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The Musical Times

(London, 1844-1900)

Prepared by Edward Clinkscale

The longest running English-language music journal, The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular began publication in London on 1 June 1844 and has continued to this day. This RIPM publication deals with the venerable monthly record of English music and musicians to December 1900. Six editors were responsible for The Musical Times during the nineteenth century: J. Alfred Novello, the founder of the journal, Novello’s sister Mary Cowden Clarke; Henry Charles Lunn—who, from 1863 to 1887 developed The Musical Times into a periodical of considerable importance—William Alexander Barrett, an organist and composer; Edgar Frederick Jacques, a music critic; and, finally, Frederick George Edwards, an organist. All made extensive contributions to the journal, Lunn with 122 articles on a wide variety of subjects.

Originally containing eight pages (to January 1848), the issues of The Musical Times underwent considerable enlargement during the century, extending eventually to seventy-two pages. The journal’s page size was adopted to allow inclusion of Novello octavo editions of vocal and choral music. Each issue includes a music supplement that consists of a complete piece of vocal music: part-songs, glees, madrigals, choruses, anthems, hymns, responsories and canticles of the established church and other important denominations of worship. All published by the Novello firm, they were intended to introduce the clergy, church musicians, and teachers to the latest publications. While titled “Supplements” they appeared as an integral part of each issue. In the 1890s full issue supplements were published to complement the monthly issues. The supplements of the 1890s include photographs of institutions, composers, singers and instrumentalists for the enhancement of the leading articles.

From its inception The Musical Times demonstrates interest in choral music and its performance, and, in particular, the oratorios of Mendelssohn, Spohr and Handel. The efforts of British native and foreign-born composers to create a similar literature can also be followed throughout the journal’s first fifty-six years in reviews of the works of William Jackson, Charles Horsley, Henry Hugh Pierson, Henry Leslie, Michael Costa, Julius Benedict, G. A. Macfarren, Bernhard Molique, Alexander Mackenzie, Frederick Cowen, Arthur Sullivan, Edward Elgar and a host of lesser-known composers. Sacred and secular works of foreign composers such as Berlioz, Gounod, Verdi, Brahms and Dvorák, which received numerous performances in London and at provincial festivals, are considered in detail. Performances by secular choral ensembles such as the Sacred Harmonic Society, Henry Leslie’s choir, the Royal Choral Society, and the festival choral societies which sprang up throughout the British Isles, receive extended reviews on a regular basis.

A vast amount of choral music, for amateur choirs, church choirs and choral societies, published by the Novello firm and other leading British publishers, is dealt with extensively in the review sections. Productions of Her Majesty’s Theatre and the Royal Italian Opera receive regular notices after 1870, and operatic performances by other ensembles, particularly those of the Carl Rosa Opera Company, are treated in columns devoted to provincial cities. The effort to create a repertory of native opera in the last decade of the century is recounted in studies of new stage works by Cowen, Mackenzie and Stanford, among others. The acceptance of Wagner as a major force in European music is reflected in reports and studies focusing on the opening of the Bayreuth Festspielhaus in 1875, and thereafter on Wagner’s music performed in the theatre and concert hall. Interest in Verdi is found in analytical studies of his mature works: the Requiem, Otello and Falstaff. The verismo school of Italian opera is studied through the works of Puccini, Mascagni and Leoncavallo.