The Rambler :: blog

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

RIP Stanley Sadie 

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I've recently heard the sad news that Stanley Sadie, editor of the 1980 and 2000 editions of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, passed away yesterday from a rare form of motor neurone disease.

Even without his contribution to Grove, Sadie was a major figure in British musicology. He reviewed for The Times (London), Gramophone and Musical Times, of which he was editor for 20 years from 1967-87 and was general editor of the book series Master Musicians. His scholarly work (including several books) was chiefly on Mozart and Handel, and he was correcting his recently completed book on Mozart's final years before he died. He also prepared critical editions of works by Mozart (including the piano sonatas), J.C. Bach and Boccherini.

But his work as editor for The New Grove first edition, and as editor/editor emeritus for the second edition marked Sadie as a colossus in musicology. For those of us who have lived our whole musical lives with The New Grove around, it's hard to imagine the impact that its publication had in 1980. Suffice it to say that before 1980 there was no 20-volume encyclopedia of music, prepared to the highest possible scholarly standards; after 1980, it became hard to believe that we'd ever managed without one. The 2000 edition, which Sadie initiated and oversaw, became more than a simple revision, and expanded into a 29-volume behemoth. In between, he edited the three-volume New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, with H. Wiley Hitchcock the four-volume New Grove Dictionary of American Music, and the three-volume Grove Dictionary of Opera. For these reasons alone his name will remain on countless shelves and in innumberable bibliographies for many years to come.


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