Reflections on Art Music in America, on Stereotypes of the Woman Patron, and on Cha(lle)nges in the Present and Future
Ralph P. Locke
A gift from Natalie Roush . . . has truly made this project possible.
FROM NOTES TO A RECENT RECORDING OF CHAMBER WORKS BY THE OREGON COMPOSERJANICE GITECK
What are we to make of the various forms of patronage explored in the previous chapters, and what implications do they have for the future health of Western art music in America? An extended attempt to answer these questions is surely appropriate here; that it is set down by one individual, in the first person singular, will, I trust, signal the highly provisional nature of any such "reading."
This book, it seems to me, has (at times) something of the character of a campaign aimed at gaining recognition for cultural work that, in large part because it was carried out by women, has been either ignored or distorted. Women's work in and for music has gone underreported or else been ridiculed. Writers of a journalistic or satirical bent have delighted in ribbing women patrons of music for their foibles, while leaving unmentioned their substantial accomplishments. But surely we should not minimize what women do or have done, especially in situations in which women had, or have, few "real choices" (to use Betty Friedan's phrase). This means that a scholar, in particular, should take care not to disregard or treat snidely any solid evidence we find of women's agency merely because the degree of agency was or is, from his or her own point of view, severely limited.
In particular, we must take care not to reinscribe inadvertently the prevailing, all-too-caricaturish vision, deeply ingrained in American cultural memory, of the female patron of the arts: overfed, bejeweled, easily duped, mingling at after-concert parties with artistic geniuses, and of course either saddled with a hopelessly philistine husband or enriched by an inheritance from a conveniently dead one. We meet various depictions of her—she may be crude or dignified, endearing or venomous—in Sinclair Lewis's Babbitt , in New Yorker cartoons by Helen E. Hokinson, in the Marx Brothers film A Night at the Opera , in the "concert comedi-
Much of the first half of this chapter (from "'Sacralization'" through "High-Quality Performance") is based on my essay "Music Lovers, Patrons, and the 'Sacralization' of Culture in America," Nineteenth-Century Music 17 (1993–94): 149–73, and 18 (1994–95): 83–84 (the former offers an erratum : the sentence at the column break in p. 159 should begin "But it is the previous phrase . . . "). That article contains more extensive discussion of various issues (the "relative autonomy" of music; "Americanness" in music), as well as more detailed critiques of the methods and assessments of certain scholars (Botstein, DiMaggio, Hamm, Levine, Trend, Paddy Scannell) than could be included here. Much of the material in the second half of the chapter has recently appeared (along with a summary of the first half of the chapter, plus some thoughts from this book's Introduction) in my "Paradoxes of the Woman Music Patron in America," Musical Quarterly 78 (1994): 798–825. Throughout my work on those articles and this chapter, a number of colleagues helped me by pointing out little-known sources or by suggesting unsuspected interpretive angles; even an incomplete list must include Cyrilla Barr, Adrienne Fried Block, Philip Carli, Leon Botstein, Michael Broyles, Richard Crawford, Jennifer DeLapp, Jon Finson, David Gramit, Charles Hamm, James Hepokoski, Joseph Horowitz, Kim Kowalke, Lawrence Kramer, Laurence Libin, Mary Natvig, Carol J. Oja, James Parakilas, Jean Pedersen, Katherine Kolb Reeve, Joan Shelley Rubin, Catherine Parsons Smith, Ruth A. Solie, Richard Taruskin, Jurgen Thym, Judith Tick, Robert Walser, Gretchen Wheelock, and Janet Wolff.
The epigraph is drawn from the booklet to a compact disc (on the Mode label) of three works by Giteck (Mode 14).
enne" Anna Russell's "Introduction to the Concert (by Women's Club President)," in magazine ads, on TV shows, and—fashionably slimmed down—in Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George (act 2) and Paul Rudnick's recent play The Naked Truth .
For that matter, even the simple act of attending a recital or an opera—a modest but crucial, and heavily female-identified, form of support for musical art—is often portrayed by popular culture (including comic strips) as pretentious or insincere, or as a kind of cultural spinach, force-fed by overly improving wives to resentful husbands.
We are dealing here with stereotypes. And in challenging stereotypes of the woman patron, one risks sounding naively apologetic. After all, stereotypes—whether of wealthy women, racial and ethnic groups, or indeed that frequent butt of musicians' jokes, incompetent viola players—frequently have some basis in perceived reality. Scholars studying the woman patron should, I have said, not reinscribe the stereotype; but they should also take care not to ignore, deny, or seek to justify the woman patron's flaws and simply reverse the stereotype, reimagining her as some sort of selfless paragon.
Despite the risks, though, the effort to question and evaluate stereotypes must be made. In this last chapter, I propose that we look at America's women patrons of Western art music, and the music-related activities in which they engaged, from three different but related points of view; these take the form of two lengthy discussions and a shorter one to conclude. The first discussion (pp. 296–312) examines in detail the music and the musical institutions that these patrons and their male counterparts promoted. Here I focus on issues of social class and aesthetic ideology, explicitly challenging some of the analyses that have been appearing in the recent social-historical and sociological literature, especially those focusing on what is often called the "sacralization" of culture in America. That I deal here with male as well as female patrons is quite intentional: the woman patron was, after all, a woman but also a patron , and so her work can be discussed, to some extent, in terms independent of her gender. Issues of gender are then reintegrated in the second lengthy discussion under the headings "How to Read the Woman Patron" and "Six Misapprehensions." Finally, a concluding section, "Women, Patronage, and the Future of Art Music," offers a few thoughts about the likely impact of emerging technologies and other factors on Western art music and on women's support for that music.
"Sacralization" and "Mystification"
In recent years scholars have focused with much profit on the ways in which certain forms of "high" European culture were transplanted to American soil in the late nineteenth century. Lawrence W. Levine, for example, paints a colorful picture of American culture before and after the onset of this "sacralizing" of music, literature, and visual art. Early- and mid-nineteenth-century cultural institutions, he shows, were noisy, diverse, and relatively unstratified in repertory, making little
distinction between art and entertainment. A single theater might play Shakespeare on one night and low farce on the next, or might even intermingle them on a single evening. A park-band concert, similarly, could encompass diverse repertories, ranging from polkas to Mozart overtures. In contrast, the decades after the Civil War witnessed the growing financial ease of a substantial segment of the American population and an attendant rise in the general level of education; these led people to begin carving out institutions that, analogous in many ways to those in England and on the Continent, promoted an ideology of art as transcendent or sacred. In many cases, the art experience was now carefully stratified and "framed" in ways that (however intentionally or inadvertently) intimidated or even effectively excluded members of the poor and working classes; at times certain options—such as boxes in some opera houses—were even denied to wealthy people whose money was considered too "new."
The concept of "sacralization," a cornerstone in Levine's analysis, is also prominent in other recent studies (e.g., by the sociologist Paul DiMaggio) of musical life, or cultural life generally, in nineteenth-century America. Clearly, it is itself related to terms and concepts proposed by other twentieth-century social theorists. One thinks of Theodor W. Adorno, of course, but also of thinkers less often cited in musical contexts: of Antonio Gramsci, for example, with his emphasis on the mutually dependent relationship that binds "organic intellectuals"—including priests, journalists, and artists—to "hegemony" (power structure disguised as common understanding); or of Pierre Bourdieu and his concept of the "cultural capital" that members or would-be members of high-status social groups accumulate by associating themselves with the cultural marks of "distinction," such as attending concerts, having a box at the opera, playing Chopin at home, or, today, building a classical CD collection.
Certain writers on American music history have recently adopted a term from social anthropology that is, to my ear, even more heavily loaded (and so potentially more prejudicial) than "sacralization," namely, "mystification." Thus Charles Hamm asserts that the American art-music lover's "strategies of ritualized dress and behaviour and dependence on a foreign repertory" formed a "ritual mystification" that helped to "unify" the American elite and make its members feel and be generally recognized as superior. The historian of American theater whom he is here paraphrasing describes the phenomenon even more baldly: operagoing in New York around 1850 served as "a wall of mystification separating 'us' from 'them'" and "reduce[d] the unwitting canaille to dumb embarassment."
These variously worded concepts regarding the implication of art and culture in the constitution or articulation of class and power—art as part of an apparatus of social differentiation—are clearly rich in insight for the social history of music and deserve a more nuanced discussion than is possible here. I would like to focus briefly on the interpretive strengths of such positions and then explore in greater detail what I see as some of their serious limitations. As will emerge, I am troubled that these concepts are characteristically posited as the primary or even sole way
of theorizing the social value of the "high" arts. There must, I think, be some way to address the class-bound framing of musical performance and consumption in various historical situations without erasing the specifically musical aspects of the experience, which means without overlooking or implicitly denigrating the genuine aesthetic involvement of many of the listeners, whatever their class origin. This, too, is a historical, cultural, and social reality that must be explored in its various aspects, not just treated as a self-evident "given."
Music and Cultural Hierarchy
American "high-concert" life, as established during the half-century from around 1860 to 1910, was, in its sacralizing ideology (as Levine and others rightly stress), very like America's (and Europe's) museum-oriented art life or the teaching and publishing of the literary "classics." One need only recall the exalted, idealizing language used at the turn of the century to describe the great masters of European music; or the imposing, classicistic grandeur of the halls in which most American symphony orchestras, virtuoso recitalists, and opera companies have long performed; or the snobbish distinctions that have shaped the "classical" repertory as canonical.
These same hierarchical distinctions have, until recent years, kept artistic work as accomplished and sophisticated as that of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Jacques Offenbach, Sir Arthur Sullivan, Scott Joplin, Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, and Billie Holiday from being framed and discussed by critics and academics as aesthetic expressions rather than just as successful entertainment commodities. (The same might be said, to varying extents, of the popular novel or the art of the cinema.) Levine and like-minded critics are on strong ground when they argue that high-culture institutions reduced the ability of people who "considered themselves educated and cultured . . . to discriminate independently" and to understand that "simply because a form of expressive culture was widely accessible and highly popular it was not therefore necessarily devoid of any redeeming value or artistic merit."
But those who take a primarily social-historical or sociological approach to the institutionalization of "high culture" in America sometimes go too far in their attempt to stress the ways in which the monied classes bought (and buy) art music and thus made (make) it their own. Such critics too often ignore what I see as two important countervailing, interrelated forces or "desires" that helped determine the place of concert music and opera in American life: (a) the desire for a musical life that would be widely shared within the community, and (b) the no less urgent insistence on making the experience of art music as aesthetically gratifying as possible. The former will be the focus of the next two sections; the latter, of the three subsequent ones.
Sharing the Music
The first of these forces is manifest in the patrons' (or, more generally, the institution-builders') generosity and democratizing spirit. Here the bulk of the evidence
is overwhelming: by and large, the people who established and shaped our cities' orchestras were not merely purchasing playthings for (and monuments to) themselves. On the contrary, they were interested in supporting an aesthetically rich culture of whose broad civic value they were utterly convinced. Thus they often made substantial efforts to provide public access to the concerts. They insisted that sections of the auditorium be made available at lower prices, even in the opera houses, although there were always demands that halls provide more such seats (which is what eventually happened). When designing new concert halls, they took care to ensure good acoustics throughout the listening space (as in Carnegie Hall, Boston's Symphony Hall, and treasurable smaller buildings in such places as Central City, Colorado, and Troy, New York). And they undertook educational programs and arranged for half-price tickets and the like, all with the aim of helping to introduce listeners, including those of modest means, to musical experiences previously unsuspected. Full and enthusiastic attendance by people of varied social conditions was—as in public libraries and museums—a primary aim, and a criterion of the institution's success.
This spirit, I might note, seems very much alive today among the performing arts "presenters" whom I have met or read about: organizers (some of them unpaid for their labors) of concerts and other cultural events in America's smaller and middle-sized cities. As Calvin Trillin notes in his portrait of one such currently active pair of organizers (from Lafayette, Louisiana) on a "culture shopping" trip in Manhattan, presenters—presumably because functioning as the agents of local taxpayers and/or patrons rather than as profit-oriented private "promoters" or impresarios—must not stray from the mission of "bringing the performing arts to people who can pay only a modest ticket price and people who can't afford to pay at all." This sets certain limits on what presenters can offer: they are not free to book popular acts (e.g., Broadway stars) and charge "whatever the market will bear" in order to balance losses incurred in bringing in expensive orchestras or dance troupes (much less experimental evenings of "performance art" that may not fill all the seats). But the constraints on presenters also ensure that they will not, tempted by the promise of "bottom-line" profits, forsake the larger aim of bringing less commercially viable (but still mainstream) work to the hinterlands.
There have, of course, always been degrees of democratic-mindedness among high-culture patrons and entrepreneurs. The earliest years of Henry Lee Higginson's Boston Symphony Orchestra, for instance, show all the idiosyncratic advantages and limitations of an institution founded, run, and subsidized (for thirty-seven years) by a single individual. Unfortunately, that orchestra has repeatedly been chosen by social historians as the primary example of orchestra patronage in the United States. But the Boston experience should not be taken to typify that of America's many cities. And even Higginson and his conductors should not be excoriated as giving low priority to what Levine, a bit sarcastically, calls their self-assigned "missionary urge," simply because they insisted on scheduling a piece by Brahms, Bruckner, or Strauss "whether or not it was popular with the audiences."
That, after all, is part of the responsibility that comes with running an arts institution: to make repertory decisions that may at first puzzle or annoy the public and critics. Responding to the public's preferences but also resisting the frequent complacency of that same public are better seen, I would argue, as complementary aspects of a single larger cultural "mission" (or, less deprecatingly, "project" or "function"). Some institutions and individuals will choose to emphasize one of these two aspects more than the other, and the resulting gains and losses cannot responsibly be assessed by scholars who do not give sustained attention to both aspects.
Aesthetic Populism or Snobbish Conspiracy?
Another way of approaching the problem of the patrons' mixed motives (at once democratic and artistic) is found in Michael Broyles's "Music of the Highest Class": Elitism and Populism in Antebellum Boston (1992). Broyles's view is that American musical life has been shaped and reshaped over the centuries by two tensions: "one between a populist and an elitist attitude toward music, and another between a conceptualization of music as entertainment and music as a moral force [that uplifts and ennobles its listeners]." Both tensions, he stresses, need to be taken into consideration, especially since they are "not always in synchrony," a clear example being Lowell Mason's attempt to make sacred music more "correct" and "scientific" yet also easily accessible to the least-tutored parishioner. Broyles's conclusion emerged from his work on Mason and such proponents of symphonic music and oratorio as Samuel Eliot and John Sullivan Dwight, but it is paralleled by scholarly work in other areas. The cultural historian Neil Harris, for example, observes of the gradual purification and legitimation of America's museums: "Ironically, . . . [the] transfer of interest [from sculpture casts and sham biblical artifacts] to original artworks and authenticated historical relics . . . [made] the museum a truly popular institution."
Joseph Horowitz has shown in detail how sacralization, despite its elitist origins, "metastasized in the twentieth century into an insidiously popular movement: the groundlings who once had thrown tomatoes became well-behaved acolytes in the temple of culture." And they became good consumers: RCA Victor's marketing division successfully cultivated Arturo Toscanini's image throughout America as the definitive conductor of Beethoven, a sort of "high priest" on vinyl. Levine dismisses Toscanini's NBC Symphony broadcasts as "conscious exceptions to what normally prevailed." In fact, though, in the early decades of radio, such station-supported orchestras and "live" broadcasts were anything but exceptional. And they also allowed much new American music to be heard: one might mention the nationwide broadcasts of Howard Hanson's Festivals of American Music or network-radio competitions and commissions such as those won by Aaron Copland (Dance Symphony, Music for Radio, Letter from Home ).
Of course, one can argue that populist efforts—such as pre-concert lectures, low-priced concerts for special segments of the community, even mass-produced recordings bearing awe-inspiring photos of the Maestro and incense-laden jacket
prose—were little more than tools in the mystification process: propaganda that made the average listener feel uncomfortable approaching music on his or her own, especially without prior coaching from someone of superior knowledge and taste. Levine does not quite venture this line of argument; rather, he leaves efforts at education and dissemination largely unmentioned or dismisses them as marginal (he speaks of museums and orchestras in the mid twentieth century engaging in "mere outreach programs"). But just such a jaundiced conclusion is a logical result of his exaggerated emphasis on the exclusionary impulses of the cultured elites: "[A]fter the turn of the century there was one price that had to be paid: these cultural products had to be accepted on the terms proffered by those who controlled the cultural institutions. In that sense, while there was never a total monopoly of access, there was a tight control over the terms of access." Although it has the rhetorical thrust of an accusation, this statement is actually a tautology. People of privilege were making the decisions, so of course one can say that everyone else was, in a sense, forced to accept the system set up by people of privilege. That is true of any system: someone must bear the risks and make the big decisions. Levine's statement can only become a valid accusation if one can ascertain that the decisions in question were primarily self-serving and exclusionist in intent or effect. And the very mention of "effect" should remind us that concertgoers were not captive pawns in management's concert game; they were free to "vote with their feet"—and regularly did so.
Similarly, Levine regularly insists that the sharp, value-laden distinction between "highbrow" culture and more "lowbrow" fare was "rooted in a quest for intellectual and cultural authority" on the part of the emerging groups of the wealthy, in conjunction with the older gentry. DiMaggio, too, tends cynically to assert, without much evidence (or with patently selective evidence), that snobbery and other less than admirable motives were the primary driving forces for Higginson, Dwight, and other culture makers. In particular, he asserts that a remark of Dwight's about "people of taste and culture" buys into the "crucial syllogism" that equated "taste and social standing." But Dwight was no social snob: coarse tastes for him could be found in the rich as well as the poor. Education and cultural exposure could help, of course (as the Brook Farm experiment had confirmed); that these were at the time far more available to people of means was for Dwight an injustice that called for prompt remedy. He hailed the massed performances of Rossini, Gounod, and Wagner at the National Peace Jubilee and Great Music Festival of 1869 for reaching "tens of thousands of all classes (save, unfortunately, the poorest)" and concluded: "Public opinion, henceforth, will count [knowledge and love of Music] among the essentials of that 'liberal education,' which is the birthright of a free American, and no longer as a superfluous refinement of an over-delicate and fashionable few."
True, the remark about "people of taste and culture" to which DiMaggio alludes does refer specifically to the wealthy, but not because of some "implicit" (as DiMaggio puts it) class agenda. Dwight made the remark in the context of his (ret-
rospective) description of the Harvard Musical Association's practical strategy (which is to say, his own strategy, since he was one of the association's prime movers) of establishing the "nucleus of a fit audience" for its orchestral concerts. This "nucleus"—the key word here—consisted of people who at once valued the music and who could "make the concerts financially safe" by "subscribing before-hand" and "increas[ing] the number by the attraction of their own example." Dwight always assumed that additional "fit" listeners, thousands of them, from various social strata, would seize the chance to gather around any such nucleus, which is exactly what happened, in Boston as elsewhere. Indeed, when the Boston Symphony was finally founded, in 1881, Dwight welcomed it in his widely respected magazine (Dwight's Journal of Music ), stating in no uncertain terms that "it places the best of music within frequent and easy reach of all who love it and cannot afford to pay the prices usual heretofore" (at his own Harvard Musical Association); now Boston, he declared, would have "music of the highest kind, accessible to all the people, and a plenty of it." For Dwight, as for so many other builders of America's cultural institutions, taste was not linked, in any kind of "crucial syllogism," to social or economic standing. Rather, he recognized that wealthy supporters could provide economic security for cultural institutions that, without such underpinnings, would barely be viable. Ever an idealist about art music, Dwight could also be a hard-headed realist about what it took to get it performed (and performed well).
In the field of American literary history, Joan Shelley Rubin has recently warned of a widespread "tendency to depict canonizers monolithically" and even as "almost conspiratorial" figures. The writings that I have been citing lean far in that direction. Levine claims, for example, that the elite groups had "a vested interest . . . in welcoming and maintaining the widening cultural gaps that increasingly characterized the United States" and that their efforts to "proselytize and convert . . . often had the opposite effect" by making culture seem distant and effete. The "often" is the one welcome word in this highly charged statement, since it leaves open the possibility—although Levine hardly explores it—that no less often efforts at developing a taste for art music, and at enabling people to perform it at home, enriched people's lives across the country, just as efforts at literacy did by enabling them to read political essayists (of varying stripes), the Bible (and attacks on religion), the novels of Sir Walter Scott or Charles Dickens, or the poetry of Walt Whitman or Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Joseph Horowitz finds more than a whiff of "polemic" in what he calls Levine's recurrent "emphasis on the villainy of . . . upper-class snobs." "This perspective," he notes, may be a little too "reassuring" to present-day ideological preferences, in that "it lets the People off the hook." I prefer to stress that the many statements by Levine and others about the stultifying or distorting effects of private patronage are valid in part and indeed are necessary correctives to certain long-standing, exaggeratedly rosy attitudes toward the generosity of patrons (such as one finds in various semiofficial histories of symphony orchestras). But I also hold that these
corrective statements become tendentious and unreliable when they are offered as the predominant or indeed nearly the entire story of how and why the institutions of art music emerged in America. And I become particularly skeptical when I see that such statements are made in a context that gives inadequate consideration to the second countervailing force mentioned above: the desire of musicians and music lovers for intense aesthetic experience.
Loving the Music
The aesthetic side of this issue has many ramifications that will absorb us now (i.e., before we stir gender issues back into the discussion at "How to Read the Woman Patron"). These ramifications include questions of musical style (accessibility, Americanness) and of how to bring this music to frequent and aesthetically adequate (and preferably excellent) performance. Underlying them all, though, is what I take to be a central fact, at once "aesthetic" and undeniably "social," of American musical life: many people around the turn of the century attended symphony concerts, piano recitals, and the like, because they knew and loved that kind of music (or at least the simpler varieties that they could play at home) and were eager to hear more and better examples of it.
This is an important point, often neglected by those who see the cultural barons as imposing an effete art on the unwilling masses. Art music was hardly a new or foreign experience for most first-time concertgoers, whether they were housewives or lawyers, shopkeepers or bankers, schoolteachers or college students. Quite the contrary, the music of the opera house and concert hall was a direct extension of the primarily European or plainly European-derived repertories that many members of the audience—from the rising classes as well as, or even more than, the elite—regularly sang or played with relatives or friends at home, in the church choir or amateur choral society (thanks to Lowell Mason and his co-reformers), or in the town band. Indeed, this is perhaps the most striking difference between the concertgoer of a hundred years ago and of today: whether interested in "classical" or "popular" music, she or he was often not only a consumer but an active and sometimes interactive player or singer. By "interactive" I mean that an amateur could choose her or his own repertory, could repeat a favorite piece or passage more emphatically or more languorously, could sight-read, perhaps in sketchy fashion, a piece that was too difficult, in order to hear "how it goes" or let others hear it. The ubiquity of the amateur musician is reflected in the burgeoning number of music teachers around 1900.
This widespread participatory contact with music that made considerable aesthetic claims for itself provided the fertile soil in which the national passion for concert and operagoing grew. In America as in Europe, most music lovers first heard Beethoven's symphonies at home, at the piano, as the "Alcotts" movement of Ives's "Concord" Sonata reminds us. If amateur musicians did not play arrangements of symphonies, they learned briefer, technically (and interpretively) less de-
manding music from the same tradition—Clementi sonatinas, Mendelssohn Songs without Words, Schubert and Schumann songs (usually in translation), four-hand arrangements of Auber overtures, pieces for solo piano by Gottschalk, William Mason, or, a bit later, Cécile Chaminade—through which they developed a stylistic competence that helped prepare them for hearing knottier or more extended works in more public settings.
Admittedly, participating in the rituals of art music can be little more than a badge of social status for some people, like the supposed refinement of displaying a silver tray in the parlor or learning not to say "ain't." But for others, or for those same people in other moments and moods, it can more justly be compared to aspects of a person's life that are as real as material possessions and speech habits (although less easily demarcated and itemized): patriotic feeling, affective relationships (with friends or family members), or the variegated quest for a meaningful existence, manifested in such things as religious devotion, doing one's work well, learning about the world and society around oneself, or helping others.
All well and good, some may say, but did listeners and amateur players a century ago feel Western art music this intensely? Because responses to music are such an internal and personal matter, the data on this question are less direct and extensive than we might wish, consisting primarily of stray remarks in letters, memoirs, newspaper reviews, and the like, many of them phrased in emotional and highly conventional rather than case-specific, musical-technical language. Fortunately, though, the surviving documents regarding certain notable supporters of art music are numerous and revealingly concrete.
Not surprisingly, some of this evidence indicates that certain concertgoers were thoroughly jaded, like J. Pierpont Morgan, who "always went when [Trovatore ] was given and was very discriminating about how the different numbers were sung" but who otherwise often napped in the back of his box or stayed away entirely. Nonetheless, ample evidence suggests that other concertgoers, in particular those who were most active in establishing and promoting the country's musical institutions, were less sybaritic, more interested in following the composer's musical thought and opening their ears to a challenging variety of pieces.
Isabella Stewart Gardner (discussed in Chapter 3) had such works as Liszt's "St. Francis" Legends and the Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and Franck violin sonatas regularly performed at her home and at her specific request, by major European and American interpreters (such as Busoni, in the case of the Liszt pieces). The composer Charles Martin Loeffler valued Gardner's reactions to his and other new music so much that he was distressed that ill health prevented her from coming with him to hear the Second Symphony of Vincent d'Indy: "You of all people would not only have enjoyed this masterpiece, but could have appreciated the style, structure and beauty of it."
Henry Lee Higginson, the founder of the Boston Symphony, was forever torn between his intense attraction to symphonic music (in his early twenties, he had studied piano, voice, and composition for several years in Vienna) and his ungrat-
ifying work (as he at least occasionally saw it) in his family's successful investment firm. "I enjoy in the depths of my soul music as nothing else," he once declared, and in later years he admitted that he "never walked into [the office at] 44 State Street without wanting to sit down on the doorstep and cry."
Otto Kahn, president of the Metropolitan in the 1920s, published a thoughtful public defense of the Met's policies that rang with respect and understanding of the operatic art of the Italians and Wagner, Enrico Caruso, Claudia Muzio, and Geraldine Farrar. In it he also discussed his (unsuccessful) attempts to persuade Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, and George Gershwin to write light operas that would be "drawn from the fullness of . . . every-day American life" and therefore rich in "pathos," "humor," and "pungency."
In contrast to Gardner, Higginson, and Kahn, John Sullivan Dwight possessed no personal fortune, yet he fought tirelessly throughout his life to implant symphonic, choral, and chamber music in American soil. In his early years, at Brook Farm, the Transcendentalists' experiment in communal living and mutual self-improvement, he trained a group of the members to the point where they could sing their way through movements of Haydn and Mozart masses. In such works, as he later recalled, they (and clearly he) found no "[religious] creed, except that of the heart and of the common deepest wants and aspirations of all souls, darkly locked up in formulas, till set free by the subtile [sic ] solvent of the delicious harmonies."
It might be contended that the wealthy patrons and their ideologists, such as Dwight, were not typical. Yet recent studies give overwhelming evidence of the responsiveness and the very personal devotion that marked the listening experiences of many nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century listeners of different backgrounds, whether they were hearing Wagner excerpts in concert (some New York women, throwing propriety to the wind, reportedly "stood up in the chairs and screamed their delight . . . for what seemed hours") or playing Schumann in their own parlors. Clearly, much involved and attentive listening was going on under the sometimes placid demeanors of the respectable middle class. Otto Kahn himself noted that he had had "frequent occasion to observe how much music means" to "music lovers of small or modest means," adding that they often outdid the wealthy boxholders in their "spontaneity, zest and enthusiasm" for "opera or other art offerings" and, accordingly, carried away a greater "degree of stimulation, joy and satisfaction." Higginson made a similar observation at the Boston Symphony: although he had originally had "one great anxiety," namely, "whether the audiences would continue," he was relieved to see full houses of "town folks and country folks," some of whom came twenty miles or more to "sit on the steps and stand in the aisles each week and each year," including a "crowd of young, fresh school-girls, of music-students, of tired school-teachers, of weary men, of little old ladies leading gray lives not often reached by the sunshine." Several decades earlier, a group of Brook Farm members, as one of them later recalled, "would come to town [Boston] to drink in the symphonies, and then walk back the whole way
(seven miles) at night, elated and unconscious of fatigue, carrying home with[in] them a new genius [i.e., guiding spirit], beautiful and strong, to help them through the next day's labors."
In the pages of Harper's and other journals, we find further detailed evidence that a significant sector of the musical public was driven not just by "emulation of the elegant" (the phrase in which Gilbert Chase encapsulated the musical life of the Gilded Age)—although, of course, there was plenty of that, too—but also by an almost idealistic pursuit of musical experiences of more than everyday density and intensity, whether in the concert hall, opera house, church, or parlor—experiences that, as one writer of the time put it, would "deeply affect the heart and penetrate the soul." The rhetoric may today seem vaporous to some (as well as narrow-minded, if it is taken to imply that other musics cannot touch the heart so deeply). But that most concert listeners and critics could not describe their listening experiences at length should not lead us to conclude that they cannot have directly felt the effect of the various formal devices, harmonic innovations, and the like that we detail as admirable in the grand tradition that includes works of Bach and Haydn, Beethoven and Chopin, Wagner and Verdi, and (even admitting that the artistic accomplishment is not as complete as in Mozart or Brahms) Louis Moreau Gottschalk, John Knowles Paine, and Amy Beach.
Western Art Music:
Undemocratic? Insufficiently American?
It is currently unfashionable to make claims for the profundity of Western art music, to insist on its "life-enhancing" power. Those who suggest that the best products of Western classical music have special (even if not unique) capacities in this regard risk being taken for stooped and aging upholders of the famous "five-foot shelf" of the world's best litcrature or for those supposedly malevolent music scholars whom the sociologist Rolf Meyersohn chides for having devoted their lives to the "persistent and recurrent cover-up" of social influences on musical production and consumption. But anyone who has experienced the "speaking" power of poetry or sculpture will understand my impatience at finding in many recent scholarly studies that the Western liberal-humanist quest for aesthetic pleasure and spiritual sustenance—itself a demonstrable social reality or "fact" over the past several centuries—either is ignored or is stigmatized as (to quote Leon Botstein's apt complaint) "simply a dimension of elitism or snobbery."
Such dismissive arguments—whether heard in bald and grumpy versions on radio talk shows and in op-ed pieces or in the relatively temperate writings of Levine, DiMaggio, and Meyersohn—are, I think, best viewed as evidence of a general failure on the part of the arts community and professors in literature and the arts to make a convincing case—to the public or even to other academics—for the continuing value of "high" culture. It is worth noting that some scholars outside of music have begun to subject such dismissive views to a sharp critique—and
to do so in a responsible way that steers clear of the reflexive "Great Books" mentality. In books on America's commercialized literary life in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, both Ann Douglas and Joan Shelley Rubin (historians by trade, as it happens) refuse to reduce reading to an ornament of privilege or a tool of social control. Douglas even goes so far as to propose a necessary distinction between the "canonizers"—the tastemakers who sought in the antebellum period to promulgate standards of what should be read and studied—and "the genuinely 'canonized' works that possess an ongoing ability to engage successive generations." Similarly, Vera Zolberg, in her meticulous survey of major sociological writings on the arts, criticizes many of the major theorists and scholars for reducing the question of quality to "a consensus of class or status-related preferences," thus "neglecting to incorporate the art object itself into their analytic frameworks"; rarely do they consider or even acknowledge the relative autonomy of the art work, much less the problem of durability: how a work, even one created for "commercial and functional" use, can be marked by such "depth and richness" as to "transcend" that origin. (The word is perhaps unfortunate: Zolberg, the context makes clear, is not proposing that a rich work can transcend function altogether; rather, different people in different situations find it appealing and attribute new meanings to it.) Janet Wolff agrees but sees more hope on the horizon: "sociologists of art and Marxist aestheticians"—categories in which she would include herself—"have begun to see the need to accord recognition to the specificity of art" (as distinct from other cultural products), although their solutions thus far are beset by "serious weaknesses."
I join Rubin, Douglas, Zolberg, and Wolff in feeling the need to reaffirm and explore the aesthetic integrity or specificity of, in my case, Western art music. I expressly do not claim for this music, though, any sort of "universality" or (as just noted) uniquely "transcendental" properties or any of those other essentialist notions that advocates of the arts are often rightly accused of endorsing. While I persist in stressing the imaginative magic of such pieces (the best of them, anyway), in no way do I wish to use Beethoven or Fauré as sticks with which to beat music rooted in other cultural traditions or in popular and mass culture.
Such a position seems well suited to dealing with the characteristic eclecticism of nineteenth-century American music lovers. As the sociologist Paul Charosh has recently pointed out, by and large concert- and operagoers did not dismiss or reject other forms of musical art and entertainment. Despite the snobbish attempts of some critics and academics at the time to marginalize or demonize various vernacular forms of music making, American lovers of "classical music" (as it came to be known) in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries continued to enjoy parlor ballads and minstrel songs, Sousa marches, arrangements of favorite tunes from light opera or the early "musical comedy," and (to some extent) ragtime and early jazz. Many enjoyed vernacular repertories in settings other than the concert hall and opera house, and with exquisitely differentiated listening behaviors (including tapping the feet, singing along, eating, drinking, or smoking).
They enjoyed them precisely for the seemingly artless, unselfconscious delights they provided. (I stress the adverb: Sousa's marches, Joplin's rags, and Gershwin's show tunes are artful indeed.) Or, as Charosh puts it (somewhat categorically, perhaps to make his point heard): even though "those [culture snobs] who cared about such things" made sharp, seemingly invidious distinctions between repertories and genres, "audiences simply chose, then as now, to reach up and down as they wished."
Clearly, then, most of the builders of America's concert life and most of the concertgoers who filled the halls knew, and frequented performances of, both "light" and "serious" music. This put them in a good position to realize that certain musical works, mostly in the "serious" category, tend to be rich and complex in ways that make them difficult to assimilate on first hearing. The gentry and business and professional families who ran the concert series were not the ones who made a quartet of Antonín Dvorak[*] , a symphony by Camille Saint-Saëns, or a sonata by Clara Kathleen Rogers into an entity that requires close attention over extended time spans. Dvorak, Saint-Saëns, and Rogers did that, and for reasons that presumably have little or nothing to do—so far as the evidence shows—with a desire to exclude the unwashed. (The same can be said for literary works that make some demands on the reader, such as the fiction of George Eliot or Nathaniel Hawthorne.)
Much "classical music" is barely comprehensible without some knowledge of (and sympathy for) the cultural background and discursive assumptions that underlie it. Of course, this is true to some extent of any music tradition, Western or non-Western. But many folk or popular repertories, even examples that are particularly rich and complex (such as the Sousa, Joplin, and Gershwin pieces just mentioned), offer certain straightforward features—brevity, clear formal sectionalization (often demarcated by blocks of unvaried repetition), predictably regular phrase structure, unvarying tonal center, formulaic melodic contour and continuity—that give a wide spectrum of listeners quite a bit to "hang on to" in an initial encounter. Of course, some of these features are also found in some "art" music: by no means am I endorsing a viciously strict dichotomy between art and non-art (or entertainment) music along guidelines of complexity. Still, one cannot dodge the fact that "art music" is a recognizable cultural, stylistic, and generic category in many cultures—not least in those of Europe and America, but also in Japan, India, the Arab world, and elsewhere—and that such musics often require more initial effort, or simply more familiarity, than lighter, more "informal" (using Richard Crawford's term) or more overtly "functional" repertories (such as tunes for social dancing or congregational singing).
Listeners in America thus needed preparation—including some experience in attentive listening over long time spans—in order to be able to follow the musical thinking of Haydn or Berlioz, Wagner or Franck, Richard Strauss or Sibelius. In this regard they were little different from concertgoers in Europe. In regard to Wagner, in particular, an art-music enthusiast in America was much like one in England or on the Continent: each developed her or his own way of entering—whether to visit briefly or to linger—something as massive and trying as the Ring
cycle. (An analogy in literature: a reader well accustomed to the novels of Austen, Balzac, or Dickens developed personal reading strategies for coping with Flaubert, Tolstoy, or, later, Joyce.) Our Chapter 5, by Joseph Horowitz, has focused precisely on one American response to the Wagner challenge: the determined and imaginative initiatives taken by Laura Langford and the Seidl Society women under her command—volunteers all, yet cultural workers nonetheless—to introduce excerpts from his music dramas to audiences at Brooklyn's Brighton Beach. The passionate and faithful performances, led by Anton Seidl, were a substantial achievement, especially considering that this demanding music was relatively new to the musicians themselves. Moreover, Seidl's Brighton Beach audiences paid low entrance fees. True, sacralization was part of the story—people came in expectation of a special experience—but so was public access.
Certain recent accounts suggest nonetheless that the movement to create concert life in America was something of a repressive attempt to impose a foreign culture "from above." In Charles Hamm's history of music in the United States, for example, we are offered the following summary at the end of a detailed chapter on "The Rise of Classical Composition [and Classical Concerts] in America."
Almost all music transplanted to the New World underwent change on American soil, absorbing and reflecting aspects of American life and culture. Classical music of the Germanic tradition resisted change, because of the attitudes of its practitioners and enthusiasts. Their view was that Americans themselves would have to change before they could come to terms with symphonies, quartets, concertos, and operas written in German classical style. Surely this is one of the reasons for the continuing difficulties many Americans had with this music, whether it was written by European or American composers.
Indeed, Hamm suggests repeatedly in his book that American listeners could not, or should not have been expected to, respond to cultural products that arose elsewhere or to works written in America but in a predominantly foreign or cosmopolitan style. His assumption seems to be that music, left to follow its own course, will change to fit the needs of listeners; as a corollary, it is somehow unhealthy or counterproductive to expect listeners to change to meet the needs of another, perhaps less familiar tradition. But surely both kinds of change were required for art music to take root and flourish in America. Composers did need to begin speaking a more recognizably American dialect and reflecting more perceptibly what Hamm terms "the character of the American people"—and many of them, as he points out, did begin doing exactly these things. But listeners, I would insist, likewise faced the challenge and opportunity of change: they were now being invited to listen attentively and retentively, as listeners to music that is demanding, in whatever country or culture, have always had to do. This was true when American audiences got to know the nuanced series of duets in Aida and when they first confronted (and walked out on) Brahms's symphonies. It was equally true when they were presented with the works of John Knowles Paine and Arthur Foote. And it remained true when, later, they discovered Ives, Harris, Cop-
land, Ruth Crawford Seeger, and Elliott Carter; the works of these composers had absorbed and did more overtly reflect what Hamm calls "aspects of American life and culture," yet they nonetheless challenged in fruitful ways a listener's powers of concentration.
High-Quality Performance, the Marketplace, and True Cultural Diversity
No, the founders of symphony orchestras were not wrong, or "elitist" (at least not in any consistently nasty and exclusionist way) in pressing for permanent ensembles in every city. They realized that the musicians must be accustomed to rehearsing and playing together and must not be forced to take additional, tiring jobs (such as maintaining a heavy teaching schedule, or playing at dances or theaters several nights a week) in order to survive and support a family. Until orchestras could offer players a steady source of income, many musicians must have managed the work overload by giving in on some other front, such as shortchanging attention to their family or community. Some simply skipped rehearsals in order to take on paying engagements, or they engaged in what, among British musicians, is called "deputizing": attending rehearsals but—if a better-paying job comes along—sending a substitute to play the concert. The results can be read in the reviews: not enough string players, no true pianissimo, underrehearsed ensemble, raspy violins, out-of-tune winds. This was precisely the concern that Dwight must have had in mind when he described the Harvard Musical Association Orchestra (an important predecessor of the Boston Symphony) as providing "the guarantee to the musicians both of a better kind of work and somewhat better pay than they were wont to have." His wording carries important implications for the artistic product: more consistently challenging repertory and more competent colleagues (twin aspects of "a better kind of work") will produce finer performances and, combined with higher pay, will draw strong players to the city and will make careers in music possible for young Americans.
The related problems here finally come down to one: in an increasingly consumer-oriented society, how can we provide protection for and appreciation of certain strands of cultural and intellectual expression that do not support themselves well commercially (or that can be commodified only by trimming the aesthetic aspects and playing up instead the cult of the superstar, as in the widely telecast "Three Tenors" video)? Insisting one-sidedly on the abuses to which the categories "highbrow" and "lowbrow" have sometimes led will not make this stubborn problem go away. Admittedly, cultural institutions that revel in the implications of a cultural "hierarchy," that side with the high against the low, act noxiously indeed; nonetheless, a robust degree of cultural stratification or diversification—in music as also in the fiction we choose to read and, indeed, in most aspects of life—is arguably healthy, perhaps is even crucial to the productive functioning of a modern urban society. For example, "high art," thanks to its being insulated from the
ceaseless demand to entertain large numbers of people in predictable ways, gains the possibility of achieving certain kinds of subtlety and complexity. A helpful analogy, in this respect, is found in what we might call "high criticism." A film critique in the New Yorker or the feminist film-studies journal Camera obscura has the opportunity to explore more shadings of opinion, raise a wider range of issues, and employ a vocabulary richer in technical precision or theoretical nuance, than does a quick consumer-oriented review in the daily paper or on television.
This is not to deny that a frankly commercial art, such as pop music or Hollywood films, can have its own virtues, including a spontaneity and cultural specificity that is less easily obtained (and perhaps less often aspired to) by much Western art music and "high literature." Indeed, most people would agree that certain works of popular culture can achieve aesthetic richness in spite of quite restrictive conventions of structure and style. And, of course, plenty of works in today's "classical" canon originated in a primarily commercial environment (Mozart's Zauberflöte , most of the Verdi operas, the Hungarian Rhapsodies and operatic fantasies of Liszt, and so on). But none of this alters the fact that certain kinds of complex musical works do not "play" in the marketplace of commercial entertainment, and indeed did not do so in their own day: Bach's cantatas, Schubert's sonatas, Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande (most European opera houses by then were heavily subsidized), Mahler, Scriabin, Ives.
Blanket condemnation of a stratified culture is thus misleading. More dangerous, it may tend to discourage people from becoming seriously involved in the much-needed fight for funding for and access to the arts. As even the socialist critic of the arts David Trend—himself no proponent of Western high culture—has argued, "the appropriate function of government within a capitalist economy is to act as a corrective to market forces," which in the case of the arts means supporting "cultural activities that are untenable in commercial terms—either because they serve small constituencies or because they do not result in a salable product."
The truth is that the tidal wave of commercial entertainment in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (and continuing today, often in more monopolistic forms) made it difficult for many kinds of art and literature to maintain themselves financially, or to do so without massive, damaging compromise. Levine notes that the Shakespeare that the popular audiences loved was substantially cut and often larded with local jokes and stunts. I would go further: many of the examples he cites do not amount to performances of Shakespeare's plays at all. They simply show certain standard speeches from Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet being parodied in minstrel shows and the like ("To draw or not to draw, that is the question," a poker player ponders). This latter phenomenon, far from being evidence of extensive public familiarity with whole plays, seems more like the beginnings of the cultural "sound bite." Most television-watchers today can recognize and enjoy parodic versions of Valkyries howling, tutu-ed swans on point, a consumptive heroine launching a lengthy aria before expiring, or a near-sighted pianist flailing away at the keyboard. Yet only a small percentage of these people have sat through a full
performance of the operas and ballets being alluded to or attended a professional-level piano recital.
One thing, though, is certain: the musicians and music lovers, the people who saved and still save their pennies to sit in the balcony, and, yes, many of the women patrons with flowery hats and the men in tuxedos did (and do) care about this heritage, and have generously put money or time or effort into its service. In doing so, they created a distinctly American phenomenon: the high-art institution supported by a coalition of private citizens rather than by a municipality or national government (as has been the norm in England and on the Continent).
How to Read the Woman Patron/Volunteer/Activist
All of which brings us to the point of evaluating the work of such a patron, particularly the woman patron. How one names her already reveals something of how one is likely to esteem her work. The term "volunteer" may serve for the moment, in that, as noted in the Introduction, it helpfully stresses the link between women's unpaid labors in music and in other areas.
The word has its drawbacks, though. As we noted there, it carries a taint of comfortable compromise. Two even more troubling objections to volunteer work—that it undercuts the position of women working for pay in the same field, and that it colludes in the very problems it claims to be fighting—come directly out of the women's liberation movement. In 1971, Wendy Kaminer reports, "the National Organization for Women issued a resolution telling women they should only volunteer to effect social change, not to deliver social services," which should rightly be the province of government agencies. "The new woman of the 1970s could be an activist but she could not be a volunteer." Besides, on the personal level, "money was power, and women had to earn and control their own money in order to control their own lives and the institutions that control society."
The objection that women working for no pay do harm to professional women can be at least partially answered by the counterargument that women volunteers (and, even more obviously, women who contribute large sums of money) are assisting in the redistribution of wealth in a highly inegalitarian society. Still, the objection will probably continue to be heard, and it has probably been around for a long time. In the partly parallel realm of original artistic work, for example, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney complained that she could not charge for her sculptures without seeming to be "taking the bread out of the mouth of some struggling artist" but also could not give them away free without being accused of "helping in the disastrous work of reducing prices" for art and thus effectively making it more difficult for artists to make a living. No matter what she did, short of stopping her artistic work altogether, she continued to be, by turns, berated and treated condescendingly by family, reporters, and the public at large.
As for the argument that volunteering somehow colludes in the problems it purports to be solving by not forcing the rightful attention of government, this may
have a sound theoretical ring, but in practice it has lost much of its punch in the past two decades, as federal and state governments have cut back funding for social services (and increasingly also for the arts). Withholding one's unpaid service to the needy (or, by extension, to the arts) in hopes of forcing greater attention from taxpayer-supported social agencies may have seemed a canny strategy in the days of relative plenty. By the late 1980s and the 1990s, distinguishing social change from service work has come to seem counterproductive and, in the words of Winifred Brown, director of the mayor's Voluntary Action Center in New York, "cruel." Volunteers, she contends, become "your strongest advocates," because "they will vote." "We change the system by the voice of the predominantly middle class."
Interestingly, I do not recall that this second objection has been raised much in regard to the arts. (If anything, its converse was more often heard: symphony orchestras around 1960 feared that government support would discourage their traditional private and corporate donors, a fear that has perhaps now proved not entirely unfounded.) Music and dance tend to be regarded primarily as forms of entertainment, and thus in no way analogous to education and other social services. It is—distressingly, to many of us—not widely agreed that building America's concert life is really analogous to establishing clinics, that enabling people to hear live music of a type that the commercial market cannot supply is something that "someone has to do" at all (to quote the Smith College alumna of our Introduction). So, if we don't hear that volunteering for the arts is undermining the attempt to secure public funds for the arts (except perhaps from some left-leaning critics), that is probably just an indication of how little the arts are generally valued in the United States.
Six Misapprehensions (Or Belittling Questions)
But women's unpaid work and financial contributions to the arts, precisely because of the low value placed on the arts, have occasioned other, more specific objections, going beyond (although sometimes related to) the basic objections to "women volunteering" thus far discussed. In my reading, and in discussions with various musicians, musicologists, and scholars in other fields, I have encountered many well-worn objections to, and prejudices about, women's patronage of music.
These objections needless to say reflect the assumption that women know little of art, and that the music patroness is at best a silly goose and at worst an intrusive, vengeful "bitch," as Charles Ives's biographer David Wooldridge calls Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge. The former, "silly goose" stereotype is found in, among many other places, an amusing 1915 novel by the music critic W.J. Henderson, The Soul of a Tenor , in which the social-climbing Mrs. Hartley Manners is "a cheerful and insistent laborer on all sorts of committees for charitable entertainments" and regularly attends opera rehearsals because she has learned that "prostration before the throne" of musical celebrities enables her "to get them to dine at her house."
I would like to discuss explicitly this issue (the keeper of "pet" musicians) and five other of the most common and serious criticisms—or stereotyped images—of the woman patron. These images, I contend, have led scholars and commentators to ignore, downplay, or trivialize women's patronage and activist work (or whatever one wants to call it) in music. I should stress that I have encountered all six stereotypes repeatedly, in popular culture, in conversations with musicians, even in scholarly books and articles. It is precisely their tenacity (and, to some extent, seductiveness) that motivates me to state them baldly here and then unpack and evaluate them in the light of the evidence of our previous chapters.
Each of these six criticisms, it may well be argued, is based on a substantial kernel of observed truth: superficial and selfish motivations, for example, are no doubt frequently found among society's overprivileged (as W.J. Henderson surely had occasion to observe), and putting the nation's cultural policy in the hands of a privileged class does distort the cultural product, making it conform more to the interests of a small number of moneyed individuals than those of the larger public. Still, when all six are taken together as representing the whole story, they distort our view, which is why I like to call them "misapprehensions." One might equally well call them "belittling questions," since they are often framed (and are worded below) as rhetorical questions that carry a prejudice against women's patronage work. Indeed, questions of this particularly belittling type become doubly prejudicial to women through the fact that they are much less often asked of the patronage work of men. Throughout this section, I favor the past tense, because the misapprehensions are most severe about women at the turn of the century; this should not, however, be taken to suggest that women since that time have not continued to be similarly misrepresented.
MISAPPREHENSION A : "But didn't American women patrons of music ignore or despise American works and their needy creators?"
Yes and no (which is the best response to all six of these questions or objections). It is true that female patrons (like their male equivalents) idolized the European master composers (and, for that matter, the great European virtuoso performers, and some who, like Sergei Rachmaninoff, were both). But Isabella Stewart Gardner, Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, Alma Morgenthau Wertheim, Blanche Walton, Claire Reis, and Marian MacDowell, among others from earlier in this century, belie simple stereotypes, as do Martha Baird Rockefeller and Betty Freeman, to mention but two women in more recent decades who have eagerly, and with very different methods, plowed the field of new American composition. Back in the 1890s, Jeannette Thurber was specifically eager to have her National Conservatory foster a uniquely American music: it was from his Thurber-paid perch at the National Conservatory that Dvorak[*] made his various pronouncements to New York journalists about the country's need to develop a "national" musical style, and several prominent African-American composers trained at Thurber's Conservatory. The social historian Karen J. Blair has similarly demonstrated that
the women's music clubs gave energetic support to the compositional work of various American composers, under the motto "Hear America First"; indeed, the response was so favorable, Blair notes, that the National Federation of Music Clubs "credited the sudden growth of the organization to its 1907 decision to hold competitions for music composed by American-born artists."
But, rather than multiply the distinguished roster of women patrons responsive to American music, I prefer to challenge the question itself. I see no inherent reason why any given patron should particularly push American products and producers. (Coolidge, although she did much for American composers, nonetheless makes this very point repeatedly and eloquently in letters to the Library of Congress's distinguished music librarian Carl Engel: see Vignette G.) Even a government-sponsored—and thus presumably more rational, responsible, and accountable—system of music patronage should not necessarily be built around national or local boosterism.
To be fair, a word should be said in defense of local music and musicians. Definitions of "quality" tend too often to be based on the international, the "name brand," thus by definition disqualifying the local product. Many listeners today have only a single, well-commodified, and admittedly magnificent operatic (or "legit," i.e., non-pop) tenor voice in their inner ear, namely, Luciano Pavarotti's (or else Plácido Domingo's). A healthy musical life, though, would find plentiful advantage in nourishing the feeling of ownership that only local talent, in "live" performance, can engender: we, the audience, know this or that composer/performer/conductor, have followed his or her artistic career and growth (on our own, and not through the calculated hype of press agents and media flaks), she or he speaks our particular musical dialect, and so on. And live music need not be restricted to performance situations: a girl who does not grow up knowing her parents' singing voices (in whatever kind of music, including lullabies) or a boy who has never explored his own voice has surely been culturally deprived; all the "canned" wonders of digital sound and the easy access of music on TV and video cannot compensate for such a loss in musical empowerment and self-expression (the last being not just an individual matter: a community sing, too, depends on people's willingness to come together in at least a semipublic way to lift their individual voices together).
But a word should also be said for "quality," or—let us say—music of the international scene. An audience's taste, and that of local musicians, will be sharpened and its knowledge enriched by exposure to other approaches and concerns, not to speak of the simple fact that, as far as what we call Western art music was concerned, European musical training and compositional activity (like European philological scholarship, social theory, and so on) were in many respects better developed than their American equivalents during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The act of bringing European music to America was particularly crucial in the days before widespread recorded sound. And, fortunately, music is not like visual art, which, because it usually inheres in a unique, irreproducible object, leaves the collector open to the charge of plunder. Bringing Wag-
ner's music or Stravinsky's to the United States left Europe none the poorer! (Except perhaps for the special case of composers' autograph manuscripts: today that phenomenon is being repeated, with manuscripts by Bach and others being bought up by individuals and corporations in Japan.)
The balance between maintaining the highest level of "quality," on the one hand, and encouraging American or more specifically local composers (and performers), on the other, is a tricky matter, not easily resolved. Certainly, it is not a moral contest in which the historian should simply plump for one side or the other.
MISAPPREHENSION B : "But didn't all this musical activity amount to very little, inasmuch as it produced few major new works that now remain in the repertory?"
Music is inherently ephemeral, making patronage in music relatively "invisible" historically. Isabella Stewart Gardner's and Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney's musical efforts have no niche in the public consciousness or the scholarly literature analogous to that secured for their activity in visual art by the museums that bear their names. Most of the new music that women patrons commissioned and encouraged over the past century no longer lives, but then that is true of any system of arts patronage or support, including commercial systems such as the Broadway theater, where one or two shows may survive out of the dozens (or, it used to be, hundreds) launched every year. Besides, certain commissioned works, such as Copland's Appalachian Spring or Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks Concerto —works brought about by, respectively, Coolidge and Mildred Bliss—do maintain a lively existence in our cultural life.
But to argue on the basis of the few resulting "masterpieces" would be inadequate: what also of the cumulative effect of patrons' having enabled young performers to buy or borrow an instrument, or to study piano with Theodor Leschetizky in Vienna or composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris or Fontainebleau, or of their having exposed audiences to music of more challenging sorts than the commercial music industry, with its foxtrots, marches, and musical comedies, could have provided? (To say this is, as I noted in the first half of this chapter, not to deny the possibility of high artfulness in lighter repertoires.)
And surely it is inconsistent to praise the patrons, such as Archduke Rudolph and Count Lichnowsky, who kept Beethoven alive and composing, but not to appreciate those—often women—in later generations who helped build the concert institutions that have kept the music of that composer alive in America by making it accessible to large audiences in skillful and persuasive interpretations by such artists as Arthur Nikisch, Artur Schnabel, Bruno Walter, Myra Hess, George Szell, Christa Ludwig, Leonard Bernstein, and John Eliot Gardiner.
MISAPPREHENSION C : "Didn't the patrons neglect sister musicians?"
Yes and no, depending on which patrons you are talking about. The women who organized music clubs across the country—including a famous one in Columbus, Ohio, that, under Ella May Smith, built up a membership of three thousand in
the first decades of this century—felt a mission to encourage the musical talent of the members themselves but also that of young women in the town (through scholarship funds and performance opportunities). This encouragement could extend beyond performance to composition: the West Coast composer Mary Carr Moore, for example, was able to make her music heard at numerous performances arranged by women's clubs of which she was a member (or sometimes arranged by herself through the women's clubs). And, of course, when the clubs turned to organizing recital series, they delighted in bringing in major female artists, not least the various women's orchestras, the most famous being the Fadettes (named after a character in a George Sand novel). In all this we see a great strength of what in Chapter 1 was called the "separatist" position: its ability to make an end run around the male-dominated structures of public and professional musical life.
Women who worked on the "ladies' committees" of symphony orchestras (as noted earlier), and perhaps even those thoroughgoing "assimilationists" who served on symphony boards, put themselves in a very different position, having largely to defer to men—the conductor, the largely male board, the newspaper critics, prominent local musicians—on matters of repertoire and artistic policy, although (as implied in Chapter 1) exceptions to this rule may be revealed with continuing research.
When one turns to the individual women of wealth, though, the objection surely has more substance: for every wealthy woman who acted in support of women musicians and, more daringly, women composers (including such patrons as Bertha Honoré Palmer, Marian MacDowell, and Blanche Walton), there was one (or perhaps there were several?) who did not take women musicians as seriously as they did males, and certainly did not seek them out and adulate them in the same way. (The one standard exception to this rule was that even the more male-oriented women patrons promoted and feted female singers and, to some extent, female pianists. Isabella Stewart Gardner, for example, had both local and international singers—Lena Little, Nellie Melba—perform for her and befriended them in various ways. But, as noted in Chapter 3, she seems to have kept a frosty distance from women composers, as also from women painters.)
But rather than tally up female and male beneficiaries of female patronage (a tricky, perhaps impossible statistical exercise), I prefer here to shift the focus back to the patron herself. We might profitably view a woman patron's decision to support one group of musicians and not another—for example, men but not, or rarely, women—as a response, in part, to the pressures—external and internal—working upon her. It has often been noted that women wishing to be taken seriously in the world of men were, and to a considerable extent still are, encouraged to measure and advertise their own worth, their "seriousness," by their unlikeness to other women and their lack of involvement with women's culture and women's issues. In the case of the arts patron, this must have entailed many compromises, many choices about which battles to fight at any one time. And we should be care-
ful not to read back, anachronistically, certain late-twentieth-century definitions of political sisterhood into earlier and very different eras. (Conflicts and contradictions on matters of this sort abound in the studies included in this book; see, especially, the closing pages of Chapter 9.)
A second psychodynamic may be discerned in this rejection of women performers and composers: some patrons may have wanted to be the sole woman in a knot of men. Certain particularly intimate forms of patronage—such as Alma Wertheim's involvement with the composers of the Aaron Copland circle (see frontispiece), or Isabella Stewart Gardner's befriending of various good-looking young male authors, pianists (George Proctor), and art students (see fig. 6)—bear a striking resemblance to an incomplete nuclear family, the mother figure dispensing kindnesses to several surrogate sons. Maria Dehon's complex relationship to both Leopold Stokowski and Olga Samaroff is suggested in Vignette F. Indeed, certain biographers suggest, not unreasonably, that one or another male beneficiary of female patronage participated in a real or sublimated May-December romance with his patron. But, however one chooses to read the bond between female patron and male artist(s), it is perhaps not surprising that she may often have felt that any attempt to bring one or more other women into such a system would threaten her own uniqueness and authority.
Still, we remain troubled: why so few daughters? The patron may well insist—as Betty Freeman firmly does today (Vignette B)—that she simply chooses the best music, or the music that she likes best, which doesn't happen to be (or for historical reasons has not been likely to be) written by women. In fact, the whole question of women's compositional work remains wide open: have women composers been judged by male aesthetic criteria and thus found wanting, when they were instead merely different? have they been found wanting simply because listeners and critics could not take a woman's creative work seriously? or have they been frankly impeded, until very recently, from reaching their full potential by a system of musical education and performance that excluded and hobbled them at every turn (or at least did its best to hobble them, although not always with total success)?
MISAPPREHENSION D : "Shouldn't they have put their efforts into more serious matters: combating poverty, crime, or alcohol or drug abuse, or striking blows for women's rights (e.g., suffrage, reproductive choice) or for world peace?"
This, some may be surprised to learn, is hardly a new objection. As Karen J. Blair reports:
Leaders of the politically moderate but powerful General Federation of Women's Clubs . . . disdained artistic endeavors, while revering civic reform. "Dante is dead," proclaimed President Sara Platt Decker at the turn of the century, imploring her middle-class leisured white constituency of half a million members to leave their poetry and pianos in order to lobby Congress for streetlights, public libraries, and child labor laws. Her agenda held no place for women's efforts to reform the cultural life of the nation.
One can sympathize with Decker, surely, but also with the women who felt that music, art, and literature, too, needed promotion and defense. Indeed, Decker's, and others', attempts to characterize artistic activity as a trivial self-indulgence may be yet another symptom of how easily the arts are marginalized and of the false dichotomies that pit, polemically, one marginalized sector of activity in American society against another, to their mutual detriment.
Those who believe that art is important (as well as, not instead of, women's rights, safe streets, and good international relations) will understand: if federal, state, and local governments would not enable us to hear Wagner in 1900, unlike in Europe (and, to a limited extent, in the United States today), then the task fell to private citizens working alone or in groups. To insist on a single criterion for judging a person's life—such as the extent of her or his direct influence on politics—would be to invalidate most human endeavors, including the arts, religious and psychological counseling, and even the challenges of raising a family (a most unneeded and selfish task, when seen from certain societal points of view, such as the ecological).
Besides, we should be careful not to hold women to standards higher than those we apply to men, especially in the early decades of this century, when women were not even granted a voice in government and men were far more directly responsible for the governmental and social policies that produced modernized warfare, economic injustice, gender inequality. (This last included repeatedly denying women the vote, despite the extensive and imaginative campaigns of Susan B. Anthony and others.)
Of course, there is some merit to the argument that women often settled for various unchallenging kinds of busy-work—needlepoint, playing the parlor piano—thus permitting their husbands to continue their work in, and on behalf of, an oppressive social system. But we should also not be so quick to condemn the world of business, the business of running the world, of creating jobs, when it was done by men, and then glow triumphantly at the thought of women moving into that same sphere. The capitalist business world, and the political system that it to a large extent has purchased to do its bidding (PACs being only the latest and most legal forms of this unholy alliance), have their own contradictions and compromises, and should be neither demonized nor idealized. (Idealizing capitalism and "democracy" has, since the demise of Soviet socialism, become somewhat fashionable, to the chagrin of those who are aware of the misery and oppression that the system, unchecked, can breed.)
Finally, there were indeed women who were active on both the social or political and the musical fronts, such as the suffragist and Boston Symphony patron Anne Macomber Gannett of Maine. And some even attempted to combine their passions for social and musical betterment, using the arts themselves to combat social problems, as in the attempts to use music to help working-class people and immigrants to become better integrated into American society. Many women's clubs at the turn of the century, for example, fought for music in the public schools and,
reaching in their pockets (or using the profits from their concerts), set up music schools within the settlement houses, sponsored after-school choral sings and solo competitions, and contributed phonograph records and sheet music to the public libraries. What, I wonder, could possibly, in the long run, aid American musical life, including composition, more than "starting them young"?
MISAPPREHENSION E : "Didn't the women patrons turn cultural work into a series of parties for themselves and their fancy friends, and didn't they cultivate talented musicians as their pets?"
True, again, and not true. Women patrons, like all people, exist everywhere along the "public service versus self-indulgence" spectrum. Jeannette Thurber (as noted earlier) was a model of vision and risk-taking in her battle for federal support, although without success at the time. Many women, including prominent African-American women such as Mary L. Europe and Estelle Pinckney (see Chapter 7), campaigned, with more success, to have solid musical training incorporated into the public school curriculum (as a required or, at least, an elective or an after-school activity). Like most other music educators around the country (and, indeed, in other countries, such as France and Hungary), they put special emphasis on the development of choral singing, an art that is relatively open to wide public participation.
Women's music clubs and the concert series that they ran (see, especially, Chapter 2) found ways of making public recitals a major feature of America's cultural landscape. And symphony boards, although they also ran plenty of self-congratulatory parties along the way, worked to provide good performances of Western art music in a forum open to all (or at least to all who could afford the price of a ticket, which admittedly did exclude certain potential concertgoers).
Of course, in this as in other respects, one finds a wide variety of types of patrons. Joseph Horowitz's account of the Van Cliburn Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas, presents us with two almost archetypal examples of the woman music patron: Grace Ward Lankford, the socialite, and Martha Hyder, the "piano-teacher-plus." And yet Hyder's successful struggle with Lankford over the future structure and character of the competition was no simple matter of reactionary versus progressive or ignorance versus expertise. Hyder's thrusting the competition into the public eye introduced a level of superficiality and commercialism previously unknown in the world of serious music: piano playing is not, after all, quite the same kind of spectator sport as football or Olympic figure skating, and something has been lost when audiences crowd into the halls to hear the latest favorite 18-year-old contestant but don't bother to attend the recital offered by one of the judges, the great Alicia de Larrocha.
Yet a patron, situated in a particular cultural and social environment, must find a means of making the thing work, of helping music pay its way and get the audience it deserves. Compromises must be made, as in any other public-oriented activity (e.g., journalism, history textbooks, public health). The compromises that a
patron makes in the course of things—including the easily ridiculed fancy-dress receptions that seem an inevitable part of the American concert scene (and of the arts and literary scenes, too)—should be noted, even excoriated for the distortions that they introduce, but not allowed to obliterate the significant achievements that such compromises to some extent make possible. Music clubs and the concert series that grew out of them made public recitals a major feature of America's cultural landscape. And ladies of the symphony boards, although they also ran plenty of self-congratulatory parties along the way, worked to present art music, well performed, in a forum open to all, or at least to large segments of their cities' populations.
As for treating musicians as their personal pets, this is perhaps a frequent result of the relationship between a patron and a beneficiary but surely not an inevitable one. Furthermore, one-on-one patronage, although most obviously gratifying to the two individuals involved, may also tend eventually to benefit the larger community of music lovers. Music lovers have reason to be thankful that a number of creators in the past two centuries—in Europe and in America—were enabled, by private patronage, to complete their years of study or to compose some of their major works. The composers on such a list must include Beethoven (as already noted), Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Falla (sponsored by the princess de Polignac), Britten (who had several generous female patrons), and the Russian expatriate Nikolai Medtner. This list must also include many twentieth-century composers who—rather like certain painters and poets—were regarded as uncompromisingly avant-garde (hence commercially unviable) at a certain point in their development: Copland and Cowell in the 1920s, say, or Steve Reich (in the 1970s) and Harry Partch and John Cage (throughout their careers).
MISAPPREHENSION F : "More generally, didn't patrons use music to humiliate rivals or enhance their own social standing?"
This objection—closely related to Misapprehension E—is, again in a strictly factual sense, frequently true, but what conclusions should one draw from it? Self-promotion is not inherently damning: we should not expect to find a phalanx of Mother Teresas when looking at women (or, for that matter, men) involved in the arts, any more than when looking at people involved in business, politics, social reform, or indeed religion (Jane Addams, Bella Abzug, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Daniel Patrick Moynihan—name your own examples of effective politicians and social activists). Indeed, one representive of the Voluntary Action Center in Boston recently urged that potential volunteers for social agencies identify, not deny, the needs that they themselves are looking to fulfill (e.g., a desire to meet other volunteers, to face a new challenge, to express debt or gratitude); in this way, they are more likely to choose the kind of volunteering that best suits them and that they will stick with.
As for the specific complaint about status-chasing, that might well be rephrased in a more appreciative direction: what a bourgeois man could attain automatically by virtue of going to the office every day—social status, yes, but also identity, personhood, participation in the endeavor of civilization, release from stultifying
boredom—was harder won by a woman, and often was won precisely through patronage and other voluntary work. To say this is not to deny that life-enhancing meaning can be found by traditional women working in a well-functioning female realm; even less should it be read as endorsing the principle that a sense of identity ought ideally to derive from what one strives for and attains outside the home. But, given that the patrons studied here, especially those in the earlier decades, were living in a society that defined success—the extent to which an individual "matters"—in terms of public achievement and the acquisition of visible tokens of privilege (a carriage or a new automobile, a fancy suit or hat, a yacht, a subscription seat on the center aisle), these women found a way of mattering, of affecting the world beyond the home, when most other routes were sealed.
In any case, as noted earlier, this question is precisely the sort that tends to be asked more often of women than of men. This would not seem so unfair (so prejudicial, one suspects) if male philanthropists could be shown to be less insistent than female ones about having a building named after them or less likely to attach other "strings" to their giving.
Women, Patronage, and the Future of Art Music
In conclusion, I would argue that it is too easy to put a particular ideological spin on the phenomenon of the middle- or upper-class woman nonprofessional, or even nonmusician, who takes an activist role in American musical life: too easy (coming from one direction) to sentimentalize her often modest doings or heroize them out of proportion, and too easy (coming from the other direction) to trivialize the real accomplishments and to minimize the risks, the courage, the imagination, the struggle against barriers and limited options. The closer one looks, the more one becomes aware of the complexity of the situation: the gains and associated losses of decisions made, the opportunities seized and missed, and the similarities to and differences from patronage in the present. Much has changed, for better and worse, and much has not.
It may be helpful to end our study by returning to the situation today, already described from a somewhat different angle near the end of Chapter 1. Since around 1950, women's patronage has been affected by changing conditions in women's lives and in American musical life. Many women are professional musicians who earlier would have been amateurs, patrons, and music-club members; others are now employed in nonmusical fields and less free to volunteer their time. The musical institutions are well established, although not all financially thriving. (Indeed, some are suffering—Sarah Caldwell's Opera Company of Boston has not, at this writing, given a performance in three years—and some fine symphony orchestras have gone under, such as those in New Orleans and Oakland, California.) The federal government and the states now support certain cultural institutions, although minimally compared to many governments in Europe (and even there budget problems are becoming severe). Beginning around 1960, the role
of patron to the "serious new-music" scene was largely taken over by universities; ever since then, some of the country's most acclaimed (noncommercial) composers have ended up conducting their own works, or having them conducted by colleagues, under excellent performing conditions, and free of the need to cultivate wealthy amateurs, but before minuscule audiences. (A frequent remark about such new-music concerts, sometimes told as a joke but also sometimes a painful fact, has it that "last night there were more players on stage than listeners in the seats.") Finally, art music (like poetry, serious novels, art films, experimental theater, and so on) has to compete with an expanding commercial entertainment industry, including rock, MTV, and Hollywood films; indeed, the performing arts, and music perhaps most of all, face a further electronic competitor that, android-like, carries their own face: technically perfect recorded performances of "the real thing," playable on equipment at home.
All of these points deserve extended discussion. I shall confine myself to the very last—the challenge of the electronic facsimile—because it has otherwise gone almost entirely unaddressed in the book. Musicians, music administrators, critics, educators, and music lovers have recently been wondering aloud how one can most persuasively argue the cultural necessity of "live" concerts and of participatory music making in an age when compact disc and videocassette can bring Luciano Pavarotti, Kathleen Battle, and even the late Andrés Segovia into our living rooms. I do not know the answer to this question myself. Perhaps I should say "the answers" (in the plural), given that different kinds of arguments are likely to be more or less persuasive with different kinds of individuals (the various potential listeners to and patrons and institutional supporters of art music or whatever one calls it). Surely, one crucial argument—perhaps our Exhibit A—should be the special, participatory, social character of "live" concerts and opera. Anyone who has experienced the difference between repertory theater, say, and the movies—or between being part of the audience at a rock concert and listening to a tape cassette—will instantly appreciate how potent live events (at their best) can be. This power arises largely from a few simple but transforming facts: real people are making an infinite number of crucial little decisions in "real time" on the stage, the audience knows this and thus feels involved, and, often if not always, the performers reflect, in those split-second decisions, the impulses that they are receiving back from the audience to whom, and with whom, they are "playing."
Concerts, in short, are a special and, at least at times, highly interactive "moment" in our culture. Nonetheless, it is becoming increasingly unclear how we can keep professional concerts of art music viable (in the face of shrinking government support), while still paying musicians a decent and steady wage. I should stress that I am speaking not just about imperiled symphony orchestras (the subject of many newspaper and magazine articles these days) but more generally about all the institutions that enable the music of "serious" composers, female and male, those of the past and the future, to be publicly heard. Admittedly, professional string-quartet and brass-quintet concerts, at least on college campuses, seem to be more frequent
than at almost any time in America's history, and opera, of course, is experiencing an undeniable resurgence. But it is becoming hard to remember that not so many decades ago the Sunday-afternoon piano recital by a traveling virtuoso and the song-and-aria evening by a visiting diva were fixtures of the American cultural landscape, as was the family piano (much used—not coincidentally—for these very two just-mentioned activities: playing the piano repertoire and accompanying the singing of songs and arias).
On the positive side, the media can also be used to stimulate audience interest, as the recent rise in opera attendance seems to suggest, another instance being Martha Hyder's aforementioned media-savvy restructuring of the Van Cliburn Competition. Betty Freeman is fully aware of the need to use the media to promote the composers she cares about and so has produced a film about Harry Partch (The Dreamer That Remains ) and recordings of Lou Harrison (the Piano Concerto, performed by Keith Jarrett), Henry Brant, John Cage, Daniel Lentz, Mel Powell, Steve Reich, Virgil Thomson, and others; she has also put together a traveling exhibit of her photographs of composers from many countries. These are new forms of patronage or activism, far removed from earlier forms based on the model of domestic nurture and that of networking among extended family and friends. But musicians and music lovers have risen to all sorts of challenges before, in order to establish and maintain the art that brings so much meaning into their lives and those of others. Who would dare predict the shapes musical patronage will take in the coming century?
Indeed, the very challenges of modern life and the electronic media make private patronage of music perhaps more needed than ever. Such a statement assumes, to be sure, that such aspects of musical life as concerts of Monteverdi, Schumann, and Stravinsky, or, for that matter, Amy Beach, Samuel Barber, Dominick Argento, Olly Wilson, and Joan Tower, are indeed worth keeping alive. This is a matter that an individual scholar can hope to influence but that, finally, the American citizenry as a whole (i.e., we) will make the final decision on—as we shall also decide whether we want to pay for good schools in all communities and for equitably delivered health care.
Whatever we do decide, it is worth noting that, according to sociologists, women today continue to volunteer their time and effort (for a wide range of causes) far more than men of similar means do. Thus the one prediction that I shall offer in closing is that America's "art-music" life—if there are to be more chapters to it of any significance—will remain closely intertwined (for better or for worse, as it has been for more than a century) with the ever-changing and increasingly diverse lives of substantial numbers of American women.