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date: 19 February 2020

Fillmore, John Comfortlocked

  • Sue Carole DeVale


(b Franklin, CT, Feb 4, 1843; d Taftville, CT, Aug 14, 1898). American writer on music. He studied the organ at Oberlin College, then (1866–7) at Leipzig; he held appointments at Oberlin (1867–8), Ripon College, Wisconsin (1868–78), Milwaukee College for Women (1878–84), Milwaukee School of Music (1884–95) and Pomona College, California (1895). Fillmore was one of the first American writers to take a serious interest in the study of traditional (primarily Amerindian) musics. He believed that, according to the natural laws of physics and acoustics, the music of all cultures, like Western art music, has a harmonic basis in major and minor triads. Since few trained musicians shared his interest, his elaborate but misguided evolutionary scheme outlining the origin and development of all music received little criticism until after his death. Fillmore claimed to have transcribed many recordings collected by Alice Cunningham Fletcher, Franz Boas and others for their publications, but recent research does not corroborate this. His greatest contributions were his textbooks on Western music, which were widely read....

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