REVIEWERS' EVALUATIONS FOR NEH GRANTS TO CREATE THE
RIPM RETROSPECTIVE INDEX AND THE
RIPM ONLINE ARCHIVE TO MUSIC PERIODICALS
* * *
REVIEWS IN JOURNALS
Of the seventy-six NEH readers who have reviewed RIPM indexing and Online Archive applications over the years, seventy-two shared a similar view.1 Quotes from the evaluations of the seventy-four NEH reviewers follow:
- "The RIPM project will have an impact on historical musicology for generations to come ... one of the major musicological projects of the second half of the twentieth century."
- "RIPM will have enormous intellectual impact for musical scholarship ... There are no existing reference sources of comparable scope."
- "This is one of the major bibliographical projects in musicology of our time ."
- RIPM is "brilliantly devised to index material that at first glance—and at second and third glances, too—appears nearly un-indexable." The work plan "is splendid and it has already proved that it works."
- "... aside from granting scholars access to a largely-unused treasure house of information ... students are being better educated and trained, librarians and archivists serve their collections and readers much more efficiently ... The influence of RIPM will be enormous during the coming decades."
- "RIPM is perhaps the singularly most important and innovative initiative in the history of Western 19th-century music of the last twenty years."
- "Unquestionably the series will greatly facilitate research."
- "RIPM is quite simply the finest large-scale bibliographical project in musicology."
- "The RIPM indexes are a resource that will never outgrow its usefulness."
- "There is overwhelming evidence of success ... Of the projects supported by the Reference Materials Program with which I am familiar, RIPM very likely leads the pack in terms of scholarly impact for funds invested."
- "... one of the outstanding bibliographical projects of the last half century ... its utility will surely grow so long as musical scholarship continues to be practiced."
- "The project is among the most significant given the current state of documentation for the study of 19th-century music."
- "The ... RIPM project has been exceptionally successful ... a massive tool of international distinction that benefits scholars in many humanistic disciplines ... productivity is remarkable."
- "[RIPM is] international in scope and appeal, without competition."
- "[RIPM] is among the most significant and desirable bibliographic series ... volumes are looked forward to with great anticipation and hope by music researchers on every level ... perhaps the most important ... [proposal] I have had the privilege of evaluating through the many years ..."
- "The volumes of RIPM are of enormous utility ... When completed, the set will stand as one of the crucial reference tools for all who work in the area ... a project ... ahead of its time."
- "Excellent proposal ... The production of the volumes is significant ..."
- "I'm much impressed with this project ... an extremely impressive publication record ... new volumes covering Eastern Europe [are] a welcome addition ... recommended without reservation."
- "The notion of making all of this accessible to scholars in a coherent way almost seems impossible. Fortunately, the RIPM is providing an ingenious solution to a seemingly insoluble problem ... The project does indeed reflect current standards and best practice."
- "This is a superb proposal in every respect ... As to significance for scholars, the applicants could not be more on target."
- "RIPM has undoubtedly been a major force in musicology. The size of the project, the international cooperation, the scope, and the periodicals covered are all impressive."
- "Clearly this project has an impressive track record."
- "The project answers clear and worthy goals ... From its inception, the enterprise appears to have been well structured, openly vetted and carefully governed."
- "[RIPM] is arguably even more important now than it was 10 years ago at its inception ... This is about as important a reference tool as I can imagine in present day musicology."
- "This is an ongoing multi-national project of major significance ... Attesting to the project's overall significance ... is the fact that institutions in countries experiencing severe economic uncertainties [Russia, Poland, Hungary] are continuing to support their respective RIPM national offices."
- "RIPM has become one of the very significant research tools for the student of nineteenth-century music ... For the continued practice of historical musicology, RIPM is a major boon."
- "RIPM is among the most important musical reference works of the past fifteen years; indeed, in my judgment it's likely THE most important ... the volumes have received wide critical acclaim ... no musicologist engaged in historical research can do without it."
- "RIPM has proven to be one of the most successful and important—perhaps the most important—projects devised to make musical documentation available to historians of music from the 19th century ... RIPM's steady progress has been little short of a miracle ... RIPM has dramatically enhanced musical scholarship ... RIPM is reshaping our views of music itself."
- "The importance of the RIPM project to the scholar ... cannot be overstated ... [RIPM displays] the highest standards of bibliographic scholarship ... The reception [of RIPM] ... bespeaks undivided international and multi-cultural esteem for both design and execution."
- "[RIPM] is of proven significance to musical scholarship ... a model of cooperation and consultation ... The director and his staff have been attentive to the collective expertise of musical scholarship ... The volumes ... are extraordinarily error-free and consistent ... impressive level of international cooperation and support."
- [RIPM] is an indispensable research tool for any 19th-century musicologist ... The track record is excellent. The published volumes evidence that the goals established for previous granting periods have all been met."
- "The project is very substantial ... It comes with a great deal of support from those in the music community and others I have talked to"
- "The RIPM project has produced an extremely significant corpus of reference volumes, has been extremely well-managed, and has received a high level of international support and cooperation ... all previous goals have somehow miraculously been met ... [I] would place it at top priority for funding."
- "This ongoing project has become a standby of musicologists, quite clearly a crucial consolidation of otherwise virtually unattainable knowledge ... The reviews are exceptional."
- "one of the great phenomena in the history of music bibliography ... the project has exemplified the highest intellectual standards of scholarship while fulfilling a dream of productivity that is virtually unprecedented in the field of music scholarship."
- "RIPM is well known within the musicology community as a fully professional bibliographic enterprise. Its accomplishments are significant."
- "a convincing case re: value to scholars ... Soundness of project plan of work ... Fine ... Staff qualifications ... Fine ... Viability and cost efficiency of project budget ... Fine."
- "RIPM is the most significant reference work for accessing earlier music periodicals contents, and is a fundamental research tool ... [with] marvelous depth of coverage ... highly commendable process through which RIPM created its indexing standards ... [RIPM] can now be reasonably said to represent the best practices in the field ..."
- "Students, educators, and advanced researchers will welcome this convenient online tool with enthusiasm ... [for they] might otherwise spend months locating these articles I applaud [RIPM's] past achievements and [their] commitment to a vision."
- "The proposed project will apply an extremely efficient and comprehensive process to the final frontier of music periodical literature ... [RIPM] will at long last fill the ... embarrassing gap ... It is impossible to overstate the significance of this project for the study of the music of the 20th century"
- "there is no other database in existence which could compete with RIPM either by its scope ... or by the amount of detail embodied in the RIPM indices ... RIPM gave us an entirely new perspective on the reception of music in the 19th century ... a bibliographic resource helpful to a wide range of music scholars, regardless of which kind of music they are investigating ... I wish to emphasize my great appreciation of RIPM's database."
- "The scholarly significance of the past work of the international RIPM crew is very well proven ... RIPM [is] THE standard bibliographic guide for 19th century musicological research."
- "There is little to add to the question of 'significance' concerning this project ... exemplary."
- "RIPM is one of the most monumental bibliographical endeavors in musicology. It has been extremely successful over the years ... incredibly impressive."
- "[RIPM is] welcomed by the many scholars (from students to specialists) who make regular use of the resources of RIPM ... Excellent."
- "RIPM has a demonstrated track record of excellence ... [and] demonstrated over the years that they can accomplish what they set out to do and there is no indication that things will change."
- "RIPM has an indisputable track record ... The value and solidity of the series is guaranteed by its past success and its international oversight by both musicological and librarians' organization. Its procedures, technologies, etc. are all in place."
- "The RIPM is one of the longest-standing and wide-ranging musicological projects ... This project has been listening carefully to major American scholars, and their voices are cited as warmly commending its scope ... I'm especially pleased by this proposal"
- "There is no question that RIPM is a badly, yea desperately needed resource ... two cheers for the "Americas Initiative" ..."
- "[A] monumental project ... A wonderful model for studying all aspects of music ... Many countries are involved in this project, which is a testament to the resourcefulness of the RIPM organization ..."
- "The significance of the RIPM resources cannot be overstated. They have provided all manner of students, educators, and scholars with access to a breadth of musicological research through contemporary journal review that I don't believe has been matched."
- "RIPM has a very fine track record ... Past projects funded by NEH have exceeded the stated production number that was requested. This proposal is very well-documented and thought-out and provides methodology and past results to back up their claims of success."
- "The RIPM project has been incredibly successful and of great benefit to musicologists and scholars ... The project is of crucial importance to music scholarship and the indexing standards and quality of work have been high and respected ... it is a great project and builds on great work they have already done."
- "This is a highly cogent proposal for work which builds on a successful, widely acclaimed model. By coincidence, interest in music criticism has steadily increased over the years this project has been operating. It seems workable in every way."
- "RIPM is undoubtedly one of the most significant bibliographic projects and has become an extremely valuable resource. The project's efforts to index music periodicals from the early twentieth century would be of tremendous benefit to scholars ... broad international coverage is one of its principal strengths."
- "RIPM is invaluable to the musicological community ... The volumes covering the 19th century are vital resources to students and scholars of the period ... As an international, collaborative effort, RIPM is remarkable...Many of the resources catalogued would otherwise be overlooked by investigators. The descriptive annotations allow for more efficient use of research time and more focused scholarship."
- "[RIPM is] the most important undertaking in the musical humanities during the first decade of this century and probably for several decades to come. Hundreds of thousands of scholars, musicians, teachers and students will benefit from the completion of a comprehensive online index to music periodical literature published between 1900 and 1950 ..."
- "RIPM is one of the most ambitious worldwide bibliographical projects in historical musicology ... Making the contents of these journals available online and in searchable form is a very worthwhile project. I am amazed at the amount of work that can be accomplished here for a relatively small investment."
- "RIPM is an invaluable resource, and I can think of few higher priorities than a digitization of its archive of periodicals. The chronological breadth and journalistic scope of the collection is remarkable ... crucial to scholars and researchers."
- "RIPM has an excellent track record. ... The ability to view the rare and unusual articles they index will be a boon to scholars. The international component both in terms of content and scholarly collaboration is significant ... an excellent project ... an incredibly valuable resource."
- "RIPM has had lengthy and overwhelming support from the scholarly community, and the enthusiasm it garners is not without reason... a resounding cheer from musicologists and librarians worldwide."
- "Based on the overwhelmingly positive reviews of this project for previous NEH grants, it seems almost redundant to rave once more. RIPM will provide online access to journals almost completely unavailable elsewhere, in 16 foreign languages, all the while "RIPM has had lengthy and overwhelming support from the scholarly community, and the enthusiasm it garners is not without reason."
- "This is an exemplary proposal ... The ... final projected number of volumes amounts to 300! ... The scholarly significance and the international scope (19 countries, 13 languages, dozens of journals) are self-evident ... The advocates who write on behalf of this project are among the most outstanding scholars of our field. And they write in the most exalted terms."
- "My minor concerns about American coverage and vernacular music coverage were addressed in the discussion and a re-examination of the appendices. ... Excellent."
- "RIPM [is a] ... simply indispensable research tool ... for any scholar studying musical culture, period ... This in an international effort that works beautifully ... This is a fundamental tool that is used daily across the globe. I enthusiastically endorse RIPM's application."
- "RIPM is an established part of the landscape of musicological research now and has a consistent track record of providing a consistently high quality product to researchers. ... [RIPM's] work is vital to the work of scholars."
- "RIPM has become one of the core tools of research ... [it] builds on the years of successes and demonstrated ability to produce effective results. The methodology ... is proven to be sound and effective and I have no doubt this proposal will move the project to even greater prominence and usefulness."
REVIEWERS' EVALUATIONS FOR NEH GRANTS TO CREATE THE
RIPM ONLINE ARCHIVE OF MUSIC PERIODICALS
- "The proposal distinguishes between models such as JSTOR where key words automatically trigger 'hits' and the proposed system of referencing that would include a more analytical approach to cross-referencing. This 'old-fashioned, time-honored and labor intensive' indexing would make this online source particularly useful as it would create more intellectual continuity than many databases where a subject index brings up any citation with a similar wording ... Excellent."
- "This is an extraordinarily important project for the field of musicology ... RIPM is absolutely right in taking this next step in their development, and there is no one better suited for the task. What RIPM learns by doing this project will then embolden other projects on literature from this era. I could not endorse a project more than this one."
- "This organization is a very strong, very organized, very important one in the support and development of musical research. It obviously has an excellent track record ... Its organizers understand the field and have strong relationships with a wide international cohort of music scholars and sites of musical research ... Excellent."
- "I cannot support enough this well-conceived project by RIPM, a most respected bibliographic consortium in musicology ... This project will be invaluable to students and scholars around the world ... The work plan shows the care and attention to detail which are the hallmarks of RIPM [which] has the highest standards and always lives up to them."
- "RIPM is almost universally recognized as one of the primary tools in research in music and musicology, with significant usefulness for researchers in other performing and fine arts ... It is certainly one of the landmark, model projects for basic, cooperative research resources, and is indispensable for those whose historical work is placed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries ... RIPM is essential, and digitization of this data will be invaluable."
- "I can hardly contain my excitement over this proposal ... I can think of few projects more valuable than this one ... RIPM has already made a vast difference to my scholarly life; it is an indispensable aid to everything I do. The thought that so many journals—complete runs of them—would be available in digitized format over the internet is enough to make any musician downright intoxicated ... RIPM is already such a valuable aid to all musical scholars in its sophistication and ease of use, and I am even more thrilled about the possibility of accessing entire articles and periodicals online. This is a wonderful project."
- "The ability to find and read full-text music periodicals online from the period 1800-1950 will have usually broad appeal to scholars and students. One of the strengths of the proposal is its vivid, detailed comparison of JSTOR and RIPM searches. Among other things, RIPM proposes a more targeted search and highlighted text of relevant passages—which is especially important for small-print, multiple column periodicals like the Dwight's Journal example provided at its website. It would be hard to imagine a more widely used online resource for music scholars."
Music Library Association Notes
“Over the years since the first RIPM (Répertoire international de la presse musicale) volumes were published in 1988, librarians and researchers have rejoiced at having bibliographic access to many of the music periodicals of the nineteenth and early twentieth century... The RIPM Online Archive of Music Periodicals (Full-Text) meets the needs of twenty-first-century researchers by providing immediate access to digital images of the periodicals themselves.” [June 2010]
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries
Journal of the Association of College and Research Libraries,
American Library Association
Reviewing RIPM's new interface for the Retrospective Index to Music Periodicals and the RIPM Online Archive: “The ready availability of this vast amount of primary source material from a critical period in music and music journalism makes this database a necessary subscription for all institutions supporting advanced studies in musicology... Summing up: Essential. Upper-level undergraduates and above.” [June 2010]
Congress, IAML/IMS, New York
"The case of Handel’s Messiah illustrates the benefits of using RIPM as a principle source for 19th-century reception studies. A basic keyword search for “Handel Messiah” in the RIPM database yields 1204 published reports, representing nearly a thousand different performances, mostly in Britain and the United States ... The RIPM e-Library cites an additional 1536 results ... on its own [the RIPM Online Archive] has been more than enough to compel a reassessment of current thought regarding Handel’s Messiah in the 19th century." [Luke Howard, congress paper, IAML/IMS, June 2015]
Stanford University Library
Speaking of Computers, "New Music Databases"
"The RIPM Retrospective Index "is now available in a new interface provided directly from RIPM [Publications]. ... The RIPM interface is vastly improved over versions [and] the Archive is the only extensive collection available for music periodicals dating from the Early Romantic to the Modern period." [January 2010]
Music Library Association Notes
“Most noteworthy among the advantages offered by the electronic format is the ease and speed of obtaining both a wide range of data and very specific information from all indexed periodicals at once, as well as the extraordinary flexibility and control possible in setting and refining search parameters ... Researchers can easily expand their focus ... [or] pinpoint information accurately ... Accessible, and clearly written help guides explain the format of each search mode and the indexing of a particular search field, and give effective search strategies ... A particularly good feature of the full record format is the link to a Web page describing the historical significance and scope of the cited periodical ... Clear and well-placed icons and links facilitate navigation between different formats, records, page locations, and searches; and records can be re-sorted by year of publication (ascending or descending), title, periodical, language, or place of publication as needed.” [December 2001]
The Musical Times
“Books studying important periodicals as windows on national history are likely to proliferate now that the Répertoire international de la presse musicale [RIPM] gets its claws into more and more.” [No. 1837, (March, 1996)]
Rivista italiana di musicologia
“RIPM [creates] possibilities for new research and new consideration of many aspects of nineteenth-century music ... an indispensable resource for scholars.” [26, no. 2 (1991)]
Journal of the American Musicological Society
“Should be on the reference shelves of every major library ... logic and consistency contribute not only to the overall high quality of the volumes, but also to the ease in consulting them ... recognition of the immense value of the series ... all scholars of the period will use these volumes often ... RIPM deserves our gratitude for greatly facilitating access to a wealth of documentation ... a worthy companion to RISM and RILM.” [43, no. 3 (Fall 1990)]
Il Giornale della musica
“It seems almost like a dream. Day after day the music publishing trade, as all others, immerse us in ephemeral novelties that we will never have the time to read. But today in a single breath we can report on [RIPM] ... an editorial initiative of huge mass which we will read and reread as long as historical musicology exists ...” [September 1990]
Music and Letters
“An idea ... brought to fruition through the determination and energy of Robert Cohen of the University of Maryland, College Park ... That idea was to make available the enormous resources of nineteenth-century periodical literature to music historians ... The great achievement of the present project is that it strikes just about the right balance between the desirable and the practical ... an essential stepping-stone into the riches of nineteenth-century periodical literature.” [71, no. 1 (February 1990)]
Revue de musicologie
“Nineteenth-century periodicals are a source of inestimable value for knowledge concerning musical life. We are delighted therefore to see the beginning of this series of publications ... Thanks to H. Robert Cohen, the General Editor, RIPM foresees the publication of about 100 volumes over a ten-year period ... We hope ... that all libraries acquire these well constructed volumes [and] that Robert Cohen continues so efficiently to render service to specialists of the nineteenth century.” [75, no. 1 (1989)]
Times Literary Supplement (London)
“Together, RISM and RILM leave a massive gap in the middle: the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Répertoire International de la Presse Musicale now helps to bridge the gap ... These are immaculately presented volumes ... The excellence of this worthwhile project is beyond doubt.” [(31 March - 6 April 1989)]
Bulletin des Bibliothèque de France
“[RIPM] is certainly the most extensive resource for research on all aspects of nineteenth-century musical life: biographical, instrumental, composers and performers, chronicles of concerts, the development of instrument making, institutional history ... ” [47, no. 2 (January 2000)]
Fontes Artis Musicae
Journal of the International Association of Music Libraries,
Archives and Documentation Centres
“An immensely worthwhile project ... planned with the greatest care and forethought ... will unlock a mine of information ... scrupulous editorial work ... The general editor, Robert Cohen, and his team at the Center for Studies in Nineteenth-Century Music are to be congratulated on a most auspicious start ... those libraries able to subscribe to the whole set (due to amount to about 100 volumes) will eventually find themselves in possession of a tool which will prove of the greatest value to all working on music from the late-eighteenth to the early-twentieth centuries.” [36, no. 4 (1989)]
Music Library Association Notes
“RIPM is the fourth “R” in the series of music documentation projects sponsored jointly by IAML and IMS, which include Le Répertoire International des Sources Musicales (RISM), Le Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale (RILM), and Le Répertoire International d’Iconographie Musicale (RIdIM). These are, without doubt, the most important current bibliographic documentation projects in the field of music research.” [(December 1983)]
“Exemplary coordination on both sides of the Atlantic ... an essential work for the historical reconstruction of the most diverse and disparate aspects of the cultural and musical life of the nineteenth century ... Indispensable for the creation of reliable and exhaustive chronologies of individual theatres ... the careers of performers ... the repertories and tournées of numerous opera companies ... the history of local musical institutions and associations, for determining the exact date (not always easy to establish) of many music editions and numerous artistic events ... These volumes should be on the shelves of every library ... [they are] indispensable for acquiring humanistic knowledge.” [16, no. 4 (October-December 1990)]
Muziek & Wetenschap
“Of great significance for musicological research ... The importance of [RIPM] ... extends far beyond the field of musicology ... [it] will also open up many sources for other disciplines that deal with the cultural history of the period.” [no. 2 (1991)]
Online Bach Bibliography
“A very welcome addition to our research resources. Given the rapid growth of interest in recent years in researching reception history and “the Bach revival movement” in the nineteenth century, serious bibliographic coverage of this period is long overdue.” [Paper, IAML Conference, Tallinn, July 2003]
ts Tijdschrift voor Tijdschriftstudies
“The ambitious series of publications from RIPM ... should simply not be absent from any Dutch library with a collection of culture and music history.” [no. 2 (1997)]
The RIPM publication Dwight’s Journal of Music by Dr. Richard Kitson received the Vincent H. Duckles Award from the Music Library Association for “the best book-length bibliography or reference work” of 1992. In recommending the award, the MLA Publications Awards Committee recognized: “the monumental contribution this resource will offer to the study of nineteenth-century American music ... the editorial staff of RIPM ... [is] acknowledged and thanked for their pioneering effort and bringing to life a vast heritage of musical journalism.” [(March-April 1993)]
1 Only one reviewer found the project "moderately significant," while referring to the "good qualifications" of those realizing the project, while another did not evaluate the proposal and stated: "I am not sure how it [RIPM] fits within the NEH guidelines about preservation and access."