Musical Reporter

(Boston, 1841)

Prepared by Liesbeth Hoedemaeker
Online only (2009)

The Musical Reporter was one of a number of short-lived music journals that flourished in Boston during this period. All were short-lived: Musical Magazine (Boston, 1839-1842), the American Journal of Music (Boston, 1840), the Musical Cabinet (Boston, 1841) and the Musical Almanac (Boston, 1841).

The Musical Reporter’s first issue appeared in January 1841; its last in September 1841. In the editorial “The Musical Field” (January, 1841), culminating against the Pestalozzian method of music teaching and against plagiarism, which was at that time a real problem, the journal states: “We are the true lovers of harmony without compromise. We stand pledged to no party, we are yoked to no particular system, tied to no particular measures. We shall therefore act independently ….” The article “Ourselves” (May, 1841) speaks about the difficulties that most of the music journals in America encounter and the reasons why they have such a short life. The MUR tries to write for a broader public, still underlining their independence. The editor explains the link to the Musical Visitor, a journal that soon after its start passed into other hands and developed a bad reputation.

Each issue consists of articles with subjects such as music history, musical education, musical expression, and musical instruments, interlaced with poems and anecdotes. The first five issues contain the rubric "Concerts". The activities of the Boston Academy of Music and the Handel and Haydn Society are discussed. The last four issues pay attention to the National Musical Convention, held yearly in Boston from 1836-1841 and discuss questions related to musical education, church music and musical performances. Most issues contain reviews of psalmody, hymn, and glee collections and on works dealing with music teaching. Every issue ends with pieces of vocal music by composers including Webb, Billings, Harrington, Hill, Haydn, Beethoven, Weber and Reissiger.

Many articles are translated from German and French or borrowed from other journals, such as Musical Magazine, Musical Gazette, North American Review, Musical World, and New England Magazine. The journal also contains extracts from books like Gardiner’s Music of Nature and Gottfried Weber’s Theory of Musical Composition (translated by Warner). Most of the articles are unsigned.