Tovey's serious, often lengthy program notes had been a hallmark of his concerts from the beginning (and in Edinburgh, program notes had been the tradition since the first Reid concerts in the 1840s). Reviews from his early career complain of their detail and high literary style. But he was resolute in his belief that followers of his piano concerts and, later, the faithful public of the Reid Orchestra might follow the arguments of classical music. What resulted, of course, were the Essays in Musical Analysis, six volumes of his program notes, collected and published 1935–39.
Donald Francis Tovey and Sophie Weisse
Victoria & Albert Museum
- Symposium 1312: The Great Violinists, vol. XIX (2004) at Amazon (2004).
- At Spotify.
- Track 11: “Repeat ... ” at Spotify.
Not for Tovey the abstract notions of background. “Some day,” he writes of the Seventh Symphony, “an analyst may arise who will administer a drastic cure by persuading people to swallow the soul-stirring doctrine that every piece of music whatever is based on the one idea embodied in a figure of one single note.” Tovey′s most acerbic critic, BBC Radio 3′s program director Hans Keller, found his approach pandering—and to a provincial Edinburgh audience. That did not much stain the Essays and other writings that went on to give Tovey good name recognition, including in the United States. American writers of today admire both the insights and the iconoclasm, but also two very modern priorities: outreach and engagement.
Music History at the University of North Texas in Denton. His doctoral dissertation for Brandeis University (2011) concerned history, narrative, and analysis in Tovey′s writings.