The last composer in the music dictionary

The last composer in the music dictionary


norman lebrecht

May 09, 2020

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

Please don’t tell me you’ve never heard of Otto M. Zykan. He’s the last name in all good music dictionaries and many think he’s a hoax. Maybe that’s what they want you to think…

Read on here.

And here.

For the duration of Covid lockdown, I am focussing on less familar composers.


  • ChopinFan says:

    Pretty sure Adalbert Zywny would come after him 😉

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    ==many think he’s a hoax.

    The recording of his violin concerto “Da drunten im Tale” played by Patricia Kopatchinskaja has been available for several years now.

  • Steven Hill says:

    New Grove (1980) has Wojciech Zywny as the last composer. Zykan (who would be listed earlier) is not even mentioned. But since most of Zywny’s music has been lost and probably none of it recorded, Zykan would perhaps be the last listed recorded composer. I don’t have access to Grove online to check whether Zykan is now included.

    • John Borstlap says:

      But what about Bretloslav Zyxsnav? (1881-1923) His name appears in the 2nd edition of Belarus’ Central Comitee Music Encyclopedia of 1932 as the very last name with merely three lines of description. There seems to be only one single copy which is housed in the British Library, next to the Yamana-English Dictionary.

    • SVM says:

      Yes, Zykan is included in New Grove 2 (2001). Online version at:

      If you live in the UK and have a library membership, there is a very good chance that, actually, you may have Grove Music Online access (it depends on whether the library in question has an online subscription — many do). Alas, Grove Music Online does *not* include historic editions (unlike MGG online), but you can access the *current* version.

      For municipal libraries: enter your library card number into the “Sign in with your library card” field.

      For academic institutions: click “Sign in via your institution” to see whether your institution is on the list.

      Or, just start searching for something (you will be able to see the first paragraph or so without a subscription) and follow the prompt to sign-in at the end of the free sample.

      • Steven Hill says:

        I’m in Singapore. And I am not about to ante up GBP215/year for access! But the link works, even in SG.

  • Lilas Pastia says:

    This is very anglocentric. The Norwegian film composer Bent Åserud would certainly be later in my dictionary. ,
    as would Magnar Åm
    and Arnt Håkon Ånesen

    The Swedes with their different alphabet would probably have Anders Öhrwall and Sune Östling last in their dictionaries,

  • Mike Schachter says:

    He sounds like fun. Is there a Dr Aardvaak in volume 1?

  • SVM says:

    Slonimsky wrote a hoax entry beginning with ‘Z’. I cannot remember the name, but the hoax was translucent, or even somewhat transparent, in that it involved a fake date (29th February 1900, which does not exist in the Gregorian calendar) and reference to Pressburg/Pozsony/Bratislava (the fictitious composer having been born in one, moved to another, and died in the last — of course, all three names refer to the same city!).

  • Jean says:

    How about Alexander Zyloti ?

    Or Karol Zymanowski …?