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Jon Newsom

revised by H. Wiley Hitchcock

(b Lafayette [now part of Jersey City], NJ, Oct 6, 1873; d New York, Oct 30, 1928). American musicologist, librarian, editor and composer. As a boy he was sent to Germany to study; he was a piano pupil of James Kwast (1883–93) and later attended courses at the universities of Heidelberg and Munich, developing his interests in philosophy and, especially, musicology. He studied composition in Munich with Melchior Ernst Sachs, composition and orchestration with Iwan Knorr in Frankfurt, and conducting with Carl Schröder at the Sondershausen Conservatory.

In 1899 Sonneck returned to the USA and for three years travelled from New England to South Carolina, collecting references to American musical life before 1800, primarily from newspapers. He also did much work in the new Library of Congress building, and in 1902 the librarian Herbert Putnam made him head of the newly formed music division, where he organized and developed what was to become one of the most comprehensive collections of music, manuscripts and books on music in the world. He established its unrivalled archive of opera scores and librettos, and in ...