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Musical Advance

(New York, 1913-1948)

RIPM Preservation Series: European and North American Music Periodicals (2017)

Publishers: Cecil Mackie Inc., 1913; Musical Advance Co., Inc., 1914-1948

Editors: C.E. LeMassena, May Cleland Hamilton, C. Belmont Hendricks, Benjamin B. Russell, Spencer B. Driggs

Periodicity: Monthly

“In Musical Advance, the second issue of which appeared recently, we have still another idea new to musical journalism. We find in its columns chatty news about the opera and concert stage combined with a serial story. Side by side we have exhaustive reviews of the latest books of both literature and music. The paper retails at ten cents a copy, and may be aptly described as a cross between Musical America, and such a magazine as the Smart Set. If it continues its witty skits and good editorials it should be just the thing for the ‘innocently musical,’ and should enjoy a good deal of popularity. One of the editors is a Harvard graduate and composer, Franklin Hopkins.”

-Harvard Musical Review 1, no. 9 (June 1913): 18

In an era of a thriving musical life and copious musical journalism,1 the Musical Advance sought to discuss and, to a lesser extent, document musical activities largely in New York with a focus on musical personalities. Published by Spencer B. Driggs, the journal was edited first by Hopkins, then by May Cleland Hamilton, C. Belmont Hendricks, Benjamin B. Russell, and then Driggs himself. Operatic productions were the focus, with frequent vignettes of singers, often accompanied by photographs of them in costume. Pianists and other instrumentalists were a secondary focus; short articles on diverse musical topics appeared regularly. Of note are the large quantity of photographs published and the coverage and discussion of female musicians, particularly singers.

It is clear that the intended readership was the concert-going public in New York, especially the affluent. In the 1920s, the journal increasingly became connected with musical and social clubs, documenting the activities of many Upper East Side organizations, soirées and recitals. For instance, the activities of Florence Foster Jenkins and her Verdi Club are regularly, and uncritically, documented; her name appears on 106 pages throughout the journal and she graces the cover of the 1 December 1936 issue. 

No reason is given for the journal’s demise.

1 In the year of the Musical Advance's founding, no fewer than thirteen other music journals were published in New York, not counting those published elsewhere with subscribers and readers in New York.