Musicology (Middlebury, VT; New York, 1945-1949)

Musicology

(Middlebury, VT; New York, 1945-1949)

Prepared by Mary Wallace Davidson
Online only (2010)

Musicology [MCO], first published in Middlebury, Vermont and later in various environs of New York State, comprises eight issues, each averaging 104 pages: Volume one consists of four issues published between Autumn, 1945 and Summer, 1947, and volume two, four issues from Autumn, 1948 to July, 1949. Marcel Honoré, manager of the Otter Valley Press in Vermont is credited in the mastheads of all but the first issue with the design of typography and translation of a number of articles for publication in the journal. The pianist Hélène Honoré was the business manager and occasional compiler of lists of phonograph recordings. Violinist, violist, and conductor Alan Carter (1904-1975) of Middlebury College, Vermont edited the first issue in 1945. The former associate editor, Ellen C. Stone became editor beginning with the winter 1946 issue, and continued in that capacity for the duration of the journal’s run.

MCO contains opinions about music and composers of all periods, but especially topics relevant to musicians active in the years immediately following World War II. The journal was a venue for émigré writers as they began their new lives in America. The content ranges from articles by the musically naïve, to Shenkerian analyses of Chopin’s Fantaisie-Impromptu and Beethoven’s Egmont Overture by German-American Schenkerian theorist Ernst Oster. Musicologist Hans Tischler (who came to the United States from Vienna in 1938) contributed MCO articles in 1949 about Mahler’s compositional structures and Dilka Newlin’s use of the term “progressive tonality” with reference to Bruckner, Mahler and Schönberg.

A great number of reviews and articles with strong opinion and wit are written by the future musicologist, music librarian, and Washington Post critic Irving Lowens, including four lengthy articles: two on early 19th-century American composers Anthony Philip Heinrich and Louis Gottschalk, one on German conductor Karl Muck as a victim of World War I anti-German hysteria, and an article about the difficulties of making a living as a composer, based in part on contemporary composers’ writings.

Articles by composers and music theorists predominate including a two-part article warning against the demise of traditional music by composer Charles Haubiel; founder of the Composers Press (later, Southern Music); William J. Mitchell on Heinrich Schenker’s theories; Peter Gradenwitz on Palestinian composers; N. Lindsay Norden on traditional usage of six-four chords; Joseph Yasser on Rachmaninov; and Hermann J. Ullrich on Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Viennese opera and the Viennese waltz. Lilian E. Foerster writes a lengthy description and review, with musical excerpts, of Britten’s Peter Grimes following the opera’s first American performance at Tanglewood. Critic Max Graf contributes an article on Viennese church music; educator Karl W. Gehrkens (1882-1975) describes the rise of music education in the United States. The poet Hope Stoddard surveys the inspiration that Clara Schumann, Costanza Mozart, and Cosima Wagner provided for their composer husbands; and the Belgian-French writer and librettist José Bruyr (1889-1980) sketches the life and music of French composer Henri Tomasi.

By far the most significant articles of the period are the edited transcripts of two symposia, both moderated by composer Aaron Copland. The Forum on Contemporary Music held under the auspices of the Associate Members at the New School for Social Research, December 17, 1944, appears in the first issue. There are statements and responses about both music and audiences by composer-critic Abram Chasins, conductor Erich Leinsdorf, writer John Erskine, composer William Schuman, as well as Copland himself. In addition, many audience members, including musicologist Gilbert Chase, composers Otto Luening and Douglas Moore, composer-critic Sigmund Spaeth, attorney Sydney Kaye, African-American artist Léon Léonard, Mrs. Johana Harris, and unidentified questioners, contribute opinions about the problems generated by the “new” music. In the second issue, there is a report of the Panel on Soviet Music, held in New York City, Sunday November 18, 1945, during the First Conference on American-Soviet Cultural Cooperation, under the auspices of The Committees of the Arts – National Council of American-Soviet Friendship. Complaints and recommendations are made by critic Olin Downes, conductors Serge Koussevitzky and Dean Dixon, composers Elie Siegmeister and Marc Blitzstein, as well as by Copland himself.