously in print for almost 150 years. Extensively expanded and revised, the digital version of Grove Music Online now contains nearly 60,000 articles written and edited by about 9,000 subject experts on all matter of musical subjects—genres and styles, instrumentation, theory, geographical traditions, and more. 33,000 biographical articles provide key information about the lives of composers, performers, producers, label owners, and other musical figures, as well as discographies and lists of works. An ideal starting point for scholarly research, the articles also feature bibliographies providing interested readers and researchers a way into navigating key scholarship. Grove Music Online also features more than 5,000 images, musical examples, and links to audio and video. Entries are updated and revised frequently. To give an idea of the breadth of the database, sources in Grove Music Online include:

The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edition (29 volumes, 2001)
The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, 2nd edition (3 volumes, 2002)
The New Grove Dictionary of Opera (4 volumes, 1992)
The Norton Grove Dictionary of Women Composers (1 volume, 1994)
The Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2nd edition (8 volumes, 2013)
The Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, 2nd edition (5 volumes, 2014)

Oxford Music Online also provides searchable access to The Oxford Dictionary of Music and The Oxford Companion to Music (revised 2011). The latter includes 8,000-plus articles on composers, performers, conductors, instruments, works, and more.  

To get started:

  • First, login to the Library’s website (left side of screen under Marginalia)
  • Click the Electronic Resources tab on top of the web page
  • Click the link for Oxford Music Online, which you will find under “Arts and Literature.” You will then be sent to our online catalog.
  • Click the appropriate "In Library" or "Outside Library" link, and you will be sent to Oxford Music Online. You will know you are logged in as a Library member when you see “New York Society Library” to the left of "Welcome to Oxford Music Online."

Searching the database is very straightforward: simply enter your search term in the search field on the upper right side of the screen. There is no advanced search function. You can sort search results using the pull-down menu at the top of your search results (title, author, published date), and modify your search by using the options on the left side of the screen. You can add more terms to your search to focus your results. Articles with a green lock icon in the “unlocked” position are accessible, those with a red “locked” icon are not.

Using the icons under the search field, articles can be saved by creating a personal account for OMO (this is different than your Society Library website login), or by downloading a PDF to your computer. Articles can also be e-mailed or printed. Citations in MLA, APA, or Chicago format may be downloaded.

All and Wikipedia are easy and useful go-tos for quick research on music, but OMO has the Oxford University Press stamp of authority and all articles are peer-reviewed. While the emphasis may be on European classical music, many solid informative articles exploring music from other parts of the world—including vernacular traditions—are included. I have been continually surprised by information I have found in OMO.

The Library also subscribes to a host of other esteemed Oxford resources in digital form, including the Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford Reference Online, The Dictionary of National Biography, and Oxford Art Online. Stop by the Reference Desk if you would like more information.

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