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January 12, 1986|LAURA KUHN

A DICTIONARY OF PIANISTS by Wilson Lyle (Schirmer: $35, illustrated). Wilson Lyle's "A Dictionary of Pianists" is one of those disconcerting "neither/nor" works--neither meticulous enough for reference nor idiosyncratic enough for entertainment--and one might well wonder for whom it was compiled. More than 4,000 entries make it fairly comprehensive, but with an average of 10 per page, the writing is overly concise and critical comment is weakened by misleading generalizations. Among other annoyances are haphazard diacritical markings, confounding abbreviations and an absence of states of birth for American artists. There is also a significant number of missing death dates (Nadia Reisenberg, Webster Aitken, Florence Galajikian, et al.), most of which are readily available in standard musico-lexicographical sources. The 50 period photographs are well chosen, and while accuracy is not assured, the appended "Winners of International Piano Competitions and Medallists of Conservatories and Schools" could be useful to the specialist.

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