Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: the Stats

Happy New Year!

Here are the 2014 statistics for Musicology Now, formally launched in August 2013, and today completing its first full calendar year.

Total number of posts, 2014: 112
Pageviews, since inception: 175,000
Daily hits: roughly 250

Top 10 reads:
Let’s Make a Deal:The Beatles, Ed Sullivan, and the British Invasion
John Covach (Feb 3, 2014; 13,463  hits)

How I Got Over
Robert Fink (Jan 4, 2014, 2,736  hits)

The Composers’ Forum: Favorite Moments
Melissa J. de Graaf (Jan 15, 2014; 1,581 hits)

On Copland, Beyoncé, and the Question of Musical Politics
Annegret Fauser (Oct 30, 2014; 1,573 hits)

The Classical Style, of sorts 
Kristi Brown-Montesano (Jun 20, 2014; 1,403  hits)

Big (Bad) Data
Robert Fink (Aug 25, 2013; 1,309  hits)

For Benjamin Britten, Upon the Centenary of His Birth
Byron Adams (Nov 23, 2013; 971  hits)

Jeremy Denk responds:
Jeremy Denk (Jun 24, 2014; 957 hits)

To Be or Not:Is “The Star-Spangled Banner” Really Based on an Old English Drinking Song?
Mark Clague (Jan 30, 2014; 950  hits)

On the Lecture-Recital
Michael J. Puri (Feb 24, 2014; 834 hits)

Audience by country:

United States (1,133)
Taiwan (184)
France (155)
Ukraine (114)
Russia (46)
Denmark (40)
Germany (39)
Brazil (38)
United Kingdom (33)
Canada (28)

Musicology Now invites submissions, now, for 2015. See “Directions to Contributors."

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Interview: Simon Morrison

The third of our video interviews reflecting on American musicology features Simon Morrison, the noted Prokofiev specialist, reflecting on his recent work in Russia toward a history of the Bolshoi. He is interviewed by Peter Schmelz.

Cuepoints:
  • 00:20 working in Moscow and St. Petersburg archives
  • 04:30 the Bolshoi project and local reaction to it
  • 07:00 the true story of Feodor Feodorovich Feodorovsky 
  • 12:40 being managed
  • 14:45 local reaction to chapter 1
  • 16:45 the Lina Prokofiev book in Russian
  • 17:30 Donetsk: Prokofiev and the Ukraine
  • 23:15 Tchaikovsky's sexuality; American “perversion” of the story
  • 26:00  Repatriating Rachmaninov

Simon Morrison is professor of music at Princeton University. His most recent book is Lina and Serge: The Love and Wars of Lina Prokofiev (London: Random House, 2013; author Q&A HERE). Emperor Putin's War on the Truth” appeared in the New York Times on 2 October 2014.

Monday, December 29, 2014

JAMS 67/3 (Fall 2014)

Volume 67, no. 3, of the Journal of the American Musicological Society—or JAMS, as it is familiarly known—is now live online. Two of the articles (Candelaria, Mundy) and the section Digital and Multimedia Scholarship contain embedded multimedia.

Subscriptions to the Journal of the American Musicological Society are included with AMS membership; the online version is available through JSTOR.

Here is the table of contents of the new issue, followed by abstracts of the four articles.

Journal of the American Musicological Society

VOLUME 67 · NUMBER 3 · FALL 2014

Articles
Bernardino de Sahagún's Psalmodia Christiana:
A Catholic Songbook from Sixteenth-Century New Spain
LORENZO CANDELARIA

The Music of Power: Parisian Opera and the Politics of Genre, 1806–1864
MARK EVERIST

Evolutionary Categories and Musical Style from Adler to America
RACHEL MUNDY

Indeterminacy, Free Improvisation, and the Mixed Avant-Garde:
Experimental Music in London, 1965–1975
BENJAMIN PIEKUT

Reviews
The Musical Sounds of Medieval French Cities: Players, Patrons,
and Politics,
by Gretchen Peters
CAROL SYMES

Music and the Politics of Negation, by James R. Currie
NICHOLAS MATHEW

Sounding Authentic: The Rural Miniature and Musical Modernism,
by Joshua S. Walden
DAVID E. SCHNEIDER

Digital and Multimedia Scholarship
Johannes Tinctoris: Complete Theoretical Works
STEFANO MENGOZZI

Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads; English Broadside Ballad Archive
AMANDA EUBANKS WINKLER

Arnold Schönberg Center; Britten Thematic Catalog; John Cage Unbound: A Living Archive
JOSEPH AUNER


ABSTRACTS


Bernardino de Sahagún's Psalmodia Christiana:
A Catholic Songbook from Sixteenth-Century New Spain
LORENZO CANDELARIA

In Mexico City, 1583, Pedro Ocharte published the first book of vernacular sacred song in the Americas—the Psalmodia Christiana (Christian Psalmody) by Bernardino de Sahagún, a Spanish missionary of the Franciscan Order. Sahagún composed his book of 333 songs in the Nahuatl language during the second half of the sixteenth century to promote the formation of Catholic Mexica (better known as “Aztec”) communities in the central valley of Mexico. Well-received in its day as a primer on tenets of the Catholic faith, the life of Christ, and the virtues of the saints, it was denounced before the Inquisition in the eighteenth century and has otherwise existed in the shadow of Sahagún's monumental Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España, a pioneering anthropological study of the Mexica that did not become widely available until the nineteenth century. This article repositions the undervalued Psalmodia Christiana as a polished outcome of the anthropological research for which Sahagún is most remembered, setting in relief the understudied legacy of Western plainchant in the Christian evangelization of the New World and, more broadly, the extent to which the Mexica's native traditions were folded into the apostolic work of Catholic missionaries in post-Tridentine New Spain.
Lorenzo Candelaria is Professor of Music at the University of Texas at El Paso.




The Music of Power: Parisian Opera and the Politics of Genre, 1806–1864
MARK EVERIST

Music for the stage has always been embedded in a network of power relationships between states, impresarios, librettists, artists, entrepreneurs, and composers. This article seeks to understand and explain how these relationships functioned in the period when French music drama was subject to a system of licenses, 1806–64. At the center of the inquiry are institutional structures and their relationship to those responsible for both the creation and the cultivation of stage music in the period. They explain the context for the cultural agents and products not only of the main opera houses in nineteenth-century Paris—the Opéra, the Opéra-Comique, and the Théâtre-Italien—but also of the host of smaller, shorter-lived institutions that supported and promoted opera during the period. 
Mark Everist is a professorial fellow at the Institute of Musical Research, School of Advanced Studies, University of London.



Evolutionary Categories and Musical Style from Adler to America
RACHEL MUNDY

As we consider music's role in defining races, cultures, and species, musicologists may benefit from examining more closely the history of conceptions of musical style. That history offers an opportunity to reassess the question of how and how much one of the core tools of music scholarship—the recognition and categorization of musical style—reflects a historical tradition of categorizing culture as a form of essential, biologized difference. This exercise seems particularly relevant in the present moment, when scholarly style categories converge with a renewed interest in evolutionary science. Tracing notions of style from the days of Guido Adler to the present, I argue that classifications of musical style have offered a way for music scholars to explore changing concepts of human difference. By asking what it means to identify a musical style, it is possible to engage more sensitively with music's power to classify human cultures, define human beings, and demarcate the perimeter of the humanities.
Rachel Mundy is Assistant Professor of Musicology at the University of Pittsburgh.




Indeterminacy, Free Improvisation, and the Mixed Avant-Garde:
Experimental Music in London, 1965–1975
BENJAMIN PIEKUT

John Cage's brand of experimentalism underwent a transformation when it was imported into the UK in the 1960s. There, in contradiction to the American's well-known preferences, indeterminacy became twisted up with jazz-derived free improvisation, owing to discourse that stressed performer freedom and creativity while downplaying notions of non-intention and discipline. The authors of these commentaries created the discursive conditions for a mingling of avant-garde traditions, but the material conditions owed more to the efforts of Victor Schonfield, whose nonprofit organization, Music Now, acquired Arts Council subsidies on behalf of a stylistically heterogeneous avant-garde that included artists working with both improvisation and indeterminacy. Schonfield also invited important guests from overseas, including Ornette Coleman, Musica Elettronica Viva, the Sonic Arts Union, the Instant Composers Pool, Christian Wolff, Sun Ra, the Taj Mahal Travellers, and, in 1972, John Cage himself. In the greater ecology of experimentalism that Schonfield created, improvisation became a kind of contact zone where musicians came together from a number of directions, among them free jazz, score-based indeterminacy, text-based intuitive music, Fluxus-inspired instruction pieces, and even psychedelic rock freak-outs. Music Now produced over 80 concerts between 1968 and 1976, when the organization folded.
Benjamin Piekut is a historian of experimental music, jazz, and rock, and Assistant Professor of Musicology at Cornell University.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

1914: The Christmas Truce

by Carol A. Hess


Among the many things World War I left in its wake is an impressive and diverse body of musical works. The first commercially successful antiwar song in history, Al Piantadosi’s “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier,” enjoyed fleeting popularity in the United States between the outbreak of war in August 1914 and the sinking of the Lusitania the following spring. It also gave rise to the parodies “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Coward” and “I Didn’t Raise My Dog to Be a Sausage,” as U.S. Americans increasingly came to favor military involvement in Europe; drowning out antiwar music even more vociferously was George M. Cohan’s widely performed “Over There!” Charles Ives marked the sinking of the Lusitania with “Hanover Square North, At the End of a Tragic Day, The Voice of the People Again Arose,” the third movement of his Second Orchestral Set. He also composed two songs, “Tom Sails Away” and “In Flanders Fields,” the latter on the poem dashed off by the Canadian surgeon Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae after the death of his friend Alexis Helmer in May 1915. In fact, the “crosses row on row” in the cemetery just north of Ypres (Belgium) that McCrae immortalized were an entirely makeshift affair. Proper headstones were supplied to the Commonwealth cemeteries only in the 1920s and inscriptions cost 3½ pence per letter, excluding the poor. Thus the common soldier was snubbed even in death.

The war also inspired European musicians. Brisk or uplifting popular songs such as “Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag” and “Keep the Home Fires Burning” bucked up the spirits of British troops. Hindemith, who began serving in the German army in 1917, formed a string quartet with some fellow soldiers (and in March 1918 learned of Debussy’s death while the ensemble was playing the French composer’s music). In the turbulent decade that followed the war, Alban Berg’s opera Wozzeck gave anguished voice to the newly coined term “shell shock.”

One especially compelling “performance” took place on Christmas Eve, 1914, on the Western Front, a soggy patch of earth in Belgium and Northern France defined by the narrow strip known as no-man’s land. Months earlier, ebullient troops were convinced that the war would be over “before the leaves fell.” Now, amid the mud and monotony, optimism was fading. Pope Benedict XV’s proposal for an official Christmas truce had fallen on deaf ears. The common soldier on the Western Front lived in a dark trench surrounded by sandbags and excrement, where disease threatened no less than enemy gunfire. Ironically, maintaining proper belligerence in these surroundings proved difficult, mainly, it seems, because human beings instinctively prefer to get along with their neighbors. The enemy in the next trench was often so close by that his coughing could be heard. So, too, could his singing, whether of “Deutschland über Alles” or “God Save the King.” Enemy soldiers would exchange good-natured insults with “less venom than a couple of London cabbies after a mild collision,” as Rifleman Leslie Walkinton of the Queen’s Westminsters recalled. Commanding officers were quick to scold the men for fraternization, correctly believing that it eroded the single-minded enmity war demanded. On Christmas Eve, however, the men defied their higher-ups, calling an unofficial halt to the hostilities in what Stanley Weintraub has called “an outbreak of peace.”

Probably the Germans started it. It was they, after all, who were bent on defending Kultur, a point articulated by no less than Rainer Maria Rilke and Thomas Mann. In the days before Christmas Eve they plucked small evergreens from the Belgian woods and arranged them along their trenches, singing “O Tannenbaum” as well as patriotic songs. On 24 December, eighty yards away from the German trenches, Captain Sir Edward Hulse of the Scots Guards decided that “from 10 p.m. onwards we are going to give the enemy every conceivable song in harmony, from carols to Tipperary.  . . . Our object will be to drown the now too-familiar strains of ‘Deutschland über Alles’ and ‘Die Wacht am Rhein’ we hear from their trenches every evening.” Hulse and his men began singing and soon cries of “Fröhliche Weihnachten, Tommy!” and “Happy Christmas, Fritz!” rang through the frosty air. At one point, someone ventured into no man’s land and, seeing that no trouble ensued, other soldiers left their trenches to swap cigarettes for beefy bully or chocolate for sausage. Throughout, the men sang.

Since 2008, the male vocal ensemble Cantus has toured with its show “All is Calm,” a reenactment of these events. The Minneapolis-based a cappella group comprises five tenors (divided 3 + 2 or 2+ 3), two baritones, and two basses. (Unlike Chanticleer, Cantus uses no male sopranos.) Just as Hulse proposed, Cantus performs a wide range of songs—“It’s a Long Way to Tipperary,” “God Save the King,” “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” and other traditional carols. There was also “The Old Barbed Wire,” a wry allusion to the British attack at Ploegsteert Wood days before, which resulted in such massive casualties that cadavers were impaled on barbed wire and left there. Other selections include “Minuit, Chrétiens” (O Holy Night), which the French tenor Victor Granier evidently sang to the amazement of all. (Walter Kirchoff, a German tenor invited by Crown Prince Wilhelm, performed for the 130th Würtembergers and within earshot of the French, who gratefully applauded.)  Cantus sings not only the German classics “Es ist ein Rös Entsprungen” and “Wie Schön Leuchtet der Morgenstern” but the very songs of which Sir Edward complained, including “Die Wacht am Rein,” which, not two decades hence would tangle with the “Marseillaise” in that famous contrapuntal clash in the World War II film Casablanca.

“All is Calm” is conceived as a radio drama. In addition to the superbly executed music, three actors read—in an impressive variety of accents—excerpts from letters and diaries of soldiers who described the event, often with wonderment. (The CD the group has released contains the music alone.) The timbre and quality of the spoken voices shift in fluid counterpoint with the musical selections: matter-of-fact, homespun musings glide into poetic effusions by Siegfried Sassoon of the Royal Welch Fusiliers and Wilfred Owen of the Manchester Regiment, whose verses Benjamin Britten would set in his War Requiem. At the conclusion of each reading, the actors identify the combatants by name. This oral footnote honors a handful of participants in what was surely the most impersonal war to date, emblematized by the gray and khaki uniforms of modern warfare and the ghoulish gas mask, first put to use just months after the truce. All the while, the nine men of Cantus sing, just as in 1914. They stop only for the Last Post, the sounding of a solitary trumpet call still observed in Ypres at 8:00 p.m. every evening.

All this has great potential for mawkishness, even in the face of the terrible events commemorated. Melodrama, a staple of early radio that involves speaking over music, might strike some listeners as corny. One could also quibble about a few details. The Menin gate at Ypres, where the Last Post is observed, is not a medieval structure, as the narrator states, but a triumphal arch built in 1927. Perhaps the Belgians could be given greater recognition, as could the colonial troops from India and Africa, who had fought so bravely at the battle of the Marne months before. To them, Christmas meant little, even if the lighted trees might have reminded some of the Hindu Diwali festival, a fertility rite celebrated with a profusion of oil lamps. Likewise, an overly rosy picture that overlooks the pockets of sniper fire along the lines that Christmas Eve should also be avoided. Still, “All is Calm” raises fascinating questions. If, as Weintraub suggests, the truce itself was “dangerously akin to the populist politics of the streets,” then the sing-along that arose spontaneously from the trenches that Christmas Eve symbolizes a broader spirit of rebellion, one not confined to a single, exceptional moment in a vast, sweeping tragedy. One wonders how we might react to “All is Calm” were it performed not with the polish and nuance of the Cantus singers but with untrained voices, with average men straining for high notes and struggling to remember all the verses to “Silent Night,” as generations of amateur singers have done.

In the end,

“All is Calm” moves the listener through superb musicianship and a compelling array of materials, music and literary. Ultimately, all serve the broad and haunting question, “What if?” What it peace had broken out? What if the truce had been repeated in subsequent years of the war? For indeed, the order against any future fraternization came down swiftly and unequivocally, and the songs of Christmas 1914 were silenced. Four years later, when that strange night was little more than a curious memory, military and civilian dead and wounded totaled thirty-seven million due to what some still call the Great War.

Suggested reading:
Glenn Watkins, Proof Through the Night: Music and the Great War (University of California Press, 2003).

Stanley Weintraub, Silent Night: The Story of The World War I Christmas Truce (Free Press, 2001).

Carol A. Hess is Professor of Music at the University of California, Davis. Her most recent book, Representing the Good Neighbor: Music, Difference, and the Pan American Dream, was published by Oxford University Press in fall 2013.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Dear Abbé

Professional musicologists offer answers and advice. Free.

DEAR ABBÉ:

I am 8 years old and have been dancing in The Nutcracker since my first pink tutu. Some of my little friends say Tchaikovsky is passé and musicology is disinterested in ballet. Papa says, "If you see it in "Dear Abbé, it's so." Please tell me the truth: what was the Nutcracker like in the Olden Days?

                                                                VIRGINIA O'H.
                                                                115 West Ninety Fifth Street

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. Yes, Virginia, pink tutus and dancing mice are still fancied by children everywhere. I asked the guy who wrote the book, Roland John Wiley, to answer your question.

Kellemes karácsonyi ünnepeket / Fröhliche Weinachten / Buon Natal.

                                                                   ABBÉ

Prof. Wiley writes:

Mariinsky Theatre
St. Petersburg, 1892
Virginia, had you seen the first Nutcracker in December of 1892, its would have looked striking (because of different fashions in costumes), but the story would have been familiar. There was a big Christmas party where the children received their presents, followed by Counsellor Drosselmeyer and his extraordinary gifts, including the nutcracker that made such a deep impression on young Clara. (That was her name in St. Petersburg;  she is sometimes called Marie nowadays after her name in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story, on which the ballet is based.) Presently the guests will have dispersed, the Christmas tree to have grown to an immense size, followed by a battle of toy soldiers and mice, a waltz of the snowflakes, and in the second act, a grand divertissement, capped off by the pas de deux of the Sugar Plum Fairy, including her famous solo with the celesta, before the final dance. The parts of Clara and Fritz were assigned to children, and children filled the stage, in Act II representing candies and dressed accordingly in a grand tableau. In general a large number of artists took the stage in the first Nutcracker, including sixty adult dancers for the Waltz of the Snowflakes, a composition articulated by their formation into appropriate patterns, including stars and snowflakes. It was customary in the imperial ballet to put children on stage even when a piece was not aimed at children in the audience, as the theatre direction supported a large school and encouraged practical experience in its students from an early age.

Different then was how the ballet was presented and received. It was not the sole entertainment of an evening, but came after a complete opera.  In the early days that opera was Tchaikovsky’s last, Iolanta, it and The Nutcracker commissioned to be performed together, imitating the practice of Parisian theatres to combine opera and ballet on the same program.  Then too, whereas we think of Nutcracker as a Christmas piece, in Russia it was performed any time during the theatre season, from September to April.

Perhaps the biggest surprise about the first Nutcracker was that it wasn’t very well-received, and has never been much performed in Russia, at least compared with the institutional stature it enjoys in the west, staged wherever minimal artistic forces can be mustered to make it go. While Tchaikovsky’s music largely escaped critique, the ballet itself came under fire.

Roland John Wiley is professor emeritus of musicology at the University of Michigan. He is author of Tchaikovsky's Ballets: Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty Nucracker (Oxford UP, 1991) and the new Master Musicians life-and-works Tchaikovsky (Oxford UP, 2009). As it happens, his granddaughters make their balletic debut this season as mice in . . . need we continue?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mozart's Grace

by Scott Burnham

Perfection, revelation, incarnation, grace, redemption. Such metaphors resonate throughout the history of Mozart reception. We probably should not be surprised at their ubiquity, the ease of their fit over the past two centuries. Mozart’s seemingly infallible musical judgment, accounts of his miraculous ease, coupled with the Romantic notion of music as a mystically potent, invisible force makes perceptions like these seem second nature. If Mozart’s music has not maintained an explicitly Christ-like presence, it has at the very least been perceived as a locus of goodness. And yet one does not experience anything like the perfected motion of Christian temporality. Mozart’s music offers no master narrative of Paradise Lost and Regained, of overcoming and salvation. Rather Mozart stops just this side of damnation, and just this side of redemption. A kind of innocence is always in play, but not as origin and telos. Instead I have spoken of an “ever renewable loss of innocence.” To accept this notion is also to lay claim to an ever renewable embrace of innocence. Mozart teaches us that innocence can be a continually available rejuvenation of spirit rather than an all-or-nothing quality, once lost, lost forever.

In broad cultural terms, it is tempting to interpret the end of the age of Enlightenment as a loss of innocence, a loss of innocent faith in the transparency of the world. Romanticism then emerges as the opening up of a new space, both within and beyond, a space fashioned by loss but enchanted by longing. Mozart meets us at the threshold of this space, which is more or less the burden of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s assessment of Mozart in relation to Haydn and Beethoven. Transcendence and interiority are both intimated, rather than achieved. This is how I have chosen to hear those emergent passages that seem to lift off from the prevailing musical discourse, like a visitation of altered consciousness. But even more generally, Mozart’s music can be heard to hover: between innocence and experience, ideality and sensuousness, comedy and tragedy, sympathy and mockery, intimacy and transcendence. It offers no blind faith yet no paralyzing doubt; it is not just a longingly imperfect reach for the infinite (Schiller’s sentimental art) nor just a comfortably perfect grasp of the finite (Schiller’s naïve art); it is childlike yet knowing.
—from “Knowing Innocence,” the final chapter of Mozart's Grace (Princeton UP, 2013), 165–66.

Scott Burnham is Scheide Professor of Music History at Princeton University. His scholarly interests include the history of tonal theory, problems of analysis and criticism, and 18-and 19th-century music and culture. Burnham's previous book, Beethoven Hero (Princeton UP, 1995), won the 1996 Wallace Berry Award from the Society of Music Theory.

_________________________

Mozart's Grace won the American Musicological Society's 2014 Otto Kinkeldey Award, given annually “to a musicological book of exceptional merit published during the previous year.” It is the longest running of the society's awards, having been presented since 1967.

The citation notes how Burnham's work “explores a beloved composer, whose music we adore. It does not provide the usual enumeration of the composer’s stylistic fingerprints, nor a typology of formal procedures. Instead, the author focuses on individual moments that, he feels, reveal what is most important about this music. Most of the book consists of close readings of many of his favorite passages. The analyses are sensitive, perceptive, and steeped in evocative language: the author succeeds in finding words to convey the ineffable, the things we sense when we experience this music. A rich study whose style verges on the poetic at times, the book addresses the elusive trope of beauty through the categories of grace, thresholds, renewal, and knowing innocence.”

Otto Kinkeldey
The Kinkeldey Award is funded by the estate of Otto Kinkeldey (1878–1966), founding member of the Society, President from 1935–36 and from 1941–42, and Honorary President until his death in 1966. Kinkeldey occupied the first chair in musicology in the United States, at Cornell University,  between 1923 and 1946, where he was also Cornell University Librarian. He held the BA from City College of New York (1898), MA from New York University (1900) and Ph.D. from the Royal Academic Institute for Church Music in Berlin (1909). In 1910 he was appointed Royal Prussian Professor at the University of Breslau, then served in the United States Army at the beginning of World War I and was named head of the Music Division at the New York Public Library (1915–23).

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Interview:
Ellen T. Harris

The second of our video interviews reflecting on American musicology features Ellen T. Harris, who became president of the American Musicological Society in November 2014.

 

Cuepoints:
  • 00:22 on Handel and his friends
  • 05:20 on archives and historical narrative
  • 09:30 Handel as informant to Hanover
  • 11:30 musicology old and new
  • 14:55 new directions in musicology
  • 18:45 teaching as a mission for musicology

Ellen T. Harris is professor emerita at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and president of the American Musicological Society. The book they talk about here is George Frideric Handel: A Life with Friends (W. W. Norton, 2014); Harris's previous book, Handel as Orpheus: Voice and Desire in the Chamber Cantatas (Harvard UP, 2001), was awarded the 2002 Otto Kinkeldey Award from the American Musicological Society and the 2002-03 Louis Gottschalk Prize from the Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

William Scheide
1914-2014

Bill Scheide was known to musicians everywhere as owner of the Haussman portrait (second version, 1748) of J. S. Bach, widely known as “the Scheide Bach portrait.” It hung in his living room, where it was pretty well open to viewing by anyone who cared to drop by, including every Bach seminar--and there were plenty--offered by Arthur Mendel and his successors. It is said that Elliot Forbes's little boy once asked Scheide's little boy who that man was over the fireplace. “That's the man,” replied young Scheide, “who writes my daddy's music.”
Another boy who, earlier, knew the portrait was John Eliot Gardiner. It had been left during World War II by its German owner for safe-keeping with Gardiner's father in Dorset. “I passed it every day of my life until 1951,” he writes, “when it was sold to Bill Scheide” (see also the opening paragraphs of Gardiner's Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven, Knopf, 2013). The Scheide Bach portrait has been bequeathed to the Leipzig Bach-Archiv, of which Scheide was founding curator and later director emeritus.

An accomplished pianist, organist, and oboist, he graduated from Princeton in 1936 and took a MA at Columbia in 1940 with a thesis on Bach. Identifying the centrality of the cantatas early on, he established the Bach Aria Group in 1946 (including among others Eileen Farrell and Julius Baker) and led it through 1980. He contributed some 10 articles to the Bach-Jahrbuch between 1959 and 2003.

What musicians might not know is that, at the request of Thurgood Marshall, Scheide provided the primary financial backing for the lawsuit Brown vs. Board of Education (1954); then went on to become the most generous single donor to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

The family fortune (Standard Oil) and passion for collecting books devolved to him from his grandfather, William T. Scheide, and father, John H. Scheide; Bill's room in the family house was just over the library. The Scheide Library is now housed in the Firestone Memorial Library at Princeton; it holds all four early printed bibles, first editions of Shakespeare and Milton, and manuscripts of Bach, Beethoven, and Schubert. At Princeton Scheide also financed the remodel of the Woolworth Center of Musical Studies to include a three-story facility now called the Arthur Mendel Music Library; endowed a professorship in music history and and undergraduate scholarship program; and underwrote a wide variety of initiatives in the humanities and arts. The Scheide Concerts at Princeton have in recent years produced an annual birthday concert to benefit worthy causes in the region.

Scheide made a major gift to the American Musicological Society's 50th-anniversary capital campaign (AMS 50) in memory of Arthur Mendel, funding in perpetuity a portion of one of the AMS 50 dissertation-year fellowships, and was a donor to the 75th-anniversary campaign (OPUS).

Scheide's 80th birthday was celebrated with the publication of The Same Purposeful Instant: Essays in Honor of William H. Scheide (Princeton University Library) and an honorary doctorate; his 90th, with the publication of For William H. Scheide: Fifty Years of Collecting: 6 January 2004 (Princeton University Library); his 95th, with a special issue of the Newsletter of the American Bach Society; his 100th, with conspicuous general merriment, televised.

Scheide died on November 14, 2014, at his home in Princeton, New Jersey. A formal obituary will appear in a forthcoming issue of the American Musicological Society's Newsletter.





Thursday, December 4, 2014

Interview:
Christopher Reynolds

We are pleased to present the first of several video interviews reflecting on American musicology. Christopher Reynolds, immediate past president of the American Musicological Society, considers initiatives undertaken during his term of office and what he sees as the state of the discipline today.




Christopher Reynolds is Professor of Music at the University of California, Davis. His latest book, Wagner, Schumann and the Lessons of Beethoven’s Ninth, appears with the University of California Press in May 2015.