Author: linklater (page 1 of 8)

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

 

Who was Paulus Jagadich?

Update: after this post was published on May 21st, it was shared widely on social media. A librarian from Croatia got in touch on May 22nd to inform us that the manuscripts in question are from Zagreb. They are, according to her, “Cantuale/Passionale Zagrabiense, sign. III d 181 from the Archives of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Zagreb (Croatia) (the one with the signature of Paulus Jagattich who was a canonicus of the Zagreb Cathedral); and Missale Zagrabiense, sign. IV c 59, also from the Archives of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (the one with the crucifixion before Te igitur). ” Note that I had mistranscribed the name of the canonicus as Jagadich (mea culpa). ~Christina Linklater, Keeper of the Isham Memorial Library

Recently, we noticed a curious record for one of Isham Memorial Library’s microfilms.

This HOLLIS record describes a microfilm of a mysterious manuscript from Eastern Europe. The library where the original manuscript resides is not identified, nor are any identifying numbers given.

The HOLLIS record for Isham Memorial Library microfilm 3522.232.55.1.

Upon loading the film into the microform reader, Isham staff discovered that the 16th-century chronicle component was 14 folios long and bound in at the front of the manuscript The missal that follows is about 200 folios and includes a page signed Paulus Jagadich, Can.cus Zagrabinss, 1629.

Pages from an unidentified manuscript on a microfilm at the Isham Memorial Library.

Isham Lib. 3522.232.55.1

Where does this manuscript come from? And when? Who was Paulus Jagadich? Isham’s 40,000 microfiches, microfilms and microcards reproduce the holdings of countless libraries, and to walk among the microform stacks is to take a virtual tour of Europe and North America. How frustrating not to know whether this film comes from a library with other Isham holdings that this film could live among — the microforms are organized by holding library, by and large: the British Library in one case, the Bibliothèque nationale de France in another, and so forth. Not to have a RISM number or shelfmark for the original is frustrating. Suggestions will be gratefully received.

Scans for this post were created by Natasha Roule; prose was written by the Keeper of the Isham Memorial Library Christina Linklater.

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