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David B. Levy

(b Alsager, Cheshire, Sept 27, 1779; d London, Nov 15, 1846). English music critic and patron. He was proprietor of and writer for The Times, an association formed in 1817 through his friendship with Thomas Barnes. Alsager reported on financial matters and foreign news, but evidence reveals that both he and Barnes wrote most of the articles on theatre and music in The Times before the appointment in 1846, at Alsager's recommendation, of J.W. Davison as the first full-time music critic on a daily newspaper. Alsager was intimate with Charles Lamb, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Leigh Hunt and Keats, while his passion for music led to friendships with many important figures in London musical life, including Mendelssohn, Spohr, Smart, Moscheles and Ayrton (whose son married Alsager's daughter). Several English premières took place at Alsager's residence, most notably that of Beethoven's Missa solemnis on 24 December 1832. Alsager's desire to proselytize for Beethoven's piano sonatas and quartets, especially the late works, led to the establishment of the Queen Square Select Society (...


(b Haverford, PA, Aug 24, 1888; d Chestnut Hill, PA, Sept 6, 1967). American writer on women in music. Her relatively casual girlhood interest in music was stimulated when she met Henry S. Drinker, a Philadelphia lawyer and dedicated amateur musician and musicologist. They married in 1911 and established a household that became nationally known for its engagement in amateur musical activities. In 1928 the couple began what would be a 30-year tradition of singing parties (called by the family the ‘Accademia dei dilettanti di musica’) to which friends and acquaintances were invited, sometimes more than a hundred at a time, to play and sing Bach cantatas and other choral repertory.

Drinker's work as a historian of women in music was sparked by these musical activities, and by her experience with a women's chorus, the Montgomery Singers. Despite her lack of formal education, over a 20-year period she researched a global history of women's relationship to music. The resulting book, ...


Gary Galván

(b Kitzingen, Bavaria, Germany, Sept 28, 1906; d Chicago, IL, July 4, 1987). American wine merchant, writer on music, and philanthropist of German birth. Born into a family of vintners, Paul Fromm took music lessons and played four-hand piano duets with his brother, composer Herbert Fromm (1905–95), as a child. Fromm attended the annual contemporary music festivals in Donaueschingen between 1921 and 1926, where he heard the chamber music of composers such as Paul Dessau, Hanns Eisler, Alois Hába, Paul Hindemith, Arnold Schoenberg, and Igor Stravinsky, among others. Fromm reported that a 1927 performance of The Rite of Spring in Frankfurt “made a 20th-century man of me.”

When Fromm entered the family business, N. Fromm Ltd. was recognized as the largest, most important wine merchant in Bavaria and a leading company in Germany. The firm was so important to the local economy that when Fromm’s father, Max, was taken to a concentration camp in ...


Karen Ahlquist

(b New York, Jan 26, 1820; d New York, July 21, 1875). American lawyer, musical amateur and diarist , father of George Templeton Strong. He played the piano and the organ as a child and later attended Columbia College; he was admitted to the bar in 1841. In 1869 he founded the New York Church Music Association, which offered public concerts of religious music. He was also an original subscriber of the Philharmonic Symphony Society of New York (founded 1842), of which he was president from 1870 to 1874.

Strong’s diary, with over four million words, confirms him as one of the most comprehensive and important 19th-century commentators on New York life. Along with accounts of personal, local and world affairs, it contains observations on hundreds of musical performances, including orchestral and choral concerts, opera, solo recitals, services at Trinity Church and chamber music. It also describes Strong’s role as an organizer. A conservative idealist, he fought unsuccessfully to excise the music of such composers as Berlioz, Liszt, Robert Schumann and Wagner from Philharmonic programmes in the name of (as he said) ‘fine and great music’. The diary offers a colourful mode of expression, an insider’s view of the politics and economics of musical institutions, and a detailed account of a city’s musical culture....


April Fitzlyon

(b Oryol, Nov 9, 1818; d Bougival, nr Paris, Sept 3, 1883). Russian novelist and dramatist. A liberal who sympathized with the culture of western Europe, he is usually considered to have been a realist, though his later works contain elements of fantasy. He was the first Russian novelist to become widely known in the West.

In 1843 Turgenev met the Spanish mezzo-soprano Pauline Viardot in St Petersburg, and formed a lifelong attachment to her and to her husband. From then on he spent much of his life outside Russia living with, or near, the Viardots, principally in France and Baden-Baden. Always passionately fond of music, he became very well informed about it through Pauline Viardot. He was personally acquainted with almost all the well-known musicians of his day, both in Russia and in the West. He contributed occasional articles on opera to Russian periodicals, and wrote librettos in French for operettas set to music by Pauline Viardot and performed by her pupils. One of these, ...