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Harvard Musical Review

(Cambridge, 1912-1916)

Prepared by Richard Kitson
1 volume (2005)

The Harvard Musical Review consists of thirty-four issues published by the Music Department of Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts from October 1912 to March 1916. A project “long cherished,” the journal was founded by professors Walter R. Spalding, Edward Burlingame Hill and other members of the Harvard Music Department with the intention of “extending the musical spirit” of the university. The aim was to avoid “purely local matters,” but “to provide a medium for articles on musical matters of more than passing interest.” All the issues of HMR are organized in a like manner: a series of essays, followed by the official business page noting journal officials. This is followed by editorials and opinions on current musical activities at Harvard, in Boston and in New York. Reviews follow; these are limited to new music (often by Harvard College alumni) and new books about music. A review of a concert or opera performance is rare and is usually connected with a presentation at the university or in the Boston/Cambridge area. Foreign correspondence contains both reviews and remarks on contemporary music from Paris and Germany. Music supplements of original compositions by Harvard College students and alumni are included, as are reproductions of portraits of famous musicians, and many photographs of contemporary composers and performers, as well as graphic representations of musical instruments. Advertisements are found at the beginnings and ends of each issue. Book reviews deal with collections of songs and pianoforte music, and, on occasion, learned treatises such as Schoenberg’s Harmonielehre, as well as the writings of important American critics. The publications of the Arthur P. Schmidt Company are featured in the advertisements.

Several articles are by professors who were involved in the founding and supervision of HMR. Arthur Foote, a graduate in 1874, reviews the progress of music in the Boston area and neglected piano music. Walter R. Spalding, an 1887 graduate, writes about the necessity of music appreciation for students of subjects outside the arts and the emotional element in music. Henry Lowell Mason, an 1888 graduate, describes the attributes of the Mason & Hamlin grand piano with its “tension resonator.” Edward Burlingame Hill, a graduate in 1894, contributes three articles—the hostility of critics toward modern music, the Russian ballets of Stravinsky, and the individuality of the American composer. Archibald T. Davison, a graduate in 1908, discusses Protestant and Roman Catholic liturgy and music education in Boston.

Great emphasis is given to music during the closing decades of the nineteenth century and to the opening of the twentieth century. S. Foster Damon, a graduate of 1914, contributes five articles and nine reviews including an overview of Verdi’s style periods on the occasion of the composer’s birth centenary, a study of popular music, and a query about opera as an art form. Hiram K. Moderwell, a graduate of 1912, writes about Charpentier’s verismo operas Jullien, Louise and L’Amoud du Faubourg, the satire of Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, the problems of attaining a dispassionate view of Wagner, a defense of Wagner in response to Pepper’s criticism of the composer’s vegetarianism and anti-Semitism, and a discussion of the Swiss artist Adolphe Appia’s remarkably modern stage designs for Wagner’s music dramas, in particular for Parsifal. Roger Huntington Sessions, a 1915 graduate, and an active editor of HMR, contributes twenty articles of which three were reviews dealing with Schubert’s songs, Wagner’s Die Meistersinger and Parsifal, and Montemezzi’s L’Amore dei tre re. Sessions’s major articles deal with Wagner and with narrative analyses of Richard Strauss’s operas, Guntram, Fuersnot, Salome, Elektra, and Der Rosenkavalier, and the symphonic poems from Macbeth to Ein Heldenleben. In anticipation of the eventual route of Sessions’s own compositional language his article dealing with the “psychological basis of modern music” is of interest.

The development of a unique musical language representative of the United States is the topic of several articles. Philip Greenley Clapp, a 1908 graduate, considers the enrichment of American music through the introductions of modern idioms, while Richard M. Jopling, a Harvard student, surveys the progress of American composers. The search for a uniquely American musical idiom is addressed in pioneer ethnomusicologist Henry F. Gilbert’s study of the music of the American Indians, while an anonymous report addresses the systematic collection of Indian folk-songs, the unscientific harmonization of Indian melodies by Filmore, and Arthur Farwell’s failed vision of an American school of composition based on Indian melodies.