Prepared by Vashti Gray Sadjedy
Online only (2013)
The Baton [BAT] was published by the Institute of Musical Art in New York. Following the school’s academic calendar, the journal appeared monthly between January and June and between October and December from January 1922 until June 1932. The Baton’s goal, as stated by the Institute’s director Frank Damrosch in the opening issue, was to provide
a channel through which matters of interest to the school as a whole or to any of its departments may be announced or discussed. It should record the various activities of the Institute, its recitals, concerts, receptions to artists, and commencement and Class Day exercises. It should contain articles on matters of interests to all students of music, chiefly of the kind which develops a conception of and devotion to true art principles. It should, on the other hand, avoid discussion of the commercial side of music as a profession or—as is often the case—as a trade.
The Institute of Musical Art was founded in 1905 by Frank Damrosch on the premise that the United States needed a music school of high quality that would encourage aspiring musicians and music educators to pursue their studies in America rather than in Europe. In 1924, the Juilliard Graduate School opened with its facilities directly adjacent to the Institute. Upon completion of their diplomas, many students from the Institute attended Juilliard. By 1926, the two institutions merged, although both schools continued to maintain their own administrations until 1946, when they officially unified as the Juilliard School of Music.
The Baton was edited throughout its publication by Dorothy Crowthers, a music theory faculty member of the Institute of Musical Art,. Measuring 28 x 30 cm and typically sixteen pages in length, issues usually consisted of a biographical sketch of a renowned musician or music educator, articles with advice for music students, works of fiction or poetry penned by student contributors, news regarding the school, and a feature interview with a significant musical figure or faculty member (see list of those interviewed below).
Important biographical sketches of musicians and music educators include those of sopranos Geraldine Farrar, Lucrezia Bori, and Lily Pons; bass Feodor Chaliapin; pianist Ignace Jan Paderewski, music critic Henry Krehbiel, violoncellist Willem Willeke, violinists William Kroll, Leopold Auer, Albert Spalding and Jascha Heifetz; conductors Serge Koussevitzky and Artur Bodanzky, composers Ottorino Respighi, George Chadwick, and Vincent d’Indy, composer and bandmaster John Philip Sousa, and music theorist Percy Goetschius.
Among the articles containing advice for music students are Franklin W. Robinson’s “The Student Mind: Its Virtue, Its Fallacy, Its Correction” (January 1922), Thomas Tapper’s “Chats with Music Students: Motive of Study” (October 1925) and “On Being Musically Curious” (April 1927), and George Wedge’s “Theoretic Study: Applied to Singing” (June, 1932).
The journal contained many articles and reviews of significance dealing with performances, including the American premieres of Honegger’s Pacific 231, Howard Hanson’s North and West, Puccini’s Turandot, Respighi’s La Campana sommersa and Symphonia dramatica, and Deems Taylor’s Peter Ibbetson. Reviews of the Metropolitan Opera Company’s performances include those of Debussy’s Pelleas et Mélisande (1925), Massenet’s Don Quixote (1927), Montemezzi’s L’Amore dei tre re (1928), Mussorgsky’s The Fair at Sorochintzy (1930) and The Peep Show, Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann (1924), Respighi’s The Sunken Bell (La campana sommersa) (1928), Smetana’s The Bartered Bride (1926), Spontini’s La Vestale (1926), Strauss’s The Egyptian Helena (1928), and Deems Taylor’s The King’s Henchman (1927). Important reviews of New York Symphony Orchestra’s performances included those of Lazare Seminsky’s The Vigils, Sibelius’s Finlandia, and Stravinsky’s Le Chant du Rossignol and Ragtime.
The activities of the Kneisel summer music school in Blue Hill, Maine and the Ravinia summer opera in are also treated in The Baton. Franz Kneisel, violin instructor at the Institute of Musical Art, founder of the Kneisel String Quartet, and concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, founded a summer institute in Blue Hill in 1902 in order to allow his most gifted students an opportunity for year-round study. Other members of the Kneisel String Quartet later began teaching their students at the institute as well, ultimately contributing to the development of many well-known string players as Joseph and Lillian Fuchs, Samuel Gardner, Sascha Jacobson, and William Kroll. The Ravinia summer opera was established through the contributions of philanthropist and impresario Louis Eckstein in 1911. By the 1920s, Ravinia was known as the opera capital of America during the summer season, where singers such as Lucrezia Bori, Mario Chamlee, Edward Johnson, and Elizabeth Rethberg performed.
Well-known contributors to The Baton included Clarence Adler, Richard Aldrich, Leopold Auer, Amy Beach, William B. Chase, Frank Damrosch, Walter Damrosch, Olin Downes, James Friskin, Henry F. Gilbert, Lawrence Gilman, Percy Goetschius, Philip Hale, Jascha Heifetz, William J. Henderson, Vladimir Horowitz, Edwin Hughes, Ernest Hutcheson, Edgar Istel, Franz Kneisel, Henry Krehbiel, Arthur Loesser, Joseph Machlis, Leopold Mannes, Yehudi Menuhin, Ernest Pauer, Rosa Ponselle, Carlos Salzedo, Olga Samaroff, Marcella Sembrich, Charles Seeger, Deems Taylor, and Felix Weingartner.
Following is a list of those musicians interviewed in The Baton.
Marguerite Merlin Albro
Harry T. Burleigh
Paul D. Cravath
William J. Henderson
Ruth Harris Stewart
This RIPM publication is based upon a copy of The Baton provided by the library of the Juilliard School of Music.