reference sources ~ books ~ articles

~ General Sources ~

Grove Music Online or
The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians (the print version)

The entry on Musicals provides a scholarly overview of the form by decade, naming all influential shows and personnel. Includes commentary on trends, source material, film adaptations, and the influence of technology.

A note on currency: neither version of this entry has been updated since 2000. The Wikipedia article on Musicals lists significant shows from the 2000s but offers little else of substance. Wikipedia fans may find it enlightening to compare the content quality of these two articles.

Hischak, Thomas S.The Oxford Companion to the American Musical : Theatre, Film, and TelevisionOxford: Oxford University Press, 2008 (full text online).

Offers information on musicals, performers, composers, lyricists, producers, choreographers,etc.  Includes a listing of recommended recordings and further reading, a chronology of all the musicals described and a complete index of Tony Award and Academy Award winners.

Gänzl, Kurt. Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre. New York: Schirmer Books, c2001.

International in scope, includes the most successful, prolific and heard writers and composers in the countries surveyed, and the most successful, interesting, and widely-traveled shows.

Hischak, Thomas S. Stage it with Music : an Encyclopedic Guide to the American Musical Theatre. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993.

Provides information on shows, directors, choreographers, producers, music directors, orchestrators, scenic-costume-lighting designers, librettists, lyricists, and composers, as well as musical genres, theatre organizations, subjects relating to the musical theatre and famous music series.

Green, Stanley. Encyclopaedia of the Musical Film. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981.

Provides succinct information on the screen’s most prominent individuals, productions, and songs. Emphasis is on Hollywood productions.

Green, Stanley.
Encyclopaedia of the Musical Theater: an updated reference guide to over 2000 performers, writers, directors, productions, and songs of the musical stage, both in New York and London. New York : Da Capo Press, [1980], c1976.

Contains succint information on the most prominent people, productions, and songs of the musical theatre in New York, including off-Broadway, and London. Covers late 19th century to the 1970s. Includes a section on Awards and Prizes
, a bibliography and discography.

 Everett, William A. The Musical : a Research and Information Guide. New York: Routledge, 2011.

This work compiles selected citations of significant books, and journal/ newspaper articles on all aspects of musicals, including individual shows and persons.

 Stewart, John. Broadway Musicals, 1943-2004. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2006.

Factual information for Broadway shows presented in meticulous detail. Lists all personnel, including understudies, replacements, revival casts, etc., and information on inception, out-of-town tryouts and post-Broadway tours, revivals, and films. An appendix includes brief entries on pre-1943 (i.e., before Oklahoma) and off-Broadway shows of significance. Indexed by song title and personnel.



~ Chronologies ~

Norton, Richard C. A Chronology of American Musical Theater. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Productions are listed chronologically by season, from 1750 through 2001-01. Includes essential information about the work, lists musical numbers, and cast.  A show index helps locate a work within the chronology. Songs and people are indexed separately.

Bordman, Gerald Martin. American Musical Theatre : a Chronicle. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. (2001 edition available online.)

Year-to-year account of the musical theatre from its origins-2010, with indexes of shows, songs, and people.

Green, Stanley. Broadway Musicals: Show by Show. ; revised and updated by Kay Green. 6th ed. New York: Applause Theater & Cinema Books, 2008.

Arranged chronologically, serves as a history, guide, fact book and photograph album of the most memorable productions presented both on and off Broadway from 1866-2007.

Green, Stanley. Hollywood Musicals: Year by Year. Revised and updated by Elaine Schmidt. Milwaukee, WI: H. Leonard Pub; Corp., c1999.

A history, guide, fact book and photograph album of 300 major musical productions, from 1927’s Jazz Singer to 1999’s Tarzan.

Gänzl, Kurt. The British Musical Theatre. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

Year-by-year survey of British light musical theatre,from 1865-1984.


 ~ Histories ~

Gänzl, Kurt.The Musical : a Concise History. Boston: Northeastern University Press, c1997.

International in scope, “pulls together all the main strands which go to make up the history of … ‘the musical.’”

Patinkin, Sheldon. No Legs, No Jokes, No Chance”: a History of the American Musical Theater. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2008.

Developed as a college text, provides a general introduction. Spans the ancestors and antecedents of the genre, to shows in 2007.

Flinn, Denny Martin. Musical! : a Grand Tour. New York: Schirmer Books, c1997.

Provides an overview of the ideas that help shape the American musical and traces its history via landmark productions.

Maslon, Laurence. Broadway, the American Musical : Based on the Documentary Film by Michael Kantor. New York: Bulfinch Press, c2004.

            Wonderfully illustrated,

Block, Geoffrey. Enchanted Evenings: the Broadway Musical from Show Boat to Sondheim and Lloyd Webber. Second Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Fourteen musicals are highlighted, which “pose intriguing critical, analytical, aesthetic, and political issues as well as … engage the enthusiasm of the selector” A companion website provides plot summaries, a discography and filmography, and other related material.

The Cambridge Companion to the Musical; edited by William A. Everett and Paul R. Laird. Second edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

            Includes essays by prominent scholars which are intended to illuminate particular areas of the genre. See catalog citation for list of contents.


 ~ Biographical Information ~          

Suskin, Steven. Show Tunes : the Songs, Shows, and Careers of Broadway's Major Composers. Rev. and expanded 4th ed. Oxford [U.K.]: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Entries for 40 composers; from the early years to the 1970s and beyond; lists all published and recorded songs related to a given show. Indexed by song title, show title, and personnel.

Green, Stanley. The World of Musical Comedy: the story of the American musical stage as told through the careers of its forermost composers and lyricists. San Diego: A.S. Barnes & Company, Inc., 1980.

Details the careers of selected composers and lyricists beginning in the 19th century with Victor Herbert and ending in the 1970s.

Parish, James Robert. Hollywood Songsters : Singers Who Act and Actors Who Sing : a Biographical Dictionary. 2nd edition. New York: Routledge, 2003.

Covers performers successful as both singers and film stars in American-made movies.  Articles survey the singers’ careers and includes filmographies, list of plays and radio and t.v. series they participated in, and a discography.


~ Songs ~

Bloom, Ken. American Song : the Complete Musical Theatre Companion. 2nd. ed. New York: Schirmer Books, c1996.

Contains data on over 4800 American musicals including personnel and songs, with extensive indexes, and a chronological list of titles. All Broadway, off-Broadway, and off-off-Broadway productions from 1877-1995 are included, as well as other shows.

Hischak, Thomas S. The American Musical Theatre Song Encyclopedia. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1995.

Strives to provide details of individual songs—what kind of song it is, what it is about, its purpose in the show, who originally sang it, its history, and why it may be unique.  Includes an alphabetical list of musicals with their songs, and a bibliography.

Hischak, Thomas S. The American Musical Film Song Encyclopedia. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1999.

Includes only songs written for, and originally heard in movie musicals. Entries explain the place of the song in the film and who sang it, and any history about the song. Includes lists of movie songs from other sources, Oscar-nominated film musicals, and film musicals. Also includes a bibliography.

DeVenney, David P. The New Broadway Song Companion : an Annotated Guide to Musical Theatre Literature by Voice Type and Song Style. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2009.

Designed primarily for “the singing actor”. Lists songs with their vocal ranges; indexes solos, duets, trios and other ensembles.


 ~ Finding books in the stacks ~ 

Most books on musicals are located in the Music Library reference room and stacks; others are in Green Library stacks.

Browse by these call numbers:

ML102.M88: Encyclopedias

ML128.M78: Bibliographies

ML410: Composer biographies, shelved alphabetically

ML420: Singer biographies, shelved alphabetically

ML1711, ML2054: Musicals (history and criticism)

MT956: Acting for singers

PN1995.9.M86, ML2075: Film Musicals (history and criticism)


~ Finding articles ~

Look for articles using the xSearch music subject database Stanford only (new!)

For details, see the E-journals and articles page on this site, under E-resources.



sound & video recordings ~ printed music ~ librettos

~ Recordings ~

Cast albums, film soundtracks, filmed stage works and film musicals are located in the Music Library, Green Library Media + Microtext, and the Archive of Recorded Sound. Circulation and access policies vary. The Archive of Recorded Sound has many hard-to-find recordings in its collections that are not yet in SearchWorks. Contact the Archive for information and assistance.

Search in SearchWorks for individual shows or for specific performers or composers; apply limits (in the left-side column) for library location and format.

Click these links to browse SearchWorks for all sound recordings or video recordings of musicals.

~ Printed music ~

Search in SearchWorks for individual shows; apply limits (in the left-side column) for format, “Music - score.”

Click this link to browse SearchWorks for all printed music of musicals.

Browse in the Music Library stacks for vocal selections for individual shows at M1508 (alphabetical by composer); or search in SearchWorks for individual show titles, and limit to "scores".

Please note that full printed scores have been published for only a minority of musicals; they are generally available on a rental basis only. Published vocal scores or vocal selections with piano accompaniment are much more common. This is indicated in Searchworks in the title, e.g. “Sweeney Todd. Vocal score” or “Rent.Vocal score. Selections.” Also, sheet music for individual songs may be found in a variety of sources. Follow the e-scores link here for sheet music sources on the web.

~ Librettos ~


Search by show title and include “libretto” in your search.

Subject Headings you may find useful:

Musicals—History and Criticism


Musicals—Stories, plots, etc.

Musical Theatre

Musical Films


Useful links ~ contacts

~ Useful links ~

Musicals 101

Internet Broadway Data Base

Internet Off Broadway Database (Lortel Archives) and Official London Theatre: for current shows; includes video clips, interviews, cast lists, theater locations

The Tony Awards official site

Internet Movie Data Base

Bluegobo: promo videos and other clips theatrical character descriptions, audition information, etc.

Live 365 Showtunes: (mostly) free internet radio stations

Musical Heaven: “Shows A-Z” entries include licensing agency links

American Variety Stage, 1870-1920 from the Library of Congress

Brief Guide to Internet Resources in Theatre and Performance Studies (Stetson University)



~ contacts ~

We are eager to help you succeed!  Please contact us when you need help in finding materials.

Ray Heigemeir, Pubic Services Librarian

Jerry McBride, Head, Music Library and Archive of Recorded Sound

Mimi Tashiro, Music Bibliographer

See all library staff here




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