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Free Online Music Resources
Guide to music-related resources for both performers and scholars
According to the website, "LiederNet is the world's largest research archive of texts and translations of art songs and choral works." It includes texts of over 130,000 songs/Lieder and over 20,000 of them include translations in several major languages ranging from English, French, Italian and Spanish to German.
The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress provides online access to selected portions of their collections. Online content may include audio samples of music and stories, digital images of rare letters and photographs, and video clips.
The Smithsonian's collections and archives are a rich source of information on American folk music and its many genres. Smithsonian Folkways is home to a significant collection of folk music recordings with a storied history as a participant in documenting and supporting the growth of American folk.
An index to traditional folk songs of the world with an emphasis on English-language songs. Each entry includes the song title, first line of chorus, first line of verse, and full bibliographic information on the source. The index contains over 62,000 entries, and, to date indexes over 2,400 anthologies.
At Hymnary.org you can search or browse hymns by title, tune, meter, key, scripture reference, and more. In partnership with The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, Hymnary.org hosts the Dictionary of North American Hymnology, making Hymnary.org the most complete database of North American hymnody on the planet.
The Hymnology Archive, which is edited by Chris Fenner at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is a great resource to find information regarding hymnody. Content is indexed by Author, Tune, Text, Church Year, and Scriptures, which allows for multiple ways of easily accessing information.
A helpful resource for opera singers, "Aria Database" is an online collection of aria texts (some with an English translation). Additionally, with each entry this database includes a brief scene synopsis, information about the character and his/her voice type, as well as a list (or brief bibliography) of scores/sheet music collections which include the aria in question.
A-Z lyrics is a large, legal compilation of song lyrics, some uploaded/submitted by readers. If a particular song's lyrics are unavailable on the website there is a "lyric request section" with a 90% success rate, according to the website. In addition to popular song lyrics, this online resource includes a collection of music videos.
The scores and libretti in this Virtual Collection, from Harvard's Loeb Music Library, include first and early editions and manuscript copies of music from the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries by J.S. Bach and Bach family members, Mozart, Schubert and other composers, as well as multiple versions of nineteenth-century opera scores, seminal works of musical modernism, and music of the Second Viennese School.
An online collection of select opera libretti, synopses, information about role creators, performance histories, and discographies. Additionally this website offers a list of 19th-century Italian opera librettists, mainly for belcanto opera, as well as a fairly comprehensive list of canonic opera composers and their works (including lost or incomplete works).
This archive sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera (New York) includes much useful information for scholars and performers alike. In addition to a very user-friendly search mechanism with a detailed "how to search" guide, the archive includes statistical information about performances and performers. The search mechanism can be used to track down information about specific performers (singers, conductors, directors, costume and/or set designers, etc.), as well as reviews of specific performances, among other things. The "Repertory Report" includes a list of every opera ever performed at the Met with both premiere and most recent performance dates (Puccini's "La Bohème" being the most often performed) . This guide is organized according to number of performances which range well into the thousands. The "Performers Report", while also informative, is less comprehensive, including a list of singers who performed at the Met anywhere from 100 to nearly 3,000 times.
According to the website, "this application is a cross-index of data for over 38,000 opera and oratorio premieres. Originally compiled by Richard Parrillo, entries include works that received a public performance between the years 1589-1995." This Stanford University online resource has a very user-friendly search function, making it possible to track down rare works and compare operas/oratorios based on adaptations of the same libretti. It is possible to narrow your search by opera type (e.g.: operetta, intermezzo, Singspiel), librettist/literary source (e.g.: Metastasio, Shakespeare), composer, premiere date, location (country, city, theater), etc. For oratorios it is possible to set the search parameters to subject/theme (e.g.: The Passion, Abraham and Isaac) and feast month and date, once again making it possible to compare works based on the same or similar themes/texts.
This Wikipedia page includes links with detailed information (opera house histories/performance histories, etc.) about opera companies throughout the world. Additionally, the bottom of the page includes a related (also Wikipedia) link to an online guide of opera festivals.
An up-to-date guide of current Met Opera Saturday morning radio broadcasts. According to the website, this program, "launched in 1931...[is] the longest-running continuous classical music program in radio history."
An online guide to worldwide opera performances and festivals, searchable by composer, title, performer(s), managers, and companies. In addition to this information, the top right corner of the website offers a list of composer births/deaths and opera premieres from occurring on the current date (e.g.: an "on this day..." section).
This is a partial guide to opera companies within the United States. It includes information about opera companies in over 25 states (half of the country), with brief blurbs about each company's history and area of focus. For instance, "Pocket Opera" in San Francisco is apparently known for its "minimalist" productions of well-known works. As a word of warning, the guide is not entirely up to date. For instance, it includes promotional information about New York City Opera (NYCO) which has since closed/canceled all future seasons.
Historical Recordings from the Library of Congress. Includes audio recordings of vocal and instrumental classical music, opera, world music, popular music, and religious music. One of its special features is an online copy of the 1919 edition of the "Victrola Book of the Opera", an interactive facsimile featuring summaries of hundreds of operas and recordings of early 20th-century singers.
The Internet Archive includes a page dedicated to scans of historical scores from the University of Illinois Music Library collection. The majority of these scores are from obscure operettas and/or musicals. The database can be arranged in terms of alphabetical order, "relevance", date (archived/published/reviewed by user), title, or creator of record.