In General Terms

I am majoring in piano performance (classical), which is not considered academic where I live (the Netherlands), although the dutch Bachelor/Master of Music degrees are internationally recognised anyway. As such my subject knowledge of music is easily sufficient to read journal articles about classical music, but I was never taught how to navigate journals. I am looking for certain information, which I know a certain author has published about. So far I have found two articles that mention the information I am looking for, but both defer to different articles, neither of which I have been able to access.

I was hoping the community here could explain to me how to look for these articles. Although I would be helped by someone pointing out where to find the specific articles I want to read, a more general answer about the approach I could take will probably be of more use to future readers; I personally would be happy with either style of answer.

I am not sure whether this question is on-topic (but I hope it is). On the one hand, I suppose the skills necessary to read and find journal articles (in other words, the skills I'm missing) are an important part of academia, making this question on-topic. On the other hand, I am neither an academic, nor an active member of this community, so I am in no position to judge what is and is not on-topic here.

In Specific Terms

I am looking for publications about improvising cadenzas in Mozart piano concertos, by Robert (D.) Levin. I know he has published about this, since he mentioned his work in this area during a lecture I attended.

I started by searching JSTOR for articles written by Levin and found one article related to what I am looking for: "Improvised Embellishments in Mozart's Keyboard Music" by Robert Levin.

This article (although very interesting) doesn't contain much about cadenzas, except for one sentence on the last page:

I have chosen not to treat the construction and rhetoric of cadenzas here, as I have done this elsewhere.

Ironically, this is exactly what I'm looking for. Fortunately, the "elsewhere" has a footnote, reading

See n. 1 and Levin 'Improvisation and Embellishment in Mozart Piano Concertos', Musical Newsletter V/2 (Spring 1975), pp. 3-14.

I assume "n. 1" is referencing footnote 1, which reads as follows:

For discussion of these sources see R. D. Levin, 'Instrumental Ornamentation, Improvisation and Cadenzas', Performance Practice

and unfortunately the rest of the reference is obscured by a misprint, courtesy of Oxford University Press (I even contacted JSTOR support to check), but here the second article I found comes in handy. I found it through Google on scribd.com and it's called 'Improvising Cadenzas in Mozart'. It was written by Leslie Hart in the series 'The Creative Hornist', with series editor Jeffrey Agrell. This article contains a bit more information about cadenzas but I'm concerned about the quality. Fortunately, it has a footnote very similar to n. 1 from the Levin article:

Robert D. Levin, 'Instrumental Ornamentation, Improvisation and Cadenzas', in Norton/Grove Handbooks in Music: Performance Practice: Music after 1600. ed. Howard Mayer Brown and Stanley Sadie (Norton, New York, 1990), 283.

I assume this has to be the source, just in a different citation style. I think this citation means that Robert Levin wrote an article that was then somehow incorporated in this handbook. (Is that correct?) This handbook I could find on amazon but it is prohibitively expensive; I would gladly pay to read this article, but I'm not going to buy a $550 book for one chapter - would it be possible to somehow buy (access to) only the article separately?

This leaves me with the other source mentioned, "Improvisation and Embellishment in Mozart Piano Concertos". Unfortunately I have no clue how to find this article. Searching the full JSTOR catalogue instead of just the part my school has a license for turns up a few more articles by Levin but not this one. JSTOR doesn't even list "Musical Newsletter" as a music journal. While searching for this 'musical newsletter' with Google, the only reference to the 1975 issue I could find was in the catalogue of the San Francisco public library – not a big help. Is there any way I could read this article? Does this Musical Newsletter still exist?

How should I proceed?

  • 7
    The best way is probably to ask a librarian. If you have access to an academic library, or maybe a music school library (or maybe even a large public library), those librarians should know (or be able to find out) about this. And after you do it a few times, you will also know how to do it.
    – GEdgar
    Jul 26, 2017 at 17:34
  • 1
    @GEdgar I just checked the website of the closest academic library and apparently you can just call them if you have trouble finding information – even if you're not a student at that institute. I had no idea librarians did this, thanks!
    – 11684
    Jul 26, 2017 at 17:49
  • @GEdgar you should write your comment as an answer- I agree that asking a librarian is the right approach. Jul 26, 2017 at 19:41
  • Have you tried google scholar?
    – HEITZ
    Jul 26, 2017 at 21:29
  • 2
    @11684 just go to scholar.google.com and search away. The advantage is it seems to index widely. For instance, I can search for medical publications even if I don't know that pubmed is better.
    – HEITZ
    Jul 26, 2017 at 21:42

2 Answers 2


The best way is probably to ask a librarian. If you have access to an academic library, or maybe a music school library (or maybe even a large public library), those librarians should know (or be able to find out) about this. And after you do it a few times, you will also know how to do it.


Maybe you should follow the references of the articles you did find. And also look on Google Scholar, but I'm not sure if they have articles on music. Combine key words and the name of the author you want.

  • 1
    Following the references of the articles I did find is all I want to do. In fact, my question is how to do that. I have looked on Google Scholar which turned up nothing.
    – 11684
    Jul 27, 2017 at 0:16
  • 1
    Google Scholar is not useful or reliable for many things... Unfortunately, well, ok, but it's not magic. Jul 27, 2017 at 0:48

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