American Composers : Vocal Forms ; Piano And Organ.-musical Literature

A number of American composers have turned their attention to composition in opera and cantata forms. Some of the composers already mentioned have written works of this character. The first of American composers to work in the field of the cantata was J. C. D. Parker, born in Boston, in 1828, a graduate of Harvard, and a teacher with many years of splendid work to his credit. His musical education was received at Leipzig. In 1854, he located in Boston and took up a varied career as organist, conductor, and teacher of piano and harmony, at the New England Conservatory. His large works include a cantata, “Redemption Hymn,” a secular cantata, “The Blind King,” and two works in oratorio form “St. John” and “The Life of. Man,” the latter showing him at his strongest. Dudley Buck, organist, composer and teacher, is also one of the veterans of American music. He was born at Hartford, Conn., in 1839, attended Trinity College (died 1909), began his musical instruction at sixteen years of age, went to Germany several years later, giving his attention principally to the organ and composition. In 1862, he returned to the United States, worked professionally in Hartford, Chicago, and Boston; in 1874, he went to New York, later to one of the leading churches of Brooklyn, which position he retained until 1905. His choral works in large form are “Don Munio,” “The Voyage of Columbus,” “The Golden Legend,” and the “Light of Asia,” his largest and most important work, which has been given in England. He has written many works for church use, much organ music, songs and concerted vocal music, especially for male voices.

Opera.—In opera we note the work of Paine (“Azara”) ; Chadwick (“Judith,” a sacred opera) ; Walter Damrosch, composer and conductor, born in Germany, in 1862, but a resident of the United States in childhood, and hence identified with music in this country, who has written a work of serious character to a libretto founded on Hawthorne’s “Scarlet Letter” ; Reginald de Koven, born at Middletown, Conn., in 1859, with a list of several successful light operas to his credit, as well as many songs which have had wide appreciation ; Edgar Stillman Kelley, born at Sparta, Wisconsin, in 1857, educated in Chicago and Germany, a resident of San Francisco for a number of years, where he brought out several notable works of a popular character for the stage as well as the orchestra, employing in the latter Chinese musical idioms with success in a humorous direction. A composer whose work in light opera has had much success is Victor Herbert, born in Dublin, Ireland. His professional career has been largely spent in this country, his work as conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra being notable.

Song Composition. — In the field of song composition, American composers have done very good work. The American seems to turn naturally to song and few of the most prominent of the native composers have neglected this field, as will have been noticed in previous paragraphs. Among those who have won high reputation in this line we note George L. Osgood, of Boston, born in 1844, composer, singer and teacher ; Frank Lynes, of Boston, born in 1858, who has also written good concerted vocal music and piano pieces; Clayton Johns, born in Delaware, in 1857, but a resident of Boston during the greater part of his professional career, with a long list of part-songs and some piano pieces to his credit; and Ethelbert Nevin, born near Pittsurgh, in 1862, educated in the United States and in Europe, whose songs have a truly poetic character joined to music of a high order; a number of his piano pieces have also been most favorably received. He died in 1901.

Piano Composition.—The dean of American teachers of the piano and of composers for that instrument is William Mason, born in Boston, in 1829 (died 1908), a son of Low-ell Mason, who studied at home and abroad and spent two years with Liszt. It was in 1854 that he came back to the United States and located in New York City. In addition to his works for the piano, some of which have been widely played, he was the author of an important technical work, which stamps him as an educator of originality and strength. A composer who is generally classed as American, although his ancestry, education and environment incline strongly to the French, is Louis Moreau Gottschalk, born in New Or-leans, in 1829. He early showed marked inclination for music and was sent to Paris to study. His first reputation was won as pianist. He traveled over Europe, the United States and parts of South America, giving concerts, in which he gave the principal place to his own compositions. He died in Brazil, in 1869. In later years, American composers for the piano have not done such distinctive work as the two writers just mentioned, yet the names of Charles Dennee (1863), Wilson G. Smith (1855), James H. Rogers (1857), and William H. Sherwood (1854) , composer, pianist and teacher, whose work in the educational field is most important ; Edward Baxter Perry (1855), who has splendidly triumphed over the infirmity of blindness, and through his unique lecture recitals has been a strong factor in musical progress in the United States ; and several men of foreign birth who have identified themselves with American musical education: Rafael Joseffy, in New York City, Carl Baermann and Carl Faelten in Boston, Constantin von Stern-berg in Philadelphia, and Emil Liebling in Chicago. Two other names should be mentioned here, Henry Schradieck, of New York, whose influence as a violinist and teacher has been great, and F. L. Ritter, who occupied the chair of music in Vassar College, a pioneer in college musical work.

Organ Composition.—Nearly all of the best-known American composers have been organists, yet certain men have made that line of musical work peculiarly their own. Such men are B. J. Lang (1837-1009), of Boston, organist, conductor and teacher; George E. Whiting (1842); who in addition to his high rank as an organist and teacher, has written most acceptably for his instrument, and also for the orchestra and in the large choral forms; George W. Warren (1828), and S. P. Warren (1841), whose sphere of activity is identified with New York City; E. M. Bowman (1848), organist, conductor, pianist and teacher; Samuel B. Whitney (1842), organist, noted for his work in training boy choirs, also his musical compositions for the Episcopal Church service; Clarence Eddy (1851), organ virtuoso with an international reputation; Henry M. Dunham (1853), who has written well for his instrument and has had an active and useful career as a teacher. Among the younger men of prominence as American organists who have put them-selves abreast with modern progress, and have studied all schools, may be mentioned Everett E. Truette, Wallace Goodrich, Wm. C. Carl, Gerrit Smith, Charles Galloway, J. Fred Wolle, who organized the Bach Festival at Bethlehem, Pa., H. J. Stewart, a representative California organist.

Musical Criticism.—When indicating the various agencies for the shaping of musical appreciation in the United States, special mention must be made of a group of writers whose contributions to musical magazines, to the daily press in the large music centres, as well as their work in permanent form have influenced the taste of the American public to a degree not paralleled in any other country. These writers have enjoyed unusual opportunities and have used them well. The leading newspapers of the United States give much space to reports of musical events and have called to their aid writers of keen insight into musical matters, thorough equipment on the score of musical knowledge, and gifted with much skill in expression as well as mastery of literary style.

The Older Critics.—The first of these critics to claim our attention is John S. Dwight, born in Boston, in 1813, a graduate of Harvard, and a student of theology as well. Gifted with a sound taste in art matters, his reviews of musical works, concerts; etc., were very useful and helpful and much appreciated by the best circles of the city, for his associations were with the most famous literary and scientific men of his day. In 1852, he established a musical paper, Journal of Music, which lasted nearly thirty years. He died in 1893. Another of the older writers is George P. Upton, born in Boston, in 1834, a graduate of Brown University, who entered journalism at twenty-one, as a member of the staff of the Chicago Journal; after some years of service with that paper, he went to the Tribune, with which he has ever since been associated. Mr. Upton’s critical work covers the period of the growth of Chicago, which has been phenomenal in art as well as in commercial directions, and has been a most valuable factor in musical upbuilding. In recent years his pen was a great aid to Theodore Thomas in his efforts to establish the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. His works in permanent form are “Woman in Music,” a series of books descriptive of the principal oratorios, operas, cantatas, and symphonies, translations from the German of Nohl’s biographies of musicians, and a “Life of Theodore Thomas.” Coincident with Mr. Upton’s work in the West is that of W. S. B. Mathews, born in London, N. H., in 1837. He was educated in Bos-ton ; after some years of musical work in the South, he located in Chicago, as organist, teacher, writer on musical matters. His reviews on local musical affairs appeared in several of the leading dailies, he was a contributor to Dwight’s Journal, and to all the musical papers that have come into the field since. Perhaps no contemporary writer on education in music has influenced, and so strongly, as many teachers and students of music as Mr. Mathews. He has written a “Popular History of Music,” “Hundred Years of Music in America,” “How to Understand Music,” “Primer of Musical Forms,” and several works on the great composers, with critical studies of their works.

Boston Writers.—The three leading Boston writers of re-cent years are Louis C. Elson, Wm. F. Apthorp and Philip Hale. Louis C. Elson was born in Boston, in 1848. He was educated for the musical profession, at home and at Leipzig, In 188o, he became connected with the New England Conservatory, and at the present time is head of the theory department of that institution. His journalistic activity covers a period of about thirty years and his writings have appeared in Boston and New York papers, as well as in the leading musical journals. His works in book form are ten in number, the most valuable to the student of history being a large volume on the “History of American Music.” The other works are critical, technical, and biographical. Wm. F. Apthorp was born in Boston, in 1848, graduated at Harvard, and began his critical work in music in 1872, being connected with several Boston papers. Mr. Apthorp’s published works are few in number, “Musicians and Music Lovers” and “The Opera, Past and Present.” In addition to this he supplied program material for the Boston Symphony Concerts for a number of years, educational as well as descriptive and critical. Philip Hale was born at Norwich, Vt., in 1854, graduated from Yale and was admitted to the Bar in New York in 1880. His interest in music and musical work proved too strong for him and he went abroad to Germany and France to study. In 1889, he located in Boston and began work as musical critic on the staff of several of the papers. For a number of years he was Boston correspondent for the Musical Courier of New York. Two other men whose work in musical literature has been significant are Alexander W. Thayer, born at Natick, Mass., in 1817 (died 1897), who wrote the standard biography of Beethoven, and Thomas Tapper, who has writ-ten a number of valuable educational works in music.

New York Critics.—New York City has four men of the first rank as writers on music, not only for critical acumen and technical knowledge, but also for literary style. Henry T. Finck was born in Missouri, in 1854., graduated from Harvard University, and studied at German universities for three years. When he returned to the United States he joined the editorial staff of the Evening Post and the Nation, which places he still holds. His works in musical literature are “Wagner and His Works,” “Paderewski and His Art,” “Songs and Song Writers,” and “Chopin and Other Essays.” Henry E. Krehbiel was born at Ann Arbor, Mich., in 1854. His first newspaper experience was in Cincinnati; later he went to New York to the Tribune, which place he still holds. His contributions to musical literature are “Studies in the Wagnerian Drama,” “How to Listen to Music,” and “Music and Manners in the Classical Period,” besides contributions to the leading musical papers and general magazines. William J. Henderson was born at Newark, N. J., in 1855, graduated from Princeton University, afterward entering journalism in New York City, being connected with the Times, and later with the Sun. His books are distinctly educational in tone : “The Story of Music,” “How Music Developed,” “What is Good Music,” “The Orchestra and Orchestral Music, “Richard Wagner: His Life and Dramas,” and “The Art of the Singer.” A writer on music who has made a fine reputation in literary and dramatic criticism as well is lames Huneker, a native of Philadelphia, whose active work has been done in New York City. His books of interest to the musician are a “Life of Chopin,” “Mezzotints in Modern Music,” “Melomaniacs,” “Overtones,” “Iconoclasts” and “Visionaries.”

Other Writers in this field whose work deserves mention are Edward Dickinson, of Oberlin, O., with two works, “History of Music in the Western Church” and “The Study of the History of Music” ; Philip Goepp, of Philadelphia, “Symphonies and their Meanings”; Daniel Gregory Mason, of Boston, “From Grieg. to Brahms” ; Lawrence Gilman, of New York, “Phases of Modern Music” ; Professor Hugh A. Clarke, of the University of Pennsylvania, “Music and the Comrade Arts,” “Highways and By-ways of Music,” and several excellent theoretical works; O. B. Boise, Peabody Conservatory of Baltimore, with a work of a historical and critical nature, “Music and Its Masters,” and some theoretical works ; Rupert Hughes, “Contemporary American Composers.”