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Music Vanguard

(New York, 1935)

Prepared by Vashti Gray Sadjedy
Online only (2010)

Music Vanguard: A Critical Review [MVA] was published in New York City in 1935. Only two issues appeared; the first labeled March-April, the second Summer. Despite the journal’s brevity, it provides great insight into American socialist thought in the 1930s and the impact of Nazism on European music.

A statement of the editors’ goals appears in the opening issue:

We wish to interrelate diverse elements in the field of music itself, so that a clear and simple view of what may be called the musical present shall be within the range of every intelligent worker. We wish to do what we can toward the reintegration of music in the culture of the western world, so that it shall no longer stand as a mere side issue in the daily life of individuals nor as a minor factor in the great social developments of the day. We address ourselves therefore, and turn the voices of our contributors, at once toward the two extremes of the music field—the professional musician (composer and performer)on the one hand, and the professional musicologist on the other; and toward the middle of it—the great, but comparatively music-less masses of the English-speaking countries.

The principal editors of the journal were Ammon Balber, Max Margulis, and Charles Seeger. Contributing editors were Lan Adomian, Henry Cowell, and Elie Siegmeister. In addition, many well-known names were found among the journal’s contributors, which included Bertolt Brecht, Aaron Copland, Hanns Eisler, Lawrence Gellert, Max Margulis, Herbert F. Peyser and Robert Stebbins.

Among the journal’s most significant articles are Cowell’s “The Scientific Approach to Non-European Music,” Eisler’s “History of the German Workers’ Music Movement from 1948,” Peyser’s “Artists in Fascist Uniform” and Seeger’s “Preface to All Linguistic Treatment of Music: Music and Language in Social Organization.” Many articles pertain to protest music, socialist music organizations, the contrast between modern music and contemporary society, and the difficulties for musicians under the Nazi regime in Germany.