(b New York, July 4, 1907; d Sarasota, FL, Jan 8, 1996). American music and drama critic . He took the AB at Columbia University in 1929 and that year joined the staff of the New York Times. He became the paper’s music editor (1935–55), its music critic (1955–60) and its drama critic (1960–66). As the New York Times’s critic-at-large, until his retirement in 1972, Taubman travelled throughout the USA and Europe, contributing articles on the complex growth and economic problems of the arts. In this capacity, he made particular use of the breadth of interests and sympathies that had been the most notable features of his more specialized earlier writings.Opera Front and Back (New York, 1938) Music as a Profession (New York, 1939) ed.: G. Gatti-Casazza: Memories of the Opera (New York, 1941/R) Music on my Beat: an Intimate Volume of Shop Talk...
Patrick J. Smith
(b Hull, August 14, 1922; d March 7, 2002). English physicist, writer and lecturer on the physics of music. He studied physics at Queen Mary College, London (BSc 1942), and at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (PhD 1951, DSc 1959), where he was a lecturer then a reader in physics (1948–85). As professor and head of department of physics at University College, Cardiff (1965–83), he established the first electronic music studio in a British university (1970); he was visiting professor of experimental physics at the Royal Institution of Great Britain (1976–88), and became emeritus professor of physics at the University of Wales in 1983. He was elected an honorary fellow of the Institute of Acoustics (1985).
Though his major research activity was in the study of X-ray and optical diffraction, the important musical acoustics research group which he founded at Cardiff carried out pioneering holographic studies of the vibrational modes of stringed instrument bodies. In ...
(b New York, Dec 22, 1885; d New York, July 3, 1966). American composer and critic. He began piano studies in 1895, and in 1906 received the BA from New York University. Victor Herbert, who in 1907 heard his music for a university show, The Oracle, advised him to study theory, and so he took harmony and counterpoint lessons with Oscar Coon, a bandsman of Oswego, New York (1908–11). After various jobs in publishing and journalism he became music critic of the New York World (1921–5), editor of Musical America (1927–9), and music critic of the New York American (1931–2). In addition, he was director (1933–66) and president (1942–8) of ASCAP, and he worked for NBC as opera commentator from 1931, also serving as intermission commentator for the national broadcasts of the New York PO (...
(b Norwich, Jan 22, 1784; d Brentwood, March 12, 1863). English bass and writer on music. Born into a prominent Unitarian family with literary leanings, he worked as an ironmonger and was active in liberal politics as well as amateur musical life in Norwich. He sang at the Octagon Chapel and the Glee and Catch Club, was principal bass at the Hall Concerts, and played a key role in the founding and organization of the Norwich Triennial Festival in 1824; he was also skilled as a wind player and choir trainer. Among his teachers were the Rev. Charles Smyth, William Fish and J.C. Beckwith.
In 1825 Taylor started an engineering firm in London, but on its failure a year later took up music professionally, as a concert singer and teacher. Still associated with opposition politics, by 1829 he had become music critic for the weekly Spectator. Its didactic, reform-minded tone suited him well, and he wrote there regularly for 14 years, notably on provincial festivals, the relative merits of Spohr (his friend) and Mendelssohn (whom he thought overrated), and on the importance of earlier music and of amateur music-making. In ...
revised by Thomas J. Mathiesen
[Publius Terentius Afer]
(b north Africa, c190
The didascalia (prefatory information) to each of Terence's works names a slave or freedman, Flaccus, as composer of the music (modi) and mentions the kinds of double reed pipe used. These are ‘equal’ in length, ‘unequal’, ‘right’, ‘left’ or, for one play, ‘Sarranian’. Commentaries by the 4th-century grammarian Aelius Donatus also specify them for each play, and identify equal pipes as Lydian and unequal as Phrygian, but the connections he suggested between these terms and the ethos or mood of the piece seem arbitrary and should be treated with caution (Wille, 169ff)....
Thomas J. Mathiesen
first half of the 5th century
(b St Etienne, Oct 5, 1872; d Lorques, nr Varennes, April 7, 1938). French writer on Byzantine music. In 1891 he joined the Assumptionists and began to study Byzantine music, an interest developed during his long residence in the East. In 1900 he was ordained priest in Constantinople; thereafter he lived in Jerusalem, several Turkish and Bulgarian cities, Odessa (1907–11) and St Petersburg (1911–14). During World War I he worked as an army chaplain, returning to Turkey in 1920. He retired to France in 1922.
Thibaut was the first scholar to make a systematic investigation of Byzantine musical notation and to try to deduce the origin of Latin neumes from Constantinople. He divided Byzantine notation from the 11th to the 18th centuries into three phases: the first originated in Constantinople, the second in Jerusalem and the third was invented by Koukouzeles. His studies were based on manuscripts from all periods of which he edited an important collection. Together with J.B. Rebours he also edited several treatises on Byzantine musical theory, but he was unable to decipher the notation....
[Roquet, Antoine Ernest ]
(b Nantes, Jan 23, 1827; d Paris, May 26, 1894). French writer on music . A merchant by trade, he took the opportunities offered by business journeys to England, Italy and Russia to accumulate an extensive music library which included early printed books and manuscripts. He became a contributor to the periodicals La France musicale and L’Art musical, later publishing his articles (and others) as pamphlets. He worked exclusively on the history of French music, basing his research firmly on primary sources and using an unusually transparent methodology which involved the critical evaluation of items of secondary material in annotated bibliographies. His work built upon that of Fétis in particular, correcting many of the inaccuracies in the Belgian scholar’s writings. Much of the strength of Thoinan’s work lies in his ability, amply demonstrated in his essay on Maugars, to see isolated historical events in a larger perspective.
La musique à Paris...
Michael Ann Williams
[Bell, Jeanette ]
(b Ashland, KY, Nov 14, 1881; d Greenup, KY, Dec 7, 1982). American Folk music promoter and writer. Born Jeanette Bell in far eastern Kentucky, the self-ascribed “Traipsin’ Woman” was married, briefly, to Albert Thomas. Although she spent her lengthy career promoting her vision of Appalachian culture, Thomas seemed intent on escaping the confines of a traditional life. Trained as a court stenographer, she is reputed to have worked as a press agent and script girl in New York and Hollywood. In 1926 she met blind fiddler James William Day, who she rechristened “Jilson Setters.” Using her show business acumen, she lined up recording contracts, radio appearances, and even a performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Thomas’s American Folk Song Festival emerged from a backyard party she held in Ashland in 1930 and became a fully established event in 1932, joining North Carolina’s Mountain Dance and Folk Festival (...
Ramona H. Matthews
(b Crawfordsville, IN, Oct 10, 1887; d New York, July 3, 1945). American critic and writer on music . He was educated at the University of Washington (Seattle), and studied music privately, making several appearances as a singer (about 1912) while following a career in journalism. After army service in World War I he joined the staff of Musical America as a critic (1919), later serving as editor (1936–43). He was also music critic of the New York Evening Post (1928–34), the New York Times (1935) and the New York Sun (from 1937 until his death). He instituted a unique course in music criticism at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia (1928); he also wrote a textbook on the subject, and taught at Columbia University and the New York College of Music. His Cyclopedia (1939) is perhaps the best single-volume general dictionary of music in English....
Anthony Tommasini and Richard Jackson
(b Kansas City, MO, Nov 25, 1896; d New York, NY, Sept 30, 1989). American composer and critic. He produced a sizeable catalog of stylistically diverse compositions characterized by expressive directness and textural transparency, written in a language that drew from hymnbook harmony, popular song, and dance idioms of the late 19th century, and utilizing plain-spoken tonal procedures but also diatonic dissonance and polytonal elements. In his many vocal works, and his two path-breaking operatic collaborations with Gertrude Stein, Thomson demonstrated a mastery of prosody. His settings of English convey American speech patterns with naturalness and clarity. He brought strong predilections for living composers and American music to his criticism. The wit, vitality, and descriptive precision of his writing, which demystified the complexities of music for lay readers, made him among the most influential and lasting critics of the 20th century.
Though Thomson’s parents were not musical—his father, Quincy, had been a farmer and later secured a civil service job at a post office—there was plentiful music-making at the Thomson house in Kansas City. An older cousin, Lela Garnett, moved in with her upright piano when Thomson was a boy, and gave him his first lessons when he was five. For the rest of his life Thomson remembered evenings at the house with parlor songs, hymns and “darn-fool ditties” sung around the piano; an uncle’s banjo playing; and band concerts in the parks (where he heard excerpts from the Wagner operas for the first time). All of these American vernacular idioms would influence his mature musical style....
(b Concord, MA, July 12, 1817; d Concord, MA, May 6, 1862). American writer. After graduation from Harvard University in 1837, he returned to his native Concord, where he remained until his death, making a few excursions and writing in great detail about his thinking and living. He retired to a cabin beside Walden Pond in 1845 and is best known for Walden, or Life in the Woods (1854) and for the voluminous Journals, published posthumously (1906; ed. F.H. Allen, 1949). Music held an important place in the philosophy of transcendentalists; for Thoreau in particular, music in all its forms was a vital element of life, basic to his literary expression.
Musical settings of Thoreau’s poetry and prose are not numerous. The poems most often set are Haze, Mist, and Smoke, notably by Amadeo De Filippi (b 1900), who set all three in his ...
(b Königsberg, April 10, 1887; d Berlin, Nov 29, 1971). German composer, teacher and critic. After a period of study with Erwin Kroll in Königsberg, Tiessen studied composition (P. Rüfer) and theory (Wilhelm Klatte) at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin. He worked as a music critic for the Allgemeine Musikzeitung from 1911 until 1917, when Richard Strauss helped him obtain a position as co-répétiteur at the Königliche (later Staatliche) Oper in Berlin. After World War I Tiessen played a central role in Berlin’s musical life as Kapellmeister and composer at the Volksbühne, co-director of the Melos-Gesellschaft with Jarnach (after 1923), co-founder of the German division of the ISCM (in which he was active from 1922 to 1933), and conductor of the Junger Chor (1924–33), among other activities. In 1930 he became professor of theory and composition at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. After the National Socialists came to power in ...
Julie Anne Sadie
(b Paris, Jan 16, 1677; d Paris, Nov 26, 1762). French man of letters . He made his way at court as the mâitre d'hôtel to the Duchess of Burgundy. After her death in 1712 he sought the favour of Louis XIV and then Louis XV by drawing up plans for a monument in Paris: an 18-metre ‘Parnasse François’, surmounted by a statue of Apollo and surrounded by statues and medallions of the most distinguished poets and musicians of the Louis XIV era with the names of still others inscribed on scrolls. He devoted much of his time to the promotion of this grand projet, commissioning in 1708 a scale model in bronze sculpted by Louis Garnier, painted and engraved interpretations and medallions together with a series of supporting literature that he wrote himself. The first volume to appear was the Description du Parnasse François (1727), which included seven biographical entries on musicians that he rewrote for the greatly augmented ...
(b Yasnaya Polyana, Sept 9, 1828; d Astapovo, Nov 20, 1910). Russian novelist, dramatist, philosopher and social critic. He was a fair amateur pianist, and, though he had no serious musical training, music played an important part in his emotional and intellectual life and figures prominently in many of his novels. Some music moved Tolstoy profoundly and even had a powerful physical effect on him. Partly, no doubt, for these subjective reasons, he believed music to be a ‘terrible power’ for good or, more often, evil, making men act against their wills and destroying their moral judgment. This idea finds its most extreme expression in his novel Kraytserova sonata (‘The Kreutzer Sonata’, 1889). His attempts to formulate a philosophy of art, including music, reached their most finished form in Chto takoye iskusstvo? (‘What is Art?’, 1898), a polemical work in which ethics and aesthetics are mingled and which was designed to challenge accepted ideas. It was partly censored in Russia but appeared unabridged in Aylmer Maude’s English translation, which Tolstoy wished to be considered the only authorized text....
Alfred Grant Goodman
(b Vienna, Feb 10, 1928). Austrian music critic and administrator. He studied musicology with Erich Schenk at the University of Vienna and the piano with Joseph Langer at the Vienna Municipal Conservatory; he took the doctorate at Vienna in 1953 with a dissertation on Das Strukturphänomen des verkappten Satzes a tre in der Musik des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts (extracts in SMw, xxvii, 1966, 18–71). From 1953 to 1957 he was contemporary music adviser for Universal Edition, Vienna, and until 1971 head of contemporary music and deputy head of the music division of WDR, Cologne (for which he made numerous broadcasts); he was programme coordinator of the concert series ‘Musik der Zeit’ which gave many world premières, including works by Stockhausen, Boulez, Nono and Penderecki. From 1971 to 1977 he was director of music programmes at SWF, Baden-Baden, then head of the music department at SDR, Stuttgart. He has also been programme coordinator of the Donaueschingen Festival, co-editor of the ...
(b London, Oct 31, 1930). English writer. In 1950 he ran a jazz club near London in which a number of well-known British bop musicians performed, and from 1957 to 1960 he was the secretary of an informal group known as the Contemporary Jazz Society. To broaden the society’s activities he began to interview musicians, including Americans who were visiting England; some of these interviews were later published in Melody Maker (1959–60). In 1961–2 Tomkins was a freelance contributor to Jazz News, and in 1962 he began an association with Crescendo which continued into the 1980s; he was its editor and art editor from 1966 to 1967 and served as a freelance editor, contributor, and art director from 1970. Throughout this association he published each month three or four interviews with jazz musicians, which now represent a major archive of source material for the study of jazz. Later he was a reviewer for and contributor to the ...
(b Brooklyn, NY, April 14, 1948). American music critic and pianist. He studied piano with Donald Currier at Yale University (BA 1970, MMus 1972) and with Leonard Shure at Boston University (DMA 1982). Tommasini has taught music at Emerson College (1978–86) and given nonfiction writing workshops at Wesleyan University and Brandeis University. He was appointed a staff music critic at the New York Times in 1997, and in 2000 he became the paper’s chief classical music critic. Prior to joining the Times, he covered music and theater for the Boston Globe.
He has published two books on the composer Virgil Thomson: Virgil Thomson’s Musical Portraits (New York, 1986; an expanded, revised version of Tommasini’s DMA dissertation) and the critically acclaimed Virgil Thomson: Composer on the Aisle (New York, 1997). Tommasini’s latest book, released in 2004, is Opera: a Critic’s Guide to the 100 Most Important Works and the Best Recordings...
(b Székesfehérvár, Feb 4, 1898; d Budapest, Oct 18, 1968). Hungarian music critic and aesthetician, husband of Annie Fischer. After learning the piano and composition in Székesfehérvár, he studied in the philosophy faculty of the Budapest Scientific University (1920–24), where he took the doctorate in 1925 with a dissertation on the aesthetics of Mozart’s dramatic music. While working as a music critic of the daily newspapers Új nemzedék (1920–23) and Pesti napló (1923–39) and the literary periodical Nyugat (1923–40), he was also on the editorial board of the Hungarian musicological journal Zenei szemle (1926–9) and co-editor, with Szabolcsi, of the Hungarian music dictionary Zenei lexikon (1930–31). During the 1930s his criticism and studies began to appear in such foreign periodicals as the Musical Courier, Revue musicale, Melos and Pult und Taktstock. In 1937 he married the pianist Annie Fischer and they emigrated to Sweden in ...
[Neblett, Touré ]
(b March 20, 1971). American novelist, cultural critic, music journalist, and television host. He began his writing career reviewing records for Rolling Stone, where he became a contributing editor and has written feature profiles of artists including Jay-Z, Eminem, Beyoncé Knowles, Lauryn Hill, Kanye West, and Alicia Keys. His collection of essays Never Drank the Kool-Aid (New York, 2006) includes a number of his Rolling Stone pieces on well-known hip hop artists, as well as essays on sports and politics taken from the Village Voice, the New Yorker, and Playboy. Touré’s fiction writing, in both the novel Soul City (New York, 2004) and his collection of stories The Portable Promised Land (New York, 2002), largely takes place in a magical realist African American utopia built around the musical iconography of hip hop, soul, and jazz. In his book Who’s afraid of post-blackness? What it Means to be Black Now...