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Classical Notes

Classical Notes: October 13, 2006 Archive

How is Wikipedia for classical music?

Posted at 11:08 AM on October 13, 2006 by Rex Levang (3 Comments)

Obsessive readers of this blog (if any) will remember that a few weeks back, I alluded to certain Taiwanese garbage trucks, which are said to play Beethoven's "Fur Elise" to announce their arrival. For this intelligence, I am indebted to that popular resource, Wikipedia.

And if you do a Google search on any classical music term, Wikipedia tends to be right up there with large numbers of hits.

So Wikipedia must be quite the encyclopedia when it comes to classical music, right?

Well … yes and no. You can find good solid articles, such as the ones on Bach and Henry Cowell. They’re a reliable source of links, and their dates, birthplaces, and the like don't leave much to quarrel with. On the other hand, there's work to be done. For example, there's quite a lengthy article on Schubert, but on investigation it mostly comes from the 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica. This is the famous eleventh edition—a great work of reference, but nearly a hundred years old. It's all too easy to find term-paperish prose like this sentence: "The opera is generally considered of capital importance in the history of opera because it contains many high points." So: a mixed bag. But all that being said – keep up the good work, Wikipedians. Stick to your self-proclaimed goal of being bold and writing brilliant prose. And if you don't bat a thousand – who does?

And I would have been churlish not to acknowledge those Asian garbage trucks.

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