Author: linklater (page 1 of 9)

Elberfeld, Munich, Northampton

The Loeb Music Library is pleased to announce that The Werner Josten collection, 1917-1971 is now described online and available to use.

Born in Elberfeld, Germany in 1885, Werner Josten was educated in Munich, then in Switzerland and France. A 1917 concert programme shows that he returned home at least periodically as a young man, and this print of Elberfeld as seen from afar was among his belongings, both suggesting that he harbored good feelings toward his hometown after leaving it for larger cities and, eventually, America.

Concert program from a 1917 performance of Werner Josten's music in his hometown, Elberfeld

Merritt Room Ms. Coll. 173, Box 1

A print depicting the German town of Elberfeld, as seen from afar.

Merritt Room Ms. Coll. 173, Box 1

He toured the United States in 1920 and decided, while here, to emigrate. He became a professor at Smith College (whose Josten Performing Arts Library is named for him), conducting productions of the American premières of several Monteverdi operas, including, in 1969, L’Orfeo. Josten’s work was championed by Leopold Stokowski and by Serge Koussevitzky.

Manuscript score of a song entitled Abschied. Signed Werner Josten, 1920.

Merritt Room Ms. Coll. 173, Box 4

The collection consists chiefly of songs in both manuscript and print versions but there are also many manuscript transcriptions of works by other composers.

Werner Josten's arrangement of a piece by Lully and Rameau

Merritt Room Ms. Coll. 173, Box 5

All were the gift to this library of his late son-in-law, Charles Lowe ’42.

These and other special collections items are found in the Isham Memorial Library, which is located on the second floor of the Loeb Music Library. For directions to Isham as well as hours and contact information, please visit its website.

Martha Graham slept here

In May 1947, Harvard’s Department of Music assembled a host of composers, scholars, writers and performers for a three-day symposium on Music and Criticism. Eight hundred attendees listened to opening remarks from E.M. Forster, who began, “Music is the deepest of the arts and deep beneath the arts.” They also heard talks by Roger Sessions, Virgil Thomson and Paul Henry Lang. Olga Samaroff reflected on her career as a pianist, newspaper writer and television broadcaster, touching on themes of music literacy for laypeople, the ethics of music criticism and the future of music in America.

Several compositions were commissioned for the event and thus received their world premières in Cambridge. Bohuslav Martinů was commissioned to write his sixth string quartet for the symposium, correspondence surrounding which commission features prominently in the introduction to the critical edition of Martinů’s string quartets which was published last year by Bärenreiter Praha

A letter from the composer Bohuslav Martinů, expressing concerns with an edition of the score of his sixth string quartet. Date January 29, 1947 and signed B. Martinů.

Merritt Ms. Coll. 100

Harvard professor Walter Piston’s “Done. W.P.” in blue pencil is scattered throughout the collection, as he ticks off to-do list items. Piston also contributed a new string quartet.

The Collegiate Chorale, a vocal ensemble notable for being racially integrated from its inception in 1941, sang a commissioned work by Paul Hindemith, Apparebit Repentina Dies, and pieces by Gian Francesco Malipiero and Aaron Copland. And the Martha Graham Dance Company performed William Schuman’s Night Journey for the first time, and (not a première) Carlos Chávez’s Dark Meadow. In this letter, sent after the symposium to Harvard professor A. Tillman Merritt, Graham reflects poetically on the experience.

A letter from the American dancer Martha Graham, dated June 2nd, 1946. Ms. Graham is accepting an invitation to perform at the Harvard symposium on Music and Criticism the following spring.

Merritt Ms. Coll. 100

Flying in E.M. Forster doesn’t happen without a considerable amount of paperwork. The documents tracking the planning and execution of the symposium are now held at the Isham Memorial Library, 41 folders in all. There is correspondence with the participants in the symposium, the commissioned composers, performers, donors, piano-tuners and chair-loaners. There are press releases, journal and newspaper reviews, and schedules. There are many, many receipts. The conference papers were published in 1948 as Music and Criticism: A Symposium. An attendee’s account of the event as well as some institutional context are to be found in Elliot Forbes’s A History of Music at Harvard to 1972 (Department of Music, Harvard University: 1988), pages 103-110. But these papers tell us of the mechanics, of the logistics, and of the personalities. For instance, it seems Martha Graham and her company were happy enough to be boarded at local homes. Sadly, the names of their hosts do not appear to have been retained.

This collection of correspondence, clippings and ephemera, assembled under the title Records of the Symposium on Music Criticism, held May 1-3, 1947 at Harvard, is available for use on site in the Isham Memorial Library whenever that section of the Music Library is open, generally Monday to Friday, nine to five. Click on the title above, then View Onsite, to set up an appointment to come and see these materials in person. If you are, as E.M. Forster described his usual whereabouts, “in the other Cambridge” or otherwise unable to come visit in person, Isham staff will be pleased to work with you to provide digital surrogates. Click on the collection title, then View Onsite, and then Switch to Photoduplication. 

A last letter: this one from an organizer to Arnold Schoenberg, who also contributed a new work, his String Trio Op. 45, the first work he completed after his near-fatal heart attack of 1946.

A letter to the composer Arnold Schoenberg. Unsigned carbon copy from an organizer of the conference.

Merritt Ms. Coll. 100

 

Older posts

© 2019 Loeb Music Library

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑