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The Musical Standard

(London, 1862-1871 [First Series])

Prepared by Diana Snigurowicz

Published in London, The Musical Standard enjoyed a lengthy publication run of seventy-two years, from 1862 to 1933. Unlike many nineteenth-century music journals The Musical Standard was not produced by a music publisher or musical organization. The journal’s editors took a dim view of journals with such affiliations. Edited by the journal’s founder and proprietor A. W. Hammond, William Joseph Westbrook, and with the assistance of John Crowdy, the first series of The Musical Standard fulfilled its aims by offering a well-rounded picture of professional and amateur musical life in the 1860s. For the church musician the journal published articles focusing on matters relating to the liturgy, organ music, the building and renovation of organs and church buildings, choral festivals, campanology and organist posts; and, for the knowledgeable amateur, articles on a wide variety of subjects, reviews of operas, concerts and published music of various genres, as well as news of musical activities in the provinces, on the Continent and in North America.

Each issue begins with an unsigned editorial treating a controversial topic of the day, including conflicts between clergymen and organists, the establishment of a national music college, and problems concerning the use of Anglican versus Gregorian chant in the services of the Established Church. The column “Reviews of new music” deals with a wide range of published books and music, including pianoforte and dance music, church service music, biographical, pedagogical and theoretical literature. Important articles reprinted from other journals are included. “Organ news” supplies information on contemporary organ building and restoration throughout Britain, often giving detailed specifications of organ manuals, stops and pedals. “Correspondence,” generally an extensive section, focuses on contentious issues, often paralleling those questions discussed in editorials. Topics of particular interest include methods of keyboard tuning, the capabilities of male and female organists, Hullah’s fixed-do and Curwen’s tonic sol-fa solmization systems, Crowdy’s free chant and competitions for organists’ positions.

Reviews of musical performances are extensive and include productions at the major London theaters, concerts of prominent orchestral and choral societies, Royal Academy of Music student concerts, and independently organized concerts, recitals and lectures. Entertainments of a more popular nature—cycloramas, panoramas, tableaux vivants, operettas and parody—are also discussed. Choral societies and festivals throughout England and Wales receive a great deal of attention, the most important being the Festival of the Three Choirs, the Norfolk and Norwich Triennial Musical Festival and the Birmingham Musical Festival.