Percy Scholes

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Percy Alfred Scholes (24 July 1877 – 31 July 1958) was an English musician, journalist and prolific writer, whose best-known achievement was his compilation of the first edition of The Oxford Companion to Music. His 1948 biography The Great Dr Burney was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

He was born in Leeds in 1877 and was educated privately, owing to his poor health as a child. He became an organist, schoolteacher, music journalist and lecturer. At various times he was music critic for the Evening Standard, The Observer (1920-1927) and the Radio Times (1923-1929).

He wrote over 30 books, mainly concerning music appreciation, but his best-known work is The Oxford Companion to Music, which was first published in 1938. This work took him six years to produce and consisted of over a million words (surpassing the length of the Bible). Scholes was assisted by various clerical assistants, but wrote virtually all the text himself. The only exceptions were the article on tonic sol-fa (for which he was dissatisfied with his own article) and the synopses of the plots of operas (which he regarded as too boring). Although the Oxford Companion to Music was (and is) regarded as authoritative, the text of the first edition is enlivened by Scholes' own anecdotal and sometimes quirky style.

In his writing for this work, and elsewhere, Scholes never believed in holding back his personal views in favour of a neutral point of view. He is credited with the description of...
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