Sunday, October 4, 2015

David G. Hughes (1926–2015)

A memorial for Professor Hughes takes place Sunday, 4 October 2015 at 4:00 PM EDT, in John Knowles Paine Concert Hall on the Harvard Campus.

David Hughes, Harvard University Fanny Peabody Mason Professor of Music, emeritus, died in Paris on 20 April 2015; he was 88.

Born in Norwalk, Connecticut on 14 June 1926, Hughes was a lifelong Harvard man. After his A.B. (summa cum laude, 1949), he served with the U.S. Army in Japan before returning to take the A.M. (1954) and Ph.D. (1956) with a dissertation on music in the fourteenth century. He was appointed to the faculty in that year, remaining there until retirement. He served as Department Chair (1961–65) and as Head Tutor, advising generations of undergraduates; and he mentored a series of distinguished dissertations. He also taught for many years in the Harvard Extension School.

Masterly articles, dealing mainly with issues of transmission and filiation in medieval chant, especially in the area of tropes, established Hughes as an authority in his field. With John R. Bryden, he published An Index to Gregorian Chant (Harvard, 1969); his text- book, History of European Music, was published by McGraw Hill in 1974.

In 1959 Hughes assumed editorship of the Journal of the American Musicological Society. The journal had fallen behind in publication, and it was vitally important to the Society that it resume its regular schedule. Hughes took it over, collected and edited a wide range of material, and oversaw a Summer-Fall double issue in 1959, marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the Society in 1934. This helped to put JAMS back on its feet, and was a welcome step in restoring the organization to good health and future prosperity. He was made an Honorary Member of the Society in 2006.

Hughes lived in Belmont, Mass., for many years, later retiring to coastal Maine; his annual trips to Paris combined research with rejuvenation. He was a real polymath. There were few subjects in music on which he could not enrich and enliven a conversation; he was a fluent pianist, able to play almost anything from memory, vocal, instrumental, or orchestral. Those whom he taught will long remember his lively conversation, his challenging seminars, and his self-effacing sense of humor.

                                                                                 —Thomas Forrest Kelly

Thomas Kelly is Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music at Harvard.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Harold Arlen: Music From Way Up High

By Walter Rimler

Harold Arlen was part of a community of songwriters who were friends and supporters of each other’s work. “We were always together in one bunch trying to help one another,” he told an interviewer. When George Gershwin completed “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” he took it Arlen for his opinion. When Arlen and lyricist E.Y. “Yip” Harburg had a disagreement about “Over the Rainbow” they sought Ira Gershwin’s judgment. 

As I began researching my biography of Arlen (The Man That Got Away: The Life and Songs of Harold Arlen, University of Illinois Press, 2015) I knew about these beneficial relationships. But I had yet to discover that Arlen was the only one of his peers who believed that his music came from a place beyond himself. He was the only one who counted on divine inspiration.

He was the son of a cantor and brought up in an Orthodox, Yiddish-speaking household but those weren’t the reasons. He wasn’t religious in the conventional sense. In fact, he was determined from an early age to leave that environment. When he was fifteen he ran away from home on a Friday evening as his mother lit the Sabbath candles, and went to work as a cook on a merchant ship—an adventure he abandoned two days later after a stormy night on Lake Erie. But he was persistent, and soon he’d left his home town of Buffalo, New York for New York City where, at the dawn of the Jazz Age, he earned good money as a singer and pianist.

This new world of nightclubs, bootleg liquor, un-Kosher food and gentile women became his world. He fell in love with and married Anya Taranda, a chorus girl born to Russian immigrants who was a member of the Russian Orthodox Church. His parents reacted with horror. His father spoke of suicide.

Arlen never denied his Judaism but he didn’t want his musical career to be in the synagogue or in the secular Yiddish Theater or—at least not yet—on Broadway where many great Jewish song composers were just then, in the 1920s, coming into their own: Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers. Rather, his heroes were fellow jazz musicians: Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, and Fletcher Henderson.

Then, in 1929, when he was 24, he was working as a rehearsal pianist for a Broadway show, cuing dancers with the tried and true da-da-d’-da-da-DAH intro, when he happened on a musical phrase that was so original and ear-catching it made everyone stop what they were doing and head toward the piano. He’d suddenly written a great song—“Get Happy” (lyrics by Ted Koehler)—and it seemed to him that this music had arrived from a place outside himself. If he was going to embark on a career as a songwriter, he would, he believed, have to rely on that source.

Lyricist E.Y. “Yip” Harburg said that Arlen would “talk to the chords, talk to God.” Theater critic John Lahr wrote that when Arlen sat at the piano he “lowered his eyes, brought his hands together, and put himself in a worshipful state of mind.” Ira Gershwin spoke of the composer’s “almost supernatural belief in inspiration.”

He never discussed these beliefs. A reticent man, he rarely talked about himself. But it’s reasonable to assume he attributed the great music that came flooding out of him—“It’s Only a Paper Moon,” “I’ve Got the World on a String,” “One For My Baby,” “Blues in the Night,” “My Shining Hour,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” and “A Sleepin’ Bee” among many others—to the Biblical God of his father.

“Over the Rainbow” is the best example of this reliance on inspiration. He and Harburg had completed all but one of the songs for the Wizard of Oz and were way ahead of schedule. The only thing left was a ballad for Judy Garland. But Arlen tensed up. He couldn’t get the right melody. One tune and then another went into the wastebasket. As the deadline loomed, he told Anya he needed to get out of the house and away from the piano. He wanted to stop thinking about the song that wouldn’t come. Then, as they drove along Sunset Boulevard on their way to catch a movie at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the music for “Over the Rainbow” came to him. All he had to do was take a piece of music manuscript paper out of his pocket—he always carried his “jot book” with him—and write it down. Nearly a quarter of a century later, in 1964, he told newsman Walter Cronkite: “It was as if the Lord said, ‘Well, here it is, now stop worrying about it.’”

This was the genesis of a handful of notes that have meant more to people than those of any other song. We don’t know if Arlen’s father thought it ironic that, as he toiled week in and week out in the synagogue, adhering to Sabbath and Kashrut law, improvising music as he prayed on behalf of his congregation, it was to his wayward son, as he and his non-Jewish wife drove through Hollywood, that the miracle was granted. But one of the cantor’s successors told me that each year the composer’s father would sing “Over the Rainbow” during Yom Kippur worship services—the holiest of the year. Of course, he’d always sing it in Hebrew.

Walter Rimler is the author of George Gershwin: An Intimate Portrait and A Cole Porter Discography.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Curators in the Musical Museum:
The Case of Haydn

by Bryan Proksch

The idea that the canon of musical works is a sort of museum—an idea advanced by Lydia Goehr, Peter Burkholder, and others—makes a lot of sense. Classical audiences are expected to be at least nominally conversant with certain composers and works from the past, and the same holds true in painting or sculpture in physical museums. But the musical museum isn’t really like other museums given the fleeting nature of live performance. Just who are the curators of our musical museum? Why have “they,” whoever “they” are, chosen the composers and works that they have? These are among the questions that preoccupied me in Reviving Haydn: New Appreciations in the Twentieth Century (University of Rochester Press, 2015). 

The radical swings Joseph Haydn’s reputation has seen over the past two centuries amply demonstrate that the “who” making decisions can be virtually anyone interested in the art form. The “why” underlying their opinions can range from as simple as “because I like it” to as complex as the most loquacious musicologists in the world can conjure up.

It is not too much to say that by the time Haydn died in 1809 he was more famous throughout the European musical world than any other composer who had ever lived. He was a father figure to the Austrians and a strong influence on Beethoven. The Parisians commissioned a set of symphonies and struck a medal in his honor; Napoleon put an honor guard at his house after conquering Vienna. Londoners made Haydn a rich man over the course of his two journeys there in the 1790s. With only a few exceptions, performers, critics, publishers, other composers, and concertgoers lavished praise on his music. Few living composers are correctly identified as stars whose light will continue to shine forever, but Haydn is surely one of them.

In spite of all this, after 1809 a significant cross-section of the musical world seemingly moved on from Haydn in favor of Romanticism. Who decided? It wasn’t the concertgoing public: ample evidence from the nineteenth century suggests that audiences continued to want to hear Haydn’s music. Hans von Bülow, one of the towering pianists and conductors of the era, purposefully included works by Haydn on his concert programs not because he liked the music per se but because, as he put it, “symphonies by Haydn and Mozart bring a sold out hall and cost nothing.” Others more overtly attacked Haydn’s music as old-fashioned, usually as part of an agenda to promote living composers writing in newer styles. Composers like Schumann and Wagner said surprisingly dismissive things about his repertoire. Berlioz went so far as to say that the text painting in The Creation made him “shrivel up” every time he heard the “detested” work (no small irony for a composer who himself depicted a decapitated head rolling into a basket in the Symphonie fantastique).

In many ways, it was the musical amateurs who were keeping Haydn in concert throughout the mid-nineteenth century. George Sand depicted him quite favorably in her novel Consuelo: her Haydn defends Consuelo, with whom he has fallen desperately in love, from an attack by a man with a gun. Choral societies in every corner of the United States programmed The Creation regularly, partly because people enjoyed seeing the spectacle of the work and the singers enjoyed singing it. Eventually, however, the criticism took its toll. By the end of the century, audiences were becoming tired of the few works by Haydn still in the concert repertoire. His music was well on its way to gathering dust on the bookshelf.

We’re now at the part in the tale where some hero figure would normally come to the rescue, like Mendelssohn supposedly did for J. S. Bach. The problem is that no single person brought Haydn back from the brink. Instead, a wide variety of figures in the first decades of the twentieth century, led by their own unique self-interests, decided that Haydn’s work had something relevant to offer to the musical museum. Now it was their turn to convince audiences to listen with new ears.

None of these composers, critics, teachers, or performers decided that we should hear Haydn from a fresh perspective simply because he was “one of the greats.” Jules Écorcheville, for instance, was a French musicologist who used chronology, namely the centenary of Haydn’s death in 1909, as an excuse to promote French research in music history and modern French composition. Debussy,  Ravel, Widor, and a few others wrote compositions dedicated to Haydn that year at Écorcheville’s prompting. Schoenberg not only looked to Haydn for guidance in the ways to forge a new musical style, but cited him in his textbooks in an effort to demonstrate the ways one might create coherence in music in the absence of tonal reference points. Heinrich Schenker, picking up the pieces in a shattered post-World War I Austria, called out the rallying cry “Forward to Haydn” in the hopes that Austrians would rise again to dominate the musical world by following Haydn’s example. Wanda Landowska, d’Indy, Vaughan Williams, Toscanini, Tovey … the list goes on and on. Every one of these great musical minds found a specific reason to embrace and use (in every sense of that word) Haydn to promote their own agendas. Haydn’s music was once again great because these people effectively argued that it was so.

It might be worth pointing out that often these leading thinkers were dealing with pressures from “regular people.” My favorite example is a young boy named Tom Whitestone who had the audacity to write to conductor John Barbirolli in 1956 complaining that he programmed too much Vaughan Williams and needed more Haydn because the melodies were better. Barbirolli forwarded the letter to RVW, himself a Haydn advocate, who wrote the boy back: “I am glad you like Haydn; he is a very great man & wrote beautiful tunes. I must one day try to write a tune which you will like.” If that isn’t influence from the public, I don’t know what is.

The French in Eisenstadt (Kismarton), 1909.
D'Indy 4th fr rt.; Écorchville ctr, obscured.
To me this is all very exciting. Studying critical reception uncovers the factors that shape our musical museum. It turns out that our collective curatorship of that museum is never as simple as “we listen to him because he wrote great music.” And while, in a real museum, a handful of people determines what hangs on the wall and what gets stored, in the musical museum, everyone plays a part. The reasons why we listen to Haydn, or anyone else for that matter, are as diverse as the people listening.

Bryan Proksch is assistant professor of music history at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. His research centers on the reception and “revival” of Haydn’s music in the early twentieth century, though he also works more generally on Viennese Classicism and the history of the trumpet. His essays have appeared in the Journal of the American Musicological Society (2011), the Journal of Musicological Research (2009), the Journal of the Arnold Schoenberg Center (2012), the Historic Brass Society Journal (2008 and 2011), the International Trumpet Guild Journal (2003, 2007, 2009, and 2011), and elsewhere.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Letter from Florence

Jessie Ann Owens writes:
I am fortunate to be a visiting professor at Villa I Tatti this semester, and to rediscover the beauty of the place, nestled in the hills outside of Florence, the warmth of the community of scholars and, above all, the unrivaled resources of the Gordon and Elizabeth Morrill Music Library. I am finding very valuable connections, for example, with several of the literary scholars who are here this year.

Bernard Berenson at I Tatti
Villa I Tatti is the former residence of Bernard Berenson, the renowned art historian and connoisseur, who donated it to Harvard University to found the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. The Morrills were his neighbors and close friends: Gordon, an architect, designed and built their villa next to the Boboli Gardens overlooking Florence; Elizabeth was an accomplished singer who devoted her studies to the works of Johann Adolph Hasse, The Morrill Music Library for Italian medieval and Renaissance musicology at Villa I Tatti—its holdings are remarkable—was presented in memory of their friendship with Berenson. The Biblioteca Berenson is one of the 70 libraries in the Harvard University library system; appointees have access to the entire Harvard library system through Hollis+. While the library is open to all qualified users, the staff go out of their way to support the community of fifteen long-term fellows, as well as a number of short-term fellows and visiting professors.

The new director of Villa I Tatti, Alina Payne, a professor of architectural history from Harvard University, is continuing to expand the intellectual work of I Tatti from its traditional base in Italian and European studies to explore connections worldwide. The current call for applications specifies “any aspect of the Italian Renaissance broadly understood historically to include the period from the 14th to the 17th century and geographically to include transnational dialogues between Italy and other cultures (e.g. Latin American, Mediterranean, African, Asian etc.).”

The deadline for applying to the long-term (full year) fellowship is October 15. This fellowship is aimed at scholars in the earlier stages of their careers (up to ten years since the receipt of the Ph.D.). But three new short-term fellowships have recently been announced as well, with a deadline of December 14. If you have questions about applying, write to Given the very significant investment in music that the Morrills’s generosity has made possible, Villa I Tatti is committed to a strong presence for musicology within the interdisciplinary setting. I hope you will consider applying.

Jessie Ann Owens is past president of the American Musicological Society and the Renaissance Society of America. Professor of Music at the University of California, Davis, she is co-editing with John Milsom a new edition of Thomas Morley’s A Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke (1597).

Friday, September 25, 2015

That Debate, again

by Bonnie Gordon

2015 is a big year for fiftieth anniversaries in music. In 1965 Bob Dylan went electric at the Newport Folk festival, members of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys all took LSD for the first time, and Louis Armstrong played a Cold War cultural ambassador concert behind the Iron Curtain, sponsored by the CIA’s cultural arm. Outside of music, the civil rights movement made great strides with three Selma marches and the Voting Rights Act. As part of the war on poverty President Johnson created Medicare and Medicaid.

Meanwhile in musicology Joseph Kerman and Edward Lowinsky extended their acrimonious debate at the 1964 American Musicological Society meeting into print. In case you have forgotten, weren’t born yet, or haven’t been following the AMS blog, Kerman offered a “profile for American Musicology” rooted in criticism and designed to shed the shackles of European tradition. Lowinsky responded angrily at the annual meeting and in a 1965 article entitled “The Character and Purpose of American Musicology: A Reply to Joseph Kerman.”

I begin with Selma and Medicaid not to diminish Kerman and Lowinsky or to wonder why a group of mostly white male musicologists meeting in Washington DC in 1964 fought in a rather ungentlemanly style about music criticism (though that question has crossed my mind). Rather, I bring this up to suggest that for Kerman and Lowinsky there was a context for their confrontation within and outside of the academy. Their exchange was apparently a shouting match, and while it may not have been clear on the surface, their shouting had everything to do with the Holocaust and the Cold War.

Kerman’s presentation of his method as a self-consciously American endeavor to which some, Lowinsky included, were inevitably “alien”—not American enough—enraged Lowinsky. Kerman said, “None of this must be taken as chauvinism. The thanks we owe to German musicologists and German-trained musicologists are too obvious, the debt too great and too deep-rooted and (at least in my case) too affectionate. All the same, our identity as scholars depends on growth away from an older alien tradition into something recognizably our own.” Lowinsky, who had fled the Nazis and had a difficult time at first making his way in this country, understood the term “alien” as reminiscent of Nazi vocabulary. “I do know that Kerman is playing a dangerous game with dangerous words that the older generation has heard before and fervently hoped never to hear again. Nor is Professor Kerman so young or so innocent that he can claim to be unaware of the twentieth century use of the terms ‘alien’ and ‘native,’ in matters of art and scholarship.” Kerman, hearing himself compared to the Nazis, could only be furious. Think what would happen if at our annual meeting next month if someone called an individual scholar—not the discipline as a whole—a white supremacist or a rapist.

The aftermath of that debate situated Lowinsky falsely, I think, as the enemy of progress. By the 1990s Lowinsky stood as a straw man for the so-called New Musicology—itself a vexed and problematic term. Kerman was not to my mind the most radical thing at the 1964 meeting. His paper appeared on a panel with the much less famous Donald M. McCorkle, who in his “Finding A Place for American Studies in American Musicology” called for a move away from European music as the mainstay of the discipline. McCorkle effectively challenged American musicology to become less deaf to the sound world it inhabited. He asserted that a discipline that by definition focused on art music of the Western tradition left students unprepared to deal with music from outside Europe in general but from North America, in particular.

This is not a bad time to revisit 1965 and not because we need to take sides. Rather, it’s worth revisiting now because their passion about our purpose serves as an important reminder that whether or not we like it we need to think hard about our purpose and our profile. Our graduate students face a world where the humanities, the liberal arts, the arts, and even the University are under attack. In thinking about political agendas we need to look beyond those scholars who seem the most political and public. Lowinsky may be a good lesson here. His intellectual work, outside the university, was deeply committed to fighting McCarthyism and segregation.

Black Mountain College Catalogue, 1948-49
Lowinsky would likely not have been behind some of the efforts that in music fields currently seem the most political: the committee on women and gender for example. But he had an explicit political agenda long before anyone had any ideas about “public musicology.” He pushed it hard beginning with his first job at Black Mountain College, a North Carolina institution that prided itself on intellectual and artistic freedom. In summer 1945, Lowinsky directed the Black Mountain College Summer Music Institute on polyphony. The Institute took a radical stance against segregation: following college policy, it ignored state segregation laws and promoted integration. That summer two black students attended the Institute, and a concert by the African American tenor Roland Hayes attracted more listeners than any other at the festival. Hayes, who had largely been barred from singing in this country, performed a mix of classical pieces and African American spirituals to an integrated audience seated together in defiance of the law. Hayes participated in the festival not just for musical reasons but also as part of a conscious commitment to social justice.

We could all probably stand to be as brave as Kerman and Lowinsky both were in and out of their field. When music scholars today debate the profile and purposes of their field they have to answer different questions and face different daemons. No one doubts that American music is a legitimate scholarly topic and no one doubts the legitimacy of American musicology. There are even papers by American scholars of music about Bob Dylan going electric and about rock singers and hallucinogenic drugs. But people do doubt the purpose of the humanities, a liberal arts education, and arts in the public schools. I hope that there will always be a place for detailed and esoteric papers on unknown composers and for exposing students to gorgeous musics. One of the most important things some of us do may well be to get our undergraduates to listen carefully—sometimes teaching listening comes just from drilling sonata form into their heads and sometimes it comes from kinds of music that neither Lowinsky nor Kerman would have wanted to hear or study. And sometimes it comes from facilitating hard conversations in the classroom.

Kerman and Lowinsky both had prestigious jobs and long publication records by the time they shouted at each other in 1964. They had also shared an intense musicality with scores of students. These key facts make all of the difference. So we, and now I mean “we” with tenure, need not only to celebrate the progress that has been made but also ask ourselves why, seventy years after Lowinsky brought Roland Hayes to Black Mountain College, music departments remain so homogeneous. We have to ask hard questions about the continued gender imbalance of our field and about the continued lack of racial and class diversity. And we with job security need to think very hard about the enormous problem of contingent labor in institutions of higher learning. I’d personally rather not see successful male (or female) musicologists erupt into shouting matches at conferences any time soon, but to address these hard issues with a dose of the courage and conviction that both Kerman and Lowinsky had will go a very long way.

Bonnie Gordon is Associate Professor at the University of Virginia. Her research interests center on the experiences of sound in Early Modern music making and the affective potential of the human voice. Her newest project has the intriguing title Voice Machines: The Castrato, the Cat Piano, and Other Strange Sounds.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Criticizing Your Friends

We asked the critic Bernard Jacobson to reflect on his book Star Turns and Cameo Appearances, to be released in December.
There probably are, I cheerfully confess, musicians and writers who might think that a critic who never took a music course in his life must be a fake.

My education was centered on the subjects of philosophy, history, and the classical languages. But criticism is a branch of aesthetics, which may be regarded as a branch of ethics, which is in turn a branch of philosophy, and I think my philosophy studies were crucial in helping me to make the distinction between factual statement and value judgment that is a vital element in sensible criticism. As a motto, I adopted very early in my five-and-a-half decades as an active critic George Bernard Shaw’s dictum, “I never penned an objective criticism in my life, and I trust I never may.”

Critical judgments, after all, are made by people. It is the critic’s cardinal duty to be passionate. Certainly, having set passion loose on a given work or performance, it is his duty also to provide reasons to back up his personal judgment—to go into details, perhaps, about why elements in a piece fell short of coherence, or why certain choices of tempo in a performance didn’t work, or why they threw new light on a piece he had thought he already knew inside out. But this is a secondary duty, necessary to explain a positive or negative judgment, never to be placed on the same level of importance as that central judgment itself.

The kinds of detail I have found myself most often concentrating on in evaluating performances tend to be matters of rhythm or phrasing or dynamics. Pulse, I found in the light of two performances within a week of Schubert’s Fifth Symphony, is more important than simple tempo: in one, the second movement was far slower than in the other–but it flowed much better, because the dominating metrical element was a broader two beats to the measure rather than a fussy chopped-up six. Silence, too, can be of fundamental importance. Far too often, the sense of cohesion in a performance is damaged when a measured pause indicated by the composer is shortchanged by the performer.

But given my essentially humanistic and indeed people-centered conception of what criticism is about, the account of my career I offer in my new book, Star Turns and Cameo Appearances: Memoirs of a Life among Musicians (University of Rochester Press, 2015), focuses as much on the individuals and ensembles who make music as on music itself. I have been fortunate enough to number many fine musicians among my friends. Again, I know there are colleagues who see it as improper for a critic to be on terms of friendship with those he reviews. To me, however, it seems that close observation of the arduous and often agonizing work composers and performers do ought to discourage any sensitive writer from being brutal or sarcastic about the results. If you have integrity, your judgments will be fair, and if you haven’t they probably won’t. Nor can I imagine friendship with a musician whose work I find bad, while in reviewing a man or woman I value artistically I would never allow a momentary lapse from the standards I admire to go unremarked.

Most formative and indeed educational for me was a close friendship beginning in my twenties and lasting some thirty-six years with the English composer Wilfred Josephs. Several times, when he ran into a creative road-block, he would call, say “I’m stuck!” and ask whether I could come straight over. We would spend perhaps a couple of hours looking at the difficulty together, and then, with his mind cleared of problems, he would send me away. And more than once he would say to me, “Okay, it’s finished. Now tell me how it works.”

It is such relationships that are explored in my book: personal friendships and professional associations with composers ranging in style from Josephs to Iannis Xenakis, and taking in Michael Tippett, Nicholas Maw, Robin Holloway, Jonathan Lloyd, Ralph Shapey, Richard Wernick, Richard Wilson, Heinz Karl Gruber, Robert Lombardo, and Andrzej Panufnik on the way. No less important to me are the performers I’ve been lucky enough to number among my friends: conductors Riccardo Muti (for whom I worked for seven years at the Philadelphia Orchestra), Carlo Maria Giulini, Colin Davis, Franz Welser-Möst, Gerard Schwarz, and José Serebrier; singers Thomas Hemsley and Ian Bostridge; instrumentalists including Garrick Ohlsson, Stephen Hough, Malcolm Frager, and the great, late-lamented Czech pianist Ivan Moravec. And while some might facilely imagine that the composers would have been the most brilliantly intelligent among these groups and the singers and instrumentalists the least, with the conductors ranking somewhere in between, the reality is that every single one of these individuals has consistently contributed a wealth of thought, knowledge, and artistic and human insight to the person and the writer I have striven to be.

Bernard Jacobson's career has included spells as recording executive; music critic of the Chicago Daily News; artistic director and adviser to several international orchestras in Holland; and visiting professor at Roosevelt University's Chicago Musical College. He has also performed and recorded as narrator of concert works and opera.


We managed to publish two pieces just now before their scheduled time, and before the editorial process was complete. We've pulled them down with the goal of restoring the expected schedule of things. Below you can see what we mean to do next. Thanks for understanding: there will be inevitable bumps in the system as we transition to new management.

                                                                                  —D. Kern Holoman
                                                                                  —Drew Massey

c. 23 September: Bernard Jacobson: “Criticizing Your Friends”
c. 25 September: Bonnie Gordon: “That Debate” [Kerman/Lowinsky]
c. 27 September: Jessie Ann Owens: “A Letter from Florence”
c. 29 September: Bryan Proksch: “Curators in the Musical Museum: The Case of Haydn”
c. 30 September: D. Kern Holoman: “The Broad” [new art museum in Los Angeles]