The Chord: A Quarterly Devoted to Music

(London, 1899-1900)

Prepared by Liesbeth Hoedemaeker
Online only (2014)

The Chord. A Quarterly Devoted to Music [CHO] was published at The Sign of the Unicorn vii, Cecil Court London from May 1, 1899 to September, 1900. In all, five issues appeared, each consisting of approximately seventy-eight pages printed in single column format. Each issue begins with a table of contents followed by a plate, each a reproduction of a painting or an etching containing musical iconography, all by well-known renaissance artists, Caravaggio, Van Dyck, Jan and Hubert Van Eyck, Giulio and Domenico Campagnola and Israhel Meghenhem.

The name of the editor is not given in the journal, but John F. Runciman, music critic of the Saturday Review is named editor in Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. According to editorial comments given in an article about the provincial musical festivals in the first issue, CHO’s "object is the calm philosophical consideration of all things musical," with "no desire to go idol-smashing." Nevertheless, Runciman’s contributions to musical journalism are notable for their frank "unabashed violence in denouncing composers and performers he did not like."

Each issue follows a similar order: major articles written by well-known English writers on music including John F. Runciman, Vernon Blackburn, Richard Runciman Terry, Ernest Newman and Edward A. Baugham. The topics of these articles deal with issues relevant to English musical life including the presentation of opera by the London Opera Syndicate at the Covent Garden Theatre, the sorry state of the provincial musical festivals and derogatory remarks on the sacred music of the then popular Lorenzo Perosi, musical life in rural England including the degeneration and regeneration of orchestral playing by both provincial and London ensembles, Anglican and Roman Catholic church music, the problems of a universal musical pitch and the neglect of music instruction in the universities. Additional major articles deal with musical issues on the Continent: the problems of the Wagner fever (“wagnerisme”) and the resultant difficulties of presenting French operas in France; the serious nature of Brahms’ music; Asiatic influences in the music of Tchaikovsky; the decline of the Bayreuth Wagner Festival; and operatic production in Germany. The writers of these articles include the French composer Alfred Bruneau and the American writer on music, W. J. Henderson, suggesting their contributions to be translations reproduced from other sources. The greatest part of the final issue is given to German and English music in the renaissance. Occasional correspondence and notes and reviews of printed music and books conclude the issues. Advertisements under the title "The Chord advertiser" has been retained in the final issue. No reason is given concerning the cessation of publication.