Moral Fire: An Interview with Joseph Horowitz
Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpted transcript from an interview that aired on Houston Public Radio in September 2012, following the release of Joseph’s book Moral Fire: Musical Portraits from America’s Fin de Siècle (University of California Press). The entire interview can be heard here: www.thefrontrow.org/articles/1347032150-Joseph-Horowitz.html. In featuring Joe’s reflections on his writing, the editorial board hopes to demonstrate the flexibility of publication options in the Bulletin for all members of the Society for American Music.
Your latest book, Moral Fire, takes a look at a unique period of American cultural history. People call this era the Gilded Age—not a period that most of us think of as a cultural highlight.
The term Gilded Age very quickly sets you off on the wrong track. What it evokes is a period of robber barons and social inequality, of meretricious glamour. The most well-known image of opera—maybe the most well-known image of high culture—in this period is Edith Wharton’s description of experiencing Gounod’s Faust at the New York Academy of Music as an entertainment for the rich box holders. So I’ve long been upset that the period is so stigmatized and mislabeled. I some time ago discovered that this is actually the most exciting and dynamic period in the history of our musical high culture. And that the 1880s and 1890s in particular were a period of almost unbelievable ferment. These were the peak decades for Wagnerism in America, and my favorite vignette to make vivid the full magnitude of this phenomenon is that we know that when Tristan und Isolde was performed at the Metropolitan Opera the curtain would fall and the house would freeze for a period of minutes. And then the women in the audience—and most in the audience were women—would stand on their chairs and scream. When I first read this description I was incredulous. But it’s no longer unimaginable to me. Although such a thing would be completely unimaginable today.
You call the book “Moral Fire.” Why is that?
The book is about a phenomenon that seems kind of musty at first. But it isn’t. It’s the phenomenon of individuals who believe that high culture is morally empowering. This notion was prevalent in the late Victorian period. But it was discredited by the music lovers Stalin and Hitler. That tainted forever the notion that Beethoven or Wagner could be agents of uplift. And yet of course they were. I focus on four individuals from the late 19th century for whom music was a moral force. One is Henry Krehbiel, who was the main champion of Wagner in the press as New York’s leading music critic. The second is Henry Higginson: a colossus, the man who invented, owned, and operated the Boston Symphony. The third is Laura Langford, by far the least known person in my book, who created a Seidl Society in Brooklyn—Seidl being the conductor who was Wagner’s main apostle in the New World—and presented Wagner at Coney Island fourteen times a week. And then the wild card in my deck is Charles Ives, who people don’t think of as a figure belonging to the late Gilded Age.
How do we place this phenomenon in the wake of the brotherly destruction of the Civil War?
The Civil War itself was itself a period of enormous moral fervor. It was a crusade on both sides. And of course it connects to the crusade known as Abolitionism. Henry Higginson was wounded and left for dead in the Civil War. The war was certainly a formative experience for him as was for so many Americans of his generation. It was a crucible through which they passed. And as tragic as it was, it was itself empowering. There is that famous speech by Oliver Wendell Holmes, who was a veteran of the Civil War, about how his generation had been “set apart,” that “in our youth our hearts were touched by fire, it was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing.” For Higginson, too, the Civil War was crucial to his self-understanding, and to his notion of what it was to be a “useful citizen.”
He’s someone who believed that the importance of earning money was that you could give it away. And you give it away so that it benefits the community and the nation. He was not born to wealth, even though he came from a distinguished Boston family. He went to Vienna to study music and couldn’t afford to eat three times a day. He discovered he did not have a great musical gift—and so he made it his life’s ambition to create a world class orchestra for the city of Boston. In order to do that he had to amass sufficient capital. So he went back to Boston and joined the family business, which was banking, with the sole objective of accumulating money enough to create a permanent orchestra. In 1881 he placed an announcement in all the Boston newspapers that he had formed the Boston Symphony Orchestra—that it would give two concerts a week for a period of months from October to March, that the membership would be permanent, and that he himself was going to own and operate it. He also said in that announcement that there would be 25-cent tickets available for all performances. So Higginson was a cultural democrat, which is something that’s not generally known about him insofar as he’s remembered. He’s misrecalled as an autocrat, a Brahmin snob. He wasn’t like that at all.
I would say if I have a single favorite letter by Henry Higginson it’s when he writes to Mrs. George D. Howe about Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony. This is what he says:
As to the Eroica I had meant to tell you what how I felt about it, but it opens the flood-gates, and I can’t. The wail of grief, and then the sympathy which should comfort the sufferer. The wonderful funeral dirge, so solemn, so full, so deep, so splendid, and always with courage and comfort. The delightful march home from the grave in the scherzo...and then the climax...where the gates of Heaven open, and we see the angels singing and reaching their hands to us with perfect welcome. No words are of any avail and never does that passage of entire relief and joy come to me without tears—and I wait for it through life, and hear it, and wonder.
So we learn two things about Higginson from this passage. One is his passion for music, which is what drives him to create the Boston Symphony. The other is his emotional nature. This is a man who embodies aspects of puritan severity—just look at Symphony Hall and you’re looking at Henry Higginson’s severity. But he’s also an extraordinarily emotional man. An amazing statement about him, by one of his closest friends, was that to his close acquaintances he was “like a lover.” And this is what pervades his letters, such as this one—the note of exceptional personal warmth.
The next portrait in your book is of Henry Krehbiel, the great music writer and critic in New York. And it gives up us an opportunity to look at the contrast between the culture of Boston and the culture of Manhattan: distinct worlds.
Manhattan was opera mad, it was Wagner mad. And there was no hegemony of culture as there was in Boston. In Boston, Higginson ruled music. New York was such an eclectic, crowded, diverse metropolis that you had different power bases. You had rival conductors—Theodore Thomas, Seidl, Walter Damrosch; you had rival orchestras—the New York Symphony and the Philharmonic; and you had rival opera companies—the Manhattan and Metropolitan Operas.
Krehbiel took a great interest in the topic of music and race, a topic that would become disreputable in the course of the 20th century. But Krehbiel is a disinterested observer. He likes all racial music. He likes black music, Native-American music, Jewish music, Russian music. And he feels that in each case a national music tradition should be founded on the music of the soil, of the folk, of the peasant. This plays out remarkably when Dvořák comes to town in 1892. Antonin Dvořák, the famous Bohemian composer, a cultural nationalist, is handed a mandate by Jeannette Thurber, the educational visionary who founds the National Conservatory of Music and appoints Dvořák her director. She hands him a mandate to help American composers find a style that Americans will recognize as their own. So Dvořák looks around and asks, “Where’s your folk music?” And he chiefly finds it in two places—African-Americans and Native Americans. He becomes a devotee of plantation songs, the music we now know as spirituals. Famously and controversially, he says that the future music of America will be founded upon what he called the “Negro melodies.” This was a true prophecy. He couldn’t have prophesized jazz. But he understood that plantation song was limitlessly fertile for the future of American music. And Krehbiel was of the same opinion.
This was not a popular opinion in the city of Boston, which we were just talking about, where Dvořák was denounced as a “negrophile,” a lover of black people. But Krehbiel embraced the idea that plantation song was the American folk music that spoke to the greatest number of Americans. He and Dvořák were allies in this cause, which resulted in the composition of the New World Symphony.
You see, Boston, unlike New York, already possessed a consolidated notion of American national identity, and it had to do with the Mayflower. There was no notion in New York of American identity based on the Mayflower. In New York American identity was the Lower East Side. In New York American identity was the melting pot. So the story of Dvořák in America holds up a mirror to the American experience, and to the very different notions of American identity in these two particular cities.
Krehbiel was, significantly, the son of immigrant parents. He was a self-made man, he never went to college, he began as a newspaper reporter covering baseball games and crimes. So his personal lineage predisposed him to a notion of America very different from that of Philip Hale, his opposite number in Boston. Hale’s the guy who called Dvořák a “negrophile.” Hale went to Exeter and to Yale. He came from a distinguished New England family.
Also in New York you find Laura Holloway Langford, whom I’d never heard of before.
Yes, of course, nobody’s ever heard of Laura Langford and nobody knows that she presented Wagner at Coney Island fourteen times a week. She actually created a Brooklyn women’s club called the Seidl Society, after Anton Seidl. And she presented concerts conducted by Anton Seidl year round. In the fall and spring they were at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and in the summer they were at Brighton Beach, which was a resort on Coney Island. And by far the composer most performed at these concerts was Richard Wagner.
So you have in the case of Mrs. Langford a study in why Wagner was personally and morally empowering for women in a period when they very often had no professions, were housewives and mothers who were looking for some further purpose and meaning in life. For many of them, Wagner—the strong women of his operas, the catharsis of the Liebestod—provided that.
The Seidl Society concerts. This is something that today seems completely incongruous.
Yes, completely. You have a 3000-seat music pavilion, and you do an all Wagner concert and it sells out. Now Coney Island wasn’t just amusements—that was the western part of the island. There were two luxury hotels, one at Manhattan Beach and one at Brighton Beach. Manhattan Beach had a famous band, Patrick Gilmore’s band, and that was succeeded by another famous band, Sousa’s band. Sousa’s Manhattan Beach March was composed for Manhattan Beach. His favorite composer, by the way, was Wagner—and he very often played Wagner in band transcriptions.
Anyway, the fellows who were running the Brighton Beach hotel needed an attraction to compete with the band at Manhattan Beach and they couldn’t get a famous band. They tried to get a band from France; they tried to get one from England. They wound up hiring Anton Seidl and his orchestra. Which was a bust—nobody at Brighton Beach wanted to hear symphonies by Beethoven and opera excerpts by Wagner. And that is the reason the Seidl Society was formed by Laura Langford in 1889—so she could rescue the Seidl concerts at Brighton Beach. She began sending trainloads of women to Brighton Beach and not only rescued the concerts, but ultimately became the presenter of those concerts.
The Brighton Beach music pavilion was right on the ocean. In fact it was ultimately destroyed by a tidal wave. And it was open to the elements. So you have to imagine that when Seidl conducted, say, the Flying Dutchman Overture, which describes a storm at sea, that the affect was very particular to concerts on the ocean under the stars.
You called Charles Ives your “wild card.”
Nobody at first blush would put Ives in the same company as Henry Higginson and Henry Krehbiel. I’m sure that if either of those gentlemen ever had occasion to hear any music by Ives, it would mean nothing to him. And yet Ives is a composer in the Beethoven tradition. He’s not a modernist. He doesn’t go to study with Nadia Boulanger in France. He believes in the Germanic symphony as a template for uplift. So in treating him as an anomaly within the genteel tradition, an anomaly within the late Victorian era, I’m reinforcing the main point I want to make, which is that this is a period that’s not static. It’s a period of transition and it’s dynamic.
I never thought of Ives in the tradition of Beethoven.
Ives identifies very strongly with Beethoven. I would say that outside of his father, whom he worshipped, Emerson and Beethoven, whom he conflates, may be the two people with whom he most identifies. For him Emerson and Beethoven are one and the same, they’re like wildmen seeking God, or seeking transcendence. And they do it by being idiosyncratic and passionate. So if you want a picture of Emerson in Ives, you go to the Concord Sonata; the first movement is titled “Emerson.” And you discover Beethoven. Because the entire Concord Sonata is permeated with the theme of Beethoven’s Fifth. For him, it’s not “Fate knocking at the door.” It’s a theme of spiritual striving.
Ives was known mainly as an insurance salesman in his life. What influence did he exert as a composer?
It’s a complex phenomenon. Of course he knew that his music would not be popular. He didn’t compose it with the expectation that it would be performed any time soon. But he lived long enough to experience his fame. Ironically, he was no longer composing in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, when he became famous. But he was still around. He even listened to Leonard Bernstein’s live broadcast of Ives’ Second Symphony, which was the world premiere, in 1951. But because he was no longer composing and because his music wasn’t known when it was being composed, it didn’t exert an influence. It really didn’t have that much in common with the American music that most mattered at that moment, which was being composed by people like Aaron Copland. So among the many anomalies of Ives there’s a skewed chronology which results in his having more impact as an insurance salesman than as a composer in the years that he was composing music.
There are many things we can take away from this book. It’s so chockfull of lessons, I think. But that might not be the word you would use.
Oh it is. I’m a didactic writer. And actually my favorite sentences in the book, which are on the jacket, are the ones that have to do with Jon Stewart and Bill Maher. I write:
If screaming Wagnerites standing on chairs are in fact unthinkable today, it is partly because we mistrust high feeling. Our children avidly specialize in vicarious forms of electronic interpersonal diversion. Our laptops and televisions ensnare us in a surrogate world that shuns all but facile passions; only Jon Stewart and Bill Maher share moments of moral outrage disguised as comedy.
So yes, I write this book partly out of my disgruntlement with the 21st century. And out of the notion that our emotional life, both individually and communally, is being sapped by the media culture inflicted upon us on a daily basis.
And that media culture for you is what?
I’m mainly thinking about television and what passes for news. There’s no real moral content there, except for Stewart and Maher. There are many expressions of moral outrage, but I would say that they’re chiefly cynical and opportunistic and shallow. So it’s as if the moral dimension has been co-opted for personal political gain. And it’s painful.
Is there anything else?
One way to put a period on our conversation would be to talk about the riddle that in the late Gilded Age a single individual could do so much. It doesn’t seem possible today. I’m not just talking about music. And I’m not just talking about America. Somehow, in the late Victorian period, there were individuals of vision who achieved in a lifetime more than what seems possible for a single individual to achieve. Now that’s certainly true of Higginson. And if you look around today—say, at our cultural environment—are there individuals of vision who have made achievements of this magnitude? I’m blanking. If we’re thinking about impresarios—and Higginson was an impresario, and Langford was an impresario—where are the impresarios of revolutionary vision in American culture today?
It seems like the opportunity to create such individuals may be lost.
And it’s in politics too. If you look at a Teddy Roosevelt or an FDR—it’s a conundrum. There’s something about our 21st century which discourages the possibility of individuals of such titanic personal achievement. Don’t you think?
Ours is a different culture. It’s more dispersed. Krehbiel knew when he wrote in the New York Tribune that he was addressing a consolidated constituency of cultivated people. I write books. It’s increasingly hard for me to imagine my readership. When I first began writing books, in the 1980s, I had a pretty good idea who my readers were. They were educated people who were interested in the arts. And they had acquired a certain cultural vocabulary. If you write a book today, editors will be very quick to question the cultural vocabulary of the readership. And for good reason. You can’t assume the knowledge that even 20 years ago a writer on culture would assume. And of course the readership is smaller and books are much less noticed. They’re much less noticed by newspapers, they’re much less noticed in the media generally. They’re increasingly marginal to the way we learn and think. I believe in books, so I myself am increasingly marginal. And I think the world of books is the same world that I’m writing about in this book—it’s a bygone world. But it’s a world that can still inspire and instruct.
From the President
|Judy Tsou, SAM President|
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
I am writing this during the last lazy days of summer, but many dedicated SAM members have been hard at work all summer to make SAM a better organization. I am pleased to report that the SAM/2.0 campaign, under the able leadership of bruce mcclung, has surpassed $650,000 in contributions and pledges as of August 2013. Most of the money raised will be used to establish endowments to support members’ research, a top membership priority according to our 2011 survey. We still have $350,000 to go to reach the $1 million goal of the campaign. For more details on painless donations and pledges, see bruce’s article elsewhere in this Bulletin or visit the campaign website at www.sam2point0.net.
The Program Committee (Chris Wilkinson, chair; Dale Cockrell; Tracy Laird; Leta Miller, chair for 2016; Sherrie Tucker; and Graham Wood) completed its work this summer and has planned a fantastic program for the Lancaster meeting. This year, as in past years, the proposals were very competitive, with an acceptance rate of about 45%. In accordance with the Committee on the Conference’s recommendation and members’ desire, the Lancaster program will include sessions with diverse formats: panels, individual papers, seminars, lecture-performances, interest group meetings, and poster sessions, in addition to a plenary session. The experimentation with new formats will continue in the coming years, and we rely on your feedback on the continuation of these formats. Other formats that future Program Committees will consider are lightning talks (5-minute talks with feedback from the audience and discussion), and roundtable discussions. Yet another idea under discussion is a “curated forum,” which is described as “supportive spaces for the planned interaction of carefully selected artists, narrators, or sources around a topic or theme.” The Committee on the Conference, under the leadership of Michael Pisani (email@example.com), will offer a post-conference survey to assess the new formats and to solicit new ideas from the membership.
As I mentioned in my last column, Mark Katz, our JSAM editor, will be finishing his term in 2014. The search committee for a new JSAM editor (Josephine Wright, chair; Katherine Preston; and Thomas Riis) has just completed its work, and I am pleased to announce that Karen Ahlquist has accepted the position. As many of you know, Karen is a distinguished scholar and was the winner of the Lowens Article Award this year.
This year, I plan to fill most vacant committee positions in December and January so that new committee members can meet with the current members during the Lancaster meeting, improving continuity. If you are interested in serving the Society, please contact Jim Deaville (firstname.lastname@example.org), chair of the Committee on Committee Governance. The function of this committee is to nominate possible committee members for the President’s consideration.
Last, but not least, I am very pleased to announce that SAM’s Honorary Member for 2014 will be composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. Zwilich is a much-honored composer with many firsts to her credit: she was the first woman to receive a DMA in composition from The Juilliard School in 1975, and she was the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in music, for her Symphony No. 1, in 1983. Other prizes she has won include the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Chamber Music Prize, the Arturo Toscanini Critics Award, an award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the Ernst von Dohnànyi Citation, and four Grammy nominations. She was named Composer of the Year by Musical America in 1999, and she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004. SAM will honor her in an hour-long ceremony on Friday (March 7) with performances of her music, a short lecture by Denise von Glahn, and remarks by Ms. Zwilich. I hope all of you can join us. More details will be forthcoming.
Best wishes for a successful new school year!
Judy Tsou, President
Karen Ahlquist named Editor of JSAM
|Karen Ahlquist, new JSAM editor|
Karen Ahlquist, Associate Professor of Music at George Washington University, has been named Editor of the Society’s Journal beginning in 2014. The current editor extraordinaire, Mark Katz, will work with Karen to ensure a smooth transition. Karen’s research interest, mostly in the 19th century, is centered on music and German immigration in the United States, the growth of American professional orchestras, and music in the urban environment. Her first book, Democracy at the Opera: Music, Theater, and Culture in New York City, 1815–1860, was published by the University of Illinois Press in 1997. It received support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and was named a Choice outstanding academic book for 1998. Her second book, Chorus and Community, is an edited collection of essays also published by Illinois (2006). In 2013, she received the Society’s Lowens Article Award for “Musical Assimilation and ‘the German Element’ at the Cincinnati Sängerfest, 1879” in Musical Quarterly (Vol. 94, 2011). She has published numerous articles in the Journal of American History, the Journal of the American Musicological Society, and the Journal of Musicological Research, among others, and she was a founding editor of Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture.
Many thanks to the JSAM Search Committee, Josephine Wright (chair), Katherine Preston, and Tom Riis, for finding the Society an outstanding editor.
Judy Tsou, President
SAM/2.0 Campaign Passes $650,000 Mark!
The Development Committee is thrilled to announce that in August the SAM/2.0 Campaign passed the $650,000 mark—well on the way to our $1 million goal. As you know, we launched the public phase of the Campaign in March at our 39th annual conference in Little Rock, and since that time members and friends of the Society have stepped up to the plate and donated generously. Many, in fact, have realized that making a monthly contribution spread out over the thirty-six months of the Campaign is both manageable and can yield a significant donation, as this table demonstrates:
|Monthly donation for 36 months yields||Total Pledge|
Several members who have realized how easy and relatively painless pledging can be have contacted Mariana Whitmer to extend the duration of their pledges. In one case, a member tripled the duration of her pledge! Other members have donated more than once, choosing to target their gifts to specific funds. The Development Committee has been delighted by the number of students who have pledged and donated, both in Little Rock and since the conference. All this bodes well for the continued success of the Campaign—and the robust future of the Society for American Music!
A major focus of the Campaign is support for research on music of the Americas. This goal is in response to what SAM members told us should be the primary goal of the Society. In the 2011 online survey of the membership, 94.7% of respondents indicated that they most value “scholarship on American Music.” When asked in the survey to describe the problems faced by those who do research in this field, respondents overwhelmingly cited inadequate funding for research, and mentioned the “limited sources of funding for research” and “little travel and research money available for work in archives and sites in the United States.” Others pointed out that there were “few grants for research on American music topics” and “little funding for small- and medium-size research projects.” We heard the plea and are now attempting to address this issue with your help.
The Development Committee made research funding—endowments for specialized research and short-term research residencies at major archives and libraries—the centerpiece of the SAM/2.0 Campaign. Both will provide new funding for research in music of the Americas. Three research fellowships have already been announced. The Virgil Thomson Fellowship is awarded to scholars whose interest is the history, creation, and analysis of American music on stage and screen, including opera. The Hampsong Education Fellowship in American Song is awarded to scholars who wish to help students and the general public to understand American history and culture through the medium of song. Finally, the Judith Tick Fellowship is awarded to scholars to support scholarly research leading to publication on topics that have been the focus of Professor Tick’s distinguished career: women’s music-making across time and musical genres, musical biography, and source studies in American music. These three fellowships are fully funded, thanks to the generosity of members and friends, and the calls for proposals have already gone out. Information about these fellowships is available on the Society’s homepage under “Awards and Fellowships.” All three are open to scholars at any phase of their careers and will be awarded for the first time at the 40th annual conference in Lancaster.
These awards, however, are only the beginning! We are raising funds for the next set of fellowships to come on board. These include the Anne Dhu McLucas Fund (for graduate students pursuing research or fieldwork in traditional or Native American/First Nation music), Eileen Southern Fund (for research on music of the African diaspora), Judith McCulloh Fund (for a short-term research residency at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage), Richard Crawford Fund (for projects that explore the American musical experience in all its diversity), Robert Stevenson Fund (for research on Latin American music), and Wayne Shirley Fund (for a short-term research residency at the Library of Congress Music Division). The Charles Hamm Fund will establish a new prize for a scholarly edition of American music. The wide range of fellowships reflects the wonderful diversity of American music, and we hope that each member of the Society will pledge or donate to the endowments that most closely reflect her or his own interests.
Payment options include a one-time donation by check or credit card charge or a recurring credit card charge over the thirty-six months of the Campaign. If you have not received a copy of the brochure and pledge card by postal mail, please send an e-mail to email@example.com. Those members and friends who wish to pledge online or to donate using PayPal, may do so through the Campaign website: www.SAM2point0.net.
The SAM/2.0 Campaign will enable the Society to fund new scholarship on music of the Americas. We are making that happen by pooling our personal resources and (to paraphrase a nineteenth-century slogan) “pledging early and pledging often.” By working together we will reach our $1 million goal, and when we do, we will raise a glass of shrub and shout “Huzzah!”
bruce d. mcclung
Chair, Development Committee
It’s that time of year again! It’s time to begin thinking about what you can donate to the 2014 Silent Auction. New or old, shiny or dusty: any items of interest to the SAM membership will be accepted. Books, which tend to increase revenue substantially, are especially welcome. All donations are tax deductible, and all of the auction’s proceeds benefit the Student Travel Endowment. Contact Student Forum Co-Chair Megan MacDonald (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Executive Director Mariana Whitmer (email@example.com) for more information about how to donate.
If you would like to get involved in student happenings for next year’s conference, feel free to contact co-chairs Megan MacDonald or Sarah Suhadolnik (firstname.lastname@example.org). We invite all students to join our Facebook group, “Society for American Music Student Forum,” and to sign up for the Student Forum listserv through the Society for American Music website to keep up to date on the latest news for SAM students. Looking forward to seeing you all next year in Lancaster!
Meet the Forum for Early Career Professionals
Co-chairs: John Spilker, Trudi Wright, and Dana Gorzelany-Mostak
The Forum for Early Career Professionals is embarking on a new project collecting syllabi for American Music courses taught in recent years from professionals in any stage of their career. In addition, we invite syllabi for other special topics courses related to American Music. These will be made available as resources for people to consult on the SAM website. If you wish to participate, in a single document please include your syllabus and course calendar, if available. Submissions should be sent to Everette Scott Smith: email@example.com. The deadline is September 2, 2013, but submissions will continue to be accepted after that date.
In addition, the FECP will be hosting a panel on balance on the Lancaster program.
The Forum for Early-Career Professionals (FECP) aims to provide mentoring, professional development, and support for the various issues related to the early stages* of careers that intersect with American music. (“Early stages” may be defined as ten years past graduation, no matter the person’s age, and also includes professionals recently re-entering their career field after an extended leave.) Interested in joining our email list? Please send your email address to Dana at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Journal of the Society for American Music
Volume 7, Number 4 (October 2013)
Nadia Boulanger’s 1925 Rice Lectures: What She Really Said in Houston and Why
“Meaningful Adjacencies”: Disunity and the Commemoration of 9/11 in John Adams’s On the Transmigration of Souls
The Search for the Past: Postmodern Historical Consciousness in the Operas of Istvan Anhalt
Coleen Lydia Renihan
Judith Tick, ed., with Paul Beaudoin, Music in the USA: A Documentary Companion
George W. Martin, Verdi in America: Oberto through Rigoletto
David Ake, Charles Hiroshi Garrett, and Daniel Goldmark, eds. Jazz/Not Jazz: The Music and Its Boundaries
Jean A. Boyd, Dance All Night: Those Other Southwestern Swing Bands, Past and Present
Kevin E. Mooney
Mark F. DeWitt, Cajun and Zydeco Dance Music in Northern California: Modern Pleasures in a Postmodern World
David Del Tredici, Gotham Glory: Complete Piano Works, Volume 1
Grant Park Chorus, Songs of Smaller Creatures and Other American Choral Works
Lucy E. Carroll
Barbara Pentland, Toccata: Music by Barbara Pentland
Adam Sherkin, As At First
Guy Klucevsek, Polka from the Fringe
Kelly St. Pierre
Star Trek: The Original Series Soundtrack Collection
Jessica L. Getman
The Salt Lake Electric Ensemble Perform Terry Riley’s In C; Steve Reich: Phase to Face
Paul Simon, Graceland: 25th Anniversary Edition; Under African Skies: Paul Simon’s Graceland Journey
JSAM and SAM Bulletin Reviewers Needed
The Journal of the Society for American Music and the SAM Bulletin are always seeking reviewers for books, recordings, and multimedia publications. If you are interested in serving as a reviewer for either publication, please send your name, email address, and areas of expertise to Katherine Preston, Chair of the SAM Publications Committee, at email@example.com.
The Society is pleased to welcome these new members:
Thomas M. Limbert, South Bend, IN
Stephen Marini, Dover, MA
Kristi Austin, Idaho Falls, ID
Sarah Lappas, San Francisco, CA
Kara Attrep, Bowling Green, OH
Marc Finch, St. John’s, NF CANADA
Aileen Dillane, Co Limerick, IRELAND
Laura Nash, Darien, CT
Cesar Favila, Chicago, IL
Daniel Batchelder, Cleveland Heights, OH
Alison Maggart, Culver City, CA
Jonathan Tschiggfrie, St. Paul, MN
Donald Geesling, Holyoke, MA
Kwami T. Coleman, New York, NY
Whitney Henderson, Seattle, WA
Michael Oldaker, Rochester, NY
Jack C. Dubowsky, Long Beach, CA
Jonathan Katz, Tachikawa-shi, TOKYO
Dexter Edge, Ann Arbor, MI
Jamie Caridi, Pasadena, CA
Matthew McDonald, Roslindale, MA
Caitlin Schmid, Somerville, MA
David Ferrandino, Watertown, MA
Anne Shreffler, Brookline, MA
Sarah England, Washington, NJ
John Mortensen, Cedarville, OH
Zachary Milliman, Anchorage, AK
Katherine Kaiser, Centereach, NY
Our Affiliate Members:
American Composers Alliance, New York, NY
Oxford University Press, New York, NY
The History of Texas Music, Gary Hartman, Texas A&M University Press, 2008. 226pp. ISBN-978-1-6034-4002-8. Paper.
As founding director of the Center for Texas Music History at Texas State University, Gary Hartman is well situated to comment upon the diverse musics of the Lone Star State. Published in 2008 by Texas A&M University Press, The History of Texas Music is an effective and accessible overview of the history and principal genres of Texas music. His central thesis, which the text effectively supports, is that the immigrant history of Texas provided a “unique, complex, dynamic cultural environment in which musical influences ‘cross-pollinated’ among various ethnic communities” (p. x). This book is essentially a history of modern-era popular music in Texas. Although it does address other indigenous genres, its overwhelming focus is upon music documented in print and on record in the twentieth century. In terms of scope, he focuses chiefly upon artists born and raised in Texas, but does include some non-Texas artists who strongly influenced the state’s music.
Hartman has done a fine job of framing and historicizing the diverse cultural influences that shaped music in Texas, while also recognizing the degree to which both music and musicians have tended to drift across genre boundaries. It is clear that his primary focus and expertise is Anglo-American styles, but he has also found ways to address other key traditions and their impact upon that Anglo American core. As is often the case in a comparative survey of diverse oral traditions within a regional focus, Hartman has necessarily grouped together or omitted certain genres or individual artists for the sake of a more articulate and linear narrative. It is possible to question particular combinations or omissions, but Hartman’s recognition of this problem and his strategies for coping with it are sound. This book is essentially a history of modern-era popular music in Texas; though it does address other indigenous genres, its overwhelming focus is upon music documented in print and on record in the twentieth century.
Hartman opens his introductory Chapter 1, “Understanding the Music of Texas and the American Southwest,” with a meditation on the vexed question of how to define the regional character of a group of musics. This is never an easy or complete inquiry, but Hartman does a good job articulating the nature of the diverse cultural influences that have shaped the music of this immigrant state, and thus justifies both his genre-by-genre organization and his overall historical/chronological approach. In this first chapter he combines a brief history of Texas musical styles, particularly in the twentieth century, with citation of influential artists to whom he will return in later chapters. He also provides observations about the role of Texas artists in the nation’s nascent recording industry and a rather cursory discussion of the role of “place” in regional musics. The chapter also includes a very brief history of Texas, focusing particularly on patterns of immigration and interethnic contact. Another short section contrasts what Hartman labels as “organic” versus “superorganic” musics (citing the ethnomusicologist Manuel Pena); these terms contrast local or home-grown musics versus those constructed primarily for purposes of purchase and sale across demographics (p. 13). This technical and analytical terminology is not inaccurate, but its inclusion is cumbersome and probably superfluous.
The second chapter, which discusses Native American music, seems quite cursory at only four pages—not withstanding its place within a study that acknowledges its panoramic rather than detailed intentions in addition to the difficulty of analyzing indigenous musics, which are not well documented. Hartman might have done better to eliminate this chapter and simply outline in his preface the topic areas not suitable for discussion because of insufficient documentation. As it stands, this treatment of Native American music is too short, too marginally linked to the major themes of his text, and as a result rather slight.
In contrast, the third chapter’s extensive (thirty-five page) and effective treatment of what Hartman calls “Música Tejana” stands as an excellent essay on the role of Hispanic musics and their impact upon other genres in the state. While there are very good book-length monographs on this topic (as well as the extensive documentation provided by niche record labels), Hartman does an excellent job of situating Música Tejana relative to Anglo and other immigrant musics.1 Of particular interest and value is his framing of Hispanic cultural influence in the Southwest as far back as the Spanish reconquista and Columbian voyages of the 1490s; this framing material provides an appropriate and much needed long historical perspective. Following a brief survey of Spanish colonial music in the Southwest, the majority of this chapter study focuses upon Hispanic music documented in the twentieth century, with fine discussions of the diverse and sometimes competing genres of Orquesta Tejana, conjunto, canciones, corridos, and post-World War II music. We can appreciate the detailed oral history and archival material which informs Hartman’s survey, and which links to the State’s other ethnic and indigenous musics. His particular contribution is to situate this rich and diverse group of traditions vis-à-vis other immigrant genres in the region, thus demonstrating much more effectively their impact upon Texas music as a whole. In this chapter Hartman’s archival materials and photographs are particularly welcome.
Hartman’s Chapter 4 takes as its title a phrase, “See That My Grave is Kept Clean,” from the song repertoire of Blind Lemon Jefferson, possibly the best-known early Texas bluesman. The chapter encompasses iconic Texas blues players such as Mance Lipscomb, Albert Collins, and Clarence Gatemouth Brown. Hartman, however, makes a particularly useful contribution by situating these better-known players within both the history of African Americans in the state after the American Civil War, their relation to African-American gospel and jazz, and their connections to the younger Anglo players of the blues revival. This contextualization is fresh, accurate, and illuminating. In contrast and in a similar fashion to his coverage of Native American music, Hartman’s three-page discussion of “Texas soul, funk, disco, rap, and hip-hop” might have been better addressed as an acknowledged omission, rather than in this cursory and rather superficial summary.
Ingeniously titled “From Polkas to Pirogues,” chapter five forms a discussion of German, Jewish, Czech, Polish, and French influence on Texas music. It captures another group of stylistic influences whose interplay has been poorly understood, particularly as regards their impact upon modern Texas pop and rock. The German musical influence, comparatively well documented in central Texas from the 1840s onward, receives an effective and detailed historical summary and is beautifully supplemented by archival artwork. The most significant and informative sections are on Czech and French music. This is logical and appropriate: both are much more dominant influences in the State’s history. Hartman’s more expansive treatment here reflects this, and also allows him to address both Cajun immigration to Texas, and the State’s very rich traditions of German, Polish, and French accordion playing.
The lengthy coverage of Anglo-American music in Texas in Chapter 6 is effective and well organized, linking Texas country music to that elsewhere in the South as well as to the related but independent traditions of Southwest cowboy music and Western swing. The latter section focuses overwhelmingly and perhaps too exclusively on the biography and career of Bob Wills. As a result, it rather underplays the influence of African American territory bands upon Western swing. The discussion of honky-tonk music is effective but surely would have benefited from at least a brief reference to parallel developments in Southern California by expatriate Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas musicians like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. This omission is partly redressed by consideration of what Hartman calls “Crossover Country,” although his distinction of this sub-genre from that which he calls “Honky-Tonk” remains a bit arbitrary. On the other hand, Hartman’s more extensive and detailed discussion of Progressive Country and Outlaw Country provides nuance in understanding genres that have sometimes been lumped together as social rather than musical phenomena. Similarly, Hartman’s detailed (twelve page) discussion of the “Singer-Songwriter Tradition in Texas” provides an effective examination of a complex set of musical lineages, which in other studies have sometimes been lumped under the overused “Outlaw” label. As with the discussion of Hispanic musics in Chapter 3, Chapter 6 situates the singer-songwriter tradition within the landscape of other Texas musics, thus filling a significant gap in the literature.
Hartman’s Chapter 7 on “Texas Rock & Roll” is reminiscent of earlier studies of rock music in Texas, but contributes several new and effective insights: first, the recognition that rock & roll and rockabilly resulted from social, economic, and technological changes which impacted post-War II teenagers in Texas as elsewhere; second, that although Buddy Holly represents an iconic example of the Anglo reinvention of rhythm and blues, his is not the only Texas rock & roll story; third, and most persuasively, Hartman articulates the impact of Texas musicians like Seals and Crofts, ZZ Top, and Doug Sahm’s various bands as reflecting not only a rock & roll tradition within the state, but also a range of group and individual influences emerging from Texas and impacting rock bands and audiences nation- and worldwide. In previous studies such description of a “Texas” influence on rock & roll has tended to begin and end with Janis Joplin or Don Henley (to function more as advocacy than criticism). However, as Hartman makes clear, the actual story is much more rich and complex, underlining his central thesis regarding stylistic and experiential diversity as a cornerstone of Texas musicians’ artistic world.
Hartman’s relatively brief conclusion chapter reiterates both the summary history and the general interpretive thrust of his introduction. As a result, it is a useful précis for the general reader or Texas music novice, but does not explore ways in which the phenomena of Texas music both impacted and might inform parallel or future studies. In that sense, the chapter—and the text as a whole—is rather more reportorial or journalistic than analytical. As Hartman observes, “a real need existed for a more comprehensive historical monograph on Texas music,” though I would rather call his study a “relatively comprehensive historical survey” of the topic; it is not really a monograph in the scholarly or analytical sense (p. ix).
Hartman clearly accessed a wide range of archives and collectors for this study, and as a result its primary source foundations are excellent. Moreover, Hartman’s situation as a Texas musician and educator has made it possible for him to assemble an extensive list of informants and interview subjects, a particularly crucial component in a study of musical traditions in which so much important history is contained in the memory. Especially welcome is Hartman’s inclusion of a beautiful and impressive collection of illustrations and images, including formal studio publicity photographs, along with a range of informal and more recent gig photos as well.
Overall, Gary Hartman’s The History of Texas Music is a reputable, concise, accessible, and well-organized survey of diverse musical traditions and their interaction within the state for the general reader. It could certainly serve as the foundation textbook for a general music studies course on the topic, while also providing a readable and engaging overview complementing more detailed region- or style-specific studies. The book is attractively packaged in a durable paperbound edition; with a central text of 225 pages plus the extensive and impressive end matter. It is a compact and affordable resource that provides ready access to the general and/or undergraduate reader.
1 For other studies, see, for example, Helena Simonett’s Banda: Mexican Musical Life Across Borders (Wesleyan, 2001) and Manuel Pena’s The Texas-Mexican Conjunto: History of a Working-Class Music (University of Texas, 1985), and the deep recorded catalogs of Arhoolie and Smithsonian-Folkways Records.
Growing with Canada: The Émigré Tradition in Canadian Music, Paul Helmer, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009. 388pp. ISBN-978-0-7735-3581-7. Cloth.
Paul Helmer is a musicologist and professional pianist who taught at McGill University from 1972 to 2002. His specialization as a musicologist was medieval music; this book resulted from a late-career project to document the experiences of European émigré musicians in Canada, many of whom were his teachers, colleagues, and friends. The main objective of the book is to examine the contributions made to the musical life of Canada by some 120 people who were exiled from Nazi and Communist regimes in central Europe between 1933 and 1948, and who arrived in Canada between 1937 and 1965. These men and women made important and lasting contributions to the growth and development of Canada’s musical life through diverse activities including performance, education, composition, administration, scholarship, and patronage. As a group they were instrumental in facilitating the spread of European musical culture in Canada. Many of them arrived as children or young adults, and in many cases they were educated in North America rather than in Europe, hence the book’s title, Growing with Canada.
The life and work of a few of these émigrés has been the subject of extensive commentary and analysis in monographs and other writings, but most of the figures discussed here are little known or written about. The United States attracted famous émigré musicians such as Arnold Schoenberg, Paul Hindemith, and Béla Bartók. Canada was much more restrictive than the United States in its immigration policies for most of the period under consideration here, and as a result far fewer exiled musicians found a home there, and none of them were internationally renowned.
The author did extensive archival research and personally conducted interviews with many of the people discussed in this book. It was timely that he took up this project when he did, as many of the interviewees have died in the interim, and most of the others are now very elderly. Unfortunately, in trying to tell the story of 120 people, the author ends up saying very little about most of them. In addition, while the main focus is on the migration of exiled musicians from Nazi Germany to Canada, the book also treats exiles from Communist Europe in the immediate post-war period. The reason for including exiles from Communist regimes is never made explicitly clear, nor is the reason for a cut-off date of 1948, as opposed to 1956 (the failed Hungarian Revolution) or 1968 (Prague Spring and the invasion of Czechoslovakia).
The book offers a descriptive rather than analytical account. Aside from brief remarks in the Introduction, the author does not engage with the extensive theoretical literature on identity, musical migration, and cross-cultural adaptation and acculturation, all of which are pertinent to his topic. The first two chapters and the last one (Chapters 1, 2, and 7) are the strongest, as they are cohesive, well written, and provide an overview of the entire process of exile and—in some cases—return. But the story of these 120 people as a group does not fit into a neat narrative package. In the central section of the book (Chapters 3–6) Helmer offers a series of individual stories grouped by topic (university music departments, opera, freelance musicians) or geographical area (this is primarily a tale of two cities: Toronto and Montreal). Given that the individual life stories are so varied—this is a mixture of people who left for diverse reasons from different countries at different times, who escaped from various political systems, and who were either brief visitors, temporary residents, or permanently resettled Canada—a series of microhistories emerges, rather than any coherent narrative account. Appendix A is a brief biographical dictionary that presents capsule entries on a total of 123 émigrés, ranging in length from a couple of lines to a page. They vary greatly in style and amount of detail provided; these sketches are presented in point form rather than developed sentences, and so do not make for very gracious reading. In some cases, they duplicate material that has already been presented in the body of the book.
Two men who receive more than passing mention in the book are Helmut Blume and Arnold Walter. Both men were educated in central Europe, including studies in Berlin during the interwar years. They left Berlin in the 1930s, mainly for political reasons, though Blume had a Jewish grandmother and, as he remarked sardonically to Helmer, “according to the racial policies of the time, I was besudelt (polluted)” (p. 325, n. 48). They made their way to England and arrived in Canada within a few years of each other, Walter in 1937 to take up a teaching job in Toronto and Blume in 1940 as an interned enemy alien. Their story is told in Chapter 4, “Rebuilding Canada’s Post-Secondary Music Education System.” The two men exerted a decisive influence on music education in Canada in the post-war years, Blume at McGill University and Walter at the University of Toronto. As Helmer notes, each man faced “a struggle between a synthesis of European-American music schools and a British system of music teaching” (p. 103). With their European upbringing and education, Blume and Walter decisively transformed these two institutions, creating new professional standards that were to exert an enormous influence on the musical life of Canada, an influence that continues to be felt to this day.
Growing with Canada presents much new material based on interviews with elderly and in many cases no longer living subjects, and as such it is an interesting and important contribution to Canadian music and exile studies. But the author’s overriding intellectual command of the subject matter is in many respects inadequate to the task. There has been a vigorous debate in recent years about the role and influence of émigrés from Nazi-occupied Europe on the musical life of the United States. This book could have engaged with that debate and positioned it in Canadian intellectual history, but aside from some passing attempts at this in the first two chapters (much of which is buried in footnotes), the book largely skirts around the margins of this issue. So while the book remains an important documentary account of the contributions of European émigré musicians to the musical life of Canada in the twentieth century, it leaves the field open to future analytical studies that will examine the subject with greater critical acumen.
Music in Canada: Capturing Landscape and Diversity, Elaine Keillor, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2006. 500 pp. ISBN-978-0-7735-3177-2. Cloth with CD.
Sounds of North: Two Centuries of Canadian Piano Music, Elaine Keillor, piano, Gala Records, recorded 2011, released 2012. 4 CDs. Gala-108.
Elaine Keillor’s knowledge of Canadian music, as both a scholar and a performer, is legendary. The two items under review here are capstone achievements in her truly remarkable and prolific career as a scholar and recording artist. She first came to public notice as a remarkable child prodigy, completing the piano performance and theory requirements for the ARCT diploma (Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto) at the age of eleven (Glenn Gould was a comparative late bloomer; he did not earn his ARCT until the age of thirteen). After an international career as a pianist, she began university studies; in 1976 she became the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Toronto. She was appointed to Carleton University in Ottawa in 1977, and she was named Distinguished Research Professor Emerita there in 2005. For her contributions to Canadian music she was awarded the Helmut Kallmann Prize in 2004, was named an Ambassador of the Canadian Music Centre and an Honorary Life Member of the Canadian University Music Society (CUMS) in 2009, and won the SOCAN Foundation/CUMS Award of Excellence for the Advancement of Research in Canadian Music in 2013. She has recorded over twenty CDs, and for the Canadian Musical Heritage Society she edited four volumes of music. Her research interests cover the entire spectrum of Canadian music studies; she has written about First Nations music, the history of music in Ottawa, and the composer John Weinzweig, among other topics.
Music in Canada: Capturing Landscape and Diversity has been celebrated as a path-breaking achievement. Released initially in cloth covers, with or without an accompanying CD, the book was reissued in 2008 in paperback. The companion CD of Canadian piano and organ music performed by Keillor had been released earlier on its own as Canadians at the Keyboard (Carleton Sound CSCD-1008) in 2000. Music in Canada is the first truly comprehensive account that attempts to capture the musical life of Canada in all its richness and diversity, from earliest times to the present day. The only book comparable in scope is Helmut Kallmann’s A History of Music in Canada 1534–1914 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1960; repr. 1987). Kallmann, however, left the twentieth century, First Nations musical traditions, and popular music largely unexplored, whereas Keillor writes in detail about all three repertoires. Sounds of North is dedicated to Kallmann’s memory (he died on February 12, 2012). It is a fitting tribute, as Kallmann was a keen amateur pianist and edited a volume of piano music for the Canadian Musical Heritage Society from which fifteen of the 104 tracks of Sounds of North are taken.
The two unifying themes in Keillor’s narrative account of the history of Canadian music are landscape and rubbaboo. She attempts to link the sonic diversity of the Canadian musical repertoire to geographical features, writing that “if we attempt to apply landscape theories to these [Canadian] musical expressions, we might account for regional variations with reference to topographical differences from one region to another” (p. 46). Rubbaboo is a somewhat obscure term that Keillor has resurrected from the nineteenth century to refer to cross-cultural influences: “musics brought from other parts of the world are adapted and blended within the Canadian mosaic to create new rubbaboos” (p. 11). She explains that “the word rubbaboo is borrowed from a soup made from pemmican, water, and a flavoring (such as Saskatoon berries) in the Northern Plains area” (p. 364, n.17). The culinary metaphor is apt, and brings to mind the use of “gumbo” to describe the music of Louisiana. Keillor’s references to landscape and rubbaboo typically crop up in the concluding paragraph or two of each chapter, but are not explored in detail until the end of the book, in Chapter 14 “Space and Identity.” The discussion of landscape and its influence on Canadian music is largely derived from theses by two of her former students, David Parsons and Stephen Thirlwall; the points made are rather vague and ultimately, to this reader at least, unconvincing. The examples of rubbaboo are more compelling, e.g. Inuit accordion music (p. 318), or the fiddle repertoire of the worldbeat ensemble Barrage from Calgary (p. 300), which combined idioms from many different genres and geographical regions (the group disbanded in 2012).
Various subsidiary theoretical ideas are introduced but are not subsequently developed as thoroughly. In the opening chapter, Keillor invokes the ideas of highbrow/lowbrow from Lawrence Levine and musicking from Christopher Small, but these do not become major themes in the book. Keillor, thankfully, keeps the focus on active music making rather than the passive consumption of music. As comprehensive as the book tries to be, inevitably it gives short shrift to many subjects. Her list (on p. 9) of topics that are not addressed in the book includes biographical accounts of musicians, and the impact of gender, class, economic status, and technology on music in Canada. Experimental music and the business side of music in Canada are also largely bypassed. In the absence of such contextualisation, the information given, even about major figures, is too often superficial and lacking in detail. Internationally celebrated artists such as Oscar Peterson and Glenn Gould are dealt with summarily in less than a page; about the same coverage is afforded to pop icons such as Celine Dion and Shania Twain. A few musicians are given a bit more extended discussion in sidebar digressions that range in length from half a page to three pages. There are forty-three of these vignettes, on topics ranging from Guy Lombardo to the string quartets of R. Murray Schafer. A large amount of detail is loaded into endnotes—there are fifty-five pages of notes, up to half a page in length. Further random bits and pieces of information are found in ten appendices that take up another forty pages. It is at times a rather laborious process to have to piece together the account of a given topic from the text, a sidebar digression, the endnotes, and an appendix.
The CD which accompanies Music in Canada contains twenty-two tracks of piano pieces and fourteen organ selections; these keyboard works were all published in the two volumes of the Historical Anthology of Canadian Music (Ottawa: Canadian Musical Heritage Society, 1998). However none of these pieces receives more than a passing mention in the book, and some are not even mentioned in it at all; the CD is thus rather peripheral to the contents of the book. The performances are all excellent, though the sound is somewhat muted and distant.
Keillor’s four-CD set Sounds of North, on the other hand, has been beautifully recorded by Anton Kwiatowski; the piano sound is as clear, clean, and lifelike as I have ever heard on a recording. The anthology presents nearly five hours of Canadian piano music ranging from 1807 to 2010. Most of the nineteenth-century pieces are of the parlor music variety; inoffensive, but decidedly lightweight. A few, though, are more ambitious in scope: C.W. Sabatier’s Mazurka Caprice and Damis Paul’s Scintillation, for example, convincingly evoke the style of Chopin’s piano music. By the second half of the twentieth century, the musical interest picks up considerably. A recurrent feature of the repertoire chosen is a lively sense of humour: the Sonatina (1945) of Violet Archer is a witty and accomplished exercise in neo-classicism, whereas Schoenberg versus Gershwin (1991) by Eldon Rathburn is a rollicking portrayal of a tennis match between the two famous composers, with liberal quotations of works by each man. John Beckwith’s March, March! (2001) is a set of four pieces dedicated to John Weinzweig for his eighty-eighth birthday (one year for each of the piano keys); the last movement is a palimpsest of A Rag Time Spasm, a piano rag by W. H. Hodgins that was published in Toronto in 1899. Beckwith’s take on the piece is both witty and poignant. The collection offers a comprehensive overview of piano composition in Canada over the previous two centuries; all the pieces are convincingly performed and beautifully recorded. Extensive and informative program notes are provided by Keillor in English and French.
In sum, we have in these two items 500 pages of writing on Canadian music and over six hours of recorded Canadian keyboard music. The book and the recordings together offer an in depth and engaging study of Canadian music. They deserve widespread and repeated exposure, and will set the standard for all such future endeavors.
RILM (Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale) invites all SAM members to submit abstracts and bibliographic records of their publications. Inclusion of your work in RILM is one of the best ways to have readers find your publications and who better to write the abstract than the author! Even if you do not have any new publications, now is a great time to check your previous work to be sure it is included in this wonderful resource. See www.rilm.org/submissions for more information and to submit your work. With any RILM-related questions or comments, contact Sara Nodine, US-RILM Representative, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Glenda Goodman’s article that appeared in the William and Mary Quarterly, “‘But they differ from us in sound’: Indian Psalmody and the Soundscape of Colonialism, 1651–75” (Oct. 2012), has won the Richard L. Morton award for 2012. The award is given to the best essay by a Quarterly author who was a graduate student at the time of first submission. The Quarterly is the premier journal for early American history and Early American Studies.
Kendra Preston Leonard has been selected as the Fall 2013 American Musicological Society/Library of Congress Lecture Series speaker, and will be giving a talk titled “Myth and Meaning in Louise Talma’s First Period Works,” on September 24 at 12 p.m., Coolidge Auditorium, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public. Her recent publications include “Significations of Religious Desire in Louise Talma’s The Alcestiad,” Religion and the Arts, vol. 17, no. 3 (2013); and “Origin Stories: Louise Talma’s Early Life,” Journal of Historical Biography 12 (Autumn 2012): 89–117.
A radio documentary produced by Marya Burgess in April 2013 features two BBC Jazz singers Cleveland Watkiss and Dame Cleo Laine as they listen to Ella Fitzgerald’s “Mack the Knife,” when she forgot the words in Berlin on 13 February 1960, and then have a go themselves. Watkiss, for whom Ella Fitzgerald has always been an inspiration, explores her virtuoso improvisation and scat-singing, in the company of another virtuoso performer, Dame Cleo Laine. They hear from people who were there that night in the Deutschlandhalle, including tour manager, Fritz Rau, pianist Paul Smith and guitarist Jim Hall, and from the author of a forthcoming cultural biography of Ella Fitzgerald, Judith Tick. The show is available in its entirety here: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01s09z5.
Ralph P. Locke recently gave an interview for Investor’s Business Daily. The aim—a novel one from the point of view of a scholar!—was to suggest what people in the business world today might learn from Tchaikovsky’s career decisions. The resulting article can be found in the Leaders & Success section of Investors.com. In conjunction with his current book project (on exoticism in Western music before 1800), Locke recently published “On Exoticism, Western Art Music, and the Words We Use” in Archiv für Musikwissenschaft.
The American Music Recordings Archive is pleased to announce three new titles, covering over two centuries of American music, compiled by Director Roger Lee Hall. The DVD series, titled Preserving American Music, includes music examples, image galleries, and video programs. The current titles are “Composers in America: A Survey in Sound,” “Singing New Englanders: From the Pilgrims to the Shakers,” and “‘Peace’: Music from Stoughton.” Each DVD includes premiere recordings of music from early New England, Stephen Foster’s hymns from the Civil War Era, rare choral music by composers Edwin A. Jones and Charles E. Ives, interviews with Aaron Copland and Virgil Thomson, radio tributes to George Gershwin, Bernard Herrmann and John Williams, plus more music not available elsewhere. For more information, visit www.americanmusicpreservation.com/AMRA.htm.
The UW-Madison School of Music enters a new era this month with the appointment of Susan C. Cook as its new director. Cook was previously the academic associate dean for the Arts and Humanities in the Graduate School. Prof. Cook, who began her musical studies as a harpsichordist, will be only the second woman to serve as director of the school of music. She is also the former executive director of the UW-Madison Arts Institute and briefly served as interim director of the University Press. She joined UW-Madison in 1991 after earning a Ph.D. in musicology at the University of Michigan and teaching at Middlebury College in Vermont. For a full press release, see the UW-Madison School of Music Wordpress site.
Soprano Marti Newland and pianist Artis Wodehouse of MELODEON will be performing of two rare and uniquely American musical masterworks: From the Diary of Sally Hemings, a 2001 song cycle for soprano and piano by William Bolcom on poetry by Sandra Seaton, and the premiere New York performance of Anthony Phillip Heinrich’s The Moan of the Forest or The Cherokee’s Lament for solo piano, written ca. 1840, on Sunday, November 3rd, 2013, at 7:00 p.m. at Christ and St. Stephen’s Church, 120 W. 69th St., New York City. Contact Artis Wodehouse at email@example.com for more information.
Stanford University Libraries has provided digital access to large portions of the Musical Acoustics Research Library (MARL) making available important research papers from some of the most eminent acousticians of the 20th century (www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/kt6h4nf6qc/). The MARL collection consisting of nearly 60 linear feet of materials is dedicated to the study of all aspects of musical acoustics. The collection, established in 1996, came about through a joint effort of Carleen Hutchins and other representatives of the Catgut Acoustical Society (CAS), Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), and Virginia Benade. MARL consists of the research materials from acousticians around the world who were dedicated to studying different aspects of violin making, which make up the Catgut Acoustical Society papers, and the archives of three prominent wind instrument acousticians, John Backus, John W. Coltman, and especially Arthur H. Benade. Benade’s work extends far beyond the study of wind instruments and includes the acoustic properties of a performer’s mouth cavity, throat, and lungs; the sound patterns that emerge from the open holes and bells of instruments and the sound a space returns to an instrument; the perception of hearing; and room acoustics and the successful design of concert halls. The collection consists of correspondence, research papers, photographs, media, digital materials, wood samples, clarinet mouth pieces, and lab equipment.
In addition to the MARL, the entire forty-one years of the Newsletter and Journal of the Catgut Acoustical Society are completely available online (www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/c8gt5p1r/). The Catgut Acoustical Society was formed by acousticians interested in the acoustics of the violin and other string instruments. In May 1964, the Society published its first Newsletter, an informal, typewritten periodical printed by a stencil duplicator that soon matured into a scholarly research publication. The title changed to the Journal of the Catgut Acoustical Society in 1984 and again in 1990 to CAS Journal, ending in 2004 when the Society merged with the Violin Society of America as the CAS Forum.
The digital projects were funded by the Violin Society of America, CCRMA, the Stanford University Arts Institute, and the Stanford University Libraries.
Calls for Papers and Contributions
CFC: Leeds College of Music is pleased to present the launch of the International Festival for Artistic Innovation (IFAI), taking place 10–14 March 2014. IFAI aims draw together commonalities and differences across a range of music and interdisciplinary art forms. To achieve this aim, themes for 2014 are broad in scope and reflect the Festival’s mission and overarching themes: Innovation, Creativity and Collaboration. For more, visit www.lcm.ac.uk/whats-on/Conferences.
CFP: The Southwest Popular/American Culture Association is currently accepting paper, panel, round table, and special topic presentations for its 35th annual conference, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, February 19–22, 2014. Our conference theme, Yesterday, Today, & Tomorrow, encapsulates the organization’s beginnings as a regional organization and highlights the changes underway today and tomorrow for this international conference - with our new website, new organizational logo, and new E-Journal project. Panels seeking papers include topics such as the Grateful Dead, punk, and rap and hip-hop culture. southwestpca.org/conference/call-for-papers.
Upcoming Conferences and Events
Conference: Welcome to Left Coast Minimalism: Fourth International Conference on Minimalist Music co-hosted by UCLA and Cal State Long Beach. The conference will take place at the Bob Cole Conservatory on the campus of Cal State Long Beach. Sessions will begin Thursday, October 3, at 7:00pm and conclude Sunday, October 6 at 11:00am. www.csulb.edu/depts/music/minsoc.
Conference: The American Music Research Center (AMRC) at the University of Colorado Boulder announces the 7th Triennial Porter-Campbell Symposium called Your Brain Needs Music! We invite you to join us all day on Friday and Saturday, October 11–12, 2013 in the beautiful British and Irish Studies room in Norlin Library on CU campus. Keynotes speakers include Dr. Steve Swayne, Professor at Dartmouth College, Dr. Kay Norton, Assistant Professor at Arizona State University, and Dr. Melinda Connor, Co-founder of the Association for Research in Music and Medicine. Please visit www.amrccolorado.org for additional details and symposium registration.
Conference: The 79th annual meeting of the American Musicological Society will be held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, November 7–10, 2013. See the AMS website for information and program: www.ams-net.org/pittsburgh.
Conference: The 58th annual meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology will be held in Indianapolis, Indiana, November 14–17, 2013. See the SEM website for information and program: www.indiana.edu/~semhome/2013/index.shtml.
The Bulletin is published in the Winter (January), Spring (May), and Summer (September) by the Society for American Music. Copyright 2013 by the Society for American Music, ISSN 0196-7967.
Items for submission should be submitted to Laura Moore Pruett as an attachment to e-mail. Photographs or other graphic materials should be accompanied by captions and desired location in the text. Deadlines for submission of materials are 15 December, 15 April, and 15 August.
Student Travel Grants
Available for student members who wish to attend the annual conference of the Society for American Music and intended to help with the cost of travel. Students receiving funds must be members of the Society and enrolled at a college or university.
Mark Tucker Award
Awarded at the annual SAM conference recognizing a student who has written an outstanding paper for presentation at that conference.
Cambridge University Press Award
This award is presented to an international scholar (not a student) for an outstanding paper presented at the annual conference.
Adrienne Fried Block Fellowship
The Block Fellowship supports scholarly research leading to publication on topics that illuminate musical life in large urban communities, focusing on the interconnections and the wide range of genres present in these metropolitan settings.
Wiley Housewright Dissertation Award
The Wiley Housewright Dissertation Award annually recognizes a single dissertation on American music for its exceptional depth, clarity, significance, and overall contribution to the field.
H. Earle Johnson Bequest for Book Publication Subvention
The Johnson Subvention is given to support the costs of the publication of a significant monograph on an important topic in American Music. Two subventions of up to $2,500 may be awarded annually.
Sight and Sound Subvention
The Sight and Sound Subvention provides financial assistance to facilitate the publication of non-print material concerning American music. Such material may include film, DVD, CD and other audio/visual formats, radio programs, website development, or other projects that further the Society’s mission and goals. One subvention of up to $900 is awarded annually.
Irving Lowens Memorial Book and Article Awards
The Lowens Award is presented annually for an exceptional book and article that make important contributions to the study of American music or music in America.
Judith Tick Fellowship
This fellowship, endowed in honor of Judith Tick, is awarded competitively to scholars at any phase of their careers to support scholarly research leading to publication on topics that have been the focus of Prof. Tick’s distinguished career: women’s music-making across time and musical genres, musical biography, and source studies in American music.
Hampsong Education Fellowship in American Song
The Hampsong Fellowship supports projects developed by educators who wish to explore the repertory of American classic song as a means to understand the broader narrative of American history and culture.
Virgil Thomson Fellowship
The Virgil Thomson Fellowship is awarded competitively to scholars at any phase of their careers whose interest is focused on the history, creation, and analysis of American music on stage and screen, including opera.