Preferred Citation: Locke, Ralph P., and Cyrilla Barr, editors Cultivating Music in America: Women Patrons and Activists since 1860. Berkeley, Calif:  University of California Press,  c1997 1997.


Cultivating Music in America

Women Patrons and Activists since 1860

Edited by
Ralph P. Locke and Cyrilla Barr

Berkeley · Los Angeles · Oxford
© 1997 The Regents of the University of California

Preferred Citation: Locke, Ralph P., and Cyrilla Barr, editors Cultivating Music in America: Women Patrons and Activists since 1860. Berkeley, Calif:  University of California Press,  c1997 1997.



We, the two editors, began our work on this project separately, each toiling for several years, amid other endeavors, at a study of a given woman patron (the subjects of Chapters 3 and 6) and each feeling repeated frustration that there was no large study of women's patronage of art music in America to consult. Finally, we learned of each other's existence, exchanged manuscripts and tales of woe, and decided to try to put together something like that phantom larger study. No sooner had we breathed word of our plan to the scholarly community than one contributor after another came forward with marvelous chapters and documentary vignettes.

The shape of the book that resulted is explained toward the end of our Introduction. Here let us simply acknowledge the encouragement and support we have received along the way from all the contributors (who responded promptly and thoughtfully to our sometimes insistent requests), as well as from the confidential readers secured by the University of California Press: a cultural historian, a social historian, and two musicologists. We particularly wish to thank various kindly advisors: These included, at the very outset, Ruth A. Solie and Joseph Kerman and, at somewhat later stages, Dena Epstein, Adrienne Fried Block, Alfred Mann, Nancy B. Reich, Kerala J. Snyder, and Judith Tick. Doris Kretschmer, Peter Dreyer, Paul Psoinos, and Cindy Fulton were understanding editors throughout the process, and Lee Brentlinger prepared the index with care and insight.

On a more personal note, Ralph Locke wishes to dedicate his part of this project, with love, to Lona M. Farhi and to Marti and Susannah Locke, and to thank his parents, Doris Locke and the late Merle I. Locke, for support and encouragement early on. Cyrilla Barr dedicates her part of the project to the memory of her parents, her own first Keepers of Musical Culture.



Music Patronage As a "Female-Centered Cultural Process"

Ralph P. Locke and Cyrilla Barr

The various authors of the present collective work would most likely cheer the insightful agenda that the composer and critic David Schiff proposed in the New Republic just as we were all finishing our chapters. Certainly, his words delighted the two editors, who now gladly offer the finished book as one response to Schiff's wide-ranging call:

Until recently, of course, women have played very little part in [music] composition. . . . But women have long played a great role in performance, patronage, and pedagogy. Imagine twentieth-century music without [the harpsichordist] Wanda Landowska, [the composition teacher] Nadia Boulanger, [such patrons as] the Princesse de Polignac, Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge and Betty Freeman, [or the professors of piano and violin, respectively,] Rosina Lhévinne and Dorothy DeLay. If performers were given their rightful place in the history of music, it could easily be shown that [Maria] Callas exerted a far greater influence on the course of opera in the past forty years than any composer did. Might not feminist musicology profitably shift the focus away from a male-controlled cultural product to a female-centered cultural process, and celebrate these areas of real feminine dominance? Our notion of music would be appropriately challenged and enriched.[1]

Throughout the world and throughout history, women have been intensely involved in the consumption and (to varying extents) production of music.[2] This was certainly the case for Western art music in late-nineteenth- and twentieth-century America, the primary focus of this book.

A terminological aside may help here. What we call "Western art music" is essentially equivalent to what is often called "classical" music. It is characterized in part by its reliance on written musical texts—composed scores—that are highly prescriptive of the notes to be played and how to play them, far more so than tends to be the case with jazz or folk or popular music. The terms "art music" and

Some of the material written by Ralph P. Locke in this Introduction first appeared in an earlier form in his overview article, "Paradoxes of the Woman Music Patron in America," Musical Quarterly 78 (1994): 798–825. Some of the issues raised here are explored further in his "Women in American Musical Life: Facts and Questions about Patronage," repercussions 3, no. 2 (Fall 1994): 81–95, and 4, no. 1 (Spring 1995): 102. Besides the people thanked in the Acknowledgments, the authors would like to thank Philip Carli, Jean Pedersen, and Joan Shelley Rubin for pointing us to unsuspected sources or suggesting interpretive possibilities.


"classical music" are not unproblematic, but neither are any of the usual alternatives—for example, "serious," "concert," or "cultivated" music.[3] Nonetheless, in part for reasons of convenience, some of the studies in this volume invoke one or more of these terms, or else simply refer to "music," "music students," "music lovers," and the like. The intended meaning is usually clear from context, just as it is when a rock fan refers—without further qualification—to his or her love of "music."[4]

Singing and playing art music, and listening to such music being sung and played, were widely regarded in America as activities primarily suited to women and children (especially girls), with the significant exception that only men, generally, were permitted to make music professionally.[5] By the early twentieth century, a male musician could moan in embarrassment that "eighty-five per cent of the music students are girls; seventy-five per cent (at least) of the concert audiences are women, and even the promoting and managing of musical enterprises is getting more and more into their hands."[6] But, as Schiff correctly notes, serious studies of female involvement in Western art music have tended to focus on composition, an area of musical activity from which women have until very recently been (and still to some extent are) systematically excluded and discouraged, not least by being denied proper training, performance opportunities, salaried positions, and commissions.

Recent scholarship has succeeded in recovering the works and reexamining the sometimes conflict-ridden careers of a whole host of able and even remarkable women composers, from Hildegarde von Bingen in medieval Germany and Barbara Strozzi in Renaissance Italy, through Clara Schumann in Romantic-era Germany and Ruth Crawford in mid-twentieth-century America, to such prominent figures of today's musical life as Russia's Sofia Gubaïdulina and the Pulitzer Prize-winner Ellen Taafe Zwilich. Schiff, although presumably not wishing to minimize such compositional achievements (or the scholarly efforts that have made many of them known), draws attention to three other areas of music in which European and American women have been relatively more active and prominent in the past two centuries, areas that we might call the three p 's: performance, pedagogy, and patronage.

The performers, fortunately, are beginning to get their due in the written record (to the extent that they have not taken care of the task themselves, through autobiography), and so is the occasional pedagogue.[7] This, oddly, leaves patrons as the least explored category of women participants in Western art music since around 1800.[8] We say "oddly," for the woman patron is widely recognized enough to have become the butt of jokes and parodies galore.[9] Furthermore, many of the women who were active as patrons—as tillers of musical soil—were not particularly obscure or self-effacing. Some, such as Coolidge and Polignac, even left extensive paper trails, which interested scholars might productively follow. As for those patrons alive and at plow today, many—Betty Freeman, for one—are willing to reflect publicly (if asked in a congenial spirit) upon their efforts, successes, and disappointments.


Touchy Topics:
Money and Woman's Role

The story, or big parts of it, can be told, as it can be and is now being told also in artistic fields other than music.[10] That it has not been told is the result, in part, of twin biases prevailing within the discipline of musicology and, more generally, within Western academic and "high-culture" circles.

In the first place, what philosophers might call the "idealist" conception of the work of art leads us to focus primarily on a small number of canonical masterpieces, to view them as, in some degree, transcendent, and to isolate them from the material—human and societal—contexts in which they were and are produced and diffused. Secondly, to the extent that we do try to place a given musical work in its social context, a deeply rooted "individualism"—a belief that artistic creativity is primarily a matter of individual genius—leads us to seek this context within the career and creative output of one person, the composer. A Mozart piano sonata, Mendelssohn's string octet, Ives's The Unanswered Question , Ruth Crawford Seeger's string quartet, Arvo Pärt's Fratres —each is viewed mainly or even solely as the manifestation of one individual's exceptional musical gifts, expressive drive, and personality. Less often, in contrast, are we encouraged to think in some detail about the different ways in which other members of the social body—the professional or amateur performer, the patron, the music educator, the critic, and the audience member or compact-disc purchaser—experience and influence music. All these individuals play essential roles in the musical life of a given place and time, enabling as they do the creation—and the continued, meaningful existence, in performance and interpretation—of those great musical works that we are taught to admire and love. Indeed, they could be said to "make music," in the sense that they make music possible, whether or not they actually set notes on paper, or strike bow against string.[11]

Why then does the very existence of these various music makers sometimes go unremarked? In the case of the patron, at least, one reason is surely that this music "maker" tends to be a woman. A sadly reliable pair of feminist truisms holds that any work that is socially undervalued (e.g., childrearing, primary education, housework, patient care) will be assigned to women and that, conversely, any work that women do will be socially undervalued (scorned, underpaid, taken for granted) and, in the historical record, rendered to some extent invisible. Work in libraries, kitchens, and hospitals tends to garner acclaim, and decent pay, only when carried out by high-ranking men (e.g., famous chefs); music patronage, similarly, gets reported and discussed much more when the patron is a Henry (Lee Higginson), Otto (Kahn), or Paul (Fromm) rather than a Jeannette (Thurber), Elizabeth (Sprague Coolidge), or Minnie (S. Guggenheimer).[12]

But, even in recent writings sympathetic to the variety of roles that women can play in music, the woman patron is rarely mentioned. Here the explanation may be that the woman patron does not match certain current feminist ideals, based as they are on the (laudable) goal of achieving public recognition and financial and professional parity with men. The Musical Woman , that fascinating, yearbooklike


compendium of lists and essays documenting women's work in music (primarily today and in the recent past), has been rightly praised for its "earnest eclecticism," which one reviewer admitted to finding "moving."[13] Upon closer examination, though, one realizes that the editors of The Musical Woman do not offer all "musical women" an embracing welcome.[14] The focus is almost entirely on women who have achieved, or are still striving to achieve, high status and visibility, preferably as full-time professionals: composers, conductors, performers, and college professors. Public-school music teachers do not get much attention in the series, an unfortunate omission. After all, the band, orchestra, Orff-instrument, chorus, and musical-theater programs that these teachers lead provide many Americans with a rare opportunity to be involved in (as children) and to witness (as parents) "live," participatory music making. In addition, such programs often offer people their only direct contact with even a stripped-down version of the Western art-music repertoire.[15] Similarly, these schoolteachers' "general music" classes offer the only exposure that many will ever get to what is for better or worse called "music appreciation."[16]

Even less noted in The Musical Woman are other groups of music teachers: those who earn "part-time" incomes running after-school piano or voice studios in their homes, and those who train vocal and handbell choirs or lead children's singing groups in churches and synagogues (often for low pay or none at all).[17] As for patrons and other musical activists, there has been little beside an article on Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge in the massive first three volumes of The Musical Woman . Coolidge is, of course, safely dead, and in any case, she was clearly a "musical woman," since she played the piano before audiences and took her composing seriously. One wonders whether we have reached the point where a woman cannot be called "musical" if she has never learned to play an instrument or read a score, however much she may help, say, to keep a chamber-music series afloat, or even to steer its policies and repertoire.[18]

One way or the other, then, the woman patron of Western art music in America tends to get ignored (or—as we shall repeatedly see—condescended to or smartly reproached)[19] on account of her gender, whether because she is a woman doing "woman's work" or because she does not fit the profile of the "new" or professional woman. In most writings on musical life, though, she gets neglected for a reason even simpler and sometimes more powerful than gender: her connection with money. Patronage, whether by women or men, often involves handing over cash to musicians, directly or indirectly, and many people who hold a somewhat worshipful attitude toward the works of the "classical" canon—an attitude that tends to result from the idealism mentioned earlier—feel that any mention of money distracts (or even detracts) from the cherished qualities of the object of their veneration. What they may not realize (perhaps because the issue is not often raised by music journalists, college music-appreciation teachers, and others in a good position to educate the public) is that any art that is highly professional and technically refined requires a solid financial base and a well-organized system of


dissemination, whether the artistic "product," as Schiff calls it, be a concerto, a play, or a book of short stories. Indeed, the way in which a performing art, especially, is funded affects the repertoire that gets performed and the way that that repertoire is marketed to the public, a point illustrated repeatedly in this book.

Exactly how patronage operates is, as has recently been said of American philanthropy generally, difficult to describe, because the interests of the various participating parties and constituencies are so various and their interrelationships at times idiosyncratic.[20] But there can be no doubt about the centrality of economic issues to the healthy existence of such institutions as symphony orchestras, opera companies, or professional and community music schools. Many of the women described in the following chapters knew this. They shared today's veneration of Bach's or Mozart's or Wagner's or Copland's music, yet they dealt frankly—more frankly, indeed, than scholars have tended to do!—with such hard-nosed financial tasks as improving the composer's and performer's earning power or building for the community a well-constructed concert hall with comfortable seats and good acoustics.

In any case, money is only one ingredient—and, as our studies show, not always the most important or the hardest to attain—in the recipe that leads to effective and inspired music patronage. The same can be said of patronage of the other arts, especially modern art and dance.[21] (This similarity is not surprising, given that patrons have often been active in several artistic areas; we might mention Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and Betty Freeman, both treated in the present book, but also a major male patron, Lincoln Kirstein.)[22] Precisely because the stigmas of money, privilege, and condescension tend to hang over such words as "patronage" and "patron" (and even more over "patroness"), several of the contributors to this book speak instead, at times, of "musical activism," by analogy to the social and community activism that has engaged the creative energies of so many American women of means, from Jane Addams of Hull House to Brooke Astor.[23] Money, privilege, and even the snobbishness of certain "patronesses" do play a part in some of the stories we tell, but so do such things as hard work, clear thinking, networking,[24] self-sacrifice, and a devotion to making life rich in ways that bank accounts may assist but cannot measure.

The Boundaries of This Book

The role of patronage in "classical music" (Western art music) is a large, unwieldy phenomenon, subject to the diverse encouraging and hindering pressures of place and time, gender and class, race and religion. In the hope of shaping a coherent book, we (the two editors, speaking for ourselves for the next while, rather than for all contributors to the book) made three early decisions to help delimit this vast subject, all apparent in the book's title and subtitle: (1) it would deal primarily with women rather than men; (2) it would deal (for the most part) with people who volunteered their time, efforts, and funds, rather than with professional musicians, administrators, and the like; and (3) it would focus on the American scene rather than try to deal with several different countries.


The first two of these self-imposed restrictions are closely intertwined and need to be discussed together, at some length. (The restriction to America will be treated afterward.) We chose to focus not just on women but on women patrons (and women volunteers), in large part because we wished to help redress two striking imbalances in the historical record (taken in its widest sense to include newspaper accounts and the like). The first imbalance derives from the professional/amateur dichotomy that structures cultural and artistic life in the modern age. Certain of the professional musicians and impresarios who, in the course of their (sometimes well-paid) careers, built or sustained the nation's leading musical institutions have had their story told, or have told it themselves, admittedly in versions that are often highly selective or one-sided. (The list includes, among others, Theodore Thomas, Oscar Hammerstein I [father of the Broadway lyricist], the Damrosch dynasty, Olga Samaroff, Arthur Judson, Sol Hurok, Rudolph Bing, Sarah Caldwell, and Gian Carlo Menotti.) We have, though, encouraged the authors to blur the line between the amateur and what we might call the "low-status professional"—for example, the high-school music teacher or community choral director—if that might prove helpful (especially in Chapter 7). Certain of the authors also problematize the very dichotomy between the two terms "amateur" and "professional," as in Chapters 9 and 10.

The second imbalance in the historical record that distressed us seems rooted even more explicitly in gender. The story of the male patron, we noted earlier, has often been told to the exclusion of that of his female equivalent. As with the professional musicians just mentioned, this does not mean that all has been said. Male patrons clearly deserve further study: surely there were complex gender implications in a man's involving himself—especially not for pay—in a cultural activity then regarded as highly feminine.[25] The present book may help point in that direction by evoking at times, mainly for comparison or contrast, the work of Higginson and other male activists in music, and by giving at least glancing attention to a few supportive husbands. These include Henry Drinker, who was himself—as appears in Chapter 9 and Vignette J—a capable and scholarly musician unrestrainedly devoted to cultivating performance in the home. (On the interchapter vignettes, generally, see the section below on our book's structure.) Indeed, we might note that the social history of the arts provides striking support for the recent contention of Joan Wallach Scott and others that simple claims of male and female "cultures" or "spheres of activity" must give way to more complex explorations of gender as the site of ongoing contestation and resistance.[26]

This book, in short, aims to take women patrons seriously both as women and as patrons. In order to give the book some chance at depth, we (the editors) added a third restriction, as noted above: it would deal only with women patrons in the United States . Patrons who were active in other countries are therefore not discussed, not even the remarkably influential one whom David Schiff mentions in the passage quoted earlier: Princess Edmond de Polignac, née Winaretta Singer, who, although heir to the Singer sewing-machine fortune, was raised in Paris and


functioned as patron almost entirely in that city.[27] But Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge and Betty Freeman, both of whom Schiff mentions, are treated here (in their own words even), as are many other influential and distinctive American patrons, including Isabella Stewart Gardner, Jeannette Thurber, Harriet Gibbs Marshall, Sophie Drinker, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, and Clare Reis. Some are portrayed in detail; others are discussed or quoted more briefly as instances of larger trends. But each amply deserves the scholarly attention that she receives here.

Still others, we should stress, could easily have been included, such as Eleanor Robson (Mrs. August) Belmont, who founded the Metropolitan Opera Guild, Elise Boyer Hall (of Boston), who commissioned works for saxophone from Debussy and others, the Nebraska-born Gertrude Clark Whittall, who contributed five Stradivarius instruments to the Library of Congress and endowed the concert series in which they have been used ever since, Mary Louise Curtis Bok (who founded the Curtis Institute), Ima Hogg (who spearheaded the founding of the Houston Symphony and served as president of the board of trustees for twelve years), Marjorie Merriweather Post (who gave more than a million dollars to the National Symphony in Washington, D.C.), Louise M. Davies (who gave $5 million toward the construction of the hall the San Francisco Symphony plays in and another $3 million to the orchestra's endowment fund), Catherine Filene Shouse (the founder of the Wolf Trap national park and summer festival), Alice Tully (of New York), or the less well-known women in cities across the country (e.g., Minneapolis) whose work is only now being uncovered.[28] And another book entirely could be devoted to the women who did much to foster ballet and modern dance in the United States, whether through direct creative involvement (notably as choreographers and leading dancers), public lecturing, financial contributions (or personal and financial sacrifices), organizational work, or some combination of these. There is a major musical component to the story of dance in the United States: companies such as Martha Graham's, Laura Dean's, and Ballet Theatre (directed by Lucia Chase) have provided a base of operations and source of commissions for American composers (whether native or foreign-born) in the early stages of their careers, such as Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Gian Carlo Menotti, Halim El-Dabh, and, more recently, Steve Reich.

In deciding whom to include in our book, we were, to some extent, drawn to women for whom documentary evidence was plentiful or accessible. But we were also guided by the desire to present as diverse and representative a panorama as possible within the limitations we had set ourselves: Coolidge can to some extent stand for Whittall, despite the striking differences that observers such as Joseph Kerman have noted between their approaches to the support of chamber music.[29] In addition, we felt that the book might reveal more about the problem of women's patronage if it sacrificed comprehensiveness and examined a relatively small number of cases in greater depth. Nonetheless, Chapters 1, 2 and 10, especially, and those documentary "vignettes" that present women not treated in the


chapters proper, may nonetheless help suggest how widespread and energetic the phenomenon of women's patronage in music was and is.

Naming Her:
"Patron," "Activist," "Volunteer Worker"?

No one term suffices to describe all the women to be discussed in this book, and no available term, whether or not traditionally used by the women themselves, is free of evaluative connotations. "Patron" and "patroness" were once honorifics: Baroque-era musicians, in their dedicatory prefaces, often placed the patron just above the creative artist and just below Orpheus and the muses.[30] Today, in contrast, the terms often carry echoes of excessive privilege (not to speak of the awkwardness of referring to women by a term deriving from pater ). Still, the editors and the contributors do not hesitate to use "patron" (although rarely "patroness"). "Activist" is the editors' current favorite; this book may be among the first to use it regularly in a musical context. "Volunteer" or "volunteer worker" is more often heard in regard to music, but it does not seem broad enough to include women who made primarily monetary contributions. Like "activist," though, it has the advantage of emphasizing a woman's agency—in this case, work done of her own free will, voluntas . It also helpfully suggests a link between women's work on behalf of music, on the one hand, and volunteer work in other areas, including what is sometimes called "social feminism": women organizing, without pay, to cure the ills of society, save the "fallen," comfort the poor, and so on.[31] Lori D. Ginzberg nicely incorporates the word "work" into the title of her recent book on such organizations of unpaid "social housekeepers" (as they were also sometimes known) in the United States: Women and the Work of Benevolence .[32] Seen this way, volunteering in music often amounts to unpaid labor—ranging from clerical to fully managerial and executive—in such fields as arts administration, marketing, and public relations.

But the word "volunteer" also carries a taint. "Volunteering was [and is] hardly a daring choice for modern American women," states Wendy Kaminer in her thoughtful book on the whole range of unpaid women workers (ranging from "candy stripers" in hospitals to antiwar activists).[33] In the musical arena, too, volunteer work is sometimes viewed as too easy a compromise with the patriarchal system, in that it gives a woman an outlet for her energies and talents but without, as feminist critics rightly stress, granting her the legal and financial benefits, and the "strong, new, autonomous identity" (as Kaminer puts it) of a real, paying job, and of course also without the attendant risks and pressures that come with seeking and holding that job.[34]

When one thinks about it, though, this argument is odd, or at least rather onesided (as Kaminer implies elsewhere in her book). Is it less courageous to contribute one's time and money than to be paid, as a modern arts administrator would be, to do the same kind of work? Surely these are just two different ways—and not the only two—of mobilizing societal energies for a project of some


difficulty and importance. Music is, after all, not unique: whole sectors of American society rely on volunteer workers—many of them (and in some situations most or all of them) women—if they are to function well, or function at all: one thinks of town councils and homeless shelters; libraries, literacy volunteers, and public schools; hospitals, blood-donor programs, hospices, suicide hotlines, and AIDS counseling centers; and scouting organizations, places of worship, political parties, and the whole range of issue-oriented activist organizations.[35] There are even mayors of decent-sized cities (such as Portland, Maine) who receive no pay or a minimal honorarium, and many of these, too, are women. Much important work goes unremunerated, but as an aged alumna at a Smith College reunion noted, "Someone has to do it."[36] And, given that U.S. government, at its various levels, has been relatively unsupportive of the arts (in contrast, especially, to the levels of support in Europe), that "someone" who "has to do" the job will as often as not have to be a volunteer, and more often than not is a woman.

The editors, it should be stressed, do not pretend to be pleased with this arrangement. But this book is primarily about real life; it is not, except at certain explicit moments or, more often, between the lines, about the various contributors' visions of how life—and musical life—ideally should be arranged. (An exception to this rule is the sustainedly interpretive concluding chapter, written by one of the editors alone.)

The Gendered Distortions of History

The present book, as we have already suggested, presents an argument, and evidence for that argument. It focuses on middle- and upper-class women patrons in order to demonstrate that they, taken together, formed and still form the predominant population of activists for and organizers of concert music and opera in the United States. We say this in full realization that individual men of means, such as Otto Kahn, have given millions to institutions such as the Metropolitan Opera. But, for a century now, American women have outnumbered men in music patronage ten or a hundred times over.[37] Since most of them were and are less wealthy than Kahn was, they have tended to achieve results that are quite different from those associated with male patrons, or at least they have, in working toward similar goals to those of the men, developed distinctive working patterns, notably (as we shall see over and over) more collective ones.[38] This, we quickly point out, is not to deny the diversity of patronage styles among women: for example, individual women of great wealth tended to go it alone (like their male equivalents) as patrons; and music-loving African-American women focused their energies on creating institutional structures that responded to the distinct needs and tapped the resources (e.g., the churches) of the African-American community (see Chapter 7).

The varied stories told here, and the many other stories that they, for lack of space, must "stand for," constitute a sturdy structural cord in the tapestry of


American music history. We say "cord," because this work was to a large extent intended to remain invisible, a support for the artistic work on the surface. Still, structural support needs to be recognized, if only in the scholarly literature. And yet, women's patronage has, until recently, gone nearly unmentioned in most standard texts and reference works, and its nature and extent have been insufficiently explored, much less thoughtfully theorized. This "distortion of omission" (as we might call it) concerning women patrons disfigures several of the otherwise most reliable histories of American music; it is even apparent, although to a lesser extent, in that model of scholarly thoroughness and insight, the recent New Grove Dictionary of American Music .[39] Earlier we noted that scholars are generally hesitant to deal frankly with questions of money; as Richard Crawford puts it, the large topics of "institutions and economic arrangements" in American music "have been left in the dark by musicologists."[40] But women patrons have been more consistently ignored, for reasons suggested earlier; and in the case of patrons who are both women and African-Americans the distortion of omission has been compounded by most musicologists' lack of familiarity with such basic historical sources as African-American newspapers.

The distortion of omission is one way in which those who construct the historical record silence or erase, however inadvertently or unconsciously, what does not fit the prevailing paradigm or myth—namely, here, male domination of the "creative" realm of human activity. Indeed, we might note that this myth is particularly misleading in regard to the place of the arts (including music) in American society, given that the arts—love of them, skill in them, except when carried out as a profession—were long assigned to the woman's realm and therefore prized as, precisely, feminine accomplishments.

There is another way in which evidence that does not neatly fit a paradigm gets silenced or erased; we might call this the "distortion of substitution." Pamela J. Perry, in a recent dissertation on music in Connecticut, has detailed several major cases in which "men were credited [in newspapers and books] with progress or success actually resulting from the initiative and benefaction" of their wives and other women, thereby polluting the historical record (although, thanks to Perry's efforts, not irreversibly); a recent study by Catherine Parsons Smith similarly demonstrates that the early stages of the founding of the Hollywood Bowl, shaped mainly by women, have been systematically disregarded by chroniclers and historians in favor of the later ones, in which men took over the lead.[41]

The lack of easily available and reliable information about patronage of music and art shows in writings of more general import. Biographers and scholars have often failed to reconstruct in its full richness and contradictions the life of the early-twentieth-century middle- and upper-class woman; for to leave out, or pass over quickly as inessential, the art on her walls and the concerts she mounted at home (or helped establish in larger and more public venues) is to veil from sight the activities and engagements through which she often assumed her most nondomestic, most publicly influential (if not always publicly acknowledged) role. The


developments reported and studied here will thus need to find their rightful place not only in music history, as noted earlier, but also in the larger tapestries of American social and cultural history and American women's history.

The Structure of This Book:
Trends, Individuals, and Documentary "Vignettes"

The essays in this collection, we have said, cannot pretend to offer a fully comprehensive study of the topic. Taken together, though, they treat it in a manner that, the editors hope, is representative, intellectually challenging, and well grounded historically and theoretically. Five chapters study groups and trends (Chapters 1 and 10, which both offer broad overviews, although of different kinds, plus Chapters 2, 5, and 7), four chapters examine in closer detail the patronage work of a particularly active individual woman (Chapters 3, 4, 6, 9), and one (Chapter 8) falls somewhere between the two types, in that it discusses four individuals in moderate detail.

Among the major developments studied in one or more of the "trends" chapters are the concert-sponsoring activities of women's music clubs and women impresarios (Chapters 2 and 7) and women's founding and support of symphony orchestras (Chapters 2 and 5). Chapters 5, 6, 8, and 10 (as well as several of the documentary vignettes) shed some light on the phenomenon—often seen, even today, as surprising, paradoxical, or ludicrous—of wealthy women supporting composers of challenging and often-dissonant "modern music," whether "modern" would, depending on the period in question, have been taken to mean Wagner, Strauss, and Debussy (around 1900), Bartók and Henry Cowell (in the 1920s), or Mel Powell and John Adams (in our own day). That the names just mentioned are all male is not accidental: the frequent (although not total) lack of support for women composers by female (and of course by male) patrons throughout the period under study will also be addressed at several points, as will public reactions to and images of women's musical activism (beyond the "modern music" issue just noted). In addition, various of the essays illustrate how women's musical patronage meshes with, or contradicts, the broad explanatory schemes of such cultural and social historians and sociologists as Ann Douglas, Paul DiMaggio, Kathleen D. McCarthy, Lawrence W. Levine, and Anne Firor Scott.

The four "individuals" treated at length are Isabella Stewart Gardner, the art collector whose Boston home, now the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, once contained a high-ceilinged concert hall that could seat three hundred listeners (Chapter 3);[42] Jeannette Thurber, the woman who brought Antonín Dvorak[*] to America to head the National Conservatory (Chapter 4); Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, the pianist, composer, and patron who endowed the Coolidge Foundation, donated the Coolidge Auditorium to the Library of Congress, and commissioned many works from important composers such as Bartók, Copland, and Stravinsky (Chapter 6); and Sophie Drinker, the author of Music and Women (1948), whose organizational activities in music reflected her strongly held views about


women's special gift for musical self-expression and women's rights generally (which mingled oddly—or perhaps not so oddly, after all—with her general political and cultural conservatism: see Chapter 9).

Throughout the book there will be, by intention, much overlap between "trends" and "individuals": the trend chapters, being based largely on documentary evidence, regularly mention the contributions of various individuals; and the four individuals chosen for chapter-length discussion represent important larger developments, including some not discussed in the more broadly focused chapters.

In addition, several larger issues are raised repeatedly throughout the book, although they are not highlighted in any one chapter:

1. Conflicting and changing attitudes toward the proper spheres of activity for middle- and upper-class women and men (including, for women, certain alternatives to—or extensions of—domesticity, such as voluntarism and "social feminism").

2. The intertwined factors of social class, race, ethnicity, and geographical location (east/west, town/city).

3. A specific aspect of point (2): the wide range of ideological and political investments that could motivate music patronage, including various forms of patriotism and nationalism (especially in wartime), but also (near the left end of the political spectrum) the Progressive-inspired desire to educate and empower immigrants and working people, and (at the opposite end) the arch-conservative program of constructing highly elitist and socially (racially, religiously) exclusive cultural institutions, such as the nation's opera houses around 1900.

4. The tendency of "serious" American music lovers to devote their energies to dissemination of the canonical works of European musical culture and to resist American music (including much American "art" music but also vernacular genres such as musical comedy, spirituals, and jazz).

5. The functions that musical patronage has fulfilled in women's lives, including the ways in which it has been altered by society's increasing willingness, especially in recent decades, to permit women to study music in all its aspects, perform publicly, and pursue the full range of professional careers in music.

The book's conclusion (Chapter 10) is devoted to a more thoroughgoing and frankly personal discussion, by one of the editors, of certain issues broached earlier, especially in the present Introduction and in Chapters 1, 2, 5, and 9. Some recent scholarly discussions of the "sacralization" of music in turn-of-the-century America, and the role played by patrons (whether male or female) in that process, are challenged, as are various widespread prejudices and misconceptions about the phenomenon of the woman patron of music. Recent changes in patterns of patronage, finally, are briefly addressed, especially those relating to the new conditions of musical life that have arisen with the growth of the electronic media.


As interludelike vignettes between the chapters, we include some particularly revealing (and annotated) unpublished or "lost" documents that provide a direct glimpse into various aspects of musical life and patronage. Each vignette that directly follows a chapter (i.e., Vignettes C, D, G, I, and J) relates to that chapter. When two or more vignettes are grouped together, the second or later ones serve as "further cases," often introducing patrons whose work illustrates some aspect not otherwise discussed, or treated only briefly, elsewhere in the book. Vignettes A and B are rather special, in that they together "frame" the time period to be covered in the book—from the 1860s or even, briefly, the 1830s up to the present day—and together hint at the variety of women's ways of working for music in America. Finally, many of the vignettes have the added advantage of allowing the voice of a given patron (whether or not she also has her own chapter) to be heard with relatively little editorial mediation.

The book is organized in roughly chronological sequence, although the chronology is tempered by certain connections of subject matter and complicated by the long life span and continuing patronage of some of the patrons here discussed, such as Coolidge. (Whether patrons are referred to as "Mrs." or by last or first or full name has been left to the discretion of the individual contributors.)[43] In any case, we as editors have tried to make sure that each chapter can stand independently of the others. We look forward to this book being used by readers who may come from women's history, American studies, or other fields outside of music.

Throughout the book, all of the authors, even in the chapters concerned with larger trends, have, with our encouragement, anchored the discussion by referring to specific cases and archival documents. Many previously unpublished or nearly inaccessible sources of information have been consulted (e.g., letters, diaries, local newspapers), greatly reducing the need to rely on hoary generalizations or impressionistic observations. At the same time, though, we (the editors) do not advocate holding back from the task of interpreting the phenomena here uncovered. To begin with, the very process of selecting, summarizing, and arranging historical data is inevitably guided by the scholar's particular aims and by the audience being addressed. Beyond that, though, a study of this sort calls for the scholar, or so it seems to us, to enter imaginatively into the lives of the historical actors under discussion. This should not imply some sort of sentimental fusion between past (however distant or recent) and present, between historical "material" and historian; rather, it requires a perpetual and, we hope, creative tension—a constant corrective interplay—between evidence and interpretation. Our authors here face and also sometimes explicitly address the challenge of striking a dynamic balance—again, one must not imagine finding the perfect, static middle point—between, on the one hand, doing justice to the ways that women's work in music was perceived by the women themselves and their contemporaries and, on the other hand, submitting such testimonies to a more searching critique informed by, say, feminist and cultural theory (enriched, at times, by commonsense insight into basic human motivation and group dynamics). In particular, we feel, the historian


(and, in turn, the reader) should be wary of various stereotypical and demonstrably inadequate ways of depicting the woman patron: for example, as a selfless heroine battling overwhelming odds, or (the polar opposite) as a silly overprivileged dabbler. This problem of "reading" the patron will, as noted earlier, receive fuller discussion in Chapters 1, 2, 5, 9, and 10.

A Resembling Portrait?

What, one might well ask, would the patrons and activists themselves say (or have said) about the stories that we (the various authors) have constructed in this book? That, alas, is something we for the most part cannot know. But we have tried to let their own voices be heard more or less unmediated at various points in the chapters and, of course, in the vignettes, always remembering, though, that, as Carolyn G. Heilbrun puts it, women's writings (and interviews) about their own lives are often constrained by "the bonds of womanly attitudes."[44]

But then, there is also no saying that these women's perceptions—even if we could know them in their fullness—ought to outweigh the views presented by the authors here. When Virgil Thomson composed a sonata-portrait of Peggy Guggenheim, she found it "not in the least resembling," yet the possibility exists that Thomson saw something in her as she sat before him in a chair (his usual way of doing a person's musical portrait)—reading, as it happens, his perceptive little sociological essay The State of Music —that simply differed from the image of herself that she preferred to project. Thomson knew and appreciated the contributions that women of means could make to the arts and not least to music. A large number of his 147 musical "portraits" of friends and associates are of women who were patrons, arts organizers, hostesses, or wives of gallery owners, although his verbal descriptions of the sitters (when they exist) make it difficult to know where to draw the line between a rich person who was broadly active in the arts community and one to whom he was personally indebted (and perhaps wished to become more so). The varied list includes Betty Freeman (interviewed in our Vignette B), Mary Reynolds ("from Minneapolis, friend of artists, and a bookbinder"), Helen Austin ("a gracious presence in Hartford all her life"), Cynthia Kemper (president of the Performing Arts Foundation of Kansas City), Louise Crane (heiress of the Crane paper company and organizer of concerts at the Museum of Modern Art), Constance Askew (patron of artists and writers), and Mrs. Chester Whitin Lasell (Thomson's patron in his early years). Thomson's highly individual little pieces seek to capture the particular profile and force—the elegance, determination, "rock-bound" stolidity, or impulsive busyness—that he saw or intuited in each individual woman (or man, for many of Thomson's portraits depict male friends and associates).[45]

The prose portraits, documents, and photos offered in this book represent a similar attempt to evoke a complex living reality: the richly involving, deeply com-


promised, still (to many of us) admirable and much-needed efforts of women—and men—to promote and foster musical art in America.

Before launching readers into the various detailed studies of individual women and groups of women that make up the core of the book, the editor's felt that some readers might find it helpful if the two of us laid out a factual and interpretive framework for dealing with (women's) patronage of art music in America. Our Chapter 1 thus examines, with a wide-angle lens, this rather puzzling American phenomenon: the largely voluntary building up of a demand for, and a means of supplying, a complex and costly, prestigious, "labor-intensive" performing art in a new and cumbersomely large nation. What were—and are, for the phenomenon continues—the (constraining? empowering?) contexts—musical, financial, social, cultural-ideological, psychological—within which art-music activists, especially female ones, devoted, and still devote, time, energy, and money to such a cause?

Patronage—and Women—in America's Musical Life:
An Overview of a Changing Scene

Ralph P. Locke and Cyrilla Barr

The Development of America's Musical Institutions

Music has always been a much-practiced, highly variegated activity in the United States. This musical diversity, and the contentious partisanship that has marked certain branches of it (such as the recurrent tension between supporters of "classical" and "popular" music), reflect various more fundamental diversities and tensions within American life, involving such factors as race, ethnicity, social class, geography, and means of livelihood (e.g., agricultural communities vs. cities).

Long before the arrival of settlers from across the sea, Native Americans had developed rich and varied traditions of ritual dance and song; European colonists and enslaved Africans carried with them from across the sea the musical dialects of their various places of origin and the desire to continue making music in ways (and on instruments) familiar and meaningful to them. These various musical traditions—Native American, European, African, and others not yet mentioned—then blended here into new hybrid languages and genres, but the extent and proportions of the blending varied a great deal. The musical melting pot particularly welcomed certain stylistic elements from one or another of these repertoires or musical traditions: for example, the hierarchically structured harmonic vocabulary of European art and dance music combined in diverse ways with certain improvisatory rhythmic practices from African traditions, especially various kinds of syncopation. Other repertoires and traditions, notably the various Native American musics, tended to have much less impact on the country's emerging musical styles and genres. (Scholars cite various inhibiting factors, technical as well as cultural.)[1] This selective process of interethnic musical contact was particularly fruitful in what H. Wiley Hitchcock calls America's "vernacular" genres, such as the African-American spiritual (leading to today's gospel music), the minstrel show and musical comedy, ragtime, jazz, and, more recently, salsa and other styles featuring prominent Caribbean (African-Hispanic) elements.[2]


Parallel with the broad stream of "vernacular" music making (which of course also includes more strictly European-derived genres such as Anglo-American ballads and Country-Western music) flows what Hitchcock calls the "cultivated" stream, which concerns us in this book. In the mid nineteenth century this consisted of an entirely European-based yet cosmopolitan set of practices, preferences, and repertoires, including a more or less canonical yet eclectic corpus of sacred and secular works—for example, Handel's Messiah , Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor , and piano pieces by Stephen Heller, a Hungarian Jew who had, like the Polish Chopin, made Paris his home and successful base of operations. These diverse works were transplanted more or less intact to the New World, and to them were added, increasingly with the passing decades, American works written firmly in this European tradition (e.g., church hymns of Lowell Mason, the Italian-language opera Leonora by William Henry Fry, and piano music of William Mason and the German émigré Charles Grobe).

Certain strands of "cultivated" music making remained stylistically "frozen" for decades after first arriving on these shores: the German-speaking Moravian settlers of Pennsylvania and North Carolina, for example, for decades performed a relatively stable repertoire of string trios, choral motets, and the like, in a style close to that of Franz Joseph Haydn, and occasionally added to it new pieces written in a closely similar style. Such unaltered continuity, though, was the exception to the rule. For the most part, the repertoire of "cultivated" music in America changed a good deal over the course of the nineteenth century, thanks not only to local influences but also to America's continuing contact with the Old World. The latest pieces were shipped over, hot off the press, along with Irish linens, Scotch whiskey, French perfumes, and the latest installments of Dickens's novels.

By around 1870, many of the best young American musicians were going to Europe to study with the pianists Franz Liszt and Theodor Leschetizky, the violinist Martin Marsick, the singer Mathilde Marchesi, and other famed teachers in Paris, Vienna, and elsewhere, then returning to America to perform the pieces they had heard and learned—for example, Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies and the Parisian operas of the German-born but Italian-trained Giacomo Meyerbeer—and, in many cases, to compose in up-to-date style and to teach.[3] As early as the 1820s, significant numbers of well-known opera stars and virtuoso instrumentalists, eventually including the Swedish soprano Jenny Lind and the Norwegian violinist Ole Bull, came from Europe on concert tours. Some stayed for years or even settled here permanently.[4] Also, many of the larger cities, especially on the eastern seaboard, enjoyed performances by traveling opera companies such as the one led by the tenor Manuel García (father of the great singers Maria Malibran and Pauline Viardot), since at that point few cities had their own self-supporting resident troupes. New Orleans was the earliest exception and, "for much of the century," one scholar plausibly concludes, enjoyed "the best opera to be heard in America"—sung mainly in French, of course.[5]

"Cultivated" music, it should be stressed, extended its domain far beyond the

A few paragraphs from this chapter appeared, in somewhat different form, in Ralph P. Locke's overview article, "Paradoxes of the Woman Music Patron in America," Musical Quarterly 78 (1994): 798–825. In addition to the people thanked in the Acknowledgments, Laurence Libin (Metropolitan Museum of Art) gave good advice and encouragement.


concert hall and opera house. For one thing, there were few such halls until late in the nineteenth century, and even professional concerts tended to be presented in a wide range of venues: theaters, Masonic halls, parks and pleasure gardens, train stations. But formal (and informal) concerts were but one of many outlets for the love of "cultivated" music in late-eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America. Throughout the land, music of what we might call the "light classical" variety was a prime form of leisure-time activity and social entertainment. Dancing, for example, was accompanied by a few string and wind players, or maybe just a single violinist. (Dancing masters in America, as in Europe, played a special "kit" fiddle small enough to slip into the coat pocket.) Children of the middle and upper classes were early trained to play instruments—for girls, these were most often guitar, harp, harpsichord, or piano—or to sing, delighting family and friends with keyboard pieces such as Frantisek[*] Koczwara's[*] internationally beloved The Battle of Prague (first published in Dublin around 1788) or tuneful vocal excerpts from European operas.[6] (Among the best loved, in the 1860s and 1870s, were Giuseppe Verdi's Il trovatore , Sir Michael Balfe's The Bohemian Girl , and Charles Gounod's Faust .)[7]

Hard as it may be to believe today, amateur music making in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, indeed even in the first half of the twentieth, did not cease when a child finished his or her teenage years. Adults regularly gathered to play chamber music and sing together; Thomas Jefferson, an avid violinist, made frequent use of his large collection of the latest imported trios and such, and many people knew the singing voices of their parents, siblings, or spouses well, having sung hymns, Stephen Foster songs, or operatic excerpts together at the parlor piano. Choral groups thrived in the churches, and by 1800 also in other meeting halls, sometimes handily mastering the hymns and secular partsongs of home-grown composers such as William Billings, and sometimes working their way in determined fashion through the demanding but rewarding oratorios of Handel, Haydn, and other European masters. Bands and small orchestras, too, sprang up everywhere, playing opera overtures, movements of symphonies, song arrangements, marches, waltzes—almost anything that had a pleasant tune and enough regularity of beat and phrase to set toes happily tapping.

All of this—from quadrilles for dancing, to choruses and bands—provided the fertile soil from which many of the musical institutions of America that support and promote "serious" or "classical" music sprang. (Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge's attachment to music, for example, was surely rooted in the family musicales of her youth, described lovingly in her mother's little booklet, Pleasant Memories of My Life .)[8] The development was long and troubled, and, in the nation's early decades, little patronage was in place to help it along, whether from institutions or individuals of wealth. As Richard Crawford points out:

[Whereas Europe has had a centuries-long tradition of church, court, and state patronage of] music of the highest quality[,] . . . in America neither a national church,


nor an aristocratic court existed, and the state's need has been limited to simple music for utilitarian functions [e.g., military bands]. . . . Foremost of the shapers [of America's musical life] have been the musicians themselves, who have worked as individuals in a commercial environment seeking to satisfy the needs of various social groups—for artistic expression, worship, instruction, entertainment, or participatory recreation.[9]

Private citizens took lessons from music masters and even hired professionals to play chamber music with them or to perform for their guests. One such melomane, Elizabeth Ridgely, possessed a musical library in the 1820s that testifies to her openness (and that of her French-born teacher) to a wide range of current European music and suggests that a substantial amount of amateur and professional music making went on at the Ridgelys' manor house (Hampton, Maryland).[10]

But the first real "wave" of patronage as it is currently understood seems to come in the 1830s. It was then that Lowell Mason and Boston's Handel and Haydn Society began carrying out energetic organizational and promotional labors on behalf of music in the schools, churches, and concert halls.[11] Far less well known are the efforts, around the same time, of various groups of parishioners—especially women—to raise money to buy organs for their churches (see Vignette A). From then onward into the late twentieth century, patrons increasingly vied with the musicians themselves in their dedication to and active organizational work for the benefit of art music in America.

The crucial, formative moment of music patronage in America, and of "classical music" generally, occurs in the decades just before and after 1900. During those years many of the institutions and practices that have remained characteristic of American musical life ever since were established and put on a firm financial and organizational basis. These institutions and practices include the symphony orchestra, with its season-ticket holders in sober or sometimes even formal attire (and its small-town equivalent: the half-amateur, half-professional community orchestra, often playing in a school or college auditorium, church, or town hall);[12] the opera house with its decor in red plush and brass and its international casts, often singing in a foreign language; the conservatory and music school, earnestly filling the growing demand for trombonists, for coloratura sopranos, even for composers pondering, in newspapers and magazines, such questions as "Should we be writing symphonies in a distinctively American style?"; publishing houses churning out songs and piano pieces in sheet-music format for the amateur to perform at home or in small assembly; the newspaper column boosting or blasting the visiting artist or the local luminary; secondary-school bands and choruses, teacher-training programs for those who would lead them, and of course the private vocal or instrumental studio; instrument factories and dealers to provide homes and schools with cheap but solid flutes and pianos (as well as elaborate, decorated art-case grand pianos for the White House and for mansions ranging from that of the Dohenys in Southern California to the homes of the Marquands and the Vanderbilts in Manhattan); elementary courses in music appreciation,


whether for grade-schoolers, college students, or concertgoing adults; and graduate programs and tenured university chairs in music and its scholarly study. (From this long list of activities in music, a few have long been particularly identified with women: public school teaching, choral conducting—but not orchestral or band, except with all-female ensembles—and of course performance and studio teaching in voice, piano, and harp. Later in this chapter, we shall return to the question of women's expanding place in American musical life.)

Everything mentioned in the previous paragraph existed only in embryonic form, if at all, in the mid nineteenth century; nearly all of it had taken recognizable shape—and much of it was fully developed and flourishing—by the 1920s.[13] As one very concrete example, in 1870 the music holdings of the Library of Congress comprised an oddly assorted five hundred items; by 1917 the Library could boast a well-organized Music Division, its near-million items carefully selected and overseen by Oscar Sonneck, a world-class musicologist.[14] The sudden growth in America's musical life over but a few decades echoed developments taking place in the visual arts—for example, museums—and indeed other sectors of American life entirely, such as hospitals and public schools. The American university, the historian Robert A. McGaughey notes, hardly existed in 1870, but by around 1914, it "had acquired a form little changed since."[15] Furthermore, many of these other "sectors" have their own important musical aspect: it was during the decades just before and after the turn of the century that, consonant with the ideals of the Progressive movement, choral singing and music appreciation courses began finding their way into the public school and into that parallel institution for immigrants, the settlement house.[16]

Of course, the more things stay the same, the more they change. Musical life has been greatly altered since the 1920s by shifts in American demographic patterns (the shift of money and power from our urban centers to the suburbs or indeed to other geographic areas entirely, such as, recently, the Sunbelt) and by cultural values that increasingly emphasize instant gratification as a goal, to be attained through the purchase of commercial goods.[17] More particularly, the rise of technology in the service of the consumption principle just mentioned has resulted in a shift away from "live" and participatory music making and toward listening to recordings; this process, set in motion by the arrival of the home phonograph around 1890 and the home radio around 1925, intensified with the ever-increasing fidelity of sound reproduction and the proliferation, since around 1970, of tape cassette players—especially as portables (ranging from "boomboxes" and pocket-size machines with headsets to sound systems in automobiles). Opera, in particular, has gained a major and often sophisticated "second" audience in the past ten years; thanks to electronic video (whether in the movie theater or on television, videotape, or video disc), opera lovers, even in isolated locations, can "attend" performances of once little-known operas such as Verdi's Stiffelio , experience the dark power of Wagner's Ring cycle or Britten's Peter Grimes , and be devastated by the artistry of Teresa Stratas, Julia Migenes, or—in a gripping black-and-white video of Tosca , act 2—Maria Callas. (For further discussion of the opportunities


and challenges presented by electronic technology, see Chapter 10.) But "canned" music, even at its best, cannot replicate the experience of being part of a performance's "first" audience, that is, of hearing music in person, in a good hall, amidst a mutually inciting throng of several hundred or several thousand attentive listeners; and, for better or worse, America's system for delivering live performances of Western art music to the public (or for the public to make such music itself) remains, in its broad features, the one put in place around 1900.

The growth and systematization—the "modernization," in the sociologist's term—of America's musical life around 1900 resulted in large part from the nation's immense industrial and economic expansion at the time, as the growing middle and upper classes, and even certain sectors of the working masses, increasingly found themselves with surplus cash and the leisure time in which to spend it: on modestly fashionable clothing, on books and magazines filled with enticing ads for consumer products, and, not least, on outings to amusement parks, theaters, and concert halls.[18] Hilda Satt, a young immigrant woman at Jane Addams's Hull House in Chicago, no doubt spoke for throngs of working people when she later recalled as among her chiefest pleasures attending performances of opera and musical comedy; works such as The Merry Widow "were a good tonic after a day of hard work," and she considered herself privileged to have seen and heard such gifted operatic interpreters as Enrico Caruso and Jean de Reszke, Marcella Sembrich and Emma Calvé, and "the great Chaliapin."[19]

Some of the musical institutions mentioned earlier—publishing, journalism, the instrument trade—sprang up more or less spontaneously, in response to the pressures of the marketplace. But Beethoven symphonies and Wagner operas require long, costly rehearsals involving fifty or even a hundred highly trained, specialized performers. (Legendary Tristans, such as Jean de Reszke, do not come cheap.) The laws of supply and demand simply could not produce affordable, accessible, yet still worthy performances of such works, any more than it could produce universities or hospitals. Federal and local governments have throughout most of the twentieth century provided cultural and charitable organizations with certain financial protections through income-tax deductions and local property-tax exemptions, but direct, European-style government aid would have been needed as well in order to fill the gap. Despite the early efforts of Jeannette Thurber and others to change federal policy, direct aid was not a politically acceptable option until the creation of the—relatively modest, by European standards—National Endowment for the Arts under the Johnson administration in 1965. One 1930s precedent for the NEA, though, should be mentioned. The New Deal's program in the arts (e.g., the Federal Theater Project) was intensely controversial and, in the end, more a stopgap measure than a permanent governmental fixture. Memory of it fades with the passing years: its "Dime Concerts" in athletic stadiums, its hundreds of music-teaching centers across the country, and its creation—in 1936, in New York City—of the nation's first public high school for music and art.[20] Still, it may serve to remind us that, if Americans want it


enough, we can do things at the governmental level to increase democratic access to music.

Individuals and Foundations

Since the marketplace did not support orchestras, opera houses, and professional (or even preparatory-level) music schools, and since government money was rarely forthcoming, the gap was filled, as it was in other areas such as social work, by patronage—taking the word to include also volunteer organizational work (unpaid labor).[21] Patronage could and often did involve networks of small patrons: an orchestra's subscribers often made individual modest financial and in-kind contributions beyond the price of their season tickets (see Chapter 2).

But the lion's share of patronage funds, especially in the decades around 1900, came directly from a small number of wealthy individuals and, to some extent, from the cultural "foundations" established by such individuals or their families. The great fortunes that piled up in the late nineteenth century were the direct result of industrial growth in an era of laissez-faire capitalism. Until the passage of the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890, corporations, by virtue of their charters, were free to conduct business more or less as they liked, free of governmental regulation. As a result, the financial holdings of the Vanderbilt family, for example, reportedly exceeded those of all but a handful of the most developed nations of the world.[22]

Profits from industrial and other investments were so high that a family's income often far exceeded expenses, even after deducting for club memberships, yachts, town houses, country estates, world cruises, winters in sunnier climes, salaries for household staff, and bills for schooling, clothing, and medical care. How to dispense the excess—or, in the language of the time, how wealth was "stewarded"—depended greatly upon the individual's whims and interests. For many, this meant beginning to deal with the socioeconomic disasters created in part by the capitalist system that had made their own families so comfortable. (In this project they were encouraged by the important "social gospel" movement within the country's Protestant churches.)[23] For others, it meant building the American university, a development that, as Robert A. McGaughey notes, helped provide men of privileged class—including certain sons of the very men who had made the fortunes—with a way to make "respectable livings other than in the church or business."[24]

Fortunately for music lovers, the industrialists and their immediate families often gave a high priority to music, higher indeed than we today might think likely (given the stereotype of the inartistic business mind). This is strikingly illustrated in Andrew Carnegie's ranking of the projects that he deemed most worthy of philanthropic aid, wherein music—under the heading "suitable concert halls"—came in fifth, after public parks and before public baths.[25] He also put theory into practice, as music lovers in New York City and Pittsburgh have daily reason to recall.

Foundations were the other major beneficiary in a rich man's or, less often, woman's will, and were usually administered by a council of his or her surviving


friends and associates, lawyers and bankers, and some family members. There was as yet no "science of giving," and although some notable examples of foundations, such as the Peabody Foundation (1867), may be found in the late nineteenth century, few survived more than a few decades. Only in the twentieth century did foundations (e.g., Ford, Rockefeller, Guggenheim) become a major force in the cultural arena, strengthened by the creation of income tax, inheritance tax, and tax-exempt status.[26] Even so, music was slow to benefit.

In the early 1930s, the directors of the Carnegie Corporation financed a study to answer the questions "What aspects of music in America today seem the most important?" and "How can music best be furthered?" The findings were disseminated in Eric Clarke's Music in Everyday Life and Randall Thompson's study of music in the curricula of thirty liberal arts colleges in the United States.[27] While efforts such as these exerted a valuable influence upon corporate giving, the causes needing support grew apace. Philanthropy was beginning to develop as a fine art, shaped largely by corporate bodies whose chief executives were men.

The "Domestic Sphere"?
Women and Music in Home and Club

Parallel to this more or less official, highly institutionalized story runs the more fragmented story of the other half (at least) of America's music lovers, the women, whose patronage and volunteer work is explored in this volume. By the last decades of the nineteenth century, a significant number of them did have substantial money of their own (largely inherited), and in many cases, depending on the laws prevailing at the time in a given state, were free to spend it as they saw fit.[28] In addition, many women influenced the way their husbands' money was disbursed, at least in matters over which they were considered to hold some authority, such as education and, precisely, the cultivation of the arts. The musical initiatives of such women as Isabella Stewart Gardner, Bertha Honoré Palmer (of Chicago), and Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney owed much to the wealth and position of their husbands or fathers. Yet, whatever the sources of their money, these women often exhibited entrepreneurial savvy in its distribution and were in many cases guided by relatively democratic and (by standards of the day) well-informed views on social and cultural policy.[29]

Moreover, these patrons of music, like women who supported the visual arts, theater, and dance, carried out their work in venues that were more publicly visible than the institutions of social welfare devoted to the care of the sick and poor, aged and young, that had been the primary out-of-home arena for female reformers in the early and mid nineteenth century. In this way, they may have helped to prepare public acceptance of working women taking positions of authority for pay. And certainly they stand as major early examples of women who, freer of certain social limitations than most other women of their place and time, freer to act and to influence, could devote their energy and imagination to, in Mary Catherine Bateson's phrase, "composing a life" of varied and gratifying texture, not just


taking from the larger world but also interacting with it, indeed acting upon it in productive ways.[30]

Money, we said earlier, is only one way of contributing to a cause. Many women less affluent than a Mrs. Potter Palmer (but still "comfortable") assisted the growth of musical institutions primarily through volunteer work, including the raising of funds from others. These women most often remain nameless in the chronicles of the major symphony orchestras, festivals, and educational institutions that still bear the imprint of their devotion and generosity. Such "grassroots" work, in music or other areas, is therefore more difficult to chronicle but is nonetheless of crucial significance. Kathleen D. McCarthy has shown that women who had established a visual-arts organization were often expected, at the point where it had gathered a significant endowment or collection, to hand over control to a board of male managers, although the women may have remained active in various ways.[31] Similar phenomena occurred in the musical arena, as Linda Whitesitt notes in Chapter 2 below, reminding us of the ever-present tension between possibilities and limits for women in public life. Still, the musical clubwomen and volunteers, perhaps even more than the wealthy patronesses discussed in the previous paragraph, helped in their way to render "obsolete the notion that 'women's place is in the home,' and thereby made a significant contribution to women's struggle for autonomy."[32]

We should resist, though, the temptation to treat these various types of women patrons simply as rediscovered heroines.[33] Scholars in recent years have struggled to find adequate ways of describing the complexities and contradictions of the life of a woman of leisure or at least modest comfort in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. On the one hand, women at all social levels were limited to varying extents (less so in the case of poor and working women) by the ideology of the "female sphere," with its emphasis on "piety, purity, and submissiveness" in the service of "domesticity, nurture, and education."[34] On the other hand, women often developed their own strategies of resistance to such limitations, creating a rich web of emotional ties to relatives and to women friends that amounted at times, as Carroll Smith-Rosenberg and others have argued, to a distinctive "women's culture," full of mutual assistance and support. In comparison, the lives of middle- and upper-class men—often spent almost entirely in the "male sphere"—may appear to some of us today emotionally cramped and deprived.[35]

The tendency, among certain women's historians, to emphasize the positive, creative, interactive aspects of women's lives (and to doubt whether men's lives were quite as rewarding as sometimes advertised) might be accused of disguising or denying the existence of male privilege and female subordination. One needs always to keep in mind that men's constricted choices, unlike women's, helped prepare them for successful careers and for dominant, sometimes tyrannical control over the family's property, finances, and major life decisions (such as a child's choice of spouse); bourgeois men were indeed limited yet, as Marilyn Frye puts it, not oppressed.[36] But perhaps the renewed interest in the workings of the women's realm can be more fairly described, not as ignoring the dissymmetry of power, but


as taking it as given in a particular historical situation, the aim being, not to endorse or reinscribe the patriarchal system, but rather to explore the often meaningful lives that women made for themselves and their children within it and sometimes despite it.

Rigid gender differentiation was, one should stress, urged upon daughters at least as much by their mothers as by their fathers. Indeed, central to family relations in the nineteenth century was what might be described as a female "apprenticeship system," through which, as Carroll Smith-Rosenberg puts it, "older women carefully trained daughters in the arts of housewifery and mother-hood."[37] These arts receive less respect today than they once used to, given the increasing tendency among women to flee and sometimes to denigrate the lives of service that their mothers and grandmothers lived, and to model their own lives according to definitions of success and identity that are traditionally male (more or less equivalent to what Adam Smith described as "economic man," earning his own living and acquiring goods and services in the commercial marketplace). Today, women and men alike are faced with the challenge of balancing these competing ideals of economic interdependence and independence, resisting or accepting (colluding in?) "our society's widespread devaluation of care," as the "transformative feminist" Suzanne Gordon puts it.[38] As for earlier days, we should remember that many of the "arts" most despised today—housework, food preparation, sewing and darning, various physical aspects of child-care—required more skill, time, and physical exertion than they do today, yet were either essential to family health or helped limit expenses and thus formed in a sense a second income. And, at least in certain families, exercising these accomplishments and managerial skills graced the women who knew them with dignity and authority.

The tension between negative and positive readings of women's lives is thus not so much a matter of disagreement among scholars as a reflection of the tensions within those lives. And so there remains a certain peril for anyone who would attempt to comprehend just how women of an earlier era perceived themselves, their mission, and the relationship between that mission and other aspects of their lives. In some cases described in subsequent chapters of this book, the tugs and pulls are apparent: ambition for a career and for a sense of public validation is viewed as being incompatible with devotion to husband and children, and both of these may be hard to reconcile with societal expectations of other sorts. Seen in this context, a woman's activist work in the arts, especially when undertaken as part of a cooperative venture with other women, comes to seem a brilliantly functional solution to the contradictions of the life of the middle- and upper-class "lady": it reasserts her bond to others of her family and class and, simultaneously, enables her to "connect purposefully" to the larger community (the phrase comes from Nancy Cott's discussion of women's organized church groups),[39] all without threatening her husband's prerogatives as breadwinner in what one (male) observer at the time sensitively qualified as "the field of immediately productive work"


(our emphasis) and as player—if the husband were so inclined—in the arena of governmental politics.[40]

How clubs, and especially music clubs, helped connect women to other women outside their homes and to the larger world will become immediately apparent in Chapter 2.[41] For the moment, we can glimpse some of the feelings that such clubs tapped, including a sober desire for self-improvement and a generous willingness to share one's own privileges, by taking a brief look at the Friday Club of Chicago, founded in 1887, three years before the General Federation of Women's Clubs. Ellen Martin Henrotin, one of the group's prime movers, addressed the first gathering of these Chicago ladies in terms that left no doubt as to the implications of the club movement for the members themselves:

For years most of you have been hard at work at your studies. You have doubtlessly many original thoughts and theories which you will be glad to impart to others and also many of you have enjoyed educational advantages peculiarly your own, which you can thus share with others. If you never discuss literature and art, and if you allow society [i.e., empty socializing] to engross all your time and attention, you will even lose your love for serious things, and what can be more valuable to you as life goes on . . . ? The formation of such a club as this should be a very serious matter, for the mere fact of being a member of it may influence the term of your whole life.[42]

The Friday Club may have been making a bold statement in even designating itself as a "club." The word was more commonly associated with men's groups, which is likely why the (admittedly rather more "stuffy") Fortnightly of Chicago, founded fourteen years earlier, chose to eschew it in its title. That the ladies of the Friday Club enthusiastically supported issues that reflect a turning of attention toward the needs and aspirations of women is shown by papers read at meetings, such as "Women in Municipal Government" and "Modern Women in Recent Literature."[43] The group also maintained an active, indeed activist, music and art department: during the Depression, the club purchased and distributed season tickets to the Chicago Symphony, thus in a single stroke assisting the orchestra, its players (some of whom might otherwise have had to bear pay cuts or be laid off), and music lovers who in chilly economic times could not afford the privilege of attending.

The Rise of the Woman Musician

In this book we emphasize the contributions of wealthy women (frequently the daughters or wives of professional men or industrialists) and of women of lesser means who supported musical life equally—although in a different manner—but still also from the sidelines. This should not, however, lead us entirely to neglect the role of women performers and composers as activists in the cause of music and, by their very public presence, in the cause of women.[44]

The large lines of the story of the American woman musician can be told in


terms of what Linda K. Kerber calls "a Whiggish progressivism." Just as historians have tended to see the central theme of American women's political lives as "an inexorable march toward the suffrage,"[45] so the following account is based on the somewhat simplistic, yet not entirely misleading, view of the musical women of America as striking blow after blow for the right to make music under the same conditions as men.[46]

During the colonial period and continuing through much of the nineteenth century, American women were not permitted to make music seriously, professionally, publicly—as opposed to recreationally or consolingly in home or church. Furthermore, they were discouraged from even learning most kinds of instruments: loud, low, or bulky ones (trombone, tuba, cello, double bass), ones whose playing required unladylike facial contortions (oboe), and so on.[47] As mentioned earlier, this basically left piano and voice (and a few instruments of more limited repertoire, such as harp and guitar) as the primary options available to a young woman. Not by chance, these instruments were perfect for domestic performance: the harp and guitar were soft-toned and unclangorous, and the harp and especially the piano were archetypally nonportable, "indoor" vehicles and thus well-suited to women's home-centered lives. (The same can be said of the chamber organ, used in many homes to assist family hymn singing.) As for the voice, it required no training whatever, at least not for singing hymn tunes and simple ballads. Singing also had the advantage of involving words. The amateur female singer could proclaim her religious devotion through music, lead her children in song, or—especially if she had had a few lessons—repeat (and repeat), in the privacy of the home, the rejoicing or lamenting aria of some operatic heroine, excerpted from an opera that she had read about in a novel or a journalist's essay or had once, safely escorted, been privileged to see on stage. The few women who performed music professionally in these early years were mostly singers of opera and oratorio and, as Adrienne Fried Block has observed, often came from "a musical or theatrical family."[48]

In the second half of the nineteenth century, matters changed a great deal. Music and music teaching (the joint category used for many decades by the U.S. census) formed a rapidly expanding job sector; by 1900, Judith Tick notes, it numbered "8% of all professional workers" in the country. Women were a big part of this increase: between 1870 and 1910, the number of women holding jobs (including part-time work) in some aspect of music "increased eightfold, and the proportion of women in music rose from 36% to 60%, the highest it was ever to reach before 1970."[49] The proportion dropped after 1910 as the field expanded, became professionalized and better-paying, and began attracting larger numbers of men—a familiar pattern in women's history. (To be accurate, the raw numbers of female musicians and music teachers did increase throughout the first half of the twentieth century—but not as rapidly as before 1910, nor as rapidly as the numbers of males now entering the profession.)[50]

In the final decades of the nineteenth century, "a few American-born women emerged as professional performers and composers of vernacular and parlor


music and later of art music."[51] By century's end, women soloists—singers, violinists, pianists—were taking up performing careers that involved heavy concert tours. The circuit in those days extended far beyond the few (mostly East Coast) metropolises that had some sort of established symphony orchestra or opera troupe. As Oscar G. Sonneck remarked in 1916, "many western cities, barely out of the backwoods stage of civilization, . . . [are] pushing forward musically with such rapidity and energy that they have already changed the ways of musical America in a few years."[52] Such advances resulted in large part from the willingness of musicians and ensembles—the Theodore Thomas Orchestra, the Mendelssohn Club, and the Germania Society, but also such remarkable female performers as the violinists Camilla Urso and Maud Powell and the masterful pianist Fanny Bloomfield-Zeisler—to brave the inconvenience and hardships of touring the hinterlands.

Wherever they performed, women faced an additional hurdle: the prejudice against women professionals. Even the most distinguished fingerwork, the most searching interpretations, could not lay to rest the damning judgment "Plays well for a woman." The one early exception was opera, which could not do without women; nineteenth-century American society idolized the female star—while considering her, like actresses and women dancers, socially suspect—and paid her more than equivalent male singers. Some singers were multi-talented and in a later generation might instead have flourished as pianists, composers, or conductors (e.g., in Europe, Pauline Viardot and Marcella Sembrich).

The prejudices against women musicians in Western art music knew no borders. Saint-Saëns, for example, complained of the composer Augusta Holmès: "Women are curious when they seriously concern themselves with art. They seem desirous first of all to make one forget they are women, and to show an overflowing virility, without dreaming that it is precisely this preoccupation which betrays the woman."[53] Many an American critic, too, searched for such signs of ladies protesting too much.[54]

Despite prejudice and discouragement, American women in the early decades of the twentieth century did, increasingly, compose, give recitals (although, Olga Samaroff complained, for lower pay than men), and sing in public (even after marriage). They formed chamber groups, notably the Eichberg Ladies String Quartette and the Olive Mead Quartet, and larger ensembles such as the oddly titled Vienna Damen Orchester and the Boston Fadette Lady Orchestra (named for the heroine of George Sand's novella La Petite Fadette [1848]). By the 1920s and 1930s, when the ranks of the major orchestras in this country were still restricted to men, women founded full symphony orchestras of their own—playing all those long-forbidden loud and awkward and temptingly portable instruments—and also began an active epistolary campaign to break down the barriers restricting them from positions in the country's mainstream ensembles.[55] Maud Powell put the issue plainly:


Of course women should play in symphony and other orchestras, if they want the work. Wanting the work implies measuring up to the standards of musical and technical efficiency, with strength to endure well, hours of rehearsing and often the strain of travel, broken habits and poor food. Many women are amply fitted for work; such women should be employed on an equal footing with men. I fail to see that any argument to the contrary is valid. But if they accept the work they should be prepared to expect no privileges because of their sex. They must dress quietly and as fine American women they must uphold high standards of conduct.[56]

As for composers, they, by the nature of things, depended on the support of conductors. Mabel Daniels once confided to Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge that "when a woman undertakes to write seriously for orchestra she is looked at rather askance by conductors. . . . I'm just starting to launch a piece for full orchestra and the final question I was asked was 'Do you do your own orchestration?' which makes me furious."[57] When the British composer Ethel Smyth wrote to tell Coolidge that Oxford was finally making her a doctor of music, she added, "but except for Sir Henry Wood none of our conductors take my work to America—nor will they 'til the grave has done away with the petticoat element."[58] The situation was doubly prejudicial in the case of a talented woman performer or composer who also happened to be wealthy. Of the composer-pianist Mary Howe, the conductor William Strick-land remarked that "both her position and her sex militated against her: The former marked her as a 'dilettante,' and the latter prevented her from being taken seriously."[59] A number of the women patrons discussed in the present book, had they been born several generations later or been born into less wealthy families, would have made their marks, and their own livings, in some aspect of the professional music world. As it was, they made no livings from their music (most of them), but still, through patronage and activism, they made marks of a different kind.

Toward a Typology of Music Patronage

Women's organizational activities in music in the United States, as is becoming clear, are too extensive and varied to be easily encapsulated in simple generalizations,[60] much less in jokes and stereotypes.[61] Taken together with certain other recent scholarly work on specific patrons (e.g., by Catherine Parsons Smith) and set in the context of more general work on women's organizational activities in America (e.g., by Anne Firor Scott and Karen J. Blair), the studies in this book help reveal that women's patronage of music has comprised many widely differing activities, each of them distinctive in its internal dynamics and the interpretive issues it raises. These various activities can be helpfully examined by using categories proposed by Kathleen D. McCarthy for patrons of the visual arts. These three categories are analogous in many ways to the two rather simple ones that we employed in our Introduction ("individuals" vs. "groups"), but they make a further division, within the "groups" category, between "separatists" (by which McCarthy means


groups composed—programmatically and ideologically—of women, such as most art clubs and pottery guilds) and "assimilationists" (in this category she includes women who served on museum boards with men and who, too often, found themselves marginalized in various ways by male board members or by—again, male—museum officials). As for women who worked alone, McCarthy terms them not "individuals" but "individualists," thereby stressing that these (mostly very wealthy) women carried out their patronage work independently, each according to her own lights and often in areas of art that were neglected by the traditional museums (one example being Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, the moving force behind both the Museum of Modern Art and the important museum of American folk art in Williamsburg, Virginia, that bears her name).[62]

Of McCarthy's three categories, it is this last that makes the cleanest fit when transferred to music patronage. We tend to have particularly rich documentation of the activities of "individualist" women patrons in music, but, predictably enough, the abundance of data only reveals how diverse and often headstrong they were—hence hard to generalize about. One perhaps surprising trend that has been noticed is that a number of them took (and, to some extent, take) active part in promoting new and experimental composition. In Chapter 8 below, for example, Carol J. Oja explores in detail the ways in which a small number of individual wealthy women in New York in the 1920s, including Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (better known today for her art patronage) and Alma Morgenthau Wertheim, supported the composers of new or "modernist" music such as Henry Cowell and the young Aaron Copland: they opened their homes and purses to the composers, just as they, or women very much like them, did to struggling modern painters and poets. Indeed, it has been suggested by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar (in regard to literature), Kathleen D. McCarthy (visual art), and Catherine Parsons Smith (music) that the avant-garde provided a forum in which women could exert productive influence, as opposed to more mainstream cultural institutions, which tended to be dominated by male patrons and directors. In the case of visual art, in particular, new work had the advantage of being "relatively inexpensive compared to the prices that men like [J. Pierpont] Morgan [and art museums, largely run and funded by men,] were willing—and able—to pay for the master-pieces that they so avidly pursued."[63] Similar economic advantages may have been at work in music: Alma Wertheim could help bring to performance or publication a dozen modern chamber works, or keep their needy composers fed, for less than the cost of building a concert hall or running a symphony orchestra.

Indeed, the wealthy "individualist" woman patron of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries did not often make huge donations on her own, in the manner of Otto Kahn at the Metropolitan Opera or Henry Lee Higginson, founder of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, or Edward J. De Coppet, the creator and sustainer of the Flonzaley Quartet. Some of this may have been, again, economic, in that even a wealthy woman such as Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney controlled far less money than her husband. (The many concert halls named after


women are generally of more recent vintage, the result, in large part, of family estates eventually reaching the hands of music-loving women.)

More typically, the "individualist" patron of the turn of the century opened her home to musical and artistic gatherings, in imitation perhaps of famed European salons;[64] turn-of-the-century examples of musical salons included the homes, in Boston alone, of Isabella Stewart Gardner, the poet Amy Lowell, the painter Sara Choate Sears (whose husband Joshua Montgomery Sears was an amateur violinist and reportedly the wealthiest man in the city), Sarah Bull (widow of Ole Bull), and the composers Amy Beach and Clara Kathleen Rogers. To be fair, some men hosted musical soirées, too, such as the music critic William Foster Apthorp. Such "house concerts" became prominent toward the end of the nineteenth century, when the great American family fortunes first began to build up and when (as noted earlier) changes in various state legal codes permitted more and more women to manage and freely disburse their own money. "House concerts" form a whole hidden, because private, stream of high-level music making: Nellie Melba, Paderewski, and Fritz Kreisler were among the favored performers. Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, in addition to sponsoring public concerts throughout the United States (and abroad), hosted more private ones in her splendid Pittsfield music room (see Chapter 6); analogous events took place in Blanche Walton's house in New York (see Chapter 8). More recent and particularly imaginative are the performances and talks by a single composer such as John Cage or Steve Reich before an influential group of guests—each evening similar to the opening of a "one-artist show" in the art world—that Betty Freeman has mounted in her home in Los Angeles. (See Vignette B.)

McCarthy's other two categories of women's organizations—"separatist" and "assimilationist"—can also be seen in the efforts of women in American music, especially if one reinterprets these categories as being not discrete boxes but rather two ends of a continuum. Linda Whitesitt has in several articles documented the work of women's music clubs. These clubs, at least originally, consisted of women gathering together to encourage one another to make (in this case) music at home or at modest, semipublic recitals. Thus, in their "separation," they paralleled in origin and function various general-purpose women's clubs and women-only societies for the decorative arts.[65]

Closely allied to these, but perhaps halfway along the continuum toward McCarthy's third category, "assimilationism," are the "women's committees" of symphony orchestras, opera companies, and recital series. Ever since its inception under the intrepid Mrs. Belmont in the 1903s, for example, the Metropolitan Opera Guild has had one foot firmly in the separatist and the other in the assimilationist camp: the guild involves a group of women devoting much time to gathering smallish donations from a largish number of contributors (a typical feature of many "separatist" organizations in the arts), but these contributors include men as well as women (a feature more typical of "assimilationist" organizations).[66]

The Met Guild and the "symphony ladies" in every major (and many a minor)


American city hold a position that may strike us as contradictory or as a latent source of tension. They often raise—and raised, but for the moment we prefer the present tense—needed funds, and they encourage subscriptions (through various combinations of charm and guilt-inducing tactics, we are told). Nonetheless, the decision-making power remains vested in an all- or mostly male board of trustees or guarantors. Such a division of labor at least has the advantage of relatively clear boundaries. (The "relatively" allows for many exceptions, especially in the past: an astutely observant novel by the music critic W.J. Henderson, The Soul of a Tenor , reports—and we see no reason to discount it—that women patrons of the opera in turn-of-the-century New York made meddlesome suggestions as to casting, costumes, and staging.)[67]

More mysterious is the case of those women who, in full "assimilationist" fashion, actually sit on such boards—an increasing number in recent decades—or who take part in joint (male and female) music clubs and organizations (an early example being the Macdowell Clubs in certain cities, such as New York, or the various Manuscript Clubs, such as the one organized by Mary Carr Moore in Los Angeles). An interesting study could surely be made, focusing on such questions as: Do these women have different reasons for being active than the women on "ladies' committees" and in women's music clubs? To what extent are the same women—especially some of the most energetic and devoted—often active in all of these different sorts of organizations?[68] Is board membership the eventual reward for good work on the "ladies' committee," or are board members—female as well as male—chosen primarily for their financial clout and business connections? And are women, once they are allowed a place on mixed-gender institutional boards, granted the kinds of leadership opportunities and responsibilities that have long been part of the challenge of working in women-only groups?[69]

The challenges—and opportunities—of volunteer work on behalf of music are precisely the sorts of things that remain concealed by the unfortunate, if sometimes affectionately offered, stereotypes of women volunteers as silly geese in flowered hats. What Anne Firor Scott has discovered over and over again of women's aid-to-orphans associations and the like is no doubt equally true of these various music clubs and committees: through them, generations of women have "learned how to conduct business, carry on meetings, speak in public, manage money."[70] Scott's phrasing here is a touch categorical—many bourgeois women no doubt handled financial affairs in the home—but her main point holds. Indeed, some of the music clubs' "organizational genius[es]"—as one club member described such reins-taking types in an address to the 1893 National Convention of Women's Amateur Musical Clubs[71] —went on to become music administrators and concert managers for pay , as musical life became more professional and bureaucratic. An early example is Adella Prentiss Hughes (fig. 1), a member of Cleveland's Fortnightly Musical Club who turned the club into a major sponsoring agency of concerts by visiting soloists and orchestras and who eventually founded the Cleveland Orchestra (1918) and served as its much-respected manager until 1933. The



Fig. 1.
Adella Prentiss Hughes (ca. 1908), a charter member of
Cleveland's Fortnightly Musical Club and one of
the founders of the Cleveland Orchestra.
Reproduced by permission of the
Western Reserve Historical Society.

composer-conductor Victor Herbert, who led the Pittsburgh Orchestra from 1898 to 1904, said that Hughes "knew more about the business of music than anyone I ever knew" and declared, "I would rather have her for my manager than any man in the world."[72]

Several other aspects of American music patronage seem remarkable precisely in ways that McCarthy's categories do not address. In Chapter 7 below, on women musicians and patrons in the African-American communities of Washington, D.C., and other cities, Doris McGinty draws attention to a number of distinctive features of musical life and patronage in such communities, including the central position of choral singing, and also deals with women who, to a certain extent, did make a modest living from the work they did in music. This seemed a necessary adjustment in our criteria about what comprises a "patron," in that substantial numbers of women of wealth were not available in the communities McGinty discusses. It also, though, may serve as a convenient reminder that, as noted earlier, the patrons and organizers of music in America have ever included (and in the


early years of the republic consisted almost entirely of) the musicians themselves, working at low pay, or even losing money on their ventures for the sake of the art in which they believed.

Or take Joseph Horowitz's description in Chapter 5 of how the author and newspaper editor Laura Langford and an all-female crowd of volunteers brought live performances of Parsifal and other Wagner works to New York and Brooklyn, often at low prices, under the inspired baton of Anton Seidl. Since the enthusiastic audiences, too, were heavily female, one begins to doubt whether "assimilationist" is the right word. Emanuel Rubin reports in Chapter 4, in greater detail than has been known before, on the ways in which Jeannette Thurber tried to build a democratic and pluralistic musical life in America, not least through coast-to-coast tours of her American Opera Company singing in English, but also through the National Conservatory, which she founded in New York, with Antonín Dvorak[*] as director, and for which she valiantly, although in vain, sought support from Congress. Here is an early case of a woman as (unpaid, indeed paying) arts administrator and lobbyist, almost as Lone Ranger, again not clearly analogous to McCarthy's often cowed women on museum boards. And Sophie Drinker, as Ruth A. Solie shows in Chapter 9, transformed herself into a pathbreaking feminist scholar (although, intrigumgly, one whose general political position remained quite conservative) in response to frustration: Searching on behalf of an amateur women's chorus in which she sang, she realized that there existed little published music by women composers. All these chapters, as well as the interchapter vignettes, give evidence that women's support of musical life in America has been extensive (far more than our music histories even hint at) and also varied—remarkably and sometimes puzzlingly so—in aim, scope, and effect.

The Woman Musician and Woman Patron Today

The state of live music making in the recent past and today (again, in the "classical" realm) presents a complicated and contradictory picture, involving both contraction and expansion on several fronts. The percentage of people making their living in music (any kind of music, apparently) has decreased greatly since the turn of the century, hovering now around 0.5 percent, with women representing a higher percentage of people involved in music education (predictably) than in performance, much less composition. The decline of piano and other one-on-one musical instruction surely accounts for much of the drop. This decline in employment, however, was at least somewhat moderated by a significant increase in the number of stable professional ensembles (and in the length of their playing season), especially during the 1960s and 1970s, when arts-center complexes were established in most major and many middle-size cities, thanks to funds from corporate foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, and city, county, and state government. Throughout the decades, throngs of women volunteers have continued to carry out much-needed assignments on behalf of these ensembles, concert


series, and the like, especially in the areas of fundraising and educational outreach. But reports have it that their numbers are decreasing, perhaps in more or less direct proportion to the move of educated women into the workplace, whether that be a matter of choice or necessity (or some combination of the two).[73]

For some, of course, the workplace is now music. In all but the few most distinguished American orchestras, women and men fill the seats on stage in proportions so close to equal that the issue of a player's gender no longer seems significant to most people in the audience, or to the orchestra's management. (Indeed, in the interests of equal opportunity, candidates auditioning for an orchestra position are generally required to play from behind a screen, often in stocking feet to avoid the telltale click of high heels.) We are even beginning to see women breaking the barriers that kept them out of particularly male-identified job slots: not just as player of those various "men's" instruments mentioned earlier but also as concertmaster (i.e., the leader of the violins), visiting clarinet or trumpet virtuoso, all-commanding conductor (e.g., Sarah Caldwell, Marin Alsop, JoAnn Falletta), honored composer (e.g., Ellen Taafe Zwilich, Joan Tower, Libby Larsen, and the late Louise Talma and Miriam Gideon), and, yes, even that ultimate "guy's job," college-band director.[74]

Such direct and welcome involvement in the creative and re-creative process has also been accompanied by women's continuing involvement in administering and merchandising musical performance, activities for which they once volunteered their services but are sometimes now paid. In cities across the country (e.g., Chicago, Miami), the arts "presenters" at cultural centers are disproportionately female; indeed, one finds all sorts of gender mixtures in arts administration: an insightful column by Calvin Trillin describes a Louisiana concert series run by a program director who is male and unpaid (and who makes his living in other fields), assisted by an executive director who is female and receives a regular salary.[75] Many prominent artists' managers are also women (e.g., Ann Colbert, Edna Landau, Thea Dispeker).

In the world of orchestras, too, women have made notable business careers. Joan Briccetti holds the position of orchestra manager at the St. Louis Symphony. The manager is "the number two person," as Briccetti put it in a recent interview, in an orchestra's administration. Briccetti notes with regret that the orchestra's executive director (i.e., the number-one person, sometimes called the "general director") still tends to be personally selected by "the entrenched leaders of the community" on the board of directors; no doubt for that reason, the position, like that of bank president or hospital chief, still remains largely off-limits to women. But that may be changing, too: Deborah Borda has held the top spot at the New York Philharmonic since 1987. And even in the highly exposed field of music criticism, a few women—the pioneering Claudia Cassidy and, more recently, Shirley Fleming, Nancy Malitz, the late Karen Monson, and the unstintingly opinionated Manuela Holterhoff (music critic of the Wall Street Journal )—have risen to positions of influence and healthy notoriety.[76]

This rise of the woman professional in music coincided with and was facilitated


by the expansion in our musical institutions that occurred roughly between 1950 and 1990. The current climate, by contrast, is one of ceaseless contraction. Government and foundation money is receding almost daily, arts coverage in newspapers and magazines is drying up, and members of the educated middle and upper classes—that traditional pool of potential concertgoers, donors, and volunteers—are moving deeper into the suburbs and losing, or (in the case of the younger ones) not developing, the habit of traveling back downtown, where concert halls and theaters are generally located.[77] The result is that arts organizations are having to make hard choices, and the options are all unpleasant.[78] (Additional technological factors in this crisis have been noted above; their implications for the future are discussed at the end of Chapter 10.) Orchestras and opera companies may feel pressure to reduce the number of concerts or operas in a season, effectively cutting the players' pay, which is generally based on number of "services" (i.e., rehearsals, performances, and recording sessions). Or they may be tempted to lower the players' wages per "service" without reducing their performing duties, thus undercutting some of the gains hard-won by the musicians' unions (although with luck the musicians will demand in exchange more of a voice in matters of policy and programming—as recently occurred with the Denver Symphony—and, with more luck, will use their influence wisely). The orchestras' managers and governing boards can also refuse to program unfamiliar or difficult modern works that require extra rehearsals or that may scare away subscribers whose dollars they cannot afford to lose. ("We baby boomers," one arts-center administrator notes, "are not subscribers. We were brought up in a world of choices. . . . [But this] loss of subscriptions forces you into more mainstream programming.")[79]

The orchestras may also find that they can no longer afford to make recordings, go on tour to New York or to small cities in their own region, or schedule as many outreach concerts as they used to for schoolchildren, however important such activities are for the players' self-esteem and for the community's sense of involvement in, "ownership" of, its orchestra. Those who hold the purse strings may feel compelled to trim the orchestra to a "core" number of players barely adequate for playing Beethoven and Schumann, and rely on "ringers" (i.e., part-time players, often less experienced) if and when the budget allows an occasional Bruckner or Mahler symphony, the requiems of Berlioz, Verdi, Brahms, or Britten, or a concert version of, say, Die Walküre (not an ideal way to encounter Wagner, but a clear desideratum given many cities' lack of good, stable opera companies).[80] They may play more concerts in suburban high-school auditoriums and churches, where the under- or overresonant acoustics end up killing everybody's pleasure in the music (including that of the musicians themselves). And they may find themselves diverting ever more funds to an increasingly large and professional marketing staff, enamored of listener surveys, superstar names, and glossy brochures full of prose puffery and/or zippy (sometimes sexy) pictures.

Most discouraging, an orchestra's board and administration may find that they have undertaken not one but several or all of these cost-saving and audience-


baiting maneuvers and still find themselves continuing to run up big deficits, as listeners turn away to forms of leisure activity that are less demanding aesthetically and intellectually. (Art-music administrators and presenters are not alone: producers of films of a consciously artistic or experimental nature, publishers of poetry of almost any sort, and theater directors seeking an audience for drama that seeks to do more than entertain are caught in a similar bind.)

Several alternatives remain for art-music organizations, including the obvious ones of making the programming more attractive without watering it down (e.g., organizing concerts around a topic or theme, a current success story, we are told, at the San Francisco Symphony and the American Symphony) or finding new hours for concerts, such as early-evening events that catch commuters before they leave downtown. But a many-sided problem is likely to require a many-sided solution. And so the well-tested method of enlisting the energies and mobilizing the devotion and imagination of music lovers—whether the wealthy few or the merely "comfortable" many—surely remains a major ingredient in the recipe for solvency at most of America's musical institutions.

To be sure, female music lovers, as we said, tend to be less available for volunteer work now than in the past, and males seem not to be taking up the slack in appreciable numbers. (The rise in volunteerism at social agencies, such as child-abuse "hot lines," may also explain some of the decline at arts organizations.) The pinch is being felt in direct financial contributions as well, and disproportionately so in music compared to the other arts: Tom Wolfe, a consultant to the American Symphony Orchestra League, estimates that the portion of all arts giving that went to orchestras fell by about a third between 1970 and 1990.[81] Still, many women control substantial sums of money in this country (surely more, proportionally, than at the beginning of the century), and women continue to volunteer their efforts and time for a wide range of causes far more than men do.[82] The phenomenon of the woman volunteer and patron—the female "activist"—remains central to the nonprofit, "classical" wing of America's musical life, as chapters yet unwritten will surely someday record.

Vignette A—
Women and Church Organs:

Documents with Commentary by Stephen L. Pinel

Over the course of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many areas of American music experienced a struggle between primarily "vernacular" styles and genres and more "cultivated" ones.[1] As the present documents reveal, women were actively involved in establishing the new, "cultivated" type of music in local churches. (This is not to say, however, that women were not just as actively involved in trying to maintain more "vernacular" traditions of sacred singing in other towns and situations.) Indeed, women also, as these accounts repeatedly make clear, often were the church organists, or at least filled that function from time to time, without pay, or for longer periods if a professionally trained male organist was not available or could not be afforded.

In the colonial and federal periods, Protestant sacred music in America had consisted primarily of simple hymn singing, often done without instrumental accompaniment: the leader would call or sing out the first line, the congregation would repeat, or respond with a refrain, and so on. This practice, which derived from the music of the English parish church and had its roots to some extent in English folksinging, often combined with slow tempos to give rise to elaborate ornamentation, scoops, and so on, by both leader and congregation, tendencies that became quite extreme in the folk-song-influenced revivalist hymns of the early nineteenth century. Church music reformers such as Lowell Mason (1792–1872) strove to stamp out such unregulated improvisatory practices and to replace them with a "chaste" and "correct" manner of singing hymns, understood as entailing a strict adherence to the notated meter and pitches, and a prominent and correctly harmonized setting, often doubled by an organ. Aspects of the more erratic and spontaneous "old style of singing" survived in small towns in the South and Midwest, and derivations of it can be heard even today in performances by "shape-note" (e.g., Sacred Harp) and gospel choirs, whether white or African-American. But the mainline churches in the Northeast eagerly welcomed the new and more decorous style of worship and also the organs, diversely symbolic in their floor-shaking grandeur, conspicuous ornamentation, and well-advertised costliness.[2]

The following accounts of the funding of five new church organs (and the repair of a sixth) in mid-nineteenth-century New York State and Pennsylvania give some sense of the community pride that was stirred by the arrival of a big-city organ builder in towns that still had something of a rural air. (Honesdale, Pennsylvania, lies between Scranton and the corner where the state meets New Jersey and New York Hudson, New York, is on the river of the same name, about halfway between Kingston and Albany.) Many of the organ builders were located in Boston or, as in the present cases, New York City, and they often stemmed from a German émigré family, as was the case with Henry Erben, the builder of the first organ in Hudson (1838).


Levi U. Stuart furnished three other organs mentioned here: Hudson's third organ (1867) and the two in Honesdale (1868). The latter were installed by his brother, William J. Stuart.

Although the choice of a builder and of the organ's design and placement was presumably made in most cases by males—the elders of the church—the funds seem frequently to have been raised by women parishioners. (Many such cases are mentioned in diocesan convention reports of the Episcopal church.) At Hudson's First Reformed Protestant Church, the very initiative for installing an organ came from "the ladies," and their insistence is notable: they even succeeded in overriding the initial opposition of the church's leadership on this matter, in part by gaining the support of younger pew holders, most of them presumably male. Interestingly, the church's official history, written by its pastor in the 1880s, notes that one woman's attempt to establish a Sabbath School was similarly resisted: "not a few" in the church "discouraged her, regarding it as an unwise project and an experiment which was sure to fail."[3] We also learn that half the salary of the first paid organist was contributed by private members of the church, perhaps including some of the same music-loving women. The second and third organs, and their organists, seem not to hare required special private donations, perhaps because the church had grown so in size and, as the historian-pastor notes, also in "resources" and "prosperity."

Excerpt from the Official History of the First Reformed Protestant Church, Hudson, N.Y.

Rev. William H. Gleason, D.D., Pastor

During the year 1838 the ladies of the church brought forward a project for the purchase of an organ, and with this came into it [i.e., the church] the only dissension which appeared during the entire period of its work of organization. There was an element of Scotch Presbyterianism in the church which was opposed to the instrument from principle. There was another conservative element which regarded the movement as premature from an economical standpoint. The first application for consent to place it in the church was denied by the consistory, but the ladies secured the names of sixty pewholders to a second application, and backed by the enthusiasm of the younger part of the church obtained a reversal of the decision by one vote. This action led to the resignation of one of the elders and two of the deacons and their withdrawal from the church. The two lat[t]er after a time returned to its worship, the former transferred his connection to the church of Claverack.

The organ was purchased of Henry Erben & Co., of New York, at a cost of one thousand dollars. Of this amount four hundred dollars were the proceeds of a fair held in the long room of the hotel of Abram Staats, now the Central House, a room which was then as generally used for all public meetings as is the City Hall to-day. This is believed to have been the second fair held in this city. The first is said to have been held in 1835, by the Universalist Society in the private ballroom of Robert Le Roy Livingston in his mansion, since converted into the Waldron House. The balance of the money [for the organ] was raised by subscription and the proceeds of a concert given in the church after the erection of the organ, at which Rev. Isaac Pardee, of the Episcopal church of this city, gave an address upon sacred music. At this concert Mr. [Enoch S.] Hubbard, accompanying himself upon


the violin, sang the solo entitled "Consider the Lillies [sic ]," quite well known to-day but then heard for the first time in Hudson. The organ was of small capacity but sweet in tone, and gave great satisfaction. After its introduction all feeling of dissatisfaction disappeared, and perfect harmony was restored with a single exception. One member of Scotch descent was dissatisfied with preludes and interludes, and finally left the church service upon the introduction of the well-known and popular tune, "Antioch," which he denounced as "no better than an Irish jig." The duties of organist were shared by Miss Mary Miller and Julia A. Shufelt, now Mrs. Alexander S. Rowley, without pay, until the engagement of Prof. Francis S. Blanchard in the month of November, 1840, Mr. Hubbard retiring and Mr. Wynkoop for a short period assisting Mr. Blanchard, one half of whose compensation was to be raised by private subscription. Full charge was soon given the latter, who continued faithfully to serve the church, with the exception of two brief intervals, for the period of thirty-five years. . . .

An exchange of organs followed the enlargement of the church, the organ in use giving place to one of much greater power and much less sweetness of tone, at a cost of about one thousand four hundred dollars added to the value of the old organ. . . .

[In 1867 the church was again reconstructed, and] an effort was made looking to the placing of a third new organ in the church, which resulted in the purchase of the instrument now in use. It was built by Mr. L. U. Stuart, of New York, at a cost of two thousand and forty-six dollars added to the value of the instrument then in use, which was estimated at one thousand dollars. It did not prove on its completion acceptable to the church, and to the sums mentioned, about three hundred and thirty dollars additional were paid for an alteration which it was hoped would make it so. Its first use was on the evening of October 6th, 1868, in a concert given by Mr. George Morgan of New York, an organist of great reputation.

With increased accommodation came increased resources and benevolence, and for years the church enjoyed the highest degree of prosperity it has yet reached.[4]

Honesdale, Pennsylvania, seems to have been a more modest place: no mention of mansions with ballrooms here. Yet in Honesdale, too, the women took the lead in musical "progress," as it was then understood. In a manner consistent with women's generally domestic role, the female parishioners of Honesdale took to the kitchen and held "organ suppers." In the case of the Presbyterian church, one notes from a report of 25 June 1868, below, that funds were still being raised at yet another organ supper several weeks after earlier newspaper accounts had announced that the gift of the organ was complete, indeed even after the organ had been installed and dedicated.

Also notable is the fact that the organ builder's representative, rather like a traveling salesman or country doctor, serviced three churches in Honesdale before moving on. The three churches mentioned in the newspaper reports from Honesdale are St. John's (Catholic), First Presbyterian, and Grace Church (Episcopal).

These three churches were in different circumstances with regard to their organs. St. Johns's simply sought to repair the existing instrument. Grace Church bought the new Stuart to take the place of their old organ


(possibly one with manuals but no pedals, in the traditional English style) and—waste not, want not—put the old one up for sale. The Presbyterian church, in contrast, had never had a true organ: founded in 1829, the congregation at first was assisted by a Dr. Tracey playing the violoncello; sometime in the mid 1850s, a melodeon (small, portable organ) was introduced, but the construction of the new church building (beginning in 1865) clearly called for installation of a grand organ, bedazzling in its range of hues. And both new organs, as we learn, were paid for through the efforts of "the ladies of the congregation."

From Newspaper Reports on Church Organs in Honesdale, Pa.

ORGAN SUPPER. —The ladies of the Presbyterian Church will give a supper in aid of the "organ fund of that society, at the residence of Mr. F. B. Denniman, Second Street, this Thursday evening. A general invitation is extended to all. [Republic 14 May 1868, 3.]

THE NEW PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH. On Friday night last the new Presbyterian Church of this borough was lit up for the first time with gas. . . . The organ was shipped on the 18th inst. [Wayne County Herald , 21 May 1868, 3.]

ARRIVED . . . . [Ibid., 28 May 1868, 3.]

THE NEW ORGAN. On Tuesday last the Presbyterian Church was well filled, the occasion being the first public exhibition of the new organ built for said church by L. U. Stuart of New York. In exterior appearance the instrument is a splendid piece of workmanship, the wood-work being of chestnut with black walnut trimmings, and harmonizing with the general interior finish of the edifice. . . . Some fears had been entertained that the position of the organ [in a loft on the east side] would prevent its full force from being obtained in the body of the church, but such ideas were dispelled the moment the first chord was struck. The pedal bass responded immediately to the touch, and a full deep and rich tone filled the room, seemingly causing the entire building to tremble. As one after another of the various stops were added, and the volume of harmony increased, the first favorable impressions of the audience rapidly culminated to hearty and unanimous approval. Mr. Stuart entertained his hearers with a number of brilliant selections and voluntaries. . . . The instrument was purchased by the ladies of the congregation, and cost in the neighborhood of $2,000. The following is the scheme of the organ [here follows a detailed stop list: eleven stops, twenty pedal notes, five couplers]. [Wayne County Herald , 4 June 1868, 3.]

ORGAN REPAIRED. Mr. Stuart has overhauled and put in order the organ of St. John's (Catholic) Church, during his stay here. The organ now in Grace Church (Episcopal) will be taken down on the arrival of the new one, which is expected shortly, and, if not already previously sold, will be sent to New York. A chance is here offered to some church in moderate circumstances to secure a fair instrument at a reasonable price. [Wayne County Herald , 11 June 1868, 3.]

DEDICATION SERVICES. The New Presbyterian Church will be dedicated on Thursday June 25th at 2 1/2 o'clock. . . . It is supplied with a new organ of excellent tone—purchased and presented to the church by the ladies of the congregation. They deserve much credit for the generosity evinced, in so appropriate and valuable a donation. [Wayne Citizen , 18 June 1868, 3.]


ORGAN SUPPER. The receipts at the supper for the benefit of the Presbyterian Organ fund, given on Friday evening last at the residence of C. F. Young Esq., were something over $200. [Wayne County Herald , 25 June 1868, 3.]

DEDICATION OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH. The organ . . . is to be played for the congregation, by Mrs. J. W. Kesler, well and favorably known as a musician in this borough and vicinity. [Wayne County Herald , 2 July 1868, 3.]

THE EPISCOPAL ORGAN. The new organ built for Grace Church (Episcopal) of this borough by L. U. Stuart of New York has just been put up. It is a fine-toned instrument, contains sixteen stops, and is highly ornamental in appearance. . . . The contract price for the organ was $1800, which amount was raised by the ladies of the congregation. [Wayne County Herald , 2 July 1868, 3.]

THE NEW ORGAN. [The new Grace Church organ] will add a feature assisting the superior musical talent of that congregation, which all lovers of sacred music will not fail to appreciate. [Wayne Citizen , 2 July 1868, 3.]

Vignette B—
The "Grand Composers" of the Present Day:
Betty Freeman Discusses How She Chooses and Supports Them

Interview with Annotations by Ralph P. Locke

Patrons of art music in America have shouldered a variety of burdens, and they shoulder them in different ways. Some like to work singlehandedly. Others prefer to rally groups of like-minded citizens. The tasks they take on differ, too. Some patrons build in bricks, concrete, and iron or steel, as Andrew Carnegie did at the turn of the century. The halls named for Dorothy Buffum Chandler, Louise M. Davies, and Alice Tully daily remind the music lovers of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York of those individuals' devotion, just as Philadelphia's renowned Curtis Institute of Music—which charges its students no tuition—calls up at least occasional memories of its astonishingly generous donor, Mary Louise Curtis Bok (and her father, Cyrus H. K. Curtis, the magazine and newspaper publisher, himself a patron of music).

Bok's music school forms a link into a second common task of patronage: investing in musicians' careers and projects. Between 1962 and 1982, the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for music made over two thousand grants to performers, composers, and musicologists, as well as musical organizations, following the plan personally drafted by Mrs. Rockefeller a few years after marrying her second husband, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (Earlier in life she had studied piano with Artur Schnabel, toured as Nellie Melba's accompanist, and played concertos with major orchestras.)

A third variety of patronage that is no less important, indeed that may have a particularly powerful long-range influence on musical art as a whole if carried out with good judgment and intuition, consists of giving commissions and direct financial assistance to the country's most deserving young and mid-career composers. Ever since the 1950s, a number of American patrons and foundations, often working with a board of composer-advisors, have focused their efforts on what we might call "classic modernists": composers, many of whom also held university positions, who drew inspiration and stylistic guidance from the near-canonical early- and mid-twentieth-century works and procedures of Schoenberg and Stravinsky, Berg and Bartök, Webern and Messiaen. The Fromm Foundation (mentioned in the interview below) has commissioned such works as Milton Babbitt's Vision and Prayer, Susan Blaustein's Cello Concerto, Elliott Carter's Double Concerto for Harpsichord, Piano, and Two Chamber Orchestras, and Roger Sessions's Concertino for Chamber Orchestra.

The peripatetic Betty Freeman, long based in Los Angeles, but originally from Boston and often to be found dwelling in New York or Europe, chose a perhaps riskier path, directing much of her assistance to John Cage and other experimental composers, many of them living on the West Coast, who existed apart from the university scene and, indeed, were often taken more seriously by avant-garde artists and choreographers than by mainstream musicians.[1] The interview excerpted below took place on 28 September 1991, on the occasion


of her visit to the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music, where a concert was given of music associated with her and an exhibit was mounted of her photographs of European and American composers, including flavorful shots of Virgil Thomson in front of the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan, at which he lived, and of Karlheinz Stockhausen at Disneyland.

Freeman discussed many more topics than can be represented in the extracts below, but a few more of these should be briefly summarised, to give a sense of the range of her concerns. How, for example, does she, in practical terms, go about commissioning a work? (She explained that she no longer commissions a work without assuring its copying costs and also its first performance; she was part of the consortium that funded the first run of performances of John Adams's opera The Death of Klinghoffer, although she still objects to what she describes as the "terribly anti-Semitic" libretto by Alice Goodman.) Can great "art" music come out of contact with rock music and non-Western genres? (Yes, if it's really part of the composer's own culture; but gamelan music is done better in Bali than by Western composers, for whom it tends to be a pretty tinkling.) Does she give composers direct aid for living expenses? (Not normally, but John Cage and La Monte Young both received unconditional grants over many years,[2] and she solicited funds recently from various musicians she encountered in her travels for one major figure who had become ill. Some years back, she knew that Harry Partch, although in need of money, would not accept it, so she paid the rent on his studio—a converted laundromat—and commissioned one last piece from him at the end of his life.)

A figure much beloved for her trust in the composers that interest her, even in their right to try specific things that she dislikes. Freeman is honest enough not to pass judgment on composers whose work she does not know well. She chooses her words with soft-spoken care, pride, frankness about her preferences, disappointment sometimes, but no hint of irritation or animosity. That kindliness should be "read into" the following transcript, which in spots might otherwise sound pompous, harsh, or dismissive. At times during the interview, Freeman referred to a typed memo that she had brought with her, listing dozens of pieces commissioned by her, including Steve Reich's Different Trains, Christopher Rouse's Cello Concerto (written for Yo-Yo Ma and the Los Angeles Philharmonic), and Mel Powell's Duplicates, a concerto for two pianos and orchestra that went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1990.

How do you know if a composer deserves your support?

My good friend is Alan Rich. He is a marvelous music critic [and radio broadcaster; formerly of New York and Newsweek magazines]. I almost never agree with him. It's very funny: we go to the same concerts, and I always have different opinions. But I respect his opinion.

But there's really nobody to tell you, "This is a fine musician." You have to know. And by this time, obviously, I feel I know it, because the composers I've been involved with all these years are "the grands," the grand composers. Cage, Partch, Nancarrow, Lou Harrison, Steve Reich, La Monte Young, Terry Riley: all the Western [i.e., West Coast] composers. Morton Feldman. You can't write the history of American music without these people. I'm missing almost nobody. That's the best part of American music. These are definitely off-the-center, experimental composers.

I was born in 1921; I'm seventy now. So when I started going to concerts (I was about fifteen) would be in the late thirties. [American] music in the thirties, forties, fifties was boring. All the academic composers, the whole Middle American school, which made no impression on me.



Fig. 2.
Betty Freeman, patron of America's avant-garde composers, Los
Angeles, February 1987.
 Photograph by Raul Vega.

The first contemporary piece I heard was [by] La Monte Young, and actually that's how I got into music [patronage]. It was through the art world. In 1961 I was already a contemporary-art collector—not a patron—and was already starting [to write] a book on [abstract painter] Clyfford Still. La Monte Young was picked up in 1961 for marijuana, driving in Connecticut, and was put in jail overnight. The artists tried to raise money for his lawyer, to get him released, and they asked me to participate. I must have heard of La Monte Young; I didn't know his music (he's not played very much). I thought it was terribly undignified putting a composer in jail for marijuana. (It was a serious offense in the sixties.) So I put in $100, which was a substantial donation in 1961. La Monte sent me a record of his, and I loved it, so I became La Monte's patron for many, many years, until the Dia [Art] Foundation took over [ca. 1975]. It's very strange music. He's working with the [upper] partials of one tone.[3]

I was living in Italy. (I'm married to an Italian, a painter.)[4] I was living half the year in Turin and was very often in France, and so I heard Terry Riley, who played all the time in the sixties in France, as did La Monte. Around 1972, John Rockwell, who was the Los An-


geles [Times ] music critic then, introduced me to the music of Steve Reich and Philip Glass and it was just instant excitement. Steve Reich and his ensemble inaugurated the new San Francisco Contemporary Art Museum, and I happened to be there. So in the seventies I then became a patron for Steve and Philip. And these four are the fathers of the so-called New Music.

You started out as a pianist yourself?

I started taking piano lessons again when I went to college. I had played as a young girl—I must have been about twelve—but I didn't like it. I went to Wellesley [College], and every day I used to pass Billings Hall, and I could hear the pianists practicing. I got this real urge to study piano. My parents had told me that they wouldn't help me financially [with piano lessons], when I'd given it up for popular music, so I took it out of my allowance and studied for three and a half years, two hours a day. I became a music minor—musicology. (My major was English lit.) When I married in 1942, I studied piano wherever I was. I studied with Beveridge Webster for a few years, theory with Erich Itor Kahn (I think), went to Juilliard in the summer and studied with Johana Harris, [the composer] Roy Harris's wife. When I moved to Virginia (that was during the war), I studied, I forget with whom. When I moved to Boston, I came into the New England Conservatory. This was when I had four children, after the war. I rented a piano, no matter where I was. In Los Angeles I studied with Joanna [Freudberg] Graudan, a wonderful teacher. Then one day—but maybe this is going off the picture.

Not at all!

I only played for captive friends, never professionally. One day I played as well as I wanted to play: "on top of the music," which is what I'd been aiming for for twenty years. And I closed the piano and never touched it again. I was very conscious of what I was doing. I was practicing six to eight hours a day, and all of a sudden I realized what it takes to be a concert artist. And I knew I didn't have it. You know these things. And I've never regretted it.

And that's when I started going into concert organizing. This would be 1964, at the Pasadena Art Museum. Because in those days the museums were the patrons of contemporary music. In New York it was artists' lofts. We did three concerts a year. The other organizers were Laurence Morton, who was Stravinsky's very close friend, and Leonard Stein, who was Schoenberg's assistant, secretary, and disciple. This was where I met Cage in 1964; he was the first. Partch was the second. We had everybody: Boulez, Stockhausen, [and] all the Americans. I did that for nine years.

Were these the Monday Night Concerts I've heard about?

No. It was much more experimental.


Excuse my ignorance. I don't know the California scene .

It's a wonderful world out there. [Spoken with emphasis and some rapture:] It's all open .

One important point that I often emphasize is that these men, these composers, were already who they are today. Cage was already Cage; and Lou Harrison, Lou Harrison; Boulez, Boulez. Their music was extraordinary, then as it is today. These are masters. The only thing that changed was the media [e.g., small ensembles rather than full orchestra]. Philip Glass didn't pose for Dewar's whiskey ads yet. But for people who understood music, they were already "the grands," the grandees.

Cage said he could only afford to come back [the next year] if I got him five other engagements. So I called around and I did it: La Jolla, Santa Barbara. I remember the lady from Santa Barbara called me one day in hysterics. She had just received the list of equipment Cage needed for his concert. And she said, "What is this: a composition for 'Eleven Mixing Bowls'!" She was floored by that.

I realized—this is the same time I gave up the piano—that I enjoyed much more working with people than practicing. So that's what I've been doing ever since. [This includes concerts of new music at her home, for an invited audience of people in the arts and local and state politicians who have been influential in gaining government support for the arts.] A lot of the work I do is promotional, because I believe in it. I promote also through photography.[5]

Did you have role models?

The only name I'd ever heard of was Paul Fromm, and I really didn't know what he did.[6] I just went ahead where I saw the need. I'm in a special situation, because, until recently, I have been living in Europe half the year. So I'm able to get the distance on America and the influence of Europe also, which makes a big balance. And I've been spending a lot of time in New York. I go to all the contemporary music concerts. (The symphony orchestra is my favorite instrument in all the world. But the standard repertory doesn't interest me.) I'm informed. I exchange cassettes with friends. I feel obligated to assist with American music. The music of my preference today is European: Louis Andriessen, Mauricio Kagel, Alfred Schnittke, Arvo Pärt (the most spiritual music I've ever heard; it's not at all minimalist, as some say), Ligeti (his breadth and scope are amazing), Henze, Helmut Lachenmann, Dieter Schnebel, Boulez (what can I say [about such a master]?). I find European composers are much stronger, more original, more dynamic, more adventurous, more courageous. The Americans, with a few exceptions, set out to amuse, to entertain, do something in the rock style. There isn't one on my list [of commissioned composers] who I consider a fine composer, outside of Cage and some John Adams and some Steve Reich and some early Philip Glass. And Partch. Of course, that's a pretty good list! This is all my opinion and I don't expect anyone to agree with me.


Can you say something about women composers?

I don't like to think of "women composers." I just like to think of "composers." Of course, one of my favorite composers in all the world is Sofia Gubaïdulina from Russia. You don't think of her as a woman composer. She's just a great composer. There's a wonderful composer from Finland: Kaija Saariaho. The [American] women composers whose music I know seem to be somewhat limited: Pauline Oliveros, Joan La Barbara. The others, I don't know enough of the music: [e.g.,] Joan Tower.

What about Thea Musgrave [British, active in the United States]?

I can't comment.[7]

Women As "Keepers of Culture":
Music Clubs, Community Concert Series, and Symphony Orchestras

Linda Whitesitt

If we fail it won't be anything disgraceful. . . . If we are willing to stay in this rut we can—
forever. But if we are going to do anything we've got to strike out and risk a little.

With these words, Berger summarized the philosophy of Tucson's Saturday Morning Musical Club,[1] which, under her thirty-year leadership, grew from an informal association of musically dedicated women to an organization responsible for more than $30,000 a year in bookings of internationally known artists. It was a success that echoed throughout the country, as upper- and middle-class women stepped out of the protective sanctuary of members-only music-club recitals and study groups and assumed the organizational and much of the financial responsibility for the cultural development of their communities.

The entry of women into the arena of the entrepreneur was not, however, a sudden transformation, but rather an evolution from amateur performer to public impresario. Women's study clubs in the mid 1800s were descended from earlier service, charitable, and benevolent societies, as well as moral reform and welfare groups. Describing their phenomenal growth after the Civil War, Jennie June Croly predicted, "When the history of the nineteenth century comes to be written, women will appear as organizers, and leaders of great organized movements among their own sex for the first time in the history of the world."[2]

It was in the final decades of the nineteenth century that these study clubs enlarged their scope of interest and provided an arena for women to continue their own musical education. Substantial numbers of women who now had the time to devote to out-of-home activities, yet were limited by the lack of options for a public career, sought membership in these music clubs as both a means of self-improvement and an important community service. Believing instrumental music to be the ultimate means of elevating the soul, these women saw themselves as ideally suited to carrying on America's cultural advancement, and they began to "strike out" on their own.[3] By their hard work and often through their close ties to wealth, they were able to build the support apparatus that eventually resulted in

Portions of this essay incorporate and further develop ideas and materials presented in the author's "The Role of Women Impresarios in American Concert Life, 1871–1933," American Music 7 (1989): 159–80; "'The Most Potent Force' in American Music: The Role of Women's Clubs in American Concert Life," in The Musical Woman: An International Perspective , vol. 3, ed. Judith Lang Zaimont (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1991), 663–81; and "Women's Support and Encouragement of Music and Musicians," in Women and Music: A History , ed. Karen Pendle (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991), 301–13.


the permanent establishment of two major institutions of American musical life: concert series of touring artists and local symphony orchestras.

Concert Series:
From Amateur Performer to Impresario

From the outset it is apparent that the women saw these clubs first as an opportunity for self-improvement. The motto of the first women's amateur music association, the Rossini Club of Portland, Maine (1869), exemplifies the primary and prevailing goal of such organizations: to provide a forum to study and perform "for . . . mutual improvement in the art of Music."[4] Indeed, the records of more than one club document the women's struggles with performance anxiety and lack of confidence in their own abilities. Anna Dennis, speaking for the Zoch Club of Minneapolis, admitted that "it is rather hard to have to confess that the chief end of our existence this year has been to overcome the dreadful state of 'nerves' in which most of us found ourselves at the mere thought of playing before an audience. Some one cruelly dubbed us the 'Frightened Club' . . . and I fear that some of us still feel the terrifying mental influence of that nickname."[5]

The move from self-conscious preoccupation with their own performance to the business of management was at first tentative, and it admittedly owed much to the experience of women working with other women. "[T]he first benefit we have received has arisen from contact with one another. Unaccustomed to concerted action, we found ourselves launched . . . upon a period of organization. . . . It has been a training in itself to learn to work together, in a musical society, with kindness, forbearance, patience and in honor preferring one another, especially when we remember that musical people are said to be the most sensitive in the world."[6]

By the time of the first national convention of women's amateur music clubs in 1893 at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, many clubs had broadened their goals to include "the advancement and elevation of the public taste"[7] and the promotion "of high class music."[8] In her opening address to the convention on 21 June, Rose Fay Thomas recognized that clubs were bringing solo artists, orchestras, and musical festivals to their communities because members' increasing musical knowledge and discrimination demanded more than their own amateur performances.[9] While applauding club concerts for broadening musical tastes and awakening artistic perception, Thomas also warned that such education, confined primarily to women, made "the musical culture of America a one-sided affair."[10] She recommended that clubs drop the word "woman's" from their names and bring into their "pleasant circle the fathers, brothers and friends, whose love for and knowledge of music must be as carefully cultivated as that of the women, if we are ever to be a musical nation or do anything genuinely great in this beautiful art."[11]

Thomas's recommendation would eventually be realized, but for the time being, legions of women answered the call to become the "cultivators" of musical culture in their communities, and the number of women's music clubs increased dramatically through the opening decades of the twentieth century. By 1919 there


were more than 600 active clubs, with a combined membership of approximately 200,000.[12] By the turn of the century, many of the clubs had already developed well-attended and well-financed concert series and were being described as the country's most successful sponsors of European artists.[13] So successful were they that by 1927 the National Federation of Music Clubs reported that, outside of large cities, individual clubs managed three-fourths of the country's public concerts, spending approximately a million dollars to book performing artists.[14]

Music clubs succeeded as public impresarios because their membership lists and network of connections supplied ready-made audiences, whose financial resources (either in the form of membership dues, subscription ticket purchases, or special guarantee funds) underwrote artists' fees. The success of the clubs was much noted by the press, as in this word of praise from the New York Sun in 1904: "Without this guarantee and the influence of the club members many small towns would never hear the well known artists. . . . All over the country these clubs have done a wonderful missionary work in bringing to the people of the smaller cities the best of the virtuosos."[15] As the clubs prospered, many divided their memberships into active members, who performed at club recitals, and the more numerous associate members, who managed the social aspects of club life, formed the audience for programs, and thereby enlarged the financial core of the club.

The sounds music clubs offered to the public in hopes of raising the musical tastes of their communities were the works of venerated European composers played by European and American artists and chamber ensembles, and, if they could afford it, by American orchestras and opera companies. Between 1899 and 1930, for example, the Artists' Series of the Women's Club of Columbus, Ohio, presented ten different major symphony orchestras, three opera companies, and six different chamber ensembles.[16] If the Pittsburgh Orchestra's offerings for the Cleveland Fortnightly Musical Club (1905–6) are representative, the programming was predominantly German—Beethoven, Weber, Schubert, Bruch, Brahms, Strauss, and a heavy dose of Wagner—with a Liszt symphonic poem and a Tchaikovsky symphony thrown in for a little variety.

Although the women did not determine the public programs of visiting artists and ensembles, they did exercise some control over the repertoire offered in members' private recitals and lectures. In the selection of repertoire, the clubs distinguished themselves by initiatives that were relatively new and progressive for the time. In contrast to the heavily Germanic repertoire offered by visiting symphony orchestras, the clubs urged the inclusion of at least one work by an American composer in each of their concerts in a recital series. In addition, in their "membersonly" sphere and at concerts at national conventions of music teachers, clubwomen, and the like, clubwomen promoted works by recognized women composers such as Amy Beach, Cécile Chaminade, and Margaret Ruthven Lang—not to mention works of aspiring composers from within their own ranks.

In their efforts to promote American music and works by women of any nationality, the clubs soon found a powerful ally in the National Federation of Music


Clubs (NFMC). When the NFMC was chartered in 1898, its initial emphasis was on fostering new clubs and organizing state federations. Soon, however, it directed its efforts toward managing artists' concerts through a national concert bureau and promoting music by American composers. By 1907 the NFMC had established an American Music Department to direct clubs to give preference to American artists and American music in their private club programs. At the same time, the NFMC inaugurated a biennial competition for American composers, and numerous individual members endowed special composition prizes for women of federated clubs.[17]

Club members' lofty aim of advancing the public's musical taste often had to be balanced with more practical concerns. In booking artists, clubs considered which performers would draw the most new members and season ticket subscribers: "It seemed to be the general opinion that if such a price were to be paid [$300 for baritone Max Heinrich, for example] it would be better to secure a woman as likely to be more pleasing to the majority of the audience."[18] Yet club members' overriding goal, as expressed in the minutes of the Cleveland Fortnightly Musical Club, was to present the "best" music "at prices which make it possible for a whole family to go."[19]

As early as 1898, Amy Beach praised the clubs for their fostering of discriminating audiences:

I can not express too strongly my belief in the value of women's clubs as a factor in the development of our country. So long as their work continues to be of the high, earnest character at present shown in many of our cities and towns, so long will the influence of good be felt in the home-life of club members, and in the musical growth of their children. That American audiences display a power of judgment in marked advance of that shown fifteen years ago is largely due to the faithful array of amateurs who by unceasing toil have tried to cultivate a true appreciation of great music and musicians.[20]

The move from the private sphere of self-education into the public domain of concert management, and the inclusion of men in the affairs of the clubs, was accomplished with some uncertainty. In its 1895–96 season, more than two years after Rose Fay Thomas's recommendation of including men, the Fortnightly Musical Club of Cleveland discussed the possibility of inviting prominent businessmen to attend a meeting for the purpose of discussing a proposed concert series by Theodore Thomas and his orchestra. The minutes record: "it was made evident that while such a meeting might in the end prove the easiest and best means of securing the guarantee fund, still the members of the Board shrink from the necessary publicity of a public meeting and it was agreed that other methods should first be tried."[21] Judging from the minutes of 14 April 1896, the alternative measures to obtain public funds by more private means were quite unsuccessful, and the club was left with a deficit of nearly $2,000 after the four Thomas concerts.[22]

Nonetheless, women who had initially entered the public arena of concert promotion and management with some trepidation were quickly gaining entrepreneurial skills, and by 1910 a major article in Musical America —"Women—The


Potent Influence in Our Musical Life"—declared that clubwomen had acquired "an executive ability equal in its results with that of the majority of successful business men" and predicted that by their contributions "a musical foundation is being built that nothing can topple."[23] That this newfound skill was hard-earned through experience is clear from Corrine Moore-Lawson's address to the Ladies' Musical Club of Cincinnati:

The work of concert giving on so large a scale has developed some remarkable business talent among the ladies of the club. There is always an untold amount of detail work in connection with such undertakings, which one who has not tried it can never know. There is, to begin with, the making of a judicious contract; then comes the working up of public interest, the securing of subscriptions, the newspaper notices, the programme arrangements, the hall decorations, etc., accompanied all the time by the awful fear that the whole thing may prove a failure. Such experiences have a tendency to develop the impresario genius of the club, and it is not beyond the possibilities that some one among the fifty may distinguish herself in that line.[24]

Indeed, out of the concerted efforts of the clubwomen certain individuals did emerge as leaders of remarkable ability. The anonymous author of the Musical America article of 1910 (identified only as C. A.) singled out Mrs. Charles B. Kelsey, president of the National Federation of Musical Clubs, whose St. Cecilia Club in Grand Rapids erected its own building for concerts as early as 1894. The writer also, however, recognized over a hundred other women for their work as managers of community concert series and for their "unusually active" efforts on behalf of music.[25] Among them were such notables as Marian MacDowell, for her work with the MacDowell Colony; Mrs. George R. Sheldon, for her reorganization of the New York Philharmonic; and Amy Fay, for her activities with the Women's Philharmonic Society in New York. Of this early generation of women impresarios, two in particular must be singled out: Ella May Smith (1860–1916), president of the 3,000-member Music Club of Columbus from 1903 to 1916, and Adella Prentiss Hughes (1869–1950), a charter member of Cleveland's Fortnightly Music Club.

Ella May Smith was active on many fronts—as piano teacher, vocal coach, instructor of harmony, theory, and composition, lecturer on the history of music, music critic and correspondent of several journals, composer, and author. It is significant that while contemporaries record in unusual detail her many accomplishments, they especially note her "constant and faithful devotion to the best there is in music," as well as "a genius for business administration possessed by very few persons."[26]

Smith's primary goal as club president was to create and build an audience for local and visiting artists, which she effectively did by reducing season tickets from $5.00 to $3.00 and augmenting publicity efforts, which resulted in a dramatic increase in membership (one report places the number at 4,000 and more).[27] During the thirteen years of her presidency, she did much more, however, than fashion an enthusiastic membership focused on attending recitals by major artists, concerts by members, and free organ recitals. Under her leadership, the impact of



Fig. 3.
Ella May Smith. Photograph taken from inside front cover of
brochure printed by the Women's Music Club of Columbus, Ohio, "in
token of its great appreciation of the brilliant services rendered to its
members and to the citizens of Columbus by Mrs. Ella May Smith, who
has just completed ten years of splendid work as its President"
(18 March 1913).
Courtesy of Ohio Historical Society (MSS 445, box 1, folder 24);
published with permission.


the club's work was reflected in the growing discrimination of audiences, who, as Amor W. Sharp noted in his address honoring Smith's first ten years as president, no longer demanded that "Home Sweet Home" or "The Flower Song" from Carmen be included on every program. "The names of Beethoven and Wagner on a program no longer produce the effect of a quarantine placard by the side of a front door. Today our public will listen even to D'Indy, Debussy, Strauss, Ravel and any of the other eccentric writers of the present time and cry for more,—and enjoy them too."[28]

In addition to this audience education, the club's musical institutions and "outreach" programs established under Smith's leadership included an Altruistic Department to present programs in city, county, and state institutions; community music schools in settlement houses; a music library; the Saturday Music Club; a student club for girls and boys; an organization for children six to twelve; the Opera Club; a club choir; the donation of a three-manual Felgemaker organ to the city; an exchange program with other clubs; and a system of scholarships to music students.

The outstanding achievements of the Music Club of Columbus under the leadership of Ella May Smith undoubtedly owed something to her work outside the Women's Music Club as well. To her direction of the group she brought her contacts and extensive experience as president of the Ohio Music Teachers' Association and as officeholder in the National Federation of Music Clubs. In all the organizations she served, she was a tireless champion of American music and insisted that all visiting artists include some American music in their programs. In 1918 she organized the convention of the state's MTA program around the music of American composers, and in 1919 she planned an MTA program devoted to the music of African-Americans.[29]

While Smith accomplished her goals by working within the sphere of her music club, many other women who had organized concert series for their respective clubs now stepped out on their own to become independent concert managers. By so doing they could earn money for their labors, but they also assumed the risk of losing, not only their own money, but also that of their guarantors, for such women were often still acting on behalf of a syndicate. One particularly successful independent female manager was Adella Prentiss Hughes.

Hughes honed her skills as a manager through a position created specifically for her by Cleveland's Fortnightly Musical Club, by charter of 3 June 1901.[30] In her memoirs she observes that "the object of this enterprise was the development of fine orchestral music—not the means of earning a living and profit for the club and manager."[31] When Hughes announced her intention to form a guarantee fund to back the project, the club's board—recalling the deficit after the Thomas Orchestra Series—expressed serious misgivings, so Hughes herself assumed complete responsibility for its organization.

The first season of concerts was so successful that the full amount of the club's appropriation for the concerts was not needed; the public bought $5,000 worth of tickets, which came close to the $5,900 spent on the concerts.[32] By its sixth season,


Hughes was reporting a profit, with receipts totaling $17,102.96 and expenditures $16,822.68.[33] And by the end of the 1908–9 series, she was able to remove the series from under the auspices of the club and become independently accountable to her guarantors.[34] Within her first decade and a half as manager of the symphony orchestra concerts, Hughes presented the orchestras of Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis, as well as the Thomas Orchestra and the Russian Symphony Orchestra (a New York-based émigré ensemble).

With good reason Victor Herbert, then conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, could say of her that she knew "more about the business of music than anyone," and that he "would rather have her for . . . manager than any man in the world."[35] With her prodigious talents and her family ties to some of Cleveland's wealthiest citizens,[36] Hughes forged almost fifty years of successful concert management, and Cleveland music became known in New York as "Hughes Who."[37]

In the ensuing decades, many a club's success in managing concert tours was based upon the energetic commitment and leadership of a single woman. Through the agency of several such female entrepreneurs, these activities were moving westward, and in the early decades of the twentieth century, Minnesota's Twin Cities had become thriving musical centers. In Minneapolis, Edna Godfrey, by her judicious choice of fine artists and skillful use of the press,[38] over a period of thirty-six years (between 1920 and 1956) built an impressive series for the city's Thursday Musical Club. Somewhat later, in neighboring St. Paul, Nettie Fuller Snyder (from ca. 1860 to 1929) was bringing opera to the Twin Cities area by booking performances of both the Metropolitan Opera Company and the Chicago Grand Opera. And Anna Schoen-René (1864-?), dubbed the "musical czarina" of Minneapolis,[39] not only organized concerts but also renovated the city's Exposition Hall at her own expense, established the Choral Union at the University of Minnesota, participated in the founding of a Department of Music at the university, directed an earlier unsuccessful campaign to found a Minneapolis symphony orchestra, and formed the first organized branch of the Mozart Society.[40]

From coast to coast and border to border, the good work of the women's clubs was influencing America's musical culture. In Atlanta, Mrs. Armond Carroll directed the Atlanta Music Club's concert course for six difficult years in the World War I era. Her success is attested to by the fact that great artists who came to the city annually were "impressed with the fact that local audiences" were as "discriminating in their musical tastes as the most artistic centers of Europe."[41] Other notable impresarios included Jessica Colbert in California,[42] Maria Longworth Storer of Cincinnati (founder of the May Festivals),[43] and Minnie Guggenheimer of New York (responsible for the outdoor concerts at the Lewisohn Stadium).[44]

By the 1930s the music clubs' work of promoting public concerts of touring professional artists had been assumed by independent managers, many of them women. Nonetheless, there is a tinge of regret in Anna Laura Kidder's remark that "the real work of the club . . . had imperceptibly passed into other and


stronger hands than ours."[45] More serious still is her inference that the very success of these concert series may have had an adverse effect upon amateur music making by creating passive audiences. She notes that "there is a growing reluctance among adults to attempt, even in the secure privacy of home, to reproduce music that is so lavishly presented through . . . other channels. The young delight to make music themselves; but the adults prefer to hear it."[46]

The records of the many clubs that survived the financial difficulties of the Depression show an evolution from club programs by members to concerts by young professionals. Inevitably, as the control and organization of concert series became more and more the province of professional managers, the faces of music clubs changed, but their dedication to the cultural enrichment of their communities persists in new enterprises. Of these, one of the most important is the support of local orchestras, which launched women's role in the creation of permanent symphony orchestras in the early decades of the twentieth century.

Founding and Funding Permanent Orchestras

As concert series generated increasing support for orchestral performances at the turn of the century, many women, either through their clubs or independently, began to work for the establishment of permanent symphony orchestras in their communities. Such contributions have tended to be deemphasized in histories of American concert life. The cultural historian Lawrence Levine, for example, in his analysis of the "sacralization" of the symphonic concert, elides the prominent role that women have played in supporting orchestras. He twice refers in passing to "affluent men and women,"[47] but he names no single woman—except for Frances Anne Wister, when quoting from her history of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Instead, he focuses on how individual businessmen such as Andrew Carnegie, Joseph Pulitzer, J. P. Morgan, and several of the Vanderbilts succeeded, through large contributions, in wresting control of orchestras away from the (male) musicians themselves, a process he describes as the "abandonment of the cooperative plan."[48]

In her study of women's role in American philanthropy, Kathleen McCarthy has aptly pointed out that "the role of women's voluntary associations in fostering professional opportunities through commercial enterprises has received scant attention." She notes that nonprofit entrepreneurship "was a crucial element of many female cultural ventures," which were so effective that "by the century's end even male-dominated cultural organizations began tapping into the marketing networks developed by women's auxiliaries and clubs."[49]

The fact is that, of the ten major cities that were the first to support permanent symphony orchestras in the years from 1842 to 1919, women were actively involved in setting up nearly all of them,[50] and they played leading roles in at least four: Cincinnati, Philadelphia, New York, and Cleveland. Similar stories of women's support of local orchestras can be told of other cities such as St. Paul, Houston,


and Washington, D.C., as well as smaller cities such as Greeley, Colorado, and Grand Rapids, Michigan.[51]

It is true that small numbers of male sponsors eventually stepped in, a development that, as we shall see, tended to reduce substantially the influence of the women who had done so much to establish the orchestras in the first place. (In that sense Levine rightly speaks of symphony boards as echoing the characteristically "paternalistic capitalism" of the age.)[52] But even so, women's work remained, and continues to remain, crucial to the financial stability of the nation's orchestras and to the nurturing of bonds between the orchestras and the communities that they were created to serve.

The first symphony orchestra to be established and managed largely, indeed, in this case almost exclusively, by a group of women was the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.[53] Looking back on five unsuccessful attempts by various individuals and groups to found a permanent orchestra in their city, the Ladies' Musical Club decided in February 1894 to take matters into their own hands. They formed a female governing board of directors whose job was to solicit funds and carry on the day-to-day management of the orchestra, along with a male advisory committee whose responsibility was to oversee the finances and function in the larger public sphere as a liaison between the orchestra and the business and professional community.[54] A week before the orchestra's opening concert, the New York Musical Courier predicted that "any orchestra gotten up by a committee of ladies of good intention will not flourish."[55] Despite this potentially self-fulfilling prophecy of doom, the arrangement did succeed, and it inspired women's music clubs in ever more cities to begin sponsoring (or helping to sponsor) the organization of permanent orchestras.

The Cincinnati Orchestra's female governing board of directors was first led by Helen Herron Taft (1861–1943, wife of the future U.S. president William Howard Taft). Taft, a woman of considerable means who had taken music lessons as a child, later wrote in her autobiography that in her work for the Cincinnati Orchestra Association, she had found "at last, a practical method for expressing and making use of my love and knowledge of music."[56] She realized within the first years of the orchestra's operation that its permanency would "depend entirely on the public and on the success which we may have in creating a popular demand for its continuance."[57] Although season-ticket sales were increased by booking well-known European soloists, and although members of other women's clubs rallied in support by purchasing tickets, Taft and her board soon realized that revenues raised by ticket sales alone could never cover the operating expenses of the orchestra. To cover the deficits, they increasingly had to rely on a relatively small group of wealthy individuals pledging large sums of money as needed on a year-by-year basis.[58]

In 1900 Taft was succeeded by Bettie Fleischmann Holmes (1871–1941), "an energetic, forceful woman with a keen mind and good business sense, who obviously enjoyed the power and responsibility of executive leadership."[59] Daughter of the founder of the Fleischmann Yeast Company, Holmes put her managerial connec-



Fig. 4.
Helen Herron Taft (ca. 1894–1900), first president
(1894–1900) of the board of directors of the Cincinnati
Symphony Orchestra. Cincinnnati Historical Society.

tions to work for the orchestra by soliciting support from men of the business community. She also contributed generously to the fund herself, and obtained significant large donations from Mary Emery and Annie Sinton Taft. That the work of the club was recognized in the city is evident from one Cincinnati newspaper's account of a reception for Richard Strauss and his wife, the former singer Pauline de Ahna:

The occasion was notable not so much as a brilliant gathering of the four hundred, representative of the wealth and culture of Cincinnati, but rather for the significance of the underlying meaning, the epitomizing in a most graceful but unmistakable manner [of] the fact that women, while preserving all the charm that is the birthright of their sex, may exert a powerful influence for good, may mold society as it were, establish standards of right thinking and living by elevating the public tone.[60]

Prior to her resignation in 1913 for health reasons, Holmes recommended that the increased demands of managing the orchestra called for delegating more re-


sponsibility to men, so that the women's work load could be reduced.[61] Her successor, Annie Sinton Taft (1853–1931), followed her suggestions: the male advisory board was dissolved, the (formerly female) board of directors was enlarged to twenty-five (fifteen women and ten men), and an executive committee consisting of three men, three women, and the president of the board was given administrative authority for the orchestra.[62] Taft had been a member of the board since its inception in 1894 and, along with her husband, Charles Taft, had contributed more than $1 million to the orchestra between 1910 and 1929. Upon her death in 1931, Annie Taft bequeathed an additional $1 million to the orchestra, thus assuring the continued strength of the institution that she had helped to found.

The Philadelphia Orchestra is another important example of a major symphony that owes much to the work of women. At the time of its foundation in 1904, it was an unheard-of innovation that women should organize to further the interests of a permanent orchestra.[63] When the women proposed to do so, the incredulous male executive committee allotted them exactly one month to raise the necessary money. With great industry and ingenuity, the women set about the work of collecting funds through a variety of methods, ranging from personal solicitation to advertising, and through appeals to other types of clubs. In a month they had secured more than $10,000 in new guarantees and received new orders for $5,000 worth of seats and boxes, thus assuring the continuation of the orchestra.

One of the organizers of the Philadelphia Orchestra's women's committee was Frances Anne Wister (ca. 1870–1956), who held the position of president for forty-four years, from 1912 until her death.[64] Of the committee's success, Wister reflected that the women's collective efforts in support of musical culture were not unlike a woman's role in her own household, where circumstances often called upon her to supply moral and financial support to the "establishment."[65] The difference was merely that in this context, the "establishment" was not her family but the city's orchestra. By evoking images of the hard-working mother and wife, Wister conveyed the respect that she felt for the symphony women and their labors and, most important, deflected any attempts at trivializing their motives.

The Philadelphia women's committee had been somewhat more successful in securing a guarantee fund to rescue the orchestra than had the ladies of Cincinnati, yet they, too, found that the health of the orchestra required "constant begging on the part of everybody connected with this institution."[66] Wister identified one of the main problems as "the attitude of business men who felt that after a few years the orchestra should be making a return on the investment, or at least be self-supporting. Their opinion was that an institution that was a constant expense did not deserve the support of the community. Fortunately for music, the people of Philadelphia now understand that an orchestra never can be anything but a public charge."[67]

Financially connected women also helped in New York, where Mary Seney Sheldon headed the organization of the guarantors of the Fund for the Permanent Orchestra of the Philharmonic Society of New York. With their financial as-


sistance, the Philharmonic was guaranteed a twenty-three-week season by 1908–9, and in return for their promise to assume the responsibility for the deficits for three seasons, the guarantors took over the management of the orchestra. In his book on the Philharmonic, Howard Shanet credits the women's achievements: "They supervised the organization and contracting of a full symphony orchestra, engaged one of the world's most distinguished musicians, Gustav Mahler, as conductor, increased the number of concerts from eighteen of the preceding season to forty-six, arranged the orchestra's first tour outside the city, and raised more than $118,000 to cover the deficit that these activities incurred."[68]

The women on the guarantors' committee had strong feelings about programming and contract terms, and the conflict of wills sometimes precipitated stormy clashes between conductor and committee members, since Mahler found it an impossible situation to take suggestions from the guarantors' appointed program committee, which included four women. Consequently, they wrangled continually about conducting duties and compensation.[69]

The Cleveland Orchestra came into existence in a rather roundabout way, with the help of women under the leadership of the aforementioned Adella Prentiss Hughes. She persuaded the Musical Arts Association of Cleveland, which she had helped to found in 1915, to name the Russian-born violinist Nikolai Sokoloff director of a new educational initiative intended primarily to develop a music program in the public schools in 1918.[70] The women were convinced of the power of music to uplift and saw the symphony orchestra as a vehicle for musical education. Sokoloff agreed to the proposal because he saw himself establishing an orchestra with local musicians once he had settled in the city.[71] Within three months of his arrival in Cleveland, he had actually recruited an orchestra and, through the work of Hughes, assembled a committed group of financial supporters to assure the continuance of a permanent orchestra.

In 1921 Hughes established the women's committee of the Cleveland Orchestra to help with the educational concerts, publicity, hospitality, the phonograph-record lending library, and, of course, to help sell season tickets and campaign for the annual maintenance fund.[72] She retired from the management of the orchestra in 1933, at which time she looked back on the experience as "a joyous crusade to make music permanent and vital in the life of a great and growing city."[73]

These major symphonies, as well as orchestras in smaller cities, soon came to realize that season-ticket sales to the general public and guarantee funds would eventually have to be augmented by a more stable source of income: the endowment fund.[74] While many such funds were established by single individuals or couples (e.g., Annie and Charles Taft in Cincinnati [1927], Joseph Pulitzer in New York [1911], Edward O. Bok in Philadelphia [1916], and Elisabeth and John Severance in Cleveland [1929]), symphony women remained committed to collecting from a broad-based constituency. Women's committees had "long acted on the principle that the active interest of many people was a necessity in building up an


orchestra."[75] But, perhaps inevitably, the establishment of endowments increasingly focused attention on a small number of very wealthy contributors—many of them men—and as a result precipitated organizational restructuring.

In New York, Joseph Pulitzer's bequest to the Philharmonic hastened the formation of a new board of directors, but several members of the guarantors' committee, including Mary Seney, were retained.[76] A decade later a women's auxiliary board was established, whose influence on policy matters was as limited as its name suggests.[77] After the Cincinnati Institute of Fine Arts assumed control of the Cincinnati Orchestra in 1929, seven men and two women were appointed as trustees and eighteen women were named to an—again, subordinate—advisory board.[78]

Women's Public Role As Cultural Nurturers

It is clear from the writings of women organizers of concert series and symphony orchestras that they saw their support as a way of exercising influence and power in public. Admittedly, their published words were shaped by a consideration of their audience and the social prescriptions it accepted as God-given.[79] The writings of women like Marie Benedict and Rose Fay Thomas repeatedly emphasize the ennobling influence of music and, in consequence, the ability and responsibility of these various women's organizations to elevate the public taste.[80] Women, Thomas wrote in 1899, provided an "immense service to the community by bringing to its city a number of times each season the very best musicians, and that not in a variety programme of trashy 'popular' selections, but in a serious and worthy programme wherein the artists render the best music in the best way, thus exerting a powerful influence in elevation of the public taste."[81] In doing so, these women may have unwittingly espoused the definition of "best" in the same way that women philanthropists of art reinforced notions of cultural elitism. As Kathleen McCarthy has shown, women "helped to bolster a definition of 'fine art' in which women's contributions were largely absent or unsung,"[82] and "in the process, they unwittingly condoned not only their isolation, but that of other women as well."[83]

As the decades progressed in the twentieth century, the "best" music became more and more synonymous with "conservative," and women's clubs struggled with the larger question of espousing the "vernacular" tradition in music. A notable example of this conflict occurred in the Treble Clef Club of Washington, D.C., a group of African-American women whose stand—despite their obvious cultural heritage—was typical of other clubs. In her "History of the Treble Clef Club," Gregoria Fraser Goins relates that in the late nineteenth century the club members were determined "that there should be no jazz on our program, [and] we did everything we could to preserve good music."[84] Over the years, though, members came to alter their concept of what was "good music" and recognized the value of their own heritage, so that by 1925 they were devoting every third meeting to a study of African-American music, and on one occasion, after a pro-


gram on blues, even sang several numbers themselves ("St. Louis Blues," "Basement Blues," "Turner Blues"). The club's minutes add: "We agreed that after all there is a blue streak in each and every one of us."[85]

There is evidence of some tension about popular music in other venues as well. The threatened inclusion of one of Scott Joplin's rags, "Bedelia," on an all-request program troubled the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's board. The conductor, Frank van der Stucken, resolved the dilemma by refusing to perform the work, offering as an excuse that he thought the orchestra "not capable of giving it an authoritative rendition."[86]

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of women's adoption of the cause of musical culture is the way it interacted with accepted views of their proper role or sphere. For many a woman around the turn of the century, separate spheres of influence were a given, and she accepted the notion that "between them there can be no conflict. Man shouts the battle hymn while woman croons the lullaby; man wins the kingdom home, while woman guard its sacred precincts. To man be the honor of owning it, to woman the glory of keeping it."[87] Women's music clubs, by their very nature, challenged this socially accepted notion of woman's place in the home, or at least expanded its definition of "home"—or, as we have seen, the "establishment"—to include public activities for the benefit of professional arts institutions. By their working together, women were able to break out of this seclusion, yet it remained a paradox that, as one prominent clubwoman put it, "women, while being made responsible for social conditions, have been condemned to individual isolation."[88] The rhetoric of women's clubs around the turn of the century reflects a consciousness of having been consigned to a position of "inferiority and subjection to men" and an awareness that through their work in clubs they were the bearers of the majority of the world's moral and benevolent burdens.[89] Women viewed their activities as serving "to correct the defects of man's activities and to supplement his work toward higher and better conditions of life."[90] In short, women saw themselves as assuming the role of men's moral conscience.

How one viewed acquiescence to this burden of conscience varied with the observer. To some, it was a "substitute for intellectual equality," a mantle of moral superiority to be "dropped as soon as the substitute was no longer necessary."[91] Others accepted the situation more complacently, while still others—like Amy Fay—fearlessly condemned women's long-standing helpmate status in music:

Women have been too much taken up with helping and encouraging men to place a proper value on their own talent, which they are too prone to underestimate and to think not worth making the most of. Their whole training, from time immemorial, has tended to make them take an intense interest in the work of men and to stimulate them to their best efforts. Ruskin was quite right when he so patronizingly said the "Woman's chief function is praise." She has praised and praised, and kept herself in abeyance.[92]

If Fay was uncomfortable with the existing arrangements, some men (and women) worried that even what Fay would have considered a relatively timid in-


volvement in "out-of-home" activities might do damage to home and family. "I am persuaded that there are Women's Clubs whose objects and intents are not truly harmful, but harmful in a way that directly menaces the integrity of our homes," the former U.S. president Grover Cleveland was quoted as saying.[93] Fortunately, such worries were not often articulated in print: even the male-dominated musical press trumpeted its praise for the work of women's clubs, and the anonymous C. A. proclaimed that "were it not for the tremendous influence of women in American musical life, there would practically be no musical life in America."[94] One writer, who wisely chose to remain anonymous, gave only back-handed and grudging recognition, saying, "Women, with all their faults, are doing their part to improve the world."[95] More often, though, men's published comments were typified by the sentiments of composer George W. Chadwick: "I believe that women and women's clubs . . . are doing more for the country in the dissemination of good music than any other element."[96]

The Perpetuation of Cultural Hierarchy

How are we then to evaluate the self-mobilization of thousands of women in the interests of musical art? Darker sides of the phenomenon certainly suggest themselves. When women prodded people to listen only to masterworks and, in the process, treated the public at times as their students and the concert hall as their classroom, they promoted (if inadvertently) the notion that serious music could only be approached and appreciated in a solemn, quasi-religious spirit, a notion that over the years contributed to making the greater American public feel vaguely inadequate in the face of "great music." Similarly, their philosophy that music could only be appreciated through the best performances reinforced the gradual transformation of the music lover in America from a consumer-practitioner to a more passive consumer-listener.

Most serious of all, perhaps, however much success the women had at cultivating a reliable platoon of art-music followers, however much money they themselves contributed or coaxed from others, however many halls they constructed, however much they shaped the repertoire, they rarely played a part in the ritual itself, whether as composers, conductors, or even instrumentalists. The concert hall became what Linda Kerber calls a woman's space,[97] but only in a limited sense, for the socially valued and financially rewarded places in that space remained open almost solely to men.[98]

Women were restricted to being supporters and "keepers"—not makers—of musical culture in their communities, in accordance with the prevailing sex/gender prescription of women as servers.[99] Indeed, their willingness to act as the moral conscience of capitalistic culture may also have had the function of letting men "off the hook" for the damaging side-effects of industrialization. The terms of the agreement guaranteed men control of the concert-music performance ritual, free labor to sustain concert series and symphony orchestra institutions, and


the use of these organizations as symbols for generating wealth and attracting money to the community. At the same time, many women welcomed the role of cultural nurturer, seeing in it an avenue to power and public influence.[100] The success of the cultural symbols validated, and to some extent continues to validate, the identity that they had been awarded and had awarded themselves, but at the same time led to the continued celebration of a sacred music rite by a privileged few.

The phenomenon, taken all in all, must be at one and the same time praised and deplored. Through their work as "keepers of culture," thousands of women wove a meaningful pattern in their lives and created a fertile soil in which art music, for many decades, could thrive in the midst of a capitalistic society inimical to activities deemed unproductive and unprofitable. That their work simultaneously perpetuated a cultural hierarchy that excluded the women themselves from active participation and intimidated those (especially of the lower classes) untrained in the social conventions of the concert ritual encourages us to question certain basic assumptions of the concert-hall tradition itself as well as to examine the assignments of value within the patriarchal and class-bound sex/gender system that framed women's roles.

Vignette C—
"The Facts of (Music Club) Life" in the 1960s As Seen by Mother and Daughter

Mary Natvig

They were a constant presence in the house on Lake Drive; if they were not physically there, there, then they were calling on the phone or dropping off file folders, mailings, and the like. They wore town-and-country clothes and had little purses like baskets for the daytime and elegant sequined bags for the evening. These were the ladies of the arts boards, an army of volunteers who infiltrated my childhood like mosquitoes in a swamp. They lived in my neighborhood. I babysat for their children, sold them girl scout cookies, and my very own mother was in their ranks. I don't know why I had such contempt for them. Maybe it was their country-club memberships, or the fake Eastern accents (in Milwaukee of all places) that a few of them had acquired. Maybe it was because they seemed to know more about the proper time to wear white shoes than about the symphonies of Beethoven. Perhaps I realized early on that I was a real musician (or wanted to be), not merely a bystander, a superficial "supporter of the arts." Maybe I was just spoiled and didn't appreciate all of the opportunities to which I was being exposed, or maybe it bothered the hell out of me that an enormous number of intelligent and talented women were busting their guts for no pay and a paltry bit of recognition. It was probably a combination of all of these, but I know I decided early on that I would never be one of them.

My distaste for the "society ladies" (as my friends and I used to call them) has lessened over the years, probably because I managed to avoid their ranks, even though everything in my genetic and social code ordained my joining them. And I realize now that the opportunities for me were great as a child, sitting in on rehearsals, going to concerts at a very young age, meeting musicians. Still, I always felt the gulf between me, the child of the board member, and those with whom I most identified, the musicians. The chasm was finally bridged when my high-school string quartet began taking gigs, and we played at the very prestigious club where my father was a member and where I had dined all my life. But now, wearing


black and carrying a violin case, I had to go in a different door and take a different elevator. I felt I had truly defined the course of my life when I found myself sitting happily in the kitchen on breaks with the waiters and waitresses who had served me since my toddlerhood.

My mother's version of her life as a "society lady" is decidedly different, as I was not surprised to learn when I interviewed her on this subject recently. She grew up in a small town in a household full of music; her father and grandmother were outstanding church organists and her mother a talented singer. "I just can't imagine a life without music. I first got started in Milwaukee with the Bel Canto Chorus because, when I was a student in Ann Arbor, I sang with the Choral Union, a similar group. One of my neighbors, who was a pretty good alto, invited me to a rehearsal. I got started [as a singer] and obviously was put on the board shortly after that." Why "obviously" "Well, we were suburban ladies, interested in things, and my husband was a physician, well known in the community, and this is what the other board members consisted of. Those are sometimes the facts of life. And so we did the work, sold the tickets, and helped pay the musicians."

My mother went on to reminisce about her work on the boards of the Bel Canto Chorus, Music for Youth, and the MacDowell Club (the MacDowell Colony had been "one of the philanthropic causes" of her college sorority), and her work with the United Performing Arts Fund, a funding coalition of seven arts groups (at the time) in Milwaukee that included the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Florentine Opera, and the Repertory Theater, among others. I asked about the gender mix on these boards and she told me that they were about half men and half women. (Strangely, however, I can only remember the women.) " They were composed of civic leaders, bankers, people in business who enjoyed music and wanted to keep the performing arts alive. Although ticket chairman [in Bel Canto Chorus] was always a woman." Why? "I don't know, maybe because they were the only ones who had the time to do it."

My mother spoke of her work procuring a piano for the MacDowell Club, of selling tickets, and filling the seats of the Performing Arts Center from our dining-room table (free use of a bank office had proved impractical from the women's point of view: "You had to be there all the time"), of a party for Alexander Schneider, tennis with New York tenors, soliciting for arts-fund campaigns, and her board's commissioning of Gian Carlo Menotti's Landscapes and Remembrances for the American bicentennial.

The Menotti visit was a disappointment in some ways. "It was supposed to have been a full[-length] concert piece, but he didn't really fulfill his obligations." Still, Menotti arranged for several of the board members to meet Beverly Sills, who was singing Lucia di Lammermoor at the city's Florentine Opera. More significant, he got the Bel Canto Chorus invited to sing Verdi's Requiem at the Spoleto Festival in Italy, a trip that ended up including concerts by the chorus alone at San Marco in Venice and other notable churches.

"I thought we were the movers and shakers. There was a need for [music] in the community and we did it. As a patron of the arts you can't consider me a huge donor, yet I did


a great deal and donated much to both the performing arts funds and the boards, but I donated time. In other words, I wasn't going to give $10,000 a year. I couldn't afford it, but neither could they afford to pay me for the time that I and several other board members worked."

Through my mother's eyes, and with my own adult perspective, the society ladies from my childhood hardly seem as pernicious as I thought they were. Now I call them patrons and for some years have appreciated the enormous work they did for the arts community, although I sometimes wonder why they did it. My mother, who worked relentlessly for the arts when I was growing up, and who says she can't imagine life without music, never goes to concerts anymore.

She does, though, listen to recordings—a new feature in her life. My sisters and I presented her with a compact disc player three years ago and since then she has accumulated a small collection of CD's. Unlike most music lovers, however, she hasn't had the problem of figuring out what to do with her old records. Strangely enough, my family never had a stereo while I was growing up, although we could easily have afforded one. We had a radio and a reel-to-reel tape player, which we used primarily to record our practices or to hear tapes of our concerts. For us, music was something you made yourself or went out of the house to hear. We grew up knowing that music was a valuable commodity. Although my personal choice was to participate in music as a violinist and musicologist, I sometimes wonder who took over my mother's job. What happened to the army of women volunteers who committed their lives, for whatever reason, to ensure that the tickets were sold and that music had a place in my life and in my community?


Living with Music:
Isabella Stewart Gardner

Ralph P. Locke

"I know the key to your heart is music."

In 1860 the twenty-year old Isabella Stewart, daughter of a wealthy New York importer and iron manufacturer and his modest, genteel wife (herself daughter of tavern keepers), married John Lowell Gardner of Boston, heir to a fortune made in the East India trade. They soon established themselves in a splendid new townhouse in Boston's fashionable Back Bay; thus might have begun the career of a Proper Bostonian lady.

But Belle Gardner simply could not be held down. Over the next sixty-four years her playful extravagances, her romantic liaisons (real and purported), and her paradoxical fondness for both public display and intense privacy made her a living legend in Boston.[1] She was seen driving around the city in a carriage with two lion cubs,[2] she was painted in décolleté by John Singer Sargent against a sixteenth-century brocade that seemed to surround her head with halos, and she showed up at parties swathed in layers of gauze as an Egyptian "nautch girl," or wearing in her hair two large diamonds (12 and 27 carats), attached to bobbing gold antennas (fig. 5).[3] Although snubbed at first by the local gentry, in part for the sometimes scandalous cut of her clothes, in part simply for being from New York, she succeeded in making herself a figure of admiration and envy, capable of keeping the city in "a state of social excitement" (as the society magazine Town Topics put it).[4] Even today, the legend that was Isabella Stewart Gardner is alive, sustained by the renown of the astonishing art museum that she built as a home for herself and for her treasures after her husband's death in 1898 and that has been open to the public since soon after her own death in 1924. (She herself had opened it to the public on certain days, but the strain became too great, and in her last years she admitted only select individuals.)[5]

The Gardner Museum today speaks eloquently of its founder's passion for painting, yet she was also drawn to other, more ephemeral arts, such as theater, dance, and music. Unfortunately, musical and other performances that took place

This essay is part of my ongoing study of musical materials in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. A draft version of my catalogue of the museum's musical manuscripts, letters of musicians, signed photos, and the like has been deposited in the museum. I would like to thank the following for help and information of various kinds: Cyrilla Barr, Wilma Reid Cipolla, Mary Wallace Davidson, Dena P. Epstein, Philip Gossett, Anne Higonnet, Ellen Knight, Vivian Perlis, Sharon Saunders, the late Nicholas Slonimsky (who shared some enriching recollections of Gebhard and Loeffler), Ruth A. Solie, Rose R. Subotnik, Gretchen Wheelock, the staffs of the Harvard University libraries and the Library of Congress (notably Gillian B. Anderson, James W. Pruett, Wayne D. Shirley, and Robert Saladini), and numerous helpful staff members (present and past) of the Gardner Museum, especially Anne Hawley, Rollin van N. Hadley, Karen E. Haas, Patrick MacMahon, Susan Sinclair—and especially Paula Kozol, who got me started on it all.

All unpublished letters cited here, by Gardner (cited as ISG) and her correspondents, are in the Gardner Museum, unless otherwise stated; for the letters from Loeffler, I follow the numerical order in which they appear in the microfilms of the Archives of American Art. (Gardner's letters to Loeffler are in the Charles Martin Tornov Loeffler Collection, in the Music Division of the Library of Congress.) For most of the letters, especially when quoting specific words, I have consulted the original document or a microfilm version, although I have occasionally used typed transcriptions in the possession of the Gardner Museum. My own transcriptions preserve in nearly all cases the writer's punctuation (eccentric but expressive in Higginson's case) and spelling. Many musicians' letters to ISG are on rotating display in the museum's Yellow Room (where she herself displayed them all, in a crowded and overlapping fashion that maximized the number of famous signatures on view); also belonging to the Yellow Room are various of ISG's musical memorabilia (e.g., portraits of musicians by Sargent, composers' manuscripts, a Beethoven life mask, a cast of Loeffler's hand) and cabinet photos of renowned performers.



Fig. 5.
Dinner in the Music Room at 150–152 Beacon Street before the
Myopia Hunt Club Ball, 1891. Casts of friezes of angels making
music (from the workshop of Andrea della Robbia and based
on Andrea's tabernacle in the Duomo, Florence) can be glimpsed
above the doors (directly and in a mirror). Isabella looks into
the camera, two large diamonds glowing in her hair. Jack Gardner
stands. The other guests seem to be mostly or all unmarried: the
women are identified as "Miss" in the Museum's records. The full
roster includes (front of table, center) Alice Forbes Perkins,
Francis Peabody; (around the table, from left) Frank Seabury,
Augustus Gardner (not visible, behind Alice Perkins's head), Ellen
T. Bullard, John L. Gardner, Anna D. Anderson, Isabella Stewart
Gardner, R. M. Appleton. The Gardners' piano, draped, is visible
to the right. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Archives, Boston.

in well-to-do homes around the turn of the century were inadequately recorded in newspapers and music journals, precisely because they were not "commercial" in the usual sense—that is, not open to the public.[6] In the present case, however, much revelatory correspondence survives, at the Gardner Museum and occasionally elsewhere (and the correspondence with the Berensons, at least, is available in a recent, exemplary edition); when supplemented by information in Gardner's account books and other documents, and in two valuable but (in different ways) inadequate published biographies, these letters enable us to restore her love of instrumental music, song, and opera to the position it deserves in her biography, as well as to touch repeatedly on some issues of more general import: the process by which musical taste was formed around 1900, the problematic nature of private patronage in a democratic society, and the special role that wealthy women have


played in America's artistic life. Gardner's involvement in music, not surprisingly, proves to be typical for a woman of her class and means, yet also extraordinary. We must be careful not to underestimate the historical significance of the extraordinary. Gardner's case, precisely in its unique aspects, reminds us how much could, in America's era of merchant princes, be accomplished and be personally, sometimes idiosyncratically, shaped by an individual devoted to music and endowed with the financial means, energy, imagination, and stubborn selfishness that can put that devotion to work.

"The Key to Her Heart":
Music in a Life

The arts always held a proud place in the life of Isabella Stewart Gardner. As a girl and young woman in New York City, she was privately educated (attending the Miss Okill School) and acquired fair skill at sketching and watercolor. Her biographer Louise Hall Tharp informs us, although without documenting the claim, that young Isabella also learned to read music well. Presumably, this means "well" by nonmusician standards—that is, she may have been able to follow a score, more or less, and play simple pieces, or at least pick out melodies and chords, at the piano. (As a grown woman, Gardner rarely drew, however, and never played an instrument.) Clearly, her appreciation of the arts was keen and her exposure to first-rate practitioners extensive, both in New York—not least at her family's church, Grace Episcopal Cathedral (the English composer George Loder was the distinguished organist and music director)—and in France and Italy, where at seventeen she was taken by her parents for more than a year of travel and additional schooling. If, as Tharp concludes, this exposure only made the young Isabella Stewart feel unsatisfied with her own amateur accomplishments, she was not alone: upper-class American women in the later nineteenth century were generally growing impatient with the traditional female role of providing modest entertainment at the keyboard for family and guests.[7]

Whatever the motivation, Gardner's musical passion found its primary outlet in concertgoing. After settling in Boston, she faithfully attended the concerts of the Harvard Musical Association (an important predecessor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra); whenever she returned to New York for a visit, she took in great quantities of music and theater.[8] In addition, the Gardners' passion for world travel brought them into contact with some distinctive musical experiences, which Isabella vividly reported in letters and diaries. Thailand: a priest, overheard chanting by moonlight. Java: a court reception at which "a large orchestra [i.e., gamelan] in the shadow . . . played most strange music and with a strange fascination. The whole thing under one's breath, and as if something were going to happen." Egypt: a muezzin; dervishes dancing to a darabukka drum; music of shepherd pipes coming "to us from all the hillsides"; and—at an American Mission School—boys singing a familiar Protestant hymn in Arabic, which, Gardner noted, "startled and affected me." Venice: music in a Hungarian-style café, and a moonlight ride through the lagoon in Guillermo's "music boat" to the sounds of "a delightful ser-


enade" (as Jack described it to a friend). Vienna: waltzes conducted by Eduard Strauss in the Volksgarten. Berlin: the Joachim Quartet. Paris: Jules Massenet, who played his new opera La Navarraise to Isabella at the piano.[9]

By the 1880s Isabella and Jack had become pilgrims to the Wagner Festival at Bayreuth (they went together four times, and she went one other time without Jack), were spending every other summer in Venice, were hobnobbing with the rich and famous (e.g., Princess Metternich), and were beginning to collect paintings, rare books, and manuscripts, as well as signed photos of notable opera singers and other musicians.[10] Both at home and abroad, they were also attracting talented friends who were to remain faithful to them for life; among these were a number of major writers, artists, and scholars (Henry James, John Singer Sargent, Bernard Berenson), and musicians as well (including the composer-pianist Clayton Johns and Wilhelm Gericke, conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra). In 1880 the Gardners acquired a house that adjoined their Beacon Street home and, by knocking down several walls, created a first-floor music room big enough for concerts by chamber ensembles or even a medium-sized orchestra, although the space was by no means as big or high-ceilinged as the Music Room in the future Fenway Court.[11]

How much Jack Gardner himself cared for music is a bit of a mystery. Tharp states that he was "well educated in music and sufficiently fond of it," but she claims repeatedly, and with a touch of ridicule, that he was less interested in music than his wife and that, in particular, he disliked Wagner. A careful examination of the evidence, though, reveals that Tharp has exaggerated the difference between the spouses in musical matters; in particular, Jack's supposed dislike of Wagner's music derives from Tharp's skewed reading of a single remark in a letter to Isabella from Gericke.[12]

But even allowing for errors and overstatements, Tharp's basic point remains perfectly plausible and even likely—namely, that Jack was less obsessively enamored of music and art than was La Donna Isabella (as friends called her). Indeed, one would be astonished had it been otherwise, given the extraordinary intensity of Gardner's artistic passions and the fact that the cultivation of the arts was at the time widely considered part of a society lady's domain and even responsibility, while her husband tended to business and financial matters.[13]

The more relevant question is not whether Jack always shared his wife's taste in music (or in paintings, poetry, or diamonds), but whether he encouraged, supported, and "indulged" his wife's tastes (as her first biographer, Morris Carter, who knew her well, put it).[14] The answer seems from the evidence to be an over-whelming "yes," even if, as has been suggested, he swallowed hard at some of her most extravagant purchases. His support, one suspects, derived in part from self-interest: the lavish parties, with splendid music, that Isabella organized surely helped confirm Jack's status among his peers, no less than did the $100,000 Titian (The Rape of Europa ) that hung in the drawing room of 152 Beacon Street.[15]

But Jack's support of her schemes and projects derived primarily from something deeper—namely, his devotion to her. He seems to have enjoyed the splash


and unpredictability—the sense of fun—that she brought into his predominantly practical and duty-bound life,[16] and he also seems to have understood her emotional needs. For one thing, her rejection by the Bostonian matrons during their first married years must have hurt Jack and certainly seems to have brought them closer together. Far worse, their adored child Jackie (John L. Gardner, Jr.) died in 1865 at the age of 20 months, and Isabella was subsequently informed that she could never again risk becoming pregnant.[17] Isabella plunged into a deep depression until Jack helped her find her bearings again by taking her to Europe (she was carried up the gangway on a mattress) for several revivifying months of touring, museums, and concerts in Scandinavia and Russia, Vienna, and Paris.[18]

From that point on—and they had three decades more together—Jack seems rarely to have flinched at the expense of time, effort, or cash that Isabella poured into the arts, nor indeed objected to her welcoming various handsome young male artists and musicians into her entourage (see, e.g., fig. 6). Whatever limits were imposed on their collecting and other artistic activities seem to have come from a mutual awareness that their financial resources were substantially slimmer than, say, those of Andrew Carnegie or the Vanderbilts.[19] Henry Lee Higginson, the founder of the Boston Symphony and one of Jack's closest friends, summed the situation up fairly in a letter to Mrs. Gardner years after Jack's death: "You conceived nobly and have lived beyond your conception—of beauty and duty. Clearly it was your dream, and Jack helped you as he could [my emphasis]. To our country full of life and enterprise what dream could have accomplished more?"[20]

The constraints on the Gardners' collecting habits were lifted a good bit in 1891, when Mrs. Gardner's father died, leaving her $1,600,000.[21] Some of the major works in the Gardner Museum were purchased in the next few years, including, significantly, a scene of domestic music-making: Vermeer's The Concert . During the mid 1890s, the Gardners also developed the idea of building a spacious new house-cum -museum. When Jack died in December 1898, Isabella—although 58 years old—carried out the plan, thanks in part to Jack's estate of $2,300,000 (his will trustingly permitted her to tap the principal).[22] She did her part as well, instituting economies in such areas as food and servants, even bragging at times about having to darn her own stockings.[23]

"Fenway Court," as she called the new structure, is a four-story palazzo (address: 2 Palace Road) but turned outside-in, as befits a northern climate: the outer walls have few windows; instead, carved stone balconies from a mansion in Venice, where they faced outward to the canals, open onto a central courtyard that was and still is filled with flowering plants year-round (fig. 7), thanks to a protective glass roof. The building was unveiled on New Year's Day 1903, in a memorable evening that included a concert—in the large "Music Room"—by fifty members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Gericke.

In the years that followed, Fenway Court, like Isabella's previous home, served as a meeting place for local musicians and a stopping point for visiting Europeans (e.g., Pablo Casals, Ferruccio Busoni, Vincent d'Indy).[24] Gardner had now become



Fig. 6.
In the gardens at "Green Hill," the Gardners' country home in
Brookline, Massachusetts, June 1903. From left: Richard Fisher,
Isabella Stewart Gardner, two unidentified young men,
and the tousle-headed pianist (and future New England
Conservatory professor) George Proctor. Isabella Stewart
Gardner Museum Archives, Boston.

a tantalizing, often veiled eminence (fig. 8). She opened the galleries and Music Room on selected occasions, including by-invitation-only social events and fundraising performances for charities but also a small number of serious concerts open to the general public; these latter included two full seasons of Kneisel Quartet concerts, 1908–10 (including the premiere of Arthur Foote's Second Piano Trio, Op. 65, with the composer at the keyboard), several seasons of concerts arranged by Julia Terry, a 1908 Walter Damrosch lecture on Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande (coordinated with the performances at the Boston Opera Company under André Caplet), and an early performance (by the Flonzaley Quartet) of the Schoenberg String Quartet No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 7.[25]

By 1914 Gardner, aged seventy-four, was losing interest in mammoth social gatherings and feeling the need for ever more wall space to display paintings and tapestries. The Music Room was therefore split horizontally to create new and separate upstairs and downstairs areas.[26] Solo recitals and chamber music thenceforth took place in the newly created second-floor Tapestry Room. (The tradition continues: recitals are given twice a week in the Gardner Museum today, in the same room.) Beginning in late 1919, when Gardner was partially paralyzed by a stroke, she particularly appreciated the musical ministrations of the violinist Charles Martin Loeffler, the pianist Heinrich Gebhard, and others (see Vignette D), and the piano recitals by students of her former "musical protégé" (as she her-



Fig. 7.
The glass-roofed courtyard at Fenway Court (built 1899–1902), including at
rear the stairs from which Dame Nellie Melba sang.
Photograph by Greg Heins, 1981; Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Archives, Boston.



Fig. 8.
Isabella Stewart Gardner, lover of things old and rare, in 1907.
Photograph by O. Rosenheim, London, taken at the home
of Henry Yates Thompson; Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Archives, Boston.

self once put it), the New England Conservatory professor George Proctor.[27] At eighty-two, two years before her death, the bedridden Gardner reported to a correspondent: "I think my mind is all right and I live on it. . . . I really lead an interesting life. I have music, and both young and old friends. The appropriately old are too old—they seem to have given up the world. Not so I, and I even shove some of the young ones rather close."[28]

Music at Home

Of the three major aspects of Gardner's musical activities to be discussed here—music at home, patronage of individual musicians, and sponsorship of Boston's musical institutions—the most basic was the first. She believed deeply that for art and music to thrive, they must be integrated into the fabric of daily existence. This conviction led her to incorporate things of beauty into her own surroundings, at times mixing—in a single room—paintings, drawings, tapestries, religious vestments, and other decorative objects, and often juxtaposing items from different periods and countries.[29] Music, similarly, added beauty to life. When the courtside windows were open, the sounds of music (Gregorian chant, for example) could


float in and out of the various spaces, enhancing the mood of a social occasion—especially at night, as visitors strolled through galleries lighted by fireplaces, candles, Chinese lanterns.[30]

Gardner also knew how to do the reverse: to place decor and mood at the service of music. This is seen particularly in the frequent formal concerts and recitals that she held in her great Music Room in Fenway Court. The Boston music critic William Foster Apthorp wrote nostalgically to Gardner in 1908 while on a trip in far-off Egypt: "I hear little birds every now and then sing of Fenway Court and its wonders. . . . Your music-room is the one place of the sort where you are not reminded of 'music in the parlour' (which I abominate) nor of a 'concert' (which I enjoy merely professionally). You ought to give a course of lectures . . . on Artistic Atmosphere."[31] Apthorp particularly appreciated the Music Room's white plaster walls, bare wood floors, and simple straw-bottomed chairs (fig. 9), writing, in a concert review, that he knew of "nothing at once more inspiring and more restful. It encourages music without interfering with it."[32] Moreover, the hall had splendid acoustics, as Busoni and other visitors were astonished to discover.[33] The alert among them may also have noticed, after leaving the Music Room to wander through the galleries, that certain of the art works continued the musical theme in one or another way, such as Vermeer's The Concert , Gerard Terborch's A Lesson on the Lute , and pieces by Whistler entitled Harmony, Nocturne , and even Symphony in White .[34]

Both during her married years and afterward, Gardner must have prided herself on maintaining high aesthetic standards in her music, just as she did in the various paintings that lined her walls, and her friends must have known it. In 1892, when she was in Venice, her young admirer Thomas Russell Sullivan felt free to write mockingly to her of Boston's social life, clearly aware that she would share his disdain for people who gave "band-concerts and things on their lawns in the moonlight."[35] Gardner's way of breaking with this kind of mundane atmosphere—in which music often served as an innocuous, conventional background hum to the real business of eating, drinking, and socializing—was to insist on presenting first-rate music, some of it fairly unusual. Indeed, the very fact that she often held formal concerts, with printed tickets for her guests and with no refreshments until after the music, already set her apart from most hostesses of her day.[36]

Gardner, although unusual, was not unique in maintaining high musical standards in her home. In his memoirs, Clayton Johns mentions hearing visiting artists such as Paderewski, Pol Plançon, Lilli Lehmann, and Melba, either in formal or impromptu performance, at the homes of Mr. and Mrs. Dixey and of Mr. and Mrs. J. Montgomery Sears; the Searses had a music room that, like the Gardners', could and at times did present the Boston Symphony Orchestra to a substantial audience.[37] The noted pianist Heinrich Gebhard later recalled playing recitals, some solo, some with Loeffler or other musicians, at various homes: particularly notable are, at Fanny Mason's house, a performance of some songs of Loeffler's with the visiting soprano Maggie Teyte (renowned as Mélisande in Debussy's opera), and, at the home of the wealthy poet Amy Lowell, some highly gratifying,



Fig. 9.
The Music Room at Fenway Court (eventually demolished in 1914–15).
Photograph, ca. 1910, by Thomas E. Marr and Son; Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Archives, Boston.

rather Bloomsburyesque evenings in which a hand-chosen seven or eight guests, including Gebhard, partook of a "luscious" dinner, engaged in "intense conversation" about modern poetry ("I said very little but listened enthralled"), and at ten moved to the music room for Gebhard's performances, which (at Lowell's insistence) were interspersed with long pauses for silent reflection or pensive discussion of the piece just played.[38] Nevertheless, these serious recitals were surely the exception to the rule, which might be better represented by another affair at Fanny Mason's: there was not enough space for all the guests in the music room, a fact that allowed a good deal of talking to go on just outside the door. (Such chatter was, Paderewski reports, a standard, "humiliating" feature in concerts at private homes nearly everywhere he traveled.)[39] Loeffler—a guest in this case—reported the scene to Gardner, knowing that she would share his sentiments: "I will say this of the French singer Mme Goucher and her to me unknown pianist, that neither drowned our conversation in the other rooms!"[40] This may seem disrespectful, coming from a musician who surely appreciated that Gardner, like Amy Lowell, insisted on a decorous silence.[41] But the remark also suggests that the two per-


formers in question were not very captivating; Gardner, in contrast, always made sure that the music was worthy of her guests' attention.

In one respect, at least, the mystery-loving Mrs. Gardner probably went further than Lowell or any other concert-giving hostess in Boston or perhaps anywhere: she refused to reveal in advance who the performers would be, no matter how starry their names. The printed invitations for the opening of Fenway Court did not mention that there would be music at all, never mind that it would consist of a concert by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In March 1905 the surprise entertainment was the great Australian soprano Nellie Melba, who not only sang "a long programme . . . in superb voice" (as Elise Fay wrote to Loeffler, who was sojourning in Europe), but—after dinner, as the guests wandered through the candlelit galleries—sang again from the landing above the courtyard fountain.[42]

The invitations to the first of two Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts chez Gardner in 1888–89 did include the understated word "Music" but gave no further details. This was the concert that, Carter reports, "ended the outward hostility of society to Mrs. Gardner; thereafter it seemed unwise to decline her invitations—it was impossible to foresee what one might be missing."[43] Mrs. Gardner's own behavior at such events must have added a further thrill of anticipation: one never knew whether on a given occasion she would stand modestly at the entrance handing out the printed programs[44] or, as at the Boston Symphony concert that inaugurated Fenway Court in 1903, station herself commandingly on the balcony in the Music Room, at the top of the twin curved staircases, thereby forcing Boston's most distinguished gentlefolk to huff and puff their way up one set of stairs to greet her and then down the other to take their seats.[45]

The program of that night's concert included works from the three categories most often represented in concerts at her various homes: established "classics" from the eighteenth century (in this case a Bach chorale, unspecified, sung by a small chorus, and Mozart's Overture to The Magic Flute ), early-or mid-nineteenth-century German works (Schumann's Overture, Scherzo and Finale, Op. 52), and products of the newer French school (Ernest Chausson's symphonic poem Viviane ).[46] Perhaps for lack of rehearsal time, the concert did not feature any music by young composers such as Gardner liked to encourage. She soon made up for that lack with an elaborate chamber and choral concert dedicated solely to the music of Loeffler, including the world premiere of A Pagan Poem , in a version for two pianos and three trumpets (the latter located out of sight, for dramatic effect).[47]

Mrs. Gardner's taste for modern French music—in which category one might reasonably include the Paris-trained and deeply French-influenced Loeffler—was somewhat advanced for its time, even in Boston, an early center of interest in modern French music.[48] (The repertoire lists for the nation's orchestras around the turn of the century were dominated to a striking degree by music of the Austro-German masters, from Haydn to Brahms and Wagner.)

The all-Loeffler concert is also notable for its mixing of works requiring quite different performing forces: a lengthy piece (as mentioned) for two pianos and


three offstage trumpets, some songs for soprano with piano accompaniment, and a work for women's chorus, solo soprano, viola d'amore obbligato, and piano. Such diversity, impractical in normal concert life, must have felt quite natural in Fenway Court. Gardner's love of juxtapositions may also be seen in the program of a concert given at her country home, "Green Hill," on 10 May 1900 by Loeffler, Proctor (playing piano but also harpsichord, an early instance of this instrument's revival), the Boston Symphony Orchestra cellist Alex Blaess, and the soprano Julia Heinrich:

Rameau. Trios for harpsichord, violin & cello.
Loeffler. Four songs with piano to French texts by Gustave Kahn.
C. P. E. Bach. Solfeggietto, for harpsichord.
Mattheson. Sarabande [presumably for harpsichord].
Martini. [The song] "Plaisir d'amour," arranged for viola d'amore, with harpsichord.

The hostess added further elegance and variety—and perhaps stimulated thoughts about the relationship between traditional Oriental art and recent French trends in art, literature, and music (the latter two represented by the ripely Symbolist and Fauréan Loeffler songs)—by writing the programs out in her characteristically large and assertive handwriting on a number of original Japanese prints; six of these still survive in the Gardner Museum.[49] Mary and Bernard Berenson were appreciative guests at this or another such parties, for Mary wrote from Florence in 1904, "I wonder if you ever have any more of that old, old music that delighted us so at your Tea."[50] Gardner probably made a point of inviting the Berensons—or perhaps cooked up this early-music tea for the Berensons and a few others—because she knew that he, in particular, was fascinated with the possibility of hearing the music of an earlier age whose visual art he knew well.[51]

Many of the performers who played for Gardner and her guests at Fenway Court or occasionally elsewhere were major artists, such as the fabled flamenco dancer Carmencita (in 1890, accompanied by two guitars), Busoni (in 1894—two recitals, one with Loeffler), and the great opera singers Jean and Édouard de Reszke (apparently in late 1891 or 1892).[52] In 1892 Paderewski was being run ragged by a grueling series of public appearances throughout the country at fees of $200–300, far lower than he deserved; he was also getting fed up with being put on display in private homes as a "stunt . . . by ladies in search of celebrities."[53] Perhaps aware of both factors, Gardner paid him $1,000 to perform a meaty program for herself and her husband alone (Beethoven's "Appassionata," Chopin's "Funeral March" Sonata, Schumann Fantasy, plus short pieces). She did, however, hide Clayton Johns behind some tapestries, Polonius-style; after the music, Johns revealed himself and dined with the pianist and the Gardners. Paderewski also agreed to perform a recital, again at the Gardners' expense, in Bumstead Hall in the Music Hall building; Isabella Gardner "sent all the tickets to the musicians of Boston."[54]


Of the musicians who performed at one or another of the Gardners' residences, most were not as well known as Paderewski, but most were likewise highly regarded in professional circles—almost musician's musicians (the archetype perhaps being Loeffler, who was also a personal favorite of Higginson's). A complete list of the performances that they and others gave chez Gardner would probably be impossible to reconstruct: music making seems often to have arisen spontaneously and in more or less private circumstances; indeed, certain of the recitals discussed thus far—even some of the more formal ones, before substantial audiences—are known to us only from a single offhand reference in a letter or memoir. A few further examples, though, will suggest the extent and variety of musical events in Gardner's homes:

1. Clayton Johns gave talks about the music of the upcoming Boston Symphony concerts in the Beacon Street music room (and, in rotation, in other Boston homes), illustrating his points with examples arranged for piano four-hands (the fifteen-year-old George Proctor assisting).[55]

2. A "burlesque orchestra" (presumably in the sense of a "toy symphony") featuring prominent string players from the Boston Symphony playing such instruments as the ocarina (concertmaster Franz Kneisel), autoharp (Loeffler), and trumpet (Timoteusz Adamowski) performed at Isabella Gardner's birthday party in 1898.[56]

3. During Gardner's several months of seclusion after her husband's death, the mezzo-soprano Lena Little arranged for the newly organized Brahms Quartet—apparently an all-female group—to play to her at 152 Beacon Street—with no guests.[57]

4. That summer, Tharp notes, Gardner's house guests in Venice included Little and the young pianist Proctor; "she wrote her friends in Venice that she would give no parties but that they must just come in to hear Miss Little sing."[58]

5. Two years earlier, also in Venice, Gardner rented a largish barca and had a piano put on it so that her house guests Clayton Johns and the British baritone Theodore Byard could perform upon the water (the Gardners' palazzo fronted on the Grand Canal).[59]

6. In 1904, Gardner gave a Christmas dinner for various, as she put it, "waifs and strays" (presumably including herself in that category) at Fenway Court, which ended with music by two of the guests, George Proctor and Lena Little. She drew a diagram of the seating plan in a letter to the Berensons and added: "Principally Art Museum with the two musicians. I had put magnificent little gifts on their plates, and made a rule that all conversation was to be general. So we really talked. Then we had music; Beethoven, Bach, Scarlatti, Chopin, Miss Little sang [Schubert's] 'Who is Sylvia' [based on a song from Shakespeare's Cymbeline ]. Then we made procession and


wandered through the house, the moon pouring down into the court. I think everyone was pleased. If you two had only been here."[60]

Certain of these lesser-than-Paderewski musicians were probably favored by Gardner for their personal graces as well as for their artistry. Adamowski was an outstanding Boston Symphony violinist (frequent soloist with the orchestra and leader of the respected Adamowski Quartet) but also someone who knew how to oil his way with the wealthy: a gossip columnist called him "society's favorite musician" and told of his throwing "a silver smile" from his seat in the orchestra's first violin section "to the happy place where Mrs. Jack Gardner sat."[61] Indeed, a number of musicians were at various times guests plain and simple: George Proctor stayed for a weekend at the Gardners' summer place in Beverly after returning from Vienna; Foote composed his Piano Quartet, Op. 23, and symphonic prologue Francesca da Rimini there during the summers of 1890 and 1891; in 1898, Gericke and his new wife Paula were the season's first visitors at "Green Hill," the Gardners' country home and farm in Brookline; and several musicians (including Little, Proctor, and Melba) were among those privileged to view Fenway Court in 1902, a year before it was officially opened to Boston society.[62]

Related to this emphasis on sociability, and particularly noticeable during the years of the Gardners' marriage, is a fondness for music a shade or two less weighty than the pieces performed on the 1903 Fenway Court concert, although still no lighter than what tended to be performed on the second half of many regular symphony concerts. When Gericke conducted members of the Boston Symphony in two concerts at the Gardners' Beacon Street home in November 1888 and March 1889, the programs included, among other things, Wagner's Siegfried Idyll , three movements apiece from Mozart's "Haffner" Serenade and Beethoven's Eighth Symphony, a Romanze for violin and orchestra by Gericke himself, plus a number of brief orchestral dances, scherzi, and character pieces by Bach (the Pastorale from the Christmas Oratorio), Gluck, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Berlioz, Wagner (the Meistersinger act 3 Prelude and Dances), the Viennese conductor Johann Herbeck, and Brahms (on one program, the Waltzes Op. 39, orchestrated for the occasion by Gericke; on the other, some of the Hungarian Dances).[63] Two of Gardner's closest musical friends during the 1880s and 1890s were composers of rather lightweight, though finely crafted, salon songs: Clayton Johns and the Venetian Pier Adolfo Tirindelli.[64] Gardner occasionally showed enthusiasm for musical numbers of simple, touching quality, such as Martini's song "Plaisir d'amour" or Percy Grainger's arrangement of the "Londonderry Air" (the tune soon to become renowned as "Danny Boy").[65]

Clearly her taste in music, as in everything, was eclectic, and free of simple snobbishness. Gardner was even attracted to certain aspects of popular or "low-brow" culture—boxing matches, magic shows, Red Sox games—and so enjoyed what Carter calls the "honest, red-blooded vulgarity" of the African-American


performer-songwriters Bob Cole and J. Rosamond Johnson. "Mrs. Gardner admired not only their sincerity, but particularly the way they put their feet down. She went many times to see them and recommended [their 1909–10 show] 'The Red Moon' to all of her friends whom she considered up to it." She could even enjoy what Carter calls "such hearty, robust humor as May Irwin's"—referring to the famous white performer of "coon songs" in supposed African-American dialect.[66] But she never went so far as to invite these performers to play at her home.

And, whether outside her home or in it, she could not abide what we might call polite, sentimental "middlebrow" entertainment.[67] In a letter to Loeffler, Gardner snorted at the latest operetta ("What can it mean when people prefer [Oscar Straus's] The Chocolate Soldier [and do not support real opera]?"). Similarly, a letter from Arthur Foote to her indicates that she generally disliked the pretentious, often mawkish songs—the composer in question is the British-born hack who worked under the pseudonym Anton Strelezki—that passed for high art in many American and European drawing rooms.[68]

Patron in a Modern Age

The high quality of the musical works performed in Gardner's home extended as well to the playing and singing, as one may infer from the names (some already mentioned) of the performers of whom she was a patron. But what do we mean by "patronage"? Some of the musicians, we know, were paid directly for their services; for example, the men in the Boston Symphony each received $10 for the 1889 concert (including one rehearsal).[69] It would seem more accurate to say that in such a case Mrs. Gardner was for a few hours the players' "employer." The $1,000 Paderewski recital falls in a middle category between employment and patronage. Clearest are the cases of those musicians whom Mrs. Gardner knew well and who played at her request for her guests.

Patronage relationships, at least in modern times, risk becoming awkward and even volatile. The chief problem—how to reward musicians for services without seeming thereby to reduce them to servant status—was handled by Gardner in a variety of ways. The checkbooks of 1890–96 show that Loeffler and Johns were paid $75 apiece for each of several recitals of sonatas for violin and piano that they gave at Beacon Street to a select audience of about twenty-five;[70] Lena Little and Johns received $244 each for a concert (substantially more, although it is hard to know why).[71] In contrast, when Loeffler played to Gardner and a single guest (John Singer Sargent), the musician graciously but firmly declined—"as an hommage [sic ] to you and Mr. Sargent"—to accept the remuneration she offered.[72] And in later years, especially between Gardner's stroke in 1919 and her death in 1924, Loeffler and the pianist Gebhard repeatedly came—out of pure friendship—to play music to her alone (several of Loeffler's letters offer her Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Franck, Fauré, and d'Indy); by then, she surely knew they would be insulted by any offer of payment.[73]

Gardner nonetheless found appropriate ways of expressing her thanks to her


closest musician friends. She lent her Stradivarius to Adamowski and, later, to Loeffler.[74] In earlier years she and Jack paid the full expenses for a piano recital in Copley Hall by Gebhard; this included hiring sixty-five members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra so that he could play the Schumann Concerto.[75] And the Gardners supported a young pianist, the aforementioned George Proctor, during several years of study in Vienna with the great Theodor Leschetizky.[76]

Musicians, in turn, often did favors for the lady, beyond performing. Some gave her manuscripts and letters of famous composers (as did some friends who were not musicians). Some dedicated one or more works to her, as Busoni did to express appreciation for a $1,000 "loan."[77] And some took her, when in Europe, to visit renowned figures such as Cosima Wagner and (at the resort town of Ischl) Leschetizky, Johannes Brahms, and Johann Strauss, Jr.[78]

In such encounters, the question of who was doing a favor for whom seems to dissolve into something more complex, with both Gardner and her musician friend (e.g., Gericke, who instigated the visit to Brahms, and who interpreted) considering themselves the lucky beneficiaries. Clayton Johns, whom Gericke also brought along, captured in his memoirs the voyeuristic mood of the visit: "I don't remember what anybody said, but we saw Brahms in his little roadside house, the simplest little house you ever saw, and that was the main thing."[79] A similar complex of motivations and interests may have been at work in Loeffler's attempts to arrange for important European musicians (d'Indy, Cortot, Ysaÿe) to tour Fenway Court when concert tours brought them to Boston.[80]

But favor usually traveled a simpler course than this—namely, from the lady to the musicians, and, in Mrs. Gardner's imaginative hands, it could take a wide range of forms particularly suited to the individuals in question. Certain composers, for example, got that most precious of things: "the opportunity to be heard and appreciated by an intelligent audience" (as the composer Clara Kathleen Rogers put it).[81] In Fenway Court, Gardner opened her big Music Room, and her purse, for the all-Loeffler concert mentioned previously, for the 1907 premiere of the final version (for one piano, with orchestra—the Boston Symphony, of course) of Loeffler's Pagan Poem , and, in 1906, for a performance of a one-act opera by Amherst Webber, an English-born pianist and vocal coach (accompanist to Jean de Reszke).[82] She acted as an unpaid agent for Loeffler's music, offering it to publishers in France and the United States,[83] and she penned an article for the London Times in support of an opera by Tirindelli that, she had learned, would not otherwise be reviewed.[84] Even more characteristically, she encouraged and welcomed the interaction of artists in different areas, urging Loeffler to sit for a portrait by the painter Denis Bunker (Bunker died too soon, but Sargent's Loeffler is one of the glories of the Gardner Museum) and securing for Loeffler the right to make a musical setting of the poetic drama The White Fox by her friend (and a noted authority on Japanese art) Okakura Kakuzo, although Loeffler never brought the project to completion. Loeffler, in turn, encouraged her interest in Verlaine, the Goncourt brothers, and Jules Laforgue; indeed, the fact that Loeffler


and Tirindelli both set two of the same Verlaine texts and that all four songs are preserved in manuscript in the museum (along with other songs on French texts by the two) suggests a definite connection to one woman's literary preferences.

Money and expensive gifts were clearly not Gardner's preferred way of expressing appreciation and admiration. Nonetheless, toward the end of her life, she did distribute some of her wealth and possessions to musician friends in a fairly direct manner. As thank-you notes attest, she gave Melba her much-prized yellow diamond, Gebhard her Érard piano, the composer Margaret Ruthven Lang her harpsichord (in remembrance of Lang's father, the noted organist and conductor B.J. Lang), and Clayton Johns $10,000—an even more astonishing sum then than now.[85]

Gardner's generosity and supportiveness were apparently enough for Busoni, Johns, Little, Proctor, and most of the others. But Loeffler, a more sensitive, indeed prickly individual, seems to have wanted something more from her: respect and acceptance. True, from early on they enjoyed each other's company, shared interests musical and literary, and exchanged items that they knew the other would appreciate: for example, he gave her two books by Verlaine—in 1898 and 1919, each time with a Verlaine autograph "stuck in"—as well as a copy of Moby Dick and two major treatises by the German Baroque composer Johann Mattheson,[86] and she, only months after purchasing her Stradivarius violin in 1894, lent it to him for performances of his big Divertimento for violin and orchestra with the Boston Symphony. He also solicited her interest in his works, arranging for her to hear them in advance or discussing their literary sources with her.[87] Nonetheless, for many years Loeffler seems not to have been entirely sure how Gardner felt toward him. Even after she gave him the Strad on indefinite loan in 1898, and after he had dedicated the Divertimento to her,[88] something prevented him from being completely at ease with her (to the extent that he could ever be at ease with anyone: he was engaged to Elise Fay for twenty-four years before agreeing to marry her). Certainly, it rankled that, as he put it in a letter to Gardner, "I know you often wish me different on many points." Around 1904 he began to express resentment about playing for her guests, some of whom, he claimed, had been rude about his playing and his compositions ("I also have feelings!"). He even offered to return the Strad; his use of it presumably made him feel beholden to her, or feel obligated to play when he might prefer not to. When she told him in 1918 that he could keep the instrument forever as a gift, he felt that the air had now been cleared between them and expressed his relief in a heartfelt letter: "One of the pleasures in playing the beautiful Stradivarius was, that it belonged to you and that you intrusted [sic ] it to me. . . . I hardly know now, how to express to you how deeply I am moved." From that point on, their mutual affection flowed undisturbed, she thanking him for being "so constantly kind," he calling her "one of the best friends that ever was."[89]

Loeffler was, by all accounts, a rare and unclassifiable creature: witty and melancholy (by turns, or at the same time), conservative and experimental, European and American, adoring Gregorian chant, Bach, and Fauré but also Duke


Ellington's trumpeters and Broadway shows.[90] There were plenty of reasons why Gardner should have been particularly attracted to him and intrigued by his compositional work. Still, one wonders whether certain other prominent Boston composers—John Knowles Paine, Amy Beach, George Whitefield Chadwick, the young Daniel Gregory Mason—received at least a moderated version of Gardner's special nod, and if not, why not. Perhaps the documents in question simply do not survive (Gardner destroyed part of her archive in her last years).[91] But we must also remember that Gardner had strong likes and dislikes, both in the music she wished to hear and in the kind of people she wished to have around her, and that, in any case, she felt no obligation to support every creative artist in Boston; such are, after all, the privileges (and arguably one of the strengths) of private patronage. She identified proudly, it is true, with Boston and its cultural institutions, but she remained first and foremost a cosmopolitan servant of Art and a defender of absolute aesthetic standards, to be determined by herself. Her motto she inscribed on the front of the Gardner Museum: "C'est mon plaisir."[92]

In the case of Beach, we may also wonder whether Gardner was particularly uncomfortable with the idea of a woman composer or, more generally, a woman "creator." That she purchased no work by women painters proves little, for neither did most other collectors and museum curators. But it does seem relevant that she preferred to surround herself with men—not women—of accomplishment, or else, as the composer Clara Kathleen Rogers put it later, "admiring youths—eager and proud to hold her wrap." (These well-turned young men functioned, it has often been suggested, as surrogate sons, but a flirtatious narcissism was clearly also involved.)[93]

To the extent that she let herself become close to women from outside her family and social set, a few were serious writers and none were composers or painters. (Melba and Lena Little were performing musicians and thus, according to the prevailing ideology, not true creators.) Admittedly, two women composers—Rogers and Lang—had some of their works performed at 152 Beacon Street,[94] but Gardner may have had no say in choosing the selections (the concerts, entirely of music by living Americans—some male, some female were organized by the Manuscript Club), and in any case she seems not to have become particular friendly with either woman. (Rogers recalls in her memoirs that she "never felt drawn to [Gardner]," although also that she defended Gardner against the accusations of the self-righteous.)[95] Gardner did display a signed photograph of Ethel Smyth in the Yellow Room of Fenway Court, but there is no evidence that she pursued a friendship with the British composer or took a special interest in her music. In contrast, Gardner did become close to several wives (or future wives) of men involved in the arts, including Mary Berenson, Corinna Putnam Smith, and Elise Fay Loeffler.[96]

Perhaps the problem was that certain creative women regarded Gardner as inadequate or unaccomplished.[97] Despite her skill at making herself the center of attention, she, as it may have appeared to them, had little concretely original to offer except as an appreciator and arranger of other people's—mostly men's—art,


music, and ideas: the composer Rogers's memoirs speak flatly of Gardner as "an echo rather than a voice."[98] Such a dismissive attitude, which the finely tuned Gardner may well have sensed in Rogers and others, would likely have offended her. In addition, Gardner, ever eager for social approval—for consorting with winners—may have preferred to take some distance from women who were still fighting for recognition from the men in their own field; among the most embattled were, precisely, composers and painters (as opposed to writers, whose ambitions were considered somewhat more acceptably ladylike under the gender code of the day).[99]

Building a City's Music

Our final topic, patronage of institutions, can only be discussed here in a preliminary way; more detail will no doubt be forthcoming as scholars learn more about the origins and economic structure of Boston's many important musical organizations. Gardner was for twelve years (1899–1911) a vice president of the Orchestral Club of Boston—an amateur orchestra—and was a guarantor of the Boston Musical Association, established in 1919 by Georges Longy to perform contemporary works. Both involved female musicians—many of them Loeffler's students—as well as male ones.[100] As a longtime friend of B.J. Lang's,[101] she quite possibly was also a regular sponsor of his several choral societies; she may also have taken some interest in the South End Music School, a settlement-house institution of which her friend Arthur Foote was president for ten years (his daughter Katharine, who was Gardner's goddaughter, taught there).[102] Gardner may have helped to establish the Boston Opera Company in 1909 (she was present when the cornerstone was laid), was "devoted" (says Carter) to certain of the singers (Alice Nielsen, Maria Gay, Giovanni Zenatello, Vanni Marcoux), and served as its link to the exigent Nellie Melba.[103]

Of course, there were limits to the number of different institutions she could support in a major way, and she knew it. When the Opera Company fell on hard times in its second season (it folded five years later), Loeffler as a member of the board, tried to persuade Gardner to help save it. She replied with regret: "If I had not already yoked my chosen heavy load [i.e., the museum] to my shoulders, it would be a joyful thing to be the one to carry this one."[104]

But of all Boston's institutions, in whatever field, it was the Boston Symphony Orchestra that claimed her allegiance most fully. She frequently attended concerts of the Boston Symphony, including its "Pops" series.[105] (When she broke her ankle, she had her servants carry her up to her balcony seat in a hammock.)[106] And in 1916, in the midst of getting the Music Room rebuilt into four separate galleries in time for the announced "public days" at which visitors could tour her collection, she could not stay away from concerts: "The Russian ballet is delightful—and our orchestra a wonder—I am afraid music has a pull!"[107] She was on friendly terms with a number of its players, including the clarinetist Léon Pourtau (who was also an amateur painter), and, to varying degrees, with at least five of its first


eight musical directors: George Henschel, Gericke, Karl Muck, Henri Rabaud, and Pierre Monteux. (But not, as far as the surviving letters reveal, with Emil Paur, Max Fiedler, or Arthur Nikisch; she actively disliked the latter's highly individual Beethoven interpretations.)[108] She was particularly close to Muck and his wife Anita and was one of the few Bostonians to remain loyal to them during World War I, when the aged and ailing German-born conductor was interned in Georgia as an enemy alien and irresponsibly assailed in the press.[109]

Her closest link to the orchestra, though, was through its founder, Henry Lee Higginson. Jack Gardner and Higginson had been business associates as well as friends, and Henry's wife Ida (daughter of the scientist Louis Agassiz) had been a dear friend of Isabella's since their schooldays in Italy. During the early years after Jack's death, Higginson helped manage Isabella's ample finances; letters of Higginson's in the museum show him trying to explain or defend his caution in investing her funds ("I know you like quick stocks").[110] He also did not hesitate to give her advice about how to spread her money around among various worthy musical causes. On one occasion, for example, he urged her not to accede to a request for money from a well-known singer;[111] on another, he told her bluntly that he expected her to do rather more for the Opera Company than, it seems, she had planned:

You've been to the opera this week, & have been more or less edified.
      You know the value to us of an opera on a solid & healthy basis. . . .
      Give these folks a chance and some timely help, & we may get an excellent article.Give them cold water & we shall help to break down an experiment, which will not be repeated in a hurry—The laborers are earnest & able—Spare the criticisms for the minute s.v.p.—Pray go to that meeting tomorrow at 3 o'ck & help in your own way . There are more ways than one, & no quick-witted party (woman) needs hints from a dull-witted party (man) as to the methods.
      Bear a hand, Lady.[112]

Higginson could make such a demand of her because he knew that she shared his own goals for musical life in Boston. In particular, he knew of her devotion to the Boston Symphony. To some extent this devotion was expressed financially. Gardner paid at a fund-raising auction $1,120—nearly fifty times more than the combined box-office value of $24—for a pair of the best subscription seats in the new house (Symphony Hall), a fact reported with astonishment in the Boston Transcript .[113]

It would probably be wrong, though, to overemphasize the Gardners' purely financial contributions to the orchestra."[114] Carter astutely notes that "the rôle of godmother" (rather than parent) to a performing organization "particularly suited her; it did not entail the expense of maintaining the child nor the responsibility for its behavior, but entitled her to take a lively interest in its training."[115] The institution in question is the Boston Opera Company, but the point is surely even more valid for the Boston Symphony, which was from the outset funded by Higginson himself rather than by a consortium of donors. There were countless ways in which a "godmother" or "godfather" might encourage the growth of an orches-


tra; or, as Higginson put it regarding the Boston Opera, there are "more ways than one" to "bear a hand." One might attend concerts regularly, praise the orchestra to one's wealthy and trend-setting friends, hire players for private concerts, welcome visiting conductors and soloists into one's tastefully resplendent home. All of these things, the evidence shows, Gardner did.[116] Most important, she must have helped Higginson feel that the whole project was worthwhile, even during times of crisis and near-despair (such as Muck's internment). In a letter of 1900, Higginson specifically expressed his gratitude that Gardner and her late husband stood by him "throughout my experiments" with the orchestra: "No success is won by one alone. Thank you & the dear old fellow for many, many kind words & kinder deeds."[117] The precise words and deeds that Higginson found so supportive will probably never be known, but the few surviving letters from Higginson leave little doubt that he considered Jack and "Mrs. Gardner" (as he seems always to have called her) his comrades-in-arms in the fight to establish a first-rate symphony orchestra in Boston.[118]

The Path and the Blessing

By way of conclusion, one last pungent letter from Higginson deserves to be quoted here. The immediate impetus behind it is unclear, but Carter reasonably suspects that it refers to the museum. (Gardner had lost a recent skirmish in her long battle over its tax status.)

Boston, June 1, 1905

My dear Mrs. Gardner,

If you think that you are to have a peaceful life, die at once! So soon as a person has shown his capacity to help his fellow creatures and his will to do so, he will be asked again and again—

It is a price and a joy of life—I am glad that you (for your own sake & for Jack's—the kindest man on earth—) have fallen into that class—You chose the path and are a blessing to many men & women.

Very truly,
H. L. Higginson[119]

These words may be justly applied to almost every aspect of Gardner's artistic endeavors and not least to her varied and intensive involvement with music. The pianist Gebhard later recalled the years from 1900 to 1918 as "the 'Golden Age of Music' in Boston,"[120] which, almost by definition, makes it also one of the most distinguished episodes in the history of art music in America. Many music historians would agree with the assessment: during these years major local and visiting interpreters (including the conductors Muck, Nikisch, and Monteux) brought the best of Europe's art music, including the newest masterworks by Debussy and Strauss, to the city; they also promoted the work of the best American composers


of art music (with the notable exception of that puzzling and prickly modernist Charles Ives), including members of what is now called the Second New England School": Loeffler, Arthur Foote, Amy Beach, and George Whitefield Chadwick. Bernard Berenson, writing from Florence, could rightly envy his Boston friend: "How I wish I had been there to hear Loeffler's Pagan Poem! You are in luck to have all that music. Here we are senza ."[121] For helping to foster this musical Golden Age, Berenson's correspondent herself should be given a great deal of credit. Like others in her position, but with a special intensity and flair, and with a true connoisseur's taste, she "chose the path" of fostering beauty in a merchant city. Although not a Bostonian by birth, her irrepressible presence there for over half a century was—in music as in visual art—"a blessing to many men and women."[122]

None of this should imply, though, that Gardner was some kind of saint, or selfless giver; quite the contrary, she could be imperious (as the reminiscence of the violinist Harrison Keller attests—see Vignette D) and artfully attention-getting. But at a time when government and corporate support for the arts was minimal (a condition to which we are, it seems, gradually returning in the waning years of this century), art music could ill afford to rely entirely on saints: nearly as good was a collection of activist supporters who, for whatever reasons of status and ego-gratification, chose to divert some of their wealth away from caviar and silks and toward the masterpieces of the past, the risk-taking composers of the present, and the accomplished singers and instrumentalists who enable musical art and its valued traditions to survive for the enrichment of the future.

Music, it is true, suffered from the whims and prejudices of these moneyed individuals; recent studies have rightly drawn attention to the ways in which concert life in America was framed as something high-toned, socially exclusive, even intimidating, and so lost the chance to develop support among the bulk of the citizenry.[123] Private patronage perhaps inevitably results in what sociologists call a "tension of mission": universities more easily find donors to put up a splendid new building that will bear their name than to repair the roof of an existing one, keep a lid on tuition, or pay a living wage to the graduate students and adjunct faculty who do much of the teaching. But, like a university education, art music would scarcely exist in America—or at least would not be available in sufficient quantity, in worthy performances, and at a price within the means of the average music lover—without those sometimes willful patrons.

Furthermore, and thanks often to their very willfulness, the best of the patrons stamp our musical life with what can fairly be called their own organizational and aesthetic genius. Such a one, in music as well as visual art, was Isabella Stewart Gardner. Her various musical projects—her support of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Opera Company, the Kneisel Quartet, the composer Charles Martin Loeffler, the singer Lena Little, and various young musicians of talent, but also her intriguing, sometimes idiosyncratic, experiments in bringing music new and old out of the concert hall (or out of the dust of the library) and back into the living environment of the home—all deserve the thoughtful atten-


tion of music and social historians and of those who ponder how art music might today become (or become again) a vital part of American society.

Vignette D—
Playing for Mrs. Gardner Alone:
The Violinist Harrison Keller Reminisces

Annotated by Ralph P. Locke

Harrison Keller (1888–1979) was an active young professional violinist when he played for the aging but still imperious Isabella Stewart Gardner with the pianist Heinrich Gebhard, who was one of her devoted musician friends (and later piano teacher to Leonard Bernstein and Lukas Foss).

Keller, who was born in Delphos, Kansas, had settled in Boston, after returning from several years of study in Germany and Russia (finishing up in 1914 with the great Leopold Auer) and then serving for a time in the U.S. Army. He was particularly active in chamber music, eventually founding and leading the Boston String Quartet (1925–47). In 1922, a few years after the rather eventful concert for Gardner that his letter describes, Keller was named head of the string department at the New England Conservatory; from 1947 to 1952 he was that institution's sixth director and thereafter served as president of the board.

The letter printed below was written to Rollin van N. Hadley, director of the Gardner Museum, apparently in response to a request for some reminiscences about the museum's founder.[1] Keller, at eight-three, re-calls with some vividness how he and Gebhard played to Gardner, with no other listeners present, on a certain Christmas Day (year not stated), just before she was felled by a debilitating illness. This sudden illness must be the stroke that she suffered on 26 December 1919, which left her partly paralyzed (although not as continuously bedridden as Keller implies) for five years until her death in 1924.[2] Keller's tone mingles bemusement, professional pride, and lingering admiration for this sometimes puzzling patron of artists and musicians.

Harrison Keller
25 Garden Road
Wellesley Hills, Mass. 02181
December 14th, 1973

Dear Mr. Hadley

I have your letter of the 12th and I am, of course, glad to give you a brief account of one interesting occasion requested by Mrs. Gardner for whom we had often performed works she admired: Franck, Fauré, d'Indy sonatas for violin and piano, etc.

This request or "command performance" was for Christmas Day [1919] at 12 noon for Heinrich Gebhard and myself to play for her a new work which we had introduced both here and in New York. Triptych by Carl Engel [,] a good friend of Mrs. Gardner.

We understood she was ill and would have no guests.

We were ushered into the music room [i.e., the Tapestry Room] and found Mrs. Gardner seated in the window looking into the court[yard], which was a blaze of [floral] color.


She was dressed as though going for a drive, which she so often did—she carried gloves, her bag—and as usual had a slip of paper on which she had noted questions she wished me to answer and waste no time on meaningless conversation.

We proceeded to play the Engel work, then [the] Brahms D-minor Sonata which she had requested. Also—she seemed puzzled by the Engel and delighted with the Brahms—after which she expressed the wish "I would just love to hear the Franck; do you have the music?" I told her no but Mr. G. and I knew it from memory and would gladly play it.—As we started for the piano she called me back with a worried look on her face.—"O, dear no, I just can't bear to have anything happen to it."

She [had] suddenly lost confidence in our memories!!

We were told that immediately after we left she was carried to her room and put to bed, which she never left again.

It was characteristic of her to have us feel that she was her usual self and was willing to be presented as in other days.

Courage of which she possessed beyond most.

Sincerely yours,
Harrison Keller

Vignette E—
Premieres of Sibelius and Others in the Connecticut Hills:
Carl and Ellen Battell Stoeckel's Norfolk Music Festivals

Pamela J. Perry

Some tales of patronage treat a decade or two; some feature a woman, or a man, or a group of women or men. The story of the Norfolk Music Festivals and the Norfolk Music School covers nearly two centuries and features generation after generation of men and women from two very different families, joined by a marriage, a love of music, and a willingness to use privilege and inherited money for the public good.

Joseph Battell was a successful merchant in the Norfolk area of Connecticut. Several of his children gave generously of their inherited wealth to Yale University, notably Irene Battell Larned (1811–77), who made the first endowment in the field of music at Yale, and Joseph Battell, Jr. (1806–74), who provided funds for the construction of the university's Battell Chapel and established a fund for instruction in sacred music that was later enlarged by other members of the family. (Irene's husband William was a Yale professor of history.) The seventh of the nine children was Robbins Battell (1819–94), active in business and state politics, and manager of the family investments after his brother Joseph's death. Robbins was an expert flutist, sang in the choir of Norfolk Congregational Church for forty years, and gave sets of chimes to several colleges (and was frequently called upon to repair and tune them). Several hymns of his composition were published in hymnals. He helped establish courses in music at Yale, where he proposed that Gustave Stoeckel (1819–1907), a German émigré, be hired as professor, and secured the needed $20,000 for this venture from one of his sisters. (Stoeckel soon became a major force in America's musical life, not least by establishing the tradition of the college male glee club; he also organized the New Haven Philharmonic and composed six operas.)[1] Robbins's biggest contribution to music, though, was his establishing of the Litchfield County Musical Association, which gave concerts, including excerpts from oratorios, in various towns throughout the rolling hills of northern Connecticut.

Robbins's wife, the former Ellen Ryerson Mills, had died at the birth of their only child. This daughter, also named Ellen (1851–1939), was early trained in piano and voice and fre-

Vignette E is based on a more detailed chapter on the Battells and the Stoeckels in Pamela J. Perry, "The Role of Women as Patrons of Music in Connecticut during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries" (D.M.A. diss., University of Hartford, 1986). On patterns of women's patronage in Connecticut and the outlook for the future, see Pamela J. Perry, "Women as Patrons of Music: The Example of Connecticut, 1890–1990," Journal of the International League of Women Composers , June 1992, pp. 9–11.


quently performed in church and community musical events; moreover, she clearly took it upon herself to continue her father's mission and did so in imaginative and principled ways. Several months after Robbins's death in 1895 (she had lived with him for years after being herself early widowed), Ellen married Carl Stoeckel. Seven years her junior, Carl was son of the aforementioned Yale music professor, had been educated under private tutors in America and Europe, and in recent years had been employed by Ellen's father as personal secretary. Most crucial, he shared his father's, and the Battells', love of music. The couple's life together can largely be told as a series of projects to enhance the cultural life of their region, and, through Yale University, of the nation and the larger musical world. Both Ellen and Carl were so modest that much of what they did for others will never be known. Ellen was most definitely the source of funds for these projects (being the sole heir of the Battell family's wealth), although this fact has rarely been mentioned; Carl tended to receive more public credit than Ellen, because he served as the primary manager and administrator, but even he kept a relatively low profile.

In 1897 Ellen began to sponsor informal evenings of English glee-singing in their home, the Whitehouse. The following year, she founded the Norfolk Glee Club and conducted it in its first concert in the house's large library. The organization grew large enough to venture a performance of a British oratorio, Alfred R. Gaul's The Holy City , in Norfolk Congregational Church. By this point, a male conductor, N. H. Allen of Hartford, had been brought in to conduct. "The organization had become too large to be directed by a woman," Carl Stoeckel dryly noted.[2]

In 1899 the couple founded the Litchfield County Choral Union, whose every concert program contained an announcement of its aims: "to honor the memory of Robbins Battell, and with the object of presenting to the people of Litchfield County choral and orchestral music in the highest forms. . . . No tickets are sold[,] . . . the sole object being to honor the composer and his work, under the most elevated conditions."[3] From 1900 until 1922, the Norfolk Music Festival, as it came to be known, presented some of America's and Europe's finest performers and musical works: solo pianists, violinists, and singers, such as Sergei Rachmaninoff, Fanny Bloomfield-Zeisler, Maud Allan, Fritz Kreisler, Alma Gluck, and Louise Homer; pieces for chorus and an orchestra of close to a hundred, brought in by special train from New York (largely Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera players); and numerous compositions for orchestra alone. The Choral Union itself grew, through the creation of local choruses in various towns, which then joined forces for an annual festival. By the third season, the Winsted Armory was already becoming too small for the concerts. The sixth and later seasons were held in a wooden "Music Shed," expressly built for the purpose on the Battell estate; its excellent acoustics are still appreciated today.

The most striking feature about the festivals is the Stoeckels' commissioning of numerous new musical works—usually with chorus, sometimes for orchestra alone—by renowned composers. Word of their generosity spread, and, for the 1915 festival alone, forty-two ap-


plications for commissions were received, unsolicited, from composers in the United States and Europe. The Stoeckels always ignored such appeals and instead went straight to the composers who most interested them. The festival saw the premieres of American works by such composers as Victor Herbert, Henry Hadley, Charles Martin Loeffler, Horatio T. Parker, Frederick Stock (better known as conductor of the Chicago Symphony), Henry F. Gilbert, David Stanley Smith, John Powell, and Victor Kolar. The honored composer generally conducted his new work, or even the entire concert.

Foreign composers, too, accepted the Stoeckels' offers, and were pleased, even startled, at the high quality of the performances. In 1910 Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a prominent English composer of African descent, came to Norfolk for the premiere of his composition The Bamboula: Rhapsodic Dance . The local newspaper conveyed his enthusiasm:

The composer, Coleridge-Taylor said that yesterday was the happiest day of his life. He pronounced last evening's concert the best performance of his music he had ever heard. . . . He never liked America before this visit. He was astonished at the playing of American orchestras and considers them way ahead of anything in Europe. With only one rehearsal, he considers the rendition of the Bamboula rhapsodie most remarkable. . . .

Among the guests of honor at the concert was the composer of last year's [commissioned] work, "Noel" [later incorporated into his Symphonic Sketches ], George W. Chadwick. . . . He was delighted beyond measure with the concert. He has been commissioned by Mr. and Mrs. Stoeckel to write another composition, probably orchestral.

Horatio Parker of Yale, with his wife and daughter, were also guests of honor. He also has been commissioned. . . .

The artists were all entertained at supper by Mr. and Mrs. Stoeckel after the concert and later they gathered in the library and treated Coleridge-Taylor, the guest of honor, to a lot of American airs, spending a very informal and happy time. Coleridge-Taylor was called upon for a speech. . . . He said that . . . he was going home with a new idea entirely of American musical progress. At every festival he attended hereafter he was going to give an account of what was being done at Norfolk.[4]

The unfailingly original Australian-born composer and pianist Percy Grainger composed a new orchestral suite for the 1916 festival (In a Nutshell ) and, as if that were not enough, also played Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto. But perhaps the height of the Stoeckels' commissioning project was Jan Sibelius's The Oceanides , Op. 73 (after an episode from the Kalevala ), which received its premiere at the 1914 festival, under the composer's baton. Sibelius had declined numerous American invitations but could not resist the flattering offer and the tone of Carl Stoeckel's letter, which showed the latter to be a "distinguished personality with a knowledge of music."[5] After one rehearsal with the festival orchestra, Sibelius exclaimed in a letter: "The orchestra is wonderful!! Surpasses anything we have in Europe. The woodwind blend is of such an order that you have to put your


hand to your ear to hear them in ppp even if the cor anglais and bass clarinet are there. And even the double-basses sing."[6] Years later, he still recalled the "high-class audience, representative of the best that America possessed among lovers of music, trained musicians, and critics. The most inspired setting for the appearance of an artist."[7] The Stoeckels introduced Sibelius to former President Taft and to many important figures in American musical life: to Maud Powell, for example, who had helped popularize his Violin Concerto, and (at a banquet that the Stoeckels sponsored in his honor in Boston) to "most of the American composers"—as Sibelius proudly, if naively, put it in a letter to his brother—including Chadwick, Hadley, Loeffler and Frederick S. Converse.[8] Sibelius was impressed by the variety of the Connecticut landscape, by the racial and religious diversity of the people he met—"Negroes and whites, Methodists, Quakers, and Lutherans!"—and by seemingly everything about his "enormously wealthy and well educated hosts.[9] When he expressed a desire to see Niagara Falls, the Stoeckels rented a train and off they all went; the meals aboard the train were catered by Delmonico's Restaurant of New York.

Not surprisingly, the festivals were said to have cost the Stoeckels $25,000 a year (a sum equal to ten times that amount or more today).[10] The Stoeckels never spared expense, hiring the conductor, the soloists renting unusual instruments and the like when needed, and providing rented trains for all the various assisting choruses; furthermore, there was no offsetting income: tickets were always given away without cost, two per chorister, and requests poured in from as far away as California. The festivals ceased in 1922: perhaps Carl Stoeckel had become ill or weak, for he died three years later. But Ellen Battell Stoeckel reestablished community hymn sings in 1927 in the Music Shed, with a fifty-piece orchestra from New York and no audience but the singers themselves.[11]

After Mrs. Stoeckel died in 1939, the terms of her will revealed an astonishing plan of continuing music patronage. She left most of her assets—nearly $2 million—and all of her extensive real estate to a trust for the use and benefit of Yale University.[12] Beginning in 1941, the Norfolk Music School, located in remodeled buildings on the Battell estate, offered summer training and courses in music history, English literature, and so on, tuition-free, to fifty or more students; the teachers were drawn largely from the Yale School of Music. (In 1946 a separate division for the visual arts was established, with similar policies.) In 1958 the two schools were reorganized to be more directly run by Yale and to become consistent with Yale's new policy of offering music degrees on the graduate level only. Today, courses at the Yale Summer School of Music and Art in Norfolk last eight weeks, not six, and carry full academic credit. Admissions requirements are stiffer than before, but all tuition is still paid from the Battell-Stoeckel Trust. Each summer the revived Litchfield County Choral Union—now two hundred voices strong—performs a major choral work with the Yale Summer Orchestra under its resident director, Jonathan Babbitt. The trust continues to provide the necessary funds for the director, orchestra, and soloists.


The patronage of Ellen Battell Stoeckel represented a delicate balance between lavish display and rural simplicity. Her ability to combine professionals and amateurs in quality performances was outstanding. At the same time, she left a legacy that perpetuates, discreetly, the memory of her father (the ultimate amateur), her father-in-law (a consummate professional), and, more generally, two families who did much to cultivate, in their quiet corner of the globe, art music new and old, European and American.

Vignette F—
Maria Dehon Helps Olga Samaroff and Leopold Stokowski

Geoffrey E. McGillen

One-on-one patronage relationships are hard for the historian or biographer to recover. Unless extensive correspondence survives, and possibly some account books, there is little way of knowing just who, say, gave the crucial boost to a certain young performer's career, never mind whether that boost consisted of financial aid, timely advice, networking among the influential, or perhaps praise and appreciation in a dark moment.

The letters of Maria Dehon (1857?–1941) to two important musicians do survive and help us see how intimately a patron could work her way into the lives and careers of her "children," as she called them, signing her letters "Müttchen" (i.e., "Mama" in German). The two were the concert pianist and music educator Olga Samaroff (1880–1948) and the organist and (later) famed conductor Leopold Stokowski (1882?–1977), who was Samaroff's husband for over eleven years.

Maria Dehon was the sole surviving child of a founding partner of the Brooks Brothers clothing company. She was schooled in several languages and sent to Europe on grand tours; she inherited her parents' wealth, including an elegant Fifth Avenue brownstone (next door to the old Waldorf-Astoria Hotel), and was well connected to prominent Republicans, such as Theodore Roosevelt's family, and to certain wealthy fellow parishioners at St. Bartholomew Episcopal Church, such as J. P. Morgan and Dr. William M. Polk. The latter, well-to-do and twenty years her senior, was a surgeon by profession and a founder of Cornell Medical University. They married in 1914, when she, who had never previously married, was in her fifties. When Dr. Polk died four years later, the New York Times reported that he had willed his widow only $3,000, because she was "wealthy in her own right."[1]

From 1905 until her own death in 1941, Maria Dehon was the chief patron of Samaroff and, for a time, of Stokowski as well. (She also was active in operatic circles.) Dehon was roughly the same age as Samaroff's parents when she first met the twenty-five-year-old pianist from Texas. Samaroff, who had already changed her name from what she felt was the



Fig. 10.
Maria Dehon Polk and Dr. William Polk, photograph inscribed
by her to Olga Samaroff Stokowski and Leopold Stokowski
and signed "Müttchen" (little Mama).
Photograph courtesy of the Olga Samaroff Stokowski Collection,
International Piano Archives, University of Maryland, College Park.

hopelessly unpoetic "Lucie Hickenlooper," had recently made her debut with the New York Symphony under Walter Damrosch at Carnegie Hall. The up-and-coming operatic soprano Geraldine Farrar gave her letters of introduction to people who might help her career, one of these being Maria Dehon. Samaroff, in her memoirs, gives an engaging word-portrait of this astonishing woman as an individual free of pretense, standing apart from fashion and fashionable prejudices, a woman who, although at ease in "the ultra-conservative 'Monday Sewing Class'—the last word in old New York social prestige," would also under-


take "errands of mercy," bringing "derelicts" who needed surgery to the private ward that she for many years maintained, with the professional assistance of Dr. Polk, at Bellevue Hospital.[2] (The patients may have been primarily women, since Dr. Polk was a gynecological specialist.)

Intrigued by the letter of recommendation from Farrar and perhaps by good reports of the concerto debut, Dehon went to hear Samaroff play a solo recital and soon began hiring her to play for her guests. Three years later, in 1908, she helped Samaroff make a successful debut in Europe (a necessary step for a musician who wished to be taken seriously in America). The tour was threatened by complications resulting from the fact that Samaroff had some years before extricated herself from marriage to a physically abusive Russian civil servant. Samaroff feared that her ex-husband might argue that on European soil they were still married. (They had received a civil divorce but not one recognized by the church.) After Dehon interceded with Elihu Root, Roosevelt's secretary of state, Samaroff obtained assurances of U.S. government protection and made the trip with an easier mind.[3]

Dehon apparently supplied money for Samaroff to hire the finest orchestras and conductors in Paris, Munich, and Vienna, along with jewelry, concert gowns, a hired car and chauffeur, and passage for her mother, Jane Hickenlooper, who had masterminded Olga's early years. Although Samaroff could not publicly or professionally admit to such underwriting, her letters to Dehon throughout this European tour detail it all. Thanking Dehon specifically for a diamond-and-pearl necklace, Samaroff wrote from Paris: "My dear, if it makes you happy to make others happy, I do want you to realize how all you have thought, said and done for me has made me happy and how much you have eased the burdens from my shoulders and brightened these hard times and encouraged me."[4] Samaroff's debut in Vienna, world-renowned as the "City of Music," was particularly successful. Her letter to Dehon refers to the event as "your concert," suggesting that Dehon had helped set up and pay for the event:

At last I can tell you all about Vienna. My dear your concert was particularly blessed. Everything has been perfect! Already at the rehearsal I felt splendid sympathy with the conductor and orchestra. . . . In the evening after a refreshing nap I put on the lovely gown and necklace and have never looked so well. I was in my very best mood and felt as if I could fly to the moon! I am crazy about the conductor here and he has been lovely to me. The orchestra sent a carriage for me. The concert was sold out packed, and I went on to the stage with a feeling of exultation! We were keyed to a high pitch and piled on the great climaxes and played con amore . I felt as though there were no end to my strength, the fingers seemed to go by themselves and the piano was too magnificent. . . . The eyes of [the conductor Ferdinand] Löwe and the orchestra were fairly dancing with excitement by the time we reached the last climax and I know mine were. We closed in a perfect whirl and then came a storm, an ovation. . . .

The manager here expects to sell out my recital on the strength of last night's success. My dear, my heart is so full of gratitude to you and I feel sure that it will give you joy to know that "your" concert has turned out so well.[5]


A few years earlier, Dehon had befriended the new organist and choir director at St. Bartholomew, the English-born Stokowski, inviting him to her home and to her summer retreat on Mt. Desert Island in Maine. She urged the young conductor to pursue the young pianist, and, when the two finally married in April 1911, she gave them as a wedding present a town house in Munich for summering abroad. After they took occupancy, Stokowski wrote a profuse note of thanks, to which Dehon replied: "Oh, what good news to know that . . . the dear little home is not only a pleasure but enables you both to work & I trust will enable you sooner to fulfill your hearts' desire. . . . Every day in my prayers I thank God for you both when I refer to my blessings. . . . It often seems so wonderful that I should be sent to you both & not some one else."[6]

Around 1909, Stokowski's conducting career began to take off, thanks in part to advice and lobbying efforts from Samaroff and possibly Dehon as well. He became conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony and, soon thereafter, of the more prestigious Philadelphia Orchestra. (One Cincinnati paper printed the rumor that a certain New York patron, presumably Dehon, had contributed Stokowski's $12,000 salary at the Philadelphia.)[7] His career from that point on was a public glory, with many important premieres of new works, many brilliant recordings, and even a few movie appearances. Olga Samaroff, for her part, continued to perform and make recordings and eventually became a famed piano pedagogue. The marriage, though, soured, and Dehon angered Samaroff by trying to salvage it. Dehon defended her intentions in a way that reveals the dependency of a one-on-one patron fearful of being cut off from the artist whose career and private life, in this case closely intertwined, have brought focus and meaning to her own, perhaps too trouble-free, existence: "It is a blow to have you doubt me—I have tried so hard to help you. . . . Dearie, try not to think as you do of your poor Müttchen, try to recall all we have been to each other, all I still want to be to you."[8]

Within a year, Müttchen and her "dearie" reconciled. Dehon even appeared with Samaroff in Philadelphia (i.e., on Stokowski territory). As Samaroff noted to her mother, "It is very nice of her to want to do this, and thereby publicly, so far as Philadelphia is concerned, take her stand."[9] From that point on, the two women stayed in close contact; in fact, Samaroff enlisted Dehon as part of a group of patrons supporting her students at the newly established Juilliard Graduate School, New York City's answer to Philadelphia's Curtis Institute. One such student, Eugene List, lived in Dehon's Park Avenue home for three years and was outfitted by her in the finest clothes and sent to Europe on trips with Samaroff. Dehon may also have contributed to money that Stokowski passed on to Stravinsky in the mid 1920s to support the composer and secure for Stokowski the right to give the first American performances of several works.[10] All this generosity sapped Dehon's resources so heavily that, when she died, her estate could not pay most of the beneficiaries named in the will, a list that included Samaroff and her daughter Sonya.[11]

Two years earlier, Samaroff had thanked Dehon in print, delicately but firmly, by dedicating her book An American Musician's Story to her longtime supporter and by including in it the following heartfelt lines on the role a patron can play in a musician's life:


The word patronage may not fall pleasantly upon democratic ears, but what artist has done without the thing it expresses?

Neither money nor influence has ever created a real career for a musician who lacked talent, personality and the power of achievement, but even the greatest artist needs opportunity and support just as a plant needs proper soil, sun and light. That is why certain arts flourish in certain countries in one era and not in others. Conditions must be right for the general development as well as for the individual artist.

The chief trouble with patronage is that it seems to be so much of an accident. I have often wondered what would have happened to me if I had not brought the letter of introduction [from Geraldine Farrar] to Miss Dehon.[12]

Jeannette Meyer Thurber (1850–1946):
Music for a Democracy

Emanuel Rubin

Although she was neither performer nor composer, Jeannette Meyer Thurber exerted as great an influence on the musical life of the United States as any other figure of her generation. From her early thirties until the last years of her life, she worked incessantly on behalf of greater public access to good music. She made possible the presentation of innumerable concerts, operas, and musical tours, promoted American musicians with special attention to the careers of minorities and women, and built the first American repertory opera company that traveled the breadth of the country. Admirable as those achievements were, what earned her a unique place in the history of American music was the creation, in 1885, of the National Conservatory of Music of America, one of the most influential music schools the United States has produced. Under her leadership, the school brought the great Bohemian composer Antonín Dvorak[*] to New York, initiated important features of American postsecondary music education, and in 1891 became the only arts institution ever awarded a congressional charter. Nevertheless, Jeannette Thurber, one of America's most far-sighted and influential music patrons, is "all but forgotten today, lost in the obscurity of a once bold enterprise."[1]

It is instructive to speculate why this fascinating woman has been so little recognized in the twentieth century. A glib answer, not entirely without validity, is the assumption that she was ignored simply because she was a woman. In her own day, though, she was too widely respected by people of talent, wealth, and influence to have been ignored; not only that, but Jeannette Thurber was a hard woman to ignore. If she wanted one's attention, she was quite good at getting it. Of the many reasons why such an important figure received so little recognition for her achievements, one stands out: her greatest successes were, from one point of view failures—and America has never been kind to even the appearance of losing.

The fates of her two most ambitious projects illustrate this. The National Conservatory, in spite of its unarguable influence on the history of American

This chapter draws on several earlier articles and papers by the author, with much revision and new material added for this book. Especially relevant are: "Jeannette Meyer Thurber and the National Conservatory of Music," American Music 8 (Fall 1990): 294–325; "American Opera in the Gilded Age" (paper presented to the National Meeting of the Sonneck Society at Hampton, Va., 6 April 1991); "Dvorak at the National Conservatory," in Dvorak[*]in America , ed. John Tibbetts (Portland, OR: Amadeus Press, 1993), 53–81; and "American Opera in the Gilded Age: America's First Professional Touring Opera Company," in Opera and the Golden West , ed. John L. DiGaetani and Josef P. Sirefman (London and Toronto: Associated University Presses, 1994), 78–96. I owe thanks for help with this essay to more people than I could possibly list here, but I must single out my wife, Serene, for her patience, encouragement, and emergency assistance as typist and rescuer of lost data.

Jeannette Meyer Thurber is cited in the notes as JMT.


music, faded and finally disappeared about 1930, an apparent victim of the stock market crash of the previous autumn. Notwithstanding its pioneering curriculum, superior faculty, imaginative programming, and long list of influential graduates, its memory was crowded aside by the excitement of a new generation of private and state-funded music schools that flourished in the ground prepared by Jeannette Thurber's enterprise. Such scant attention was paid to the school after its demise that its institutional records, once relegated to a barn in upstate. New York, have now completely disappeared. Her other grand project, the American Opera Company, foundered in bankruptcy after only two brilliant seasons. Appearances, though, are not the whole story. Her work helped to mold the shape of music in twentieth-century America and to give American music an identity of its own.

Her obsession with the democratization of music flew in the face of most of her peers among America's wealthy, who claimed the concert hall and opera house as symbols of gentility and social status under the tutelage of tastemakers like John Sullivan Dwight.[2] She countered the thrust of New York's Metropolitan Opera Society in an attempt to establish opera that would be more accessible to the American public, and, as we shall see, actively encouraged African-American performers such as Harry T. Burleigh and Sissieretta Jones. Supported by her husband's idealism and capital, she devoted more than forty-five years of her life to wrestling with day-to-day management of the conservatory she lovingly founded and funded. She firmly believed, and demonstrated in her life, that wealth brought not just privilege, but obligation as well.

At the very least, Jeannette Thurber was an example of energy and imagination in arts patronage that few could match. Yet in spite of being constantly in the public eye for more than forty years, she remained an essentially shadowy figure. Although she was forever speaking out in the newspapers and writing articles in support of her projects, she was quiet in respect to her private life and avoided self-promotion. Charles N. Boyd, associate editor of the American Supplement to Grove's Dictionary , wrote across his confidential file card for Mrs. Thurber in 1918, "Averse to personal publicity,"[3] and the entry he finally published in the first American Grove's was a mere six lines.

Jeannette Thurber was a paradox. Simultaneously aristocratic and bohemian, she took pleasure in both country dancing and discussing new compositions with her friend Dvorak[*] . A tough negotiator, she wrested major funding commitments from the industrialists Andrew Carnegie and August Belmont and won contract concessions from the most hardened artists' representatives; yet she loved to spend summers in carefree play at her rustic country home in the Catskills, without indoor plumbing. Although she appeared in New York society in magnificent gowns, her preferred mode of dress was a suit tailored more like her husband's than most women of her day would have dared to wear.

She was strikingly beautiful, with a light, glowing complexion magnificently set off by dark hair and eyes. Years later the pianist and essayist James Gibbons


Huneker, her secretary at one time, wrote, "She was a picturesque woman, Gallic in her 'allures', but more Spanish than French in features. She spoke French like a Parisian, and after thirty years, I confess that her fine, dark eloquent eyes troubled my peace more than once."[4] In the course of her career she trained those "dark eloquent eyes" in professional appraisal on Victor Herbert, Anton Seidl, Theodore Thomas, Emil Paur, Frank van der Stucken, and most of the other great names of American music at the turn of the century.

Upon Thurber's death in 1946 at the venerable age of 95, Olin Downes eulogized her in the New York Times under the headline, "Friend of Music,"[5] crediting her with preparing a national climate for the advanced study of music and with inspiring the emulation of her school and its high standards by other educational institutions. Under her guidance, the National Conservatory enlisted the support of wealthy and powerful patrons, established curricula and procedures now adopted by almost all American postsecondary music schools, attracted a faculty of international renown, and prepared several generations of composers and performers to play a significant role in shaping American musical life.

The Path to Patronage

Jeannette Meyer was born in Delhi, New York, on 29 January 1850 and died at her daughter's home in Bronxville, New York, almost 96 years later, on 2 January 1946. Her father, Henry, had come to the United States from Denmark, where he was born 9 November 1809 to a prominent family in Randers, a suburb of Copenhagen.[6] Henry Meyer was naturalized as an American citizen in November 1837 on the affidavit of Edward Valentine Price, his future brother-in-law. He was a cultured man with a fine library, and was an enthusiastic amateur violinist who participated in a string quartet that met weekly to "play the works of the masters."[7] Jeannette's mother, Annamarie (or Anne Maria) Coffin Price, came from old New England stock, stemming from Benjamin Price, who arrived in Boston about 1630 and was a founding father of both Saybrook, Connecticut, and Elizabeth, New Jersey. John Price, her great-grandfather, had fought in the Revolutionary War, and her grandfather, the Reverend Eliphalet Price, D.D., had been pastor of the Old Presbyterian Church at Wappinger's Creek from 1811 until his death in 1850, the year she was born.

Jeannette was sent to the Paris Conservatory to study music while still in her teens—suitably chaperoned, one would assume. After returning, she married Francis Beattie Thurber, of New York, on 15 September 1869, when she was just nineteen. Her husband was a wealthy wholesale food merchant who shared her love for music and supported her iconoclastic views. He sympathized with the anti-trust movement, hardly a popular position for a man in his circle, and he experimented with the development of a stock ownership scheme for his employees. Not only did Frank Thurber make personal contributions and loans to the National Conservatory, but his firm, Thurber, Whyland & Co., was also a major



Fig. 11.
Jeannette Thurber as a young woman.
Photograph from the Onteora Club archives,
courtesy of E. Davis Gaillard, librarian.

donor. His sister, Candace Wheeler, also a strong personality, made a name for herself as an author, textile designer, and outspoken advocate of women's involvement in the commercial arts and crafts industry.[8]

In the spring of 1883, Candace Wheeler took her brother and his wife Jeannette to the Catskills near Tannersville, New York.[9] The intent of the trip seems to have been to provide a relaxed vacation in the mountains as a curative for Mrs. Thurber, who was suffering from bronchitis. All three fell in love with the area, so


much so that within twenty-four hours of his arrival, Francis Thurber had bought land and signed contracts for construction of two cottages for his own and his sister's families. These would become the nucleus of a summer retreat for a fascinating collection of artists, writers, and people from the business world. It was Mrs. Thurber who dubbed the colony "Onteora": "Hills of the Sky," in the language of the Mohawk Indians who populated the area.[10] Over the next few years the Thurbers, Candace Wheeler, and Samuel Coykendall formed the Catskill Mountains Camp and Cottage Company, which later became the Onteora Club, a private corporation established to sell and rent summer cottages, build and manage a guest inn ("The Bear and Fox"), and maintain the land.

The housewarming for the Thurbers' cottage, "Lotus Land," provides a rare glimpse into their private life. A corn roast with "plenty of root beer and lemonade" was proposed, "But the head carpenter," Candace Wheeler wrote many years later, "changed all that."

"Give us exactly what you would give your friends in New York, Mr. Thurber," he advised. . . . So oysters and boxes and barrels of cake and ice and ice cream, and harmless things to drink, came. . . . [Then] wagons began to arrive . . . a long procession of them full of men and boys, and women and babies, and girl-children of all ages.[11]

Three local fiddlers provided music for dancing, led by Mrs. Thurber. "Occasionally," her sister-in-law chronicled, "she was at fault in some of the rapid changes, then the leading fiddler would shout, 'You there,' pointing his bow at her, 'come back here!' and back she would come laughingly to the point indicated, and begin over again."[12]

Perhaps it was the summer pleasures of Onteora, or perhaps it was that her children, Jeannette, Marianna, and Francis, Jr., were beginning to grow up; but 1883, the same year that she and her husband began their enterprise in the Catskills, was also the year that saw Jeannette Thurber begin to emerge as one of the most important American music patrons of the nineteenth century. In 1883 she underwrote Theodore Thomas's notable concerts for young people in New York City, the first "children's concerts" given in the New World, and the following year she underwrote a cross-country tour by Thomas and his orchestra that introduced the music of Richard Wagner to much of the United States. Deems Taylor noted that the repertoire for those concerts was so heavily weighted with Wagner that some wits referred to them collectively as the "Thomas Wagner Festival."[13] Thurber capped that by providing New York City with a real Wagner Festival later the same year, featuring the Thomas orchestra, increased to 150 players, and the combined forces of three choral organizations.[14] It was an artistic success, but lost money on a heroic scale, reportedly leaving its guarantor owing $1.5 million. Typically, rather than discouraging her, collapse of that project only spurred Thurber to greater efforts. She went on to sponsor a series of popular outdoor concerts and then the New York debut of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1888–89.


As early as 1878 she had noted the lack of opportunity for young American singers and had persuaded a group of interested patrons to underwrite vehicles for them to appear on stage in New York. She carried that idea to its logical conclusion by organizing the American Opera Company and its companion corporation, the National Conservatory of Music, in 1885. Those two enterprises were to become her full-time occupation in the following years. Indeed, the National Conservatory would be the focus of her prodigious energy for the remainder of her life.

A National Opera

The American Opera Company was a professional stock company with the avowedly democratic intent of bringing world-class opera to a broad spectrum of the American public at affordable prices. The company's policies showed Mrs. Thurber's touch in several ways: it eschewed the "star system," championed native singers, and performed all operas in English translation. Its prospectus boasted that it had, among other features:

The largest regularly trained chorus ever employed in grand opera in America. . . . The largest ballet corps ever presented in grand opera in America and as far as possible, American in its composition. . . . Four thousand new and correct costumes for which no expense has been spared. . . . [S]cenery . . . painted by the most eminent scenic artists. . . . The musical guidance of Theodore Thomas . . . [and] the unrivalled Thomas Orchestra.[15]

Mrs. Thurber's goal was larger than the opera company itself, though. It was nothing less than the creation of a national infrastructure that would encourage and support American opera throughout the entire country. The foundation for that organization was to be a network of training schools in metropolitan centers across the country, bound together by a professional ensemble that would tour from one center to another, presenting professional productions of the highest musical quality at reasonable ticket prices. She firmly believed that great music would create its own audience and that opera could prosper without conceding anything to the demands of the business office. Mrs. Thurber entrusted the business end of the venture to Charles Locke, who had managed the tours of the Thomas orchestra, and concentrated her attention on production and promotion.

Another aspect of her plan was the desire to create a company that would, as much as possible, feature American rather than imported European productions and would encompass the artistic aspirations of the entire nation. It was a grand scheme: a national opera company coupled to a national conservatory, housed in New York, but with branches all over the country and a professional touring company to connect them into a single network. The new company proposed to present, as the prospectus breathlessly put it, "Artists . . . of the front rank of American singers . . . supported by an ensemble which has never been equaled in this country." We shall return shortly to the brochure's special emphasis on the word ensemble , a significant feature of Mrs. Thurber's thinking.


An additional motivation for forming the company, one that was not announced openly, was social. The Academy of Music on East Fourteenth Street had been the socially preferred venue for opera at least since 1878 under the financing of August Belmont. The academy could not accommodate all the wealthy who hoped to take boxes, though, and the "old money"—the Bayards, Cuttings, Lorillards, Van Rensselaers, and their ilk—were not amenable to the influx of the nouveaux riches—the Astors, Vanderbilts, and their crowd. It was rumored that William K. Vanderbilt had offered $30,000 for a box but was politely turned away.

The Metropolitan Opera House, then, was created in 1883 to accommodate the needs of the new wealthy. Boxes, which cost $12,000 to $15,000 a season, sold out immediately. With a capacity of just over three thousand, one might think that there would be other seats in the hall from which to hear the performance; but a box at the opera was a statement of wealth and social position, not merely a listener's chair. "From an artistic and musical point of view," wrote Henry Theophilus Finck the morning after the opening of the Met, "the large number of boxes in the Metropolitan is a decided mistake. But as the house was avowedly built for social purposes rather than artistic, it is useless to complain about this."[16] The Met had been founded as a cathedral for celebrating the gospel of opera; the intent of the American Opera Company, by contrast, was to spread the faith.

The board of the American Opera Company included Andrew Carnegie as president, along with his fellow New York multimillionaires August Belmont, Levi P. Morton, Henry Seligman, Brayton Ives, H. J. Jewett, and Deacon White. With an eye toward the eventual development of "branches" throughout the country, Mrs. Thurber also included a number of westerners: the meat-packing magnate N. K. Fairbank and George M. Pullman, of sleeping-car fame, both from Chicago, D. Washburn, a flour and wheat distributor from Minneapolis, Charles Crocker, the railroad builder from San Francisco, and Nevada's John W. Mackay, who owned the Comstock silver mines and laid the first transatlantic cable.[17]

With the backing of that formidable list of incorporators, Mrs. Thurber approached the conductor Theodore Thomas, with whom she had already worked on projects such as the children's concerts and the Wagner Festival, and with whose ideas she sympathized. Thomas had recently had a bad experience with wealthy backers of the College of Music in Cincinnati, so he was a bit hesitant at first to get mixed up with another such group; but the attraction of a New York base of operations, combined with steady engagements for his orchestra, was irresistible. Besides, the support of all those multimillionaires made the scheme look foolproof. One of Thomas's biographers, filled with the wisdom of hindsight, lamented: "They approached him with this proposal and he accepted it. Despite the warnings of clearer-sighted friends, despite the lesson he had received at Cincinnati, he accepted. He believed with all his heart in the fable about the millionaire and art. God knows why he should have believed it, except for the reason that he wished it to be true."[18]

Thomas threw himself into the company enthusiastically, hiring singers, edit-


ing scores, even making his own English translations for performances. This was to be an opera company that reflected his personality and his "ensemble" approach to production, which was almost certainly one of the reasons why Thurber was attracted to him as musical director. Unlike the symphony orchestra, where ensemble was all, opera from its earliest days had always depended on the personalities and vocal pyrotechnics of its stars. Balance and blend had long been one of Thomas's strongest points as an orchestra conductor, and this was a chance to show that those qualities could play an equally effective role in opera. He advocated opera in which "all the concomitant parts . . . [would be] equally balanced and excellent."[19]

The plan was initiated as announced: twenty-nine lead singers were employed, twenty of whom were Americans, most of whom were relatively unknown, and some of whom, like Emma Juch, would later go on to fame in other operatic enterprises. An astonishing number of productions, eclectically chosen from classic and modern works, were put into rehearsal for the first season. The anglicized titles used at the time are preserved in the repertoire of the American Opera Company's first (1885–86) season, as compiled from clippings in Mrs. Thurber's scrapbooks and elsewhere:

Aida (Verdi)
Faust (Gounod)
Flying Dutchman (Wagner)
The Huguenots (Meyerbeer)
Lakmé (Delibes)
Lohengrin (Wagner)
The Magic Flute (Mozart)
Marriage of Jeannette (Massé)
Martha (von Flotow)
Merry Wives of Windsor (Nicolai)
Nero (Rubinstein)

Eurydice (Gluck)
Sylvia (ballet) (Delibes)
Taming of the Shrew (Goetz)

The company opened on 4 January 1886, at the Academy of Music, with the American premiere of Hermann Goetz's Taming of the Shrew . "It went without a hitch," wrote Russell, "a fact that caused universal comment and amazement."

The scenery, all specially painted by famous artists, was wonderfully good and beautiful, all the accessories were adequate, the chorus covered itself with glory, the soloists sang adorably. Critics, commentators, skeptics, joined the public in one swelling hymn of laudation. Operas had not been so produced in the memory of living man. What struck everyone was the flawless perfection of the details and their relation to the harmony of the whole.[20]


Performing the best of the standard repertoire and featuring fine young artists in brilliantly staged productions, the company won the admiration of New York music lovers. A handful of deprecators carped at details, but there was a general outpouring of approval. Backers felt that the support warranted continuing with the plan for a national tour, and sure enough, the new company was greeted with popular enthusiasm and critical acclaim in major cities across the country. In view of the Metropolitan's single-minded emphasis on stars and its reputation for poor, if not downright shoddy, staging, there can be little wonder that Thomas's meticulous preparation brought such enthusiastic response. Of course, it also helped that chorus members were full-time employees with regular rehearsals conducted by their own chorus master.

Consistent with Mrs. Thurber's vision of a nationwide musical infrastructure united by a touring opera troupe, the company played with great acclaim in four major cities during its first year: New York in January, Washington, D.C., in February, New York again in March, followed by Philadelphia, and finally, in November, St. Louis. Only one flaw marked that first, brilliant season, but it was a most serious one: an enormous deficit. Many of Mrs. Thurber's co-sponsors, including Andrew Carnegie, whose name had headed the stationery as president, began to back-pedal away from the project. To avoid pending bills and frustrate lawsuits, the American Opera Company was dissolved and reorganized for 1886–87 as "The National Opera Company of New Jersey," a plan that allowed the new company to assume the assets of its predecessor but walk away from most of its debts. At this same time, as we shall shortly see, the name of its companion training institution was changed from "The American School of Opera" to the "National Conservatory of Music," further separating it from the sinking opera corporation.

Thomas, deeply committed to the project, soldiered on, reluctantly taking Carnegie's place as president. The renamed company opened its second season with great success in New York, and quickly became the musical conversation piece of the year. The season was crowned with the National Opera's American premiere of Anton Rubinstein's Nero at the Metropolitan Opera House, a production acclaimed as having been "placed upon the stage on a scale of splendor never before given to opera in this country . . . sung with enthusiasm, intelligence, and artistic devotion."[21] As far away as Chicago, a critic proclaimed, "The National Opera Co. is making a decided success at the Metropolitan Opera House, and notably with Rubinstein's Nero ."[22] In spite of rumored fiscal problems, Charles Locke, the company's manager, announced that the National Opera Company, like its predecessor, would undertake a transcontinental tour.

With the nearly unanimous acclaim of New York and Boston critics still ringing in the ears of Thomas and his troupe, the National Opera Company sped off across the country. The tour ran into increasing financial problems on its west-ward leg, culminating in a comic-opera-like fiasco in Omaha: unable to pay for the transportation of performers and baggage, the company had to be bailed out from New York before being permitted to leave. Hardly had the train departed Omaha,


however, when it was halted; a mistake, it was now said, had been made and the company would have to pay $7,000 more if it wished to continue its journey. The money was supplied by Mrs. Thurber's Onteora friend Washington Connor, whose son was married to the Thurbers' oldest daughter, Jeannette.

Finally arriving in San Francisco on 17 April 1887, the company performed brilliantly. "Lohengrin by the National Opera Company, was the finest operatic performance ever presented to a San Francisco audience," one paper exclaimed on 23 April. Encouraged by such enthusiasm, the company stayed on for an additional, uncontracted, performance. That last evening in San Francisco was marked by a fiasco of a different kind: steam lines constructed under the stage to provide "smoke" for the final scene of Rubinstein's Nero —the burning of Rome—burst. Thomas whipped the opera through the resulting chaos without losing a beat. "People said it was the best fire scene ever put upon any stage and the newspapers praised Thomas for arranging it."[23]

Leaving San Francisco a day late, but showered with popular praise, the company chartered three trains to race to the next scheduled performance: Lohengrin , in Kansas City. That trip contributed still more stories to the mythology of the company, with breathless tales of hot-box fires and of railroad cars careening wildly as they took turns on one rail at seventy miles per hour to the accompaniment of prayers from the musicians. One member of the orchestra reported of the Kansas City performance, "I have never known it to go better. We were too excited to be tired. Sometimes a performance on bare nerves is the best in the world."[24]

Back in New York, the shell game that had buried the debts of the defunct American Opera Company only to shuffle them furtively to the National Opera Company did not go unchallenged. Thomas had gamely swallowed personal financial loss and continued as director because of his faith in the ideal, but the prima donna, Emma Fursch-Madi, was not of so benevolent a disposition, and she sued the manager, Charles Locke, for $679 in back salary more than a year overdue.[25]

The tour was an artistic triumph conducted against a backdrop of fiscal chaos and internal bickering. In Chicago, after one blowup, the choral director discharged a number of singers for incompetence; however, it was symptomatic that all those discharged were Americans, leaving a chorus of eighty-four, sixty-six of whom were Germans. When one of the fired American singers protested and threatened to sue, he was rehired as an assistant stage director, although he had no experience in stagecraft.

While Syracuse papers were heralding upcoming performances of Flotow's Martha , other, more foreboding newspaper articles were also appearing. "The American Opera Co., Limited, of New York, which started out with such grand prospects and was merged into the National Opera Company of New Jersey, has, in its legal evolutions toward dissolution, fallen into hands of a receiver," the St. Louis Tribune , for example, reported on 24 March. Mrs. Thurber quickly countered with a story that appeared just two days later:


The Opera is Prospering
No Receiver for the National Company
False Report Denied

"There is not a particle of truth in the report that the National Opera Company has gone into the hands of a receiver," said Mr. Jaffre, the cashier of the company, to a Herald reporter who sought an interview with Mr. Locke at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last night.[26]

The press played a key role in keeping the story of the National Opera Company in the public eye. There were 84 articles about the National Opera Company in the 1887 New York Times alone, even more remarkable when one considers that the troupe was away on tour that year more than they were in the city. Articles such as "Mrs. Thurber's Triumph" (21 February 1887) supported the endeavor to the city's philanthropists:

Notwithstanding all, one cannot but admire the pluck of Mrs. Thurber, who has now raised for her scheme and spent about a quarter of a million dollars. Everyone hopes that the coming season will be the turning point in the company's career, and that New York capitalists will be found so impressed with the excellence of its performances as to put their hands in their pockets and establish the organization upon a firm footing.

Lawsuits, though, made better press than Mrs. Thurber's protestations or the critical acclaim the company was gathering around the country. On the same dates that the National Opera Company scored so brilliantly in San Francisco and Kansas City, New York papers were full of articles about the company fighting off suits from creditors. The tone often bordered on the salacious, as in the wonderful headline, "Six Poor Deceived Girls" atop the following story:

The American Opera Co. was a defendant in seven separate cases before judge Ehrlich in the city court yesterday. Six of the defendants were described by their lawyer, W. W. Badger, as "poor deceived girls." The other was a poor deceived man, William Parry, the stage manager. The poor deceived girls sat in two rows in the back part of the room, jauntily dressed and trying to look sad. One of them, Alice Richards, a ballet girl, who was engaged for $20 a week now enjoys the distinction of having sued more millionaires in a given time than any girl in New York. She first sued the American Opera Company for $380 or 19 weeks salary, and then, anticipating a failure to collect in that quarter, brought separate suits against C. P. Huntington, Charles Crocker, J. Pierpont Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, and Henry Seligman, stockholders, each for $146 for damages.[27]

Somehow, the company managed to fulfill performance contracts on its return leg as far as Buffalo, but there Thomas finally threw in the towel, leaving on 15 June. About five days later, the company returned to New York after one last performance in Toronto without him. On 9 July Thomas severed all connection with the National Opera Company in a distressed letter, lamenting, "We have had in ourselves all the elements for good work and prosperity if only the first and vital


condition of success in any undertaking had been observed . . . namely, prompt payment of all employees."[28]

Mrs. Thurber claimed that the company's financial difficulties had arisen because private subscriptions promised in several cities, amounting to $250,000, had not been paid. She engaged District Attorney Winfield to represent her in the Hudson County Civil Court in an attempt to recover at least the amount she had loaned the company. The assets of the company, originally valued at $150,000, were sold for $26,101, or just a little more than 17¢ on the dollar.

What had happened? Why, in the space of less than two years' time, had Jeannette Thurber's experiment in Americanizing opera gone from a brilliant beginning to such ignominious failure? There is no question about the quality of the company, the artistry of its performers, or the readiness of late-nineteenth-century American audiences to welcome opera enthusiastically. The combination of lavish productions and low prices, though, left the company with a deficit at the end of its first season from which it never recovered. One of Thomas's biographers puts it most succinctly:

The notion that any enterprise taking money from the public must be self-sustaining to justify its existence is bred in the Anglo-Saxon bone. . . . The eminent gentlemen that Mrs. Thurber's eloquence and the popularity of her husband had induced to join in the American Opera Company believed they were starting a business enterprise like any other, and when they heard that it had not paid its way in one whole season of experiment, they called it a failure and scrambled ashore.[29]

The assumption was that only those enterprises that survived in the marketplace could be called successes, and that in good, businesslike fashion, failures should be cut loose as quickly as possible. The robber barons were decisive and far from gentle in their manner. Cornelius Vanderbilt is reputed to have once sent a note to some businessmen who had tried unsuccessfully to best him, saying, "Gentlemen: I will not sue you for the law takes too long. I will ruin you. Sincerely, Cornelius Vanderbilt." Such men did not stand by a failing proposition for long, especially when there were more benefits to be had from a box at the Metropolitan than good reviews from Iowa. "Millionaires from other cities had no interest in financing an institution located in New York; while the millionaires of New York had no interest in financing an institution which was supposed to belong equally to other cities."[30]

With the clarity of hindsight we can readily see instances of the company's reach exceeding its grasp. When the National Opera Company arose in 1886 like a parody of the proverbial phoenix from the ashes of the American Opera Company, it did so with only five signatories on the articles of incorporation, registered with the state of New Jersey: Jeannette M. Thurber, Parke Goodwin, Charles G. Buckley, Washington Connor, and Cleveland Connor. The management of the renewed company announced its good intentions for the National Opera in a newspaper story on New Year's Day 1887. These included cutting expenses, reducing


the performance season by 25 percent to less than thirty weeks, and restricting tours to the six or eight largest cities that could support the opera.[31] Nevertheless, the troupe left the next day on an eight-week tour to Boston, Worcester, Providence, New Haven, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Pittsburgh, and elsewhere to be followed by five weeks in New York—with assets of only $1,000 on hand and hopes to sell $500,000 in shares at $100 each. The Times opined:

Through bad management the enterprise lost heavily last season, and there is also a heavy shortage this season. It is said that Mrs. Thurber contributed not less than $100,000 of her private fortune to float the enterprise the first year. . . . She says the promoters of the enterprise are not trying to make money. There is not the least chance of their doing so with a daily expense of several thousand dollars.[32]

Theodore Thomas later attributed the American Opera disaster to "inexperienced and misdirected enthusiasm in business management, and to misapplication of money."[33] Charles Locke, manager of the company, seems to have been caught between Thomas on one side, demanding more rehearsal time, a larger chorus, and fuller instrumentation, and Mrs. Thurber on the other, calling for more elaborate stage effects and richer costumes. Liberal with her own money where artistic standards were concerned, Mrs. Thurber expected others to follow suit. The two complemented each other in their fiscal naïveté and trustingly left business matters which both found distasteful, in Locke's hands. There is no apparent reason to believe that the manager was dishonest, as some have charged; it rather appears that, confronted by two powerful personalities, he tried to please them both, a course of action that only contributed to the downfall of the company.

There were other causes as well. Although the principal singers were fine musicians, they did not engender the awe, adulation, or box-office draw of the international stars brought in by the Met, such as the De Reszke brothers and the brilliant, effervescent Marcella Sembrich. In addition, Thomas's successes had engendered resentment among some of New York's professional musicians, and, with the failure of the National Opera Company, many musicians, as well as patrons, turned against him. To add insult to injury, he was named as a defendant in suits brought by some of the same people whom he had supported out of his own pocket in the last days of the ill-fated tour.

A final factor in the collapse of the National/American Opera Company lay in Mrs. Thurber's failure—it might be better to say refusal—to court New York society sufficiently. Blakely Hall reflected on the results of that in an article that was reprinted across the country:

Society as such does not smile upon the National Opera. It is a pity and it is unfair to the last degree, for there can be no question of the critical excellence of the performances now being given [by the National Opera Company] at the Metropolitan Opera House. But society will not have it, so the great auditorium, which was ablaze with diamonds and showy toilets during the German opera season, is dimmed by the


sober costumes of the poor relations and out-of-town cousins of the millionaire box-owners. It would be difficult to describe in detail the change that has come over the entire opera house, but the effect is palpable. When a small section of society does venture out to one of the performances of the National Opera, it comes late, talks as though bored to death by the performance, and retires early. It is a pity that nothing that is American can become fashionable in New York.[34]

The National Conservatory

The weight of such a failure would have been enough to crush most people. At the same time that all this was going on, though, Jeannette Thurber was also developing her other great project, the National Conservatory. For the formation of that school she persuaded Andrew Carnegie, William K. Vanderbilt, Joseph W. Drexel, and August Belmont to join with her in establishing a school of music whose most important goal would be to foster a "national musical spirit." Mrs. Thurber served as president and the eminent retired jurist William Gardner Choate as vice president. On 21 September 1885, the organizers obtained a certificate of incorporation from the state of New York.

The incorporators on the original petition constituted a select list of New York's most prominent industrialists and musicians, some of whom were also on the board of the American Opera Company:


Mr. & Mrs. August Belmont
Mrs. William T. Blodgett
Andrew Carnegie
William G. Choate
Joseph W. Drexel
Parke Goodwin
William R. Grace

Mr. & Mrs. Richard Irvin, Jr.
Henry G. Marquand
Jesse Seligman
Theodore Thomas
Mr. & Mrs. Francis B. Thurber
Mrs. T. W. Ward
William K. Vanderbilt

Two adjoining houses at 126–128 East Seventeenth Street, near Irving Place, in New York City, were converted for the conservatory's use, and the school opened its doors in the fall of 1885 with 84 pupils. The opera and the conservatory were conceived of as interlocking, mutually supportive, institutions. The opera company, it was felt, would provide professional opportunities for the most gifted of the conservatory's students, as well as a model of artistry, a locus to bring leading performers into contact with students, and a means for recruiting outstanding talent from all over the country to the school in New York. The curricular model was the Paris Conservatory, where Mrs. Thurber had been a student; but its narrowly conceived purpose was originally to provide a venue for training young Americans to take their places in the opera company. It is hardly surprising, then, that the first account books of the conservatory show the name of the school as "The American School of Opera."[35] The school operated under that name for seven months until it was changed by petition of Mrs. Thurber on 15 April 1886 in the flurry of activity detaching assets from the opera company.


The National Conservatory quickly outgrew its original narrow focus to become the outstanding institution for professional musical preparation in the United States, a reputation it would continue to hold for more than a quarter century. Unlike the more glamorous but ill-fated opera company, the National Conservatory achieved and sustained success, and as late as 1955 Victor Herbert's biographer still lauded the institution in the most glowing terms, writing that the National Conservatory "boasted a truly brilliant faculty, offered comprehensive curricula, and proved itself a vital force in this county's musical development. To this day no institute of musical instruction can be said to have surpassed it in potentialities."[36]

Mrs. Thurber initiated the school with a brilliant coup by naming the famous baritone Jacques Bouhy (1848–1929) as its first director, a post in which he served from 1885 to 1889. A product of the conservatories of Liège and Paris, Bouhy had established an outstanding international reputation on the European opera stage, where he had created the role of the fiery Don Escamillo in Bizet's Carmen . At the height of his career at the time of his appointment, he was an enormous asset as a voice coach. Under his direction the conservatory's first curriculum was dominated by sight-singing (solfeggio, or solfège, which was required of instrumentalists and vocalists alike), voice training, and opera. To head the voice department, Bouhy brought in the renowned French soprano Emma Fursch-Madi, who was also a box-office attraction for the American Opera Company.

Neither race nor gender, both of which placed insurmountable hurdles before applicants at other conservatories, played a part in the selection of students at Mrs. Thurber's school. Minority pupils made up a significant percentage of the conservatory's student body at every level. The African-American composers Will Marion Cook, Edward Bolin,[37] and Maurice Arnold Strothotte were all students there, and the great black soprano Sissieretta Jones was featured with the conservatory's orchestra and chorus. Following one of the school's orchestra concerts, a critic noted in wonder at the participation of female students: "The violins, especially, among whom there is a sprinkling of girls, covered themselves with credit."[38]

While studying in France Mrs. Thurber had been impressed by the French educational system, which provided advanced musical schooling at government expense. She planned to match it by subsidizing talented students from across the country without regard to their backgrounds, meeting the cost from private donations. The National Conservatory was the first such institution in the United States to make a special mission of seeking out and encouraging female, minority, and physically disabled students, and the school soon earned a reputation for being "specially successful in helping students of foreign birth and certain special classes, like the blind and those of negro blood."[39]

Mrs. Thurber's scholarship plan resulted in financial problems from the very beginning. She was reported to have donated $100,000 herself to get the project started.[40] Nevertheless, there were often shortfalls to be met from the Thurbers' own pockets. Mrs. Thurber's report to the trustees during the second year of op-


eration reminded them pointedly that they had an "honorable obligation" to cover the debt of $15,000–20,000 "due to teachers only."[41]

General tuition was not free, as some have thought; it was $100 per semester, as an 1892 advertisement in the Musical Courier indicates. To compare that to tuition costs today, one might think in terms of how much $100 would buy then. In 1892, coal was $3.94/ton, and $100 would have bought over 227 pounds of sugar at 44¢/lb. Bacon was 11¢/lb. and eggs were 22¢/dozen. Free tuition had from the beginning been intended for only the most talented and needy students in the "artist" course. For them, Mrs. Thurber developed what appeared to be an ingenious, self-perpetuating loan scheme, in which a student's education would be underwritten and within a few years that same student would begin to provide funds to continue and enlarge the scholarship program. Gifted students who could not afford to pay signed an agreement that read, in part: "Students are bound, on the completion of their studies, to assist in carrying on the National Educational work of the Conservatory, by contributing, for a specified time in each case, one-fourth of all monies earned professionally by them over and above the sum of one thousand dollars per annum."[42]

Unfortunately, such a clause was not enforceable, because most students were minors at the time they entered into the contract. Furthermore, since many of those students were members of minority groups or women, their earnings after graduation were limited. Indeed, for most young women at that time, marriage meant the end of career aspirations and often abrogated such ephemeral obligations as school loans.

In November 1887, with the National Opera Company in a shambles and Mrs. Thurber beset by lawsuits, advertisements for the National Conservatory began appearing in the New York area, listing a faculty whose areas of specialization clearly reflected the school's original purpose as an opera training institute:

J. Bouhy (voice), director
Frida Ashforth, voice
Mamert Bibeyran, stage deportment, choreography
C. Bournemann, solfeggio
Pietro Cianelli, Italian
Ferdinand Q. Dulcken, repertoire, piano
Alberto Francelli, solfeggio
Christian Fritsch, voice
Gertrude Griswold, voice
F. F. Mackay, elocution
Ilma di Murska, voice
Fred Rumpf, solfeggio
Regio Senac, fencing

Advertisements of 1888 show seven new faculty members, whose addition reflected a philosophical change in the direction of a more comprehensive pro-


gram, since ties to the opera company no longer existed. Other prominent musicians who would later join the faculty included Anton Seidl (opera conductor), Frank van der Stucken (orchestra conductor), Rafael Joseffy (piano), Adele Margulies (piano), James Gibbons Huneker (piano), Rubin Goldmark (piano, harmony, chorus), Horatio Parker (organ), Oscar Klein (piano, organ, and composition), Leopold Lichtenberg (violin), Victor Herbert (cello), and Henry Theophilus Finck (music history). By 1890–91 there were more than forty on the faculty, and the student body had increased proportionately, with some 207 registered in piano classes alone. Various sources mention other distinguished faculty as well.[43]

The school was aggressively advertised. In keeping with the conservatory's aspirations to national scope, marketing was not restricted to greater New York. Besides notices in national journals (Etude, Musical America, Musical Courier , etc.), announcements and paid advertisements of the New York auditions appeared in local newspapers all across the country, and the conservatory's secretary, Charles Inslee Pardee, fired off regular news releases trumpeting each new faculty acquisition. By 1890 the National Conservatory claimed, with some justification, to be "the only musical institute in America in which the ground work of a thorough musical education is laid, and its structure afterward carried to completion."[44] Courses of study were not designed exclusively for the aspiring professional, though. An admiring article in Harper's explained various aspects of the curriculum:

Among the few music schools in this country which really merit the name of conservatory, the National Conservatory of Music of America in New York deserves special attention because it was not organized as a money-making institution, but as a sort of musical high-school where pupils could prepare themselves for the career of concert, church, or opera singers, of solo or orchestral players, or of teachers, for a merely nominal sum, or if talented, without any charge for tuition. . . . The National Conservatory is not, however, intended solely for those who wish to devote themselves to music as a profession, but also for amateurs. . . . Church-choir singers who have passed through the [solfeggio] course will never thereafter experience any difficulty in singing at sight the most difficult harmonic parts of a sacred composition.[45]

As early as the third season of the conservatory's existence, when over 220 students had passed through its doors, Jeannette Thurber sought a federal endowment for the National Conservatory. Had her proposal been passed as submitted, it would have made it a truly national institution, chartered and subsidized by the federal government. "Among the arts the first rank is held by music," Thurber asserted in an 1888 petition to Congress.[46] Noting the near-universal subsidization of music in Europe, she argued that something similar was "inevitable" in the United States and should be instituted at once: "America has, so far, done nothing in a National way either to promote the musical education of its people or to develop any musical genius they possess, and . . . in this, she stands alone among the civilized nations of the world."[47]


The crux of her proposal was to have a line item placed in the federal budget funding the National Conservatory in the amount of $200,000 per year. Each senator and each member of the House of Representatives would have the privilege of nominating one scholarship pupil, in much the same manner as was done at the military academies. Her prose was sweeping, her arguments persuasive, and circumstances seemed propitious: a large and embarrassing tax surplus existed, and Congress was looking for politically expeditious ways to spend it. Political support was weak, though, and the petition failed.[48]

She soon rallied her forces for another attack. The ground was laid with a concert of American music in Washington on 26 March 1890, in a program including music of John Knowles Paine, Dudley Buck, Frank van der Stucken, and Arthur Weld. The following year, 1891, with a new administration in place, she mustered support from the political and legal communities as well as the worlds of finance and the arts, and achieved partial victory in the form of a congressional charter. While there was no grant of funds attached to it, the distinction did provide an enormous boost for the school's prestige.

The congressional charter did not, however, address the central problem of public funding, a philosophical as well as a practical consideration that would occupy Mrs. Thurber for the rest of her life, and that would have enormous implications for American music. Mrs. Thurber was determined to win that point, and in another attempt to do so, devised a strategy revolving around an appeal to make the nation's capital the home of the National Conservatory. She included in her new proposal a clause reading, "Said corporation is hereby empowered to found, establish and maintain a national conservatory of music within the District of Columbia."[49] The District of Columbia, which was then regarded as something of a provincial outpost, could not help but be attracted by the idea of capturing an institution with the panache of the National Conservatory. Speaking on behalf of the bill, Representative Benton MacMillin told the House, "Mrs. Thurber . . . is engaged in a noble exertion to advance music and art in this country. . . . I hope there will not be a single objection to its passing."[50] There were none: it was approved by both Houses and signed into law within two days.

As might be imagined, passage of the bill was hailed by musicians and patrons of the art as a major step in raising the musical standards of the entire country. The prospect of moving the National Conservatory to Washington, though, seems to have lost its appeal almost immediately, if indeed it had ever been more than a ploy. The New York Post acclaimed the event as a cultural triumph and seemed untroubled about the supposed relocation to Washington: "[This is] the first instance of anything being done by the National Legislature on behalf of music. Hereafter the National Conservatory in New York will be nominally only a branch of the central establishment at Washington, but in reality it will continue, for some time, at least, to be of more importance than the Washington school."[51] The site in the District of Columbia never became a reality, however, nor does there seem ever to have been a serious effort to make it so.


Whatever else the 1891 charter accomplished, it did not solve the continuing financial problems inherent in the very design of the conservatory. The financial burden of the school and its programs fell almost entirely on incorporators and donors, which, for the most part, meant the Thurbers. In addition to an original sum rumored to have been $100,000, gifts of $5,000 were contributed in 1885 and again in 1886 by Francis Thurber. The conservatory's account books also show several loans from F. B. Thurber noted, "to be repaid when in funds": one of $2,000 on 26 February and another on 2 April 1886, just as paychecks had to be written. Mrs. Thurber obtained another such open-ended loan of $5,000 (2 April 1886) from L. Horton, which enabled the conservatory to balance its books. Except for an initial $5,000 check from Andrew Carnegie, though, the books of those first years are silent about the other members of the board. Within a few years, as the conservatory's fame grew, the picture began to change, but little of the money generated by the school's success came from other incorporators. As an example, following the highly visible concert of American music in Washington, the account books for May and June of 1890 showed over $14,000 in gifts, mostly in checks for $100 or less.

Mrs. Thurber was well aware that the key to the school's quality and prestige lay in its faculty, and she herself made the principal appointments on the basis of prospective teachers' professional reputations rather than open advertisements or auditions. Her own trips abroad were often invested in identifying and interviewing prospective teachers, and it was not uncommon for her to press current faculty into that service as well when they were on tour.

She ruled the faculty graciously but firmly. Her strong personality and idealism inspired them to feel individually responsible for the success of her endeavors. An example of that can be seen in an exchange of letters from December 1889, made public by Charles Inslee Pardee, dean and secretary of the conservatory. Seven of the best-known members of the faculty submitted a letter with the proposal that "[recognizing] how hard and successfully you are laboring to establish a United States Conservatory which shall be truly national in character," they would volunteer their services for a scholarship fund-raising concert. The offer was quickly accepted.[52] Normally, Mrs. Thurber included the faculty as allies rather than employees, and members of the staff were made to feel privileged to have been chosen for their posts.

With the academic year of 1889–90, when the focus of the school had clearly shifted away from opera, Bouhy returned to Paris. For three years the school operated without a nominal director. It was hardly a fallow period though, for these were the same years in which Mrs. Thurber successfully petitioned the government for a congressional charter, involved the National Conservatory in plans for a concert in Washington to commemorate the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America, and announced a long-range plan to select the best young musicians from communities all across the country for their final stages of professional training in New York. Of that last, Harper's wrote enthusiastically: "It is the intention of Mrs. Thurber to follow the example of the [Paris] Conservatoire . . .


in establishing branches of the National Conservatory, and tributary to it, in other large American cities. . . . These need not necessarily be newly founded schools, but of the already existing schools the best might be brought into connection with the National Conservatory, sending their advanced pupils to receive their 'finishing touches' in the centre of American musical activity."[53]

Dvorak[*] and the Years of Eminence

At the time, Mrs. Thurber was also busy searching for a new director whose prestige would be irresistible on the floor of Congress. Her choice finally fell on the Bohemian composer Antonín Dvorak. In the late spring of 1891, following some preliminary negotiations, Mrs. Thurber cabled Dvorak an offer of $15,000 a year for a two-year contract[54] with the stipulation that he was to conduct ten concerts of his own works. Dvorak, who had little inclination to travel to America, declined; but the composer was no match for Mrs. Thurber when it came to persistence. After several months of negotiations by post and personal emissaries, he succumbed to her entreaties, gently inquiring whether it might be possible to reduce the number of concerts he would have to conduct. Mrs. Thurber answered with a firm "No" and enclosed a completed contract for his signature.[55]

Dvorak arrived in New York on 27 September 1892, to become the second director of the National Conservatory. He served in that post until 1895, during which period the school undoubtedly reached its highest point. While there he developed a superb working relationship with Mrs. Thurber, who never exceeded, or even demanded in full, the terms of his contract. Mrs. Thurber also saw to it that "only the most talented students" were allowed into his composition class, as he had requested. In fact, Dvorak seems to have only conducted one concert of the conservatory's orchestra. A memo written by Mrs. Thurber says, in part: "[Dvorak] gave one concert, which was not a success financially. Fearing that he might not wish to return [out of disappointment], it was decided to give up the other concerts."[56]

The concert to which that memo refers was given at the Madison Square Garden Concert Hall on Tuesday evening, 23 January 1894, as a benefit for the New York Herald 's Free Clothing Fund. The African-American baritone Henry Thacker Burleigh and the soprano Sissieretta Jones (the "Black Patti") were featured in Rossini's Stabat Mater with "the colored male choir of St. Phillip's church under the direction of Edward H. Kinney." Dvorak opened the concert with Mendelssohn's Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream and introduced his own arrangement of Stephen Foster's "Old Folks at Home" for the full forces of the evening: soloists, chorus, and orchestra.[57]

"Long before the hour fixed for the opening the hall was filled with an immense throng,"[58] the co-sponsoring Herald exulted, and described the audience as overflowing into the aisles. Dvorak was presented with a gold-mounted ebony baton, and one of his composition students, the black composer Maurice Arnold



Fig. 12.
Dvorak's[*]  concert for the Herald  clothing fund, 23 January 1894,
featuring African-American musicians from Thurber's National Conservatory.
From a drawing in the next day's  New York Herald .

Strothotte, conducted the premiere of his own Plantation Dances ,[59] a composition based on African-American folk rhythms in keeping with Dvorak's continuing exhortation to his students, and for that matter, to Americans generally, to use folk material as the basis for a national music.

Correctly anticipating that Dvorak's presence would attract a group of talented young composers and national attention to the school, Mrs. Thurber established a $500 prize for "American" compositions in 1892. Judges included Dvorak[*] himself and a committee of seven other nationally known musicians.[60] The competition appears to have first been conducted in conjunction with the orchestra's concert for the festival in Washington celebrating the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America, and was offered in at least one additional year as well. Henry Schoenefeld's Rural Symphony won first prize in 1892–93, with second place going to Joshua Phippen for a piano concerto, third to Frederick Field Bullard's Suite for Strings , and fourth place to Horatio Parker for his cantata The Dream King and His Love . Anton Seidl conducted a combined orchestra of students and professionals that joined with the National Conservatory Chorus to present a concert of the winning compositions in 1893. The following year (1893–94) George Whitefield Chadwick's Third Symphony won the prize, and Marguerite Merington received an award for her opera libretto Daphne .

Dvorak expanded the conservatory's composition department and acted as mentor to many young American musicians. His composition students included Laura Sedgewick Collins, William Arms Fisher, Edwin Franko Goldman, Rubin Goldmark, Harry Patterson Hopkins, Edward H. Kinney, Harvey Worthington



Fig. 13.
The soprano Sissieretta Jones, who sang in Dvorak's[*]  concert
of 23 January 1894.
From a drawing in the next day's  New York Herald .

Loomis, Harry Rowe Shelley, Maurice Arnold (Strothotte), Henry Waller, and Camille W. Zeckwer.[61] He also inspired many other young Americans with whom he came into contact at the conservatory, such as Henry Thacker Burleigh, Will Marion Cook, Horatio Parker, and Dudley Buck. Alois Reiser studied with Dvorak[*] in Prague after his return from the United States, and under his influence later came to this country, first as a performer, and after 1929 as a film composer.

During Dvorak's American stay, he wrote a number of his most important works. The first year he completed The American Flag , Op. 102, a patriotic cantata that was part of his contract, and, more important, his Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95, which seems to have been written at least partly at Mrs. Thurber's urging. It appears that she might also be credited with suggesting its subtitle, From the New World . He spent an idyllic summer of 1893 in the predominantly Czech settlement of Spillville, Iowa, where he completed the "American" String Quartet in


F Major (Op. 96) and the String Quintet in E-flat Major (Op. 97), and where he orchestrated the "New World" Symphony. "I should never have written these works 'just so' if I hadn't seen America," he wrote to friends in Prague.[62]

As the end of his two-year contract drew near, financial pressures made it necessary for Mrs. Thurber to offer less favorable terms of renewal. Reverses suffered in the panic of 1893 had created problems for Francis Thurber, the conservatory's chief backer. To make matters worse, Congress did not provide the hoped-for budget, and other major contributors drew back in the face of the bleak economic situation. Mrs. Thurber explained the nature of the school's difficulties and promised more dependable payments in the future. In the end, out of regard for this indefatigable woman, Dvorak[*] capitulated once again and returned against his better judgment. In spite of his disgruntlement, he wrote a number of important works that year. The best known of them were the Ten Biblical Songs , Op. 99, and the magnificent Cello Concerto, inspired by the Second Cello Concerto of his faculty colleague Victor Herbert. At the conclusion of the academic year 1894–95, Dvorak returned to Prague, where he accepted the directorship of the Bohemian Conservatory of Music.

The Years of Decline

The National Conservatory continued to be an important voice in American music for another 35 years or so, although it never recaptured the dominant position it had held during Dvorak's[*] directorship. His departure was followed by another period in which there was no director, until the appointment of Emil Paur in 1898–99. By then, the school's graduates populated the American musical scene at every level, and Mrs. Thurber could boast that "nearly 3,000 music students have received their sole tuition at the National Conservatory."[63] Paur continued as director of the conservatory until 1902, later becoming director of the Pittsburgh Symphony (1904–10). In the following years, the conservatory's orchestra was led by Leo Schulz, principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic. Paur was followed as director by Vassily Safonov, but not until after a four-year hiatus.[64] Safonov headed the conservatory from 1906 to 1909, during which time its address changed to 47–49 West Twenty-Fifth Street. Shortly after that, mention of the institution begins to grow increasingly sparse.

In 1913 Engelbert Humperdinck accepted the directorship but could not obtain release from his duties in Berlin. After that date, no one can be identified with the National Conservatory in the capacity of director, and daily management decisions must have been relegated entirely to Mrs. Thurber. In spite of a succession of celebrated directors, she had always been the real energy source of the conservatory; but trying to maintain that posture as she neared seventy must have become increasingly difficult. The end did not come suddenly, as in a bankruptcy or fire; rather, the school simply petered out as Mrs. Thurber's own strength began to wane and income from donors fell. New and vigorous schools of music with ener-


getic young directors began to siphon students, faculty, and resources away from the National Conservatory.

Mrs. Thurber's forays into Congress had precipitated useful public debate over the appropriateness of a federally funded music conservatory in a capitalist society. Ranged on one side with Mrs. Thurber and her backers was the notable figure of Oscar Sonneck, who had virtually created the Music Division of the Library of Congress and was its first head. His position was summarized in a front-page article of 1909 in Musical America , "Should Our Government Establish a National Conservatory of Music?"[65] Sonneck's answer was a strong affirmative.

Directors of private music schools and conservatories across the country, on the other hand, did not find such a prospect attractive in the least. They were, in fact, appalled by the specter of federally funded competition, resented the downgrading of their schools to "feeder" status, and had legitimate concerns about entrusting the nation's advanced musical education to a single institution. Nor were they set at ease by Sonneck's characterization of many of them, in the article cited above, as having "tuition quite out of proportion to [their] merits."

Dvorak[*] , as might have been expected from his own background and affiliation with the conservatory, had supported Mrs. Thurber's viewpoint during his tenure. In 1895, when he made some remarks in favor of a national conservatory with a federal subsidy, the New England Conservatory reacted heatedly. Claude M. Girardeau, editorializing in the New England Conservatory Quarterly , sniped, "Indeed, we do not think that a single musical school in America is endowed in the way and to the extent that many in Europe are. Nor do we today think that state aid is the method best suited to the American nation."[66] The debate was eventually resolved in typical American fashion, with a compromise. Public funding of music schools became a reality, but funds came from the states through their growing university systems rather than being centralized in the federal government.

The forward-looking academic program of the National Conservatory played an important but little-acknowledged role in developing the profile of unified professional and humanities-oriented courses that came to typify later college-level music programs in this country. At that time history of music was most often taught, as is still the case in many other countries, in university courses separate from performance or theoretical studies, which take place at a specialized music conservatory. At the National Conservatory, though, Henry Theophilus Finck, music editor of the New York Evening Post (1881–1924), began lecturing on music history in 1888, and he continued to do so until his death in 1926. "The founder's [i.e., Thurber's] cardinal precept," noted one laudatory writer, "is that general culture should go hand in hand with special training."[67]

The introduction of solfeggio as early as 1885 was still another such innovation. Frank Damrosch, who had surveyed the programs of leading European conservatories in planning for the opening of the Institute of Musical Arts in 1905, also became an advocate of its inclusion in the curriculum, and in a 1912 article he spoke forcefully about the need for such study, with justifiable pride in his own institu-


tion's course.[68] It was the National Conservatory under Jacques Bouhy's leadership, though, that had introduced solfeggio into the American musician's preparation. In 1890 Harper's Weekly hailed it as the "first to introduce [solfeggio] in this country in 1885,"[69] an approach most certainly influenced by Mrs. Thurber's own experience at the Paris Conservatory. Other features of the National Conservatory curriculum now considered standard in American music schools included required piano study for all students, "for the reason that it gives a solid basis to one's harmonic knowledge," and supervised "practice teaching," described by the same writer: "Teachers are literally made and by beginning their duties in preparatory classes they by a system of logical evolution become the masters of a singularly clear and inevitable method."[70] Those who showed exceptional gifts as teachers were often absorbed into the teaching staff, regardless of gender. Thus Leila LaFetra of Hyde Park, Massachusetts, appeared on a list of students in 1890; but in the next academic year she was shown as a teacher of solfeggio.

The stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing withdrawal of funds that afflicted so many private institutions at that time seem to have been the final blows that brought down the faltering conservatory. While there was no formal announcement of the school's demise, there is no record of its operation after 1930. Continued agitation in musical circles and the press to create, or re-create, such a school attested to the void its disintegration left, but the National Conservatory was no longer capable of filling that role.

Even after the school's demise, Mrs. Thurber never relinquished her dream of a federally funded conservatory. As late as January 1939, at the age of 88, she wrote to Congressman James W. Wadsworth, representative of the Thirty-ninth District of New York, with a plan to once again introduce congressional legislation on behalf of a national conservatory. Wadsworth advised against any attempt to introduce legislation toward that end. "Such an attempt," he wrote, "I am sure, would fail, and through such failure the prospect of its success some time in the future would be diminished."[71] There was no future for such legislation, though. Support from the music world was spotty at best, especially with the wrenching turn from a depression to a war. The National Conservatory of Music was declared officially defunct by the state of New York on 15 October 1952, under section 57 of the Membership Corporations Law, for failure to file mandatory operational reports.

Success in Failure

The National Conservatory of Music of America, now forgotten by all but a handful of historians, its principals passed away, its records scattered and lost, might seem to be an issue without resonance in the present. Would the absence of Mrs. Thurber's efforts really have made a difference in the history of American music, or is that just a biographer's conceit? To weigh the answer, pick just one name from the list of the conservatory's students: Rubin Goldmark, for example, an accom-


plished composer who went on to become head of the composition department at Juilliard from 1924 until his death in 1936. Among his students there were Henry Brant, Aaron Copland, Abram Chasins, Arthur Cohn, Lehman Engel, George Gershwin, Vittorio Giannini, Frederick Jacobi, Bernard Wagenaar, and many others who played leading roles in twentieth-century American music.

There are few instances in the history of American music, or indeed, the music of any country, where a single person influenced the musical life of an entire country as Jeannette Thurber did with her National Opera Company and National Conservatory. Her vision of music for a young democracy fused artistic excellence and popular participation. To that end she gathered some of the greatest names in music for her opera company and took world-class performances to cities all across the country; she built a music school for all Americans without the distinctions of class, race, and gender that marred many other institutions at the time. Her crowning achievement, unquestionably, was to bring Antonín Dvorak[*] to New York, where his own life and creative work were altered and where, as a composer, teacher, and thinker, he influenced the musical life of an entire nation.

And yet, as one looks over her life's work, it is hard to escape the fact that many of her projects came to be perceived as failures that miscarried financially and passed out of the public eye. It was all too easy for the vigorous musical establishment that grew up in twentieth-century America to neglect them as dead ends in American music, for as Charles Francis Adams, Jr., described the American ethos of that period, "Failure seems to be regarded as the one unpardonable crime, success as the one redeeming virtue." In the final summing-up, her "failures" took on importance, though, because they set the stage and created the standards to which all similar enterprises would later aspire. James Gibbons Huneker, that gifted coiner of epigrams from the National Conservatory faculty, once mused that Jeannette Thurber "had accomplished more by her failures than had most others by their successes."[72]

Laura Langford and the Seidl Society:
Wagner Comes to Brooklyn

Joseph Horowitz

Three thousand people applauded, and the orchestra played a fanfare, as Anton Seidl left the stage to fetch Mrs. Laura Langford and escort her to the front of the Brighton Beach music pavilion. He then mounted the podium and closed his concert—the last of the 1894 season—with Liszt's Les Préludes , of which Langford was especially fond. As she listened to the enraptured nature music of Seidl's orchestra, her eyes swept the 3,000-seat wooden auditorium, which was filled to capacity. To the sides, she could see the moonlit Coney Island sands; to the rear, the Atlantic sky. The ushers, all earnest-faced women, wore silver S pins on their dresses. Their job was to discipline smokers, talkers, and latecomers. But the stirring music, the sea breeze, and the whisper of the breakers cast a spell stronger than any enforced decorum.

This was the fruit of Laura Langford's "mission work." Her Seidl Society had disbursed $34,000 for the nine-week, June-to-September season. Tickets were sold for as little as 25¢, and yet she had finished the summer with her books balanced—"a remarkable feat of managerial skill," in the opinion of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle . When the music stopped, the applause would not. After many bows, Seidl stepped to the front of the stage. The crowd hushed. He said: "I thank you very much for this evidence of your appreciation, and it is very gratifying. There is one thing, however, which I do not want you to forget and that is that this effort to raise the standard of music would not have been possible without the Seidl Society and the women who are its members. To them more than anyone else your thanks are due."[1]

Coney Island is a sandy peninsula at the foot of Brooklyn, eight miles southeast of Manhattan. In 1894, it was not yet the home of Steeplechase, its most famous and longest-lived amusement park, built in 1897. But it was already a notorious city of enticements, "Sodom by the Sea," a playground of beer gardens, shooting galleries, and sideshows, con men, and whores. Its Iron Tower, equipped with two

The principal sources for this chapter may be found in the Seidl Society archive at the Brooklyn Historical Society, a collection including letters, clippings, programs, and pictures. Much of the chapter is drawn from my Wagner Nights: An American History (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1994), 181–239.


steam elevators, was the tallest structure in the country. Its Sea Beach Palace could serve 15,000 diners at a time and house 10,000 guests overnight. Its Elephant Hotel was an immense tin-skinned structure with a cigar store in one leg, a diorama in another, and rooms available in the hip, shoulder, trunk, and thigh.

Coney Island was a metaphor for democracy. People from every walk of life mingled on Surf Avenue. And the surf itself was a common denominator, where men and women, boys and girls, donned revealing attire—arms and calves were fully exposed—to frolic in the waves.

If Coney's hot dogs and roller coasters catered to New York's toiling classes, fleeing their Calcutta tenements, respectable families and their servants gravitated to the island's east end, there to enjoy the vast Oriental, Manhattan Beach, and Brighton Beach hotels. These were patrolled by private detectives and supplied with fresh water piped from the mainland. The featured manicured lawns, elegant porches, fine restaurants, celebrated racetracks, and—on the model of comparable European watering holes—outdoor concerts.

Manhattan Beach's circular music pavilion, fronting the ornate verandas of the turreted hotel, boasted America's most famous bandmaster, Patrick Gilmore. The Brighton Beach Association, scrambling to catch up, built a second such pavilion and offered it to Johann Strauss, to England's Coldstream Guards, and to France's Garde Republicaine Band. When all said no, the association settled for Anton Seidl, who inaugurated the premises in June 1888 with members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

Seidl, born in Budapest in 1850, was famous—the high priest of a burgeoning Wagner cult. In fact, he was Wagner's own protégé, a member of the Wahnfried household from age 22 to 28. In Central Europe and England, where he had introduced the Ring as musical director of Angelo Neumann's touring Wagner ensemble, he was already recognized as one of the leading conductors of the late nineteenth century. In New York, where he had arrived in 1885, he embodied, as no one before him, the virtuoso conductor prophesied by Wagner. With his remote manner, Gothic features, and flowing hair, he was priestly, mysterious, charismatic. He was rumored to be an atheist, and Liszt's illegitimate son. On the podium—in James Gibbons Huneker's words—he "riveted his men with a glance of steel. It was the eye omniscient."[2]

But Seidl's 1888 Brighton concerts were a bust. Patrons of the hotel and racetrack expected to hear marches and waltzes, not excerpts from symphonies and operas led by the sober "Hair Seedle." And the orchestra, performing twice a day, seven days a week, claimed illness and fatigue; musicians griped to the press about Seidl's unreasonable demands. Seidl himself said: "I will confess frankly . . . that I do not content myself with the approval of the fashionable musical public; my chief aim is rather to attract to the concerts . . . the music-loving masses who wish to cultivate their taste, and who, lacking both time and means to attend the classical concerts given during the winter season, will now be afforded the opportunity of listening . . . at an outlay which lies within the reach of all."[3]


The solution to this impasse began with the formation of the Seidl Society in 1889. It was the brainchild of Laura Holloway, later Laura Langford. Born in Tennessee in 1848 and educated at the Nashville Female Academy, she was the daughter of a prominent country gentleman whose way of life was devastated by the Civil War. With her mother, a Quaker of Huguenot descent, she prevailed on him to take the family north. Early widowed, Laura lived for a time at the White House; President Andrew Johnson was a relative and close friend. While in Washington, she worked as a newspaper correspondent to help support her family. She spent some time abroad regaining her health. She returned to the United States to settle in Brooklyn, where she became well known both as a socialite and as an industrious journalist and author. She supported women's suffrage, and was corresponding secretary for the Brontë Society of England. She was admired for her cordial manner, for her rich and cultivated voice, and for her intrepid spirit. "What she does is done with all her might. She is not easily daunted by difficulties and ordinary obstacles have no terrors for her," the Brooklyn Daily Eagle testified. Colonel E. L. Langford, a former police commissioner whom she married in 1890 when he was fifty-five, was a well-preserved Civil War hero, and secretary and treasurer of the Brooklyn, Brighton and Coney Island Railroad Company.

Laura Holloway founded the Seidl Society in May 1889. According to its constitution, the society was "organized for the purpose of securing to its members and to the public increased musical culture and of promoting musical interest among women particularly. It aims to reach all classes of women and children and by its efforts in their behalf to prove the potent influence of harmony over individual life and character."[4]

Only women could join. At first, about two hundred signed on. Their initial goal was to undertake excursions to Seidl's Brighton Beach concerts. For dues of $5.00, all members were furnished with concert tickets at 25¢ each—about one-quarter the price of admission to comparable events in New York City. Rail transportation to Coney Island cost an additional 50¢. These outings, previously inaccessible to women without escorts, proved highly attractive once special cars were reserved for the Seidl Society. During the summer of 1889, as well, several thousand working girls and poor or orphaned children visited the Coney Island seashore and the concerts at the society's expense. The group also organized lectures, lunches, dinners, and receptions. It taught its members to sing. And it aspired to build a Wagner opera house in Brooklyn to house a permanent Wagner festival, an American Bayreuth.

The Seidl Society's trainloads of women rescued Seidl's seashore orchestra. Attendance increased by 50 percent. Seidl was emboldened to give entire symphonies, including Beethoven's Third, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth. But the project still seemed implausible. The music had to compete with bad weather and noisy railroad trains. Even when the elements and trains were quiet, the venue, so near rowdy crowds and roisterous amusements, seemed incongruous.

Early the next summer, when the concerts nonetheless resumed, Seidl blamed poor ticket sales on inadequate advertising by the Brighton Beach Association—



Fig. 14.
Laura Langford, founder of the Anton Seidl Society. Portrait from the
Brooklyn Daily Eagle .
Courtesy of the Brooklyn Historical Society.

whose president blamed Seidl's "too classical" repertoire. "The Seidl Society is in mourning," the weekly Spirit of the Times proclaimed.

As an iridescent dream, nothing could have been lovelier than a continuous, all year round season of Wagner, beginning at the Metropolitan; transferred to Coney Island; resumed at the Metropolitan, next autumn. Divested of their diamonds, free from the trappings of fashion, enjoying Wagner and clam fritters, Wagner and soft-shell crabs, Wagner and fish chowder, Wagner and bathing-suits, the worshippers of the Seidl cult could pass a summer of blissful harmony, and Pat Gilmore and his military band would be banished, for want of patronage, from the happy island. It was a dream worthy of the late king of Bavaria. But alas! it has not been realized. Herr Seidl went to Brighton Beach, and his orchestra and a full score of the Master's most intricate and diabolically difficult compositions. But, except a few curious members of the Seidl Society, nobody else would come, and the concerts for a few members did not pay.

Advertise yourself! Play popular music! Appeal to the general public! This was the brusque advice of the soulless, practical spectators who put up their unaestheti-



Fig. 15.
The Brighton Beach program cover for 1889, showing the 3,000-seat seaside music
Courtesy of the Brooklyn Historical Society.


cal money to pay the salaries of Herr Seidl and his band. It was a bitter Seidlitz powder to swallow; but necessity and empty benches know no law. . . .

Here is the light, airy, popular program which is expected to attract crowds to hear Seidl's concert, this evening: "1. Overture to the Flying Dutchman; 2. [Forest Murmurs]; 3. Lohengrin; 4. Siegfried Idyll; 5. Intermission of ten minutes; 6. Overture to Tannhäuser; 7. Song from The Meistersinger; 8. Good Friday, from Parsifal." If these selections do not bring the multitudes, nothing can. In anticipation of the result, the Iron Steamboats are running every hour; trains are starting on the Long Island, Bay Ridge, and other routes; the Brooklyn Bridge is open, and an annex boat connects Jersey City with the Coney Island lines. It is now 8 P.M. and the streets of New York seem deserted. Evidently everybody has gone to hear the triumphant Seidl's almost too trivial, amusing and blithesome concert. Yet there were rude skeptics who offer to bet that the ten minute intermission will prove the most popular part of the affair.[5]

The Seidl Society proved the rude skeptics wrong. Brighton continued to host concerts twice daily, with Seidl sharing the baton with his assistant, Victor Herbert. Attendance steadily increased. Some Seidl Society lecturers, such as the critic W.J. Henderson, were assisted by Seidl and his entire 60-piece ensemble—an innovation considered unique in the United States and Europe. The repertoire intensified its emphasis on new music—a gamut running from Chabrier, Massenet, and Saint-Saëns to Borodin, Dvorak[*] , and Richard Strauss. "The Americans must learn to know music better and to see the beauty of Beethoven and the great composers," Seidl intoned. "To that end I give concerts here and in New York. . . . I am not doubtful about the acceptance in America of the great German music—Wagner is already popular." Some Brighton regulars still grumbled. Other "disposed at first to scoff" remained—in the opinion of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle —"to pray."[6]

The grumblers prevailed in 1893 and 1894—the Brighton Beach Association withdrew sponsorship of orchestral concerts, and there were none. After that, the Seidl Society took over, and Seidl's concerts—now the Seidl Society Concerts—thrived as never before. Transportation improvements, including direct trains from Brooklyn Bridge and Fulton Ferry, made Brighton Beach more swiftly and cheaply accessible. Improvements to the pavilion enhanced protection against the weather. Seidl's evening concert was the event of the day. If one of his assistants led the opening numbers, his arrival was dutifully awaited. Then, unannounced, he swiftly picked his way to the podium through the stands of violins. He did not even nod acknowledgment of the thunderous applause before lifting his baton. The moment was electric.

According to the Musical Courier , Seidl's Coney Island audiences were quieter than those in New York's winter concert rooms. Smokers were banished to the back row and talkers subdued or excluded. The seashore locale, with its fresh air, was a tonic; audiences experienced no compulsion to "assume an expression of restraint." The crash of the breakers, which in earlier seasons had seemed a distraction, now seemingly enhanced Wagner's orchestral storms. The cheapest seats still


cost only 15¢ to 25¢—"ridiculously" little, in the opinion of the Musical Courier .[7] This, plus inclement days, plus the hotel's withdrawal of its former subsidy, plus the national economic depression, ensured that the society would lose money at Brighton Beach. Its deficits were covered by individual members.

The 1896 season was the longest ever—nine weeks and five days—and drew the biggest audiences. Seidl had effectively silenced calls for lighter programming. In fact, he was perceived to influence John Philip Sousa—who had taken Gilmore's place at Manhattan Beach—toward programming more "seriously." Then, on October 12, a "monster wave" struck. The highest tidal incursion in Coney Island's history, it split the storm-proof iron pier at West Brighton. Bathing pavilions, boardwalks, and shooting galleries were swept out to sea. Even before the storm had fully subsided, tear-stricken women rushed to the site. Where the Brighton Beach music pavilion had once stood, the wreckage looked like a lumber yard. Seidl never resumed his low-priced Brighton concerts.

The first stirrings of America's Wagner cult, paralleling Wagnerism abroad, had begun with great surges of German immigrants arriving at midcentury. A high proportion of these newcomers were middle-class professionals versed in the arts. This eventually became the impetus, in 1884–85, for an entire season of opera in German at the new Metropolitan Opera House, then only two years old. The chief conductor was Leopold Damrosch, who had known Wagner in Germany. The chief offering was the first respectable American performance of Die Walküre . But Damrosch died before the season was over.

Anton Seidl was hired to take his place. The six German seasons over which he presided were among the most remarkable in the house's history. The ensemble of those years arguably surpassed that of any company in Germany or Austria. Lilli Lehmann, who had taken part in the first Bayreuth Ring , was the leading soprano. Albert Niemann, the first Bayreuth Siegmund, was regarded by New York's critics—a more extraordinary group in this period than in any other—as the supreme singing actor of his time. Seidl would conduct three and four times a week. During one 1889 stretch, Lehmann sang all three Brünnhildes in the space of six days, plus Rachel in Jacques Halévy's La Juive (in German, of course). Wagner dominated the repertoire: 280 of the company's 490 performances were of Wagnerian music dramas. The entire undertaking was consumed by an implausible energy and idealism.

And yet the most profound impression was made less by the performances than by the operas themselves. Tristan, Die Meistersinger, Das Rheingold, Siegfried , and Götterdämmerung received their American premieres, all under Seidl's baton. And Seidl took Wagner on tour: to Utica and Rochester, Dayton and Cincinnati, St. Louis and Peoria.

Not the least remarkable aspect of this enterprise was its reception. The Wagner acolytes read books and librettos. They attended classes and lectures. Especially for wives whose husbands were away making money, and whose own pro-


fessional possibilities were suppressed by Gilded Age mores, Sieglinde's ecstatic pregnancy and Isolde's orgasmic love-death became necessary opportunities for intense emotional release. At the Met, the ladies were in love with Seidl; according to the Musical Courier : "Middle-aged women in their enthusiasm stood up in the chairs and screamed their delight . . . for what seemed hours."[8]

Seidl was indispensable to the Wagner cause, but—unlike his mentor Wagner—was no entrepreneur. He was "too modest," wrote his friend the critic Henry Finck. "He lacked the quality of Yankee 'push,' so necessary in this country."[9] It was Laura Langford who pushed Seidl into the center of Brooklyn's musical life and kept him there.

Until 1898, when it merged with New York, Brooklyn was a separate city of almost one million people—the third largest in the United States. With Seidl already entrenched at Brighton Beach, Langford envisioned Brooklyn becoming a year-round Wagner mecca. Like New York, Brooklyn was well-supplied with cultivated Germans. Thanks to Langford, it was quickly supplied, as well, with socialites whose cultural agenda stressed German opera. The resulting Wagner constituency was remarkably varied.

As early as 1889, Seidl at Brighton Beach had himself become a cult. A New York newspaper recorded these vivid impressions:

It is on the quiet days, the days when the week is new and all the Philistines and the madding crowd are gone, leaving only a wake of picnic litter behind them, that . . . the Seidl devotees are out in force. Perhaps Herr Seidl knows that he is adored. At all events his daily promenade about five in the afternoon is an event to see. With his white hat set well back on his head and the tails of his frock coat held at a meditative tilt by his right hand placed under them he paces deliberately along the paved walk which divides the hotel veranda from the pretty sweep of trim lawn which stretches away to the water's edge from the hotel. It is just barely possible that the gifted musician knows that hundreds of adoring eyes from hundreds of pretty faces are then bent upon him. . . . My impression is he does know it. But that may be blasphemy.[10]

Not all Seidl's adorers, the article continued, were "of the gushing type"—by which the writer meant women. Others were "serious and earnest lovers of music," who would "take their dinners solemnly" and "smoke a sentimental cigar"—in other words, cultivated gentlemen. Then, later in the week, the "true Seidlites" were swallowed up by gradually larger and noisier multitudes—many of whose number found their way either into the music pavilion or onto the nearby verandas and promenades, from which Seidl's orchestra was readily (and romantically) audible.

Obviously, laborers who escaped New York to ride the Steeplechase with wives and children were unlikely to wander east to the Brighton and Manhattan Beach preserves. Still, newspaper and magazine accounts leave no doubt that Seidl's Coney Island audience was notably diversified. And the same accounts stress that


Laura Langford's espousal of class diversity was no lip service—that her society's roughly 500 members encompassed a gamut of backgrounds and lifestyles.

A rough breakdown would have to include at least five categories of Brighton Beach listeners—all seated side by side in a circular structure unfitted with boxes and other marks of status. Especially after the Seidl Society undertook sponsorship in 1894, the best families of both Brooklyn and New York regularly attended Seidl's concerts—as they might the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, or the Brooklyn Academy. Some husbands came willingly on the weekend, joining wives and children who summered at the seashore; others were "overawed and somewhat sheepish looking."[11] The intellectual gentlemen who took solemn dinners were a second Seidl constituency. Third, there were the ladies of many degrees. For laboring women, the Seidl Society provided not only free or inexpensive railroad and concert tickets but childcare; special arrangements were made, as well, for ladies without escorts. Germans were a fourth distinct constituency, the only one to which symphonic resort concerts were not an utter novelty. Finally, there were the incidental patrons who had come to Coney Island mainly to swim or stroll along Surf Avenue.

It goes without saying that many upon whom Seidl cast his spell were newcomers to the music he conducted. "Hundreds of Brooklyn people got their first taste of fine music . . . , dropping in because [it was] cheap, and became regular patrons of the pavilion," the Brooklyn Daily Eagle observed.[12] Langford and Seidl testified alike that progress in musical taste was tangible in Brooklyn—that listeners who once considered a parlor ballad or a Strauss waltz "classical music" now stated their preference for this Beethoven symphony or that Wagner overture.

The Brighton Beach phenomenon amplified the singularity of what was taking place across the river in Manhattan. Gilded Age stereotypes notwithstanding, the Wagner cult gripped both Yankees and Germans, natives and immigrants. Startled observers repeatedly emphasized Seidl's appeal to all classes of Americans. And nothing startled more than the role women played in Brooklyn as initiators, organizers, and administrators. Langford called the Seidl Society a "new departure in the history of women's clubs." No American resort had ever offered a symphonic orchestra with any but—as Scribner's Magazine once put it—"the rheumatic instruments which a dancing master marshalled for his nightly dances in the hotel parlors." And the Seidl Society concerts were an American landmark in providing outstanding performances of important new music at low prices. "The capacity of the members of this society to hustle and sell concert tickets is what baseball managers call phenomenal," wrote the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1891.[13] Three years later, the same newspaper marveled:

[The Seidl Society] has maintained itself . . . with a perseverance almost of the Calvinistic saints until its name is everywhere known and famous. Businessmen would not assume such responsibility in the hope of accumulated wealth. They can scarcely be blamed, for business is business. But an organization of women will


sometimes courageously assume risks from which mere men will shrink. . . . They were prepared to accept [Seidl's] most advanced notions and inclined to advise him to go a step further. After some seasons of experience in New York, he learns in Brooklyn the worth of a woman constituency as contrasted with the disappointing worthlessness of a faint hearted following of men.[14]

In 1896, regarding what would be the Seidl Society's final summer season, the Musical Courier exclaimed: "Goodness knows what they do it for. Ordinary women would rather put the energy into new bonnets and send the money to the missionary Huyler. But these women are extraordinary, and some time after they are all dead the town will be putting up a monument to them as public benefactors, perhaps with a bas relief representing Herr Seidl waving his baton and a chorus of adoring angels about him."[15]

Today no such monument stands. Even books about Coney Island make no mention of Anton Seidl. But he was no marginal player at America's most famous playground. In the mid 1890s, Theodore Dreiser saw Broadway's first electric sign. Its 1,500 lights flashed seven messages, first in sequence, then all at once in a blaze of green, white, red, blue, and yellow. The sign read:


For the Easter week evening of 31 March 1890, the Brooklyn Academy of Music was transformed. From the carriage canopy to the Montague Street entrance (this was the old academy in Brooklyn Heights, not the present one on Lafayette Street), carpets were laid between banks of flowers and plants. A temporary archway led to the foyer, itself remade as a series of drawing rooms hung with watercolors and engravings. In the auditorium itself, the boxes were decorated in green, red, and white. Green and white streamers looped from the ceiling to the walls. A white-and-silver cathedral scene—"the costliest scenery yet produced in the United States," according to Henry Hoyt of the Metropolitan Opera, who designed it—set the stage. An 84-piece orchestra, also on stage, was partly concealed by a garden array of fan palms, geraniums, and lilies. A banner upon the proscenium arch carried the word PARSIFAL in flowered green letters, and also a medieval S —the insignia of the Seidl Society, which had conceived and sponsored the event.

The huge audience (every seat and standing place was taken) was considered the most distinguished—in bearing, in attire, in pedigree—in the building's history. A New York World reporter took note of "the number of eager, intelligent faces, espe-


cially of the ladies," and "the interest with which the listeners followed the performance, many of them with scores on their knees." Ex-President Grover Cleveland was spotted, his wife at his side and a libretto in his lap. Others in the boxes included Brooklyn's Mayor Alfred C. Chapin and his wife, Dr. and Mrs. Lymon Abbott, and Mr. and Mrs. J. Pierpoint Morgan. Distinction of another kind was lent by the ladies of the Seidl Society, who had prepared themselves with books and lectures—most recently, a talk on "Parsifal , the Finding of Christ through Art." In fact, local libraries could not keep their Wagner books on the shelves. Music stores in New York and Brooklyn were specially stocked with Parsifal scores and Wagner treatises. A milliner named a new spring style the "Parsifal" toque.[17]

The music began at 5 P.M. , with an abridged concert performance of Parsifal act 1 and part of act 2. Then, at 6:30, came a 90-minute dinner break—incongruously catered by an Italian, who ran out of food. The performance resumed at 8 and lasted until 10, after which a reception was held for Anton Seidl, his wife, and the principal singers.

Henry Krehbiel wrote in the New York Tribune the following day: "It was evident that the music had been studied with great care and reverence, for the distinctness of enunciation, truthfulness of declamation and intensity of dramatic expression which marked the singing of the principals were greater than the audiences at the Metropolitan Opera House were privileged to hear during the season lately ended." According to Lilli Lehmann, who sang Kundry: "There was a Good Friday atmosphere. The place was transformed into a temple. . . . That the performance did not lack in devotion and dignity I can vouch for heartily."[18] Seidl was transported, and transported his players. Nothing he had previously done in New York was more effusively praised.

A final detail completes this account. Brooklyn was known as a city of churches. Its skyline, unlike that of New York, was a modest plateau, mainly broken by steeples and spires. Its parks were bucolic. Its better homes fronted quiet, tree-lined streets. Its neighborhoods shunned the grit and bustle of New York's Lower East Side. The Reverend Henry Ward Beecher presided in Brooklyn Heights. His sermons resonated with the aspirations of his affluent Anglo-American parishioners—and with the meliorism[19] of Wagner and of the Seidl Society, which organized Sunday morning services at Brighton Beach, and reserved Sunday nights for church and home life. Especially after the Metropolitan abandoned opera in German in 1891, Wagner found a Brooklyn haven from immigrant chaos. The New York World quipped of the Parsifal Entertainment:

When Richard Wagner was looking for an ideal town wherein to demonstrate his harmonic ideals he selected Bayreuth as a city that had not been contaminated by the songs of vulgar Italian melodists. So in these degenerate days the members of the Seidl Society, intellectual descendants of Wagner, let their eyes rest upon Brooklyn, . . . whose virgin senses were still unsullied by the low Italians who dealt in mere concourse of sweet sounds. Therefore it was that in the Brooklyn Academy of Music


was held yesterday afternoon and evening the first real Festspiel of the Devoted Wagnerites of America.

The same article observed:

One cannot but regret . . . that the beautiful churchly choruses had to be omitted because of the lack of time in which to train the singers. Whose fault this was we do not know. Probably it lies in the inability of the members of the society to sing the work in German. But English would, after all, have been the preferable language for the interpretation of the work to such a purely and characteristically American, intelligent musical audience as that of last night at the Academy.[20]

Juxtaposed with New York, Brooklyn was more "purely American," more a refuge for genteel Yankee Wagnerites, versus the world of singing societies and Bierstuben that enveloped Seidl across the river. It was no coincidence that the Seidl Society began with Parsifal , the "Christian" Wagner.

The success of the Parsifal Entertainment launched a series of six Seidl Society concerts at the Brooklyn Academy of Music—after which the society's Academy concerts became a mainstay of the Brooklyn concert calendar, complementing Seidl's summer activities at the beach. The society's first "winter" season began on 30 October 1890 with an all-Wagner program: the Lohengrin Prelude, The Ride of the Valkyries, "Forest Murmurs" from Siegfried , the Tannhäuser Overture, Wotan's Farewell, excerpts from Die Meistersinger ("In Eva's Praise"), Siegfried's Funeral March, and the Tristan Prelude, "Love Song," and Liebestod. The second concert, November 6, was all Liszt: Les Préludes , the First Piano Concerto (with Franz Rummel, who also played a set of solo pieces), Tasso, Orpheus , and the First Hungarian Rhapsody.

The repertoire for the 10-concert series eventually encompassed much more Wagner and Liszt, including a second all-Wagner night and a "Grand Parsifal concert." Grieg's Peer Gynt music was heard, as were Le Rouet d'Omphale by Saint-Saëns and Richard Strauss's Don Juan . Of earlier composers, Seidl programmed two Beethoven symphonies and excerpts from Fidelio , but only a smattering of Bach, Mozart, Schubert, and Schumann. There was no Handel, and hardly any Haydn. Conspicuously absent, as well, were celebrity soloists; they, too, would have vitiated Seidl's emphasis on the "Music of the Future." "Speaking in all earnestness," commented the Brooklyn Daily Eagle of the season's final event, "it ought to be said in dignity, in beauty, in loftiness of aim and fullness of fulfillment the concert has not had its equal in either New York of Brooklyn this season. . . . The ten concerts of the Seidl Society have been phenomenally successful. . . . They have also demonstrated most strikingly the capacity of women to labor in larger and nobler fields than ordinarily occupy their attention in the department of art."[21]

In fact, Seidl's Brooklyn repertoire—both at the Academy and at Brighton Beach—was singularly adventurous. In New York, with the Philharmonic, he was more prone to program old masters like Beethoven. In Brooklyn, the Seidl Society gave him free rein. No contemporaneous European concert series so concentrated


on Wagner, Liszt, Saint-Saëns, Berlioz, and other important new voices. Seidl was a contemporary music specialist.[22]

In addition to the main subscription concerts, the Seidl Society's winter seasons at the Academy offered young people's matinees, and working people's concerts for which tickets were distributed at churches and hospitals. A "popular concert" at the Claremont Avenue Rink attracted nearly 4,000 listeners at 50¢ a head. The orchestra for all these events, usually called the "Seidl Orchestra" or "Metropolitan Orchestra," included members of the New York Philharmonic and of the Metropolitan Opera orchestra. The conductor was always Seidl.

Democratic zeal was a constant motif. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle wrote of Laura Langford that she never "tolerated anything that savored of class or social distinctions." In fact, her fund-raising drives, which helped keep ticket prices low, stressed donations of 25¢ to $1.00. "Large contributions will of course be accepted, but if the desired sum should be raised by the donation of small amounts the society feels that it had accomplished a great work in reaching so many people."[23]

As a matter of policy, the Seidl Society never published a list of members. At the same time, membership conferred prestige on socialites who joined—and many did. Banquets and receptions in fashionable rooms were a part of the agenda. One of these, on 21 April 1894, was a fifth anniversary dinner—the occasion for what was believed to be Seidl's first speech in English. According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle : "Anything more quaint than Mr. Seidl's imperfect pronunciation of our tongue, and his little translations of German idioms into English, it would be difficult to imagine. Almost every sentence was enthusiastically applauded, and a vast deal of unpreventable laughter mingled with the applause."[24]

The honeymoon between the Seidlites and their hero was only ended by his sudden death, at forty-seven, on 28 March 1898. His funeral, on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House, was the most imposing ever accorded a conductor. The cortège, including a 100-piece band, found the route mobbed with people. Its destination was the Metropolitan Opera House, a scene of chaos. The vestibule had been clogged for an hour. Several women had fainted in the crush. One hundred fifty patrolmen had arrived to restore a degree of order, inside and out, before the house was opened a few minutes past midday, with six policemen stationed at every door. For fully ten minutes, the inrushing women formed a surging, smothering human mass. Many who lacked tickets gained entrance by clasping hands with ticketholders. Within fifteen minutes, every downstairs seat was occupied. The crowd poured upstairs. Standees were packed five and six rows deep.

The cortège arrived at the Fortieth Street entrance at 1:15. The pallbearers conveyed the coffin into the awesome horseshoe auditorium. From the railing to the stage, the pit had been draped in black and surrounded with masses of flowers. The casket was placed on a tall catafalque marking the conductor's desk. On the stage, set as a cathedral, the New York Philharmonic performed a program including the Funeral March from Götterdämmerung . According to Huneker, who was not a sentimental critic, Seidl's funeral "was more impressive than any music


drama ever seen or heard at Bayreuth. . . . A genuine grief absorbed every person in the building. . . . It was overwhelmingly touching."[25]

The press reported the next day that, among the downstairs mourners, women had outnumbered men twenty to one.

In the latter part of the nineteenth century, especially in its final decades, women emerged—energetically, even aggressively—from the shadows of anonymity to assume new public leadership roles as reformers and culture bearers. Dated conventional wisdom holds that an eviscerated, "feminized" culture pervaded the parlors, libraries, and churches of the Gilded Age. The domain of prim women and effete clergymen, it inflicted piety and parochialism. In The Feminization of American Culture , Ann Douglas writes of "the active middle-class Protestant women" who shaped literary affairs:

[They] did not hold offices or own businesses. They had little formal status in their culture, nor apparently did they seek it. They were not usually declared feminists or radical reformers. Increasingly exempt from the responsibilities of domestic industry, they were in a state of sociological transition. They comprised the bulk of educated churchgoers and the vast majority of the dependable reading public; in ever greater numbers, they edited magazines and wrote books for other women like themselves. They were becoming the prime consumers of American culture.[26]

Elsewhere, Douglas describes ladies confined to "a claustrophobic private world of over-responsive sensibility."[27]

The Seidlites did not run a profitable business. They were not "radical reformers." They did consume culture. Their sensibility could be called "claustrophobic" and "over-responsive." And yet this portrayal gets them wrong.

The feminine culture-bearers undertook "holy causes," according to Douglas. Culture was a surrogate religion, a "redemptive mission." So it was for the Seidlites. But did their Wagner mission also "propagate the potentially matriarchal virtues of nurture, generosity, and acceptance"?[28] The liberal minister, Douglas says, "shaped his female parishioners' taste and fantasies."[29] So did Seidl, the high priest of Wagnerism, mold his flock. But did his tastes and fantasies, like the liberal minister's, embody indecisive, emasculated authority?

In short: Does Wagner stand in for Douglas's feminized culture? Is he, for instance, part of the parlor repertoire—a composer for the spinet to which Gilded Age daughters and wives gravitated? It is true that Seidl Society programs included advertisements for pianos and sheet music, and that the English-language versions of the "Bridal Chorus" from Lohengrin and "To the Evening Star" from Tannhäuser both enjoyed some currency as sheet music. But these were rare exceptions, not typical instances.[30] Essentially, Wagner was too big and complex for parlor dimensions, too rich for parlor diets. Of the novels that feminized culture, Douglas writes that they confused literature with religion—which fits the Wagner


case. But she also writes of their "small scale," "intimate scenes," and "chatty tone"—none of which fits at all. The heroines of these books "did not act or observe; they FELT ."[31] Senta, Fricka, Brünnhilde, Isolde, Kundry—these are creations as remote from Martha Finley's once-famous Elsie Dinsmore as Electra or Medea. The triumph of sentimentalism in nineteenth-century America is never clearer," Douglas concludes, "than when one realizes the relatively small number of romantic writers and theologians, male or female, this country produced."

For, however one defines the romantic impulse . . . it clearly involves a genuinely political and historical sense, a spirit of critical protest alien to the sentimentalism so often confused with it. Romantics such as Goethe, Schiller, Keats, Shelley, Coleridge, or even Byron never lost touch with ethical concerns as the mainspring of their inspiration. . . . The unmistakable exaltation of the self found in the works of the romantics was a desperate effort to find in private resources an antidote and an alternative to the forces of modernising society; it was not, like sentimentalist self-absorption, a commercialization of the inner life.[32]

To this list of Romantics, we may add the name Richard Wagner—a Romantic not produced by America, and yet energetically and meaningfully appropriated.

Especially for the antebellum and early postbellum decades, Douglas's insights remain indispensable. But she ignores the fin-de-siècle ferment of which the Seidl Society was part. Challenging Douglas, Kathleen McCarthy, in Women's Culture , portrays women playing marginal or ambiguous roles as culture custodians, not fully at home in male houses of power, but seeking to live there. Truer authority, she argues, resided in "cadres of male professionals and elites" who founded and managed the great Gilded Age museums. Late in the century, when women emerged as influential cultural philanthropists, they tended to support "new aesthetic priorities." Bypassing the mainstream museums, foundations, and universities, women sponsored their own voluntary associations. They were specialized nonprofit entrepreneurs, who relied on infusions of volunteer time and often made do with limited financial resources.[33]

Although McCarthy concentrates on the visual arts, she glancingly observes that the Philadelphia Orchestra formed a women's auxiliary to promote out-of-town concerts and find new subscribers through women's groups in other cities and states, and that the Chicago Symphony similarly organized tours through women's clubs in other cities. In fact, women founded the Cincinnati Symphony in 1895. Anna Millar managed the Chicago Orchestra from 1895 to 1899. Jeanette Thurber sponsored Theodore Thomas's young people's concerts in 1883 and founded the American Opera Company and the National Conservatory in 1885. According to Thomas, Midwestern advances in musical understanding were due "almost wholly to women. They have more time to study and perfect themselves in all the arts. They come together in their great clubs and gain ideas."[34] These clubs were part of a vast and varied network espousing a variety of causes, including Christianity and temperance, music and literature, equality of suffrage


and education. In effect, they empowered women who possessed scant power as individuals. Typically, they invoked the language of religion—of women's moral suasion—in advocating culture and reform. At the same time, they advocated intellectual self-improvement, presenting classes and lectures for the clubwomen themselves. They tapped into creative energies previously dormant amid narrow domestic duties. After 1880, legions of dynamic clubwomen, of whom Jane Addams is today the most remembered, burst into national prominence. The sum total, writes Anne Firor Scott in her history of women's associations, was a formidable social movement, long hidden from view because it lacked the public edifice of a Metropolitan Museum.

Since the early days of the Republic women have organized to achieve goals that seemed to them important. In retrospect it is clear that such women, constrained by law and custom, and denied access to most of the major institutions by which the society governed itself and created its culture, used voluntary associations to evade some of these constraints and to redefine "woman's place" by giving the concept a public dimension. Many years later a participant summed up the matter succintly: "Suddenly they . . . realized that they possessed influence; that as organizations they could ask and gain, where as women they received no attention."[35]

Addressing the vexing issue of "social control"—the argument that one abiding, if unstated, purpose of the reform movement was to keep the underclass in line, Scott writes:

I think the evidence does not support any simple hypothesis. The [clubwomen], though often, perhaps nearly always, conscious of the difference between "our own people" and other people, did not always draw distinctions in terms of economic or social class. Their world might be divided into the saved and the lost, the abstemious and the intemperate, the chaste and the licentious, native born and immigrants, workers and loafers, those who cared about children and those who exploited them, the worthy and the unworthy—and they did not assume that these categories were necessarily connected to class. There is a difference, too, between trying to promote social order by keeping people "in their place," as the phrase went, and trying to help them develop characteristics that—if accomplished—might admit them to the middle class.[36]

Although, like McCarthy, Scott barely mentions music, the relevance of their findings to the Seidl Society need not be belabored. With its public concerts, and lectures and singing classes for members, the Seidl Society was a voluntary association dedicated both to cultural reform and self-improvement. As a nonprofit entrepreneurial institution, it espoused new music, not the canonized masters. Perhaps, in subconscious ways, its workers' concerts imposed symphonies and other upper-class refinements to civilize the moody and disordered masses. On the surface, it cheerfully aspired to reach women of all classes. There can be no doubt that New York's musical high culture would have been tangibly less progressive, tangibly more insular, had no Seidl Society existed. And the Wagner cult as a whole, with its additional immigrant constituency—with Lilli Lehmann's Isolde and Brünnhilde at the Met,


with Coney Island's Wagner nights emblazoned on Broadway's first electric sign—more contradicted than reinforced the notorious parlor culture of the Gilded Age.

Laura Langford herself clinches this perspective. What was she like? Her books and letters provide answers whose contradictions define her transitional fin-de-siècle role.

The books genteel women wrote fell into two principal genres. One was sentimental fiction. The other was sentimental biography—a hortatory genre innocent of the larger play of history. Langford's books are entirely of this second type. Her 60-page Adelaide Neilsen: A Souvenir (1885), for instance, is a "labor of love" whose purposes include revealing "the degree to which [Neilsen] possessed the power of recuperation." Neilsen was an illegitimate child. She ran away from home and worked as a barmaid prior to her regeneration as a famous actress. Offstage, she was "a very lovable and loving woman," "sweet and reverent; strong and earnest of soul." Of her early death—she was only thirty-two—Langford remarks that "doubtless it was best" for her to expire "in the fullness of her prime."[37]

Langford's Ladies of the White House (1870) is a 700-page survey of every first lady from Martha Washington to Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant—"short and simple annals of virtuous and exemplary women, who occupied the highest social and semi-official position known to their country, one replete with matter to point a moral or adorn a tale." Andrew Johnson's invalid wife, whom Langford knew personally, is portrayed with intense affection as a model of tenacious self-improvement. Another heroine of the book is Mrs. Rutherford Hayes, who was college-educated and took an interest in issues outside the family. "Her strong, healthful influence gives the world assurances of what the next century's women will be." And yet Lucy Hayes's feminist contemporaries rejected her docility and deference to her husband's career.[38]

Langford's other major volumes are her 650-page The Mothers of Great Men and Women, and Some Wives of Great Men (1883) and the 780-page Famous American Fortunes and the Men Who Made Them (1885). She was also the author of shorter books about Charlotte Brontë and General O. O. Howard, the latter a Christian soldier friendly to freedmen and Indians. She was the editor of the letters of General Charles George Gordon, of portraits of twenty notable. American women, and of a volume of religious poetry. One aspect of this output disturbs its prevailing complacency of tone and outlook: the advocacy of greater roles for women. Langford even betrays annoyance with her noble first ladies: "not a few strong, gifted natures have been content to lead automaton lives in that famous old mansion." Especially in the United States, she observes, wives of "public men" are "left behind" and "doomed to slavery of the most repulsive kind during perhaps the best years of life."[39]

It is in her letters to Anton Seidl, however, that another Langford completely emerges. The very antithesis of "automaton" or "slave," she sheds her florid style and stands behind no man. In every sense, she is all business, ascertaining how much to pay the musicians, how to transport music and instruments, what


arrangements are needed for rooms and meals at the hotel. Back salary' is due. The scheduled soloist has canceled. Inevitably, these practical questions broach artistic issues. "I swear that this is the only time that this will happen," Seidl writes on 8 November 1893, apologizing for the necessity of an extra rehearsal. On 15 May 1894, Seidl counsels as follows regarding a possible violin soloist: "I think Miss Maude [sic ] Powell can be had, she wrot [sic ] to me, and will be very moderate in salary. SHALL I WRITE TO HER ? Otherwise let out her name and put in Liszt's Préludes ." Sometimes Seidl instructs Langford to choose a soloist herself.[40]

A particularly revealing episode in their relationship occurred in July 1896, when the Brighton Beach orchestra engaged its first and only female member, a harpist identified as Miss Casuri. Some in the orchestra objected that she was not a member of the union—which, as a woman, she could not be. Miss Casuri complained that she was being paid much less than her male predecessor. Sigismund Bernstein, who contracted the players on Langford's behalf, reportedly threatened to fire the new harpist if she refused to keep quiet. But she spoke to Langford, who instantly and publicly took her side. Langford told the press she had put the matter in Seidl's hands: "I trust him." The affair died down as quickly as it had erupted: Miss Casuri stayed.

Langford's surviving correspondence with Seidl is at all times brisk and unadorned. She addresses her letters "Dear Mr. Seidl" and signs them "Sincerely." Seidl, who always writes in creditable English, calls her "Mrs. Langford." What personal relations lay behind the formal surface of these exchanges we can only guess. Langford unquestionably stood on equal footing in Seidl's world of art and artists. Lilli Lehmann, in a letter to Langford, signs herself "Lilli." Seidl's wife Auguste, writing to "Mrs. Langford," calls her "my best friend . . . you have my love for ever."

Well-bred females of the Gilded Age wrote romantic biographies like Langford's. They espoused Christianity, women's suffrage, and uplift through art much as she did. Hypersensitive, rarified, they were held in awe by their husbands and other male admirers. Langford was a businesswoman, a nonprofit impresario without whom no Seidl Society concerts could have existed. She did not shrink from the public gaze when Seidl acknowledged her with bows and bouquets, and the Brighton Beach audience "applauded wildly." Once, in 1893, Seidl proposed to Langford that his New York Philharmonic perform regularly under the auspices of the Seidl Society. "You will be then the Queen of the musical world in Brooklyn."[41] It never happened, but Langford must have seemed to many a queen. That is one possible explanation for the abuse the Musical Courier hurled at the Seidl Society on 28 October 1896:

There has always been lax management, the press has not been treated with the courtesy that insures attention, the whole scheme has been retained and carried on for the effort at personal aggrandizement of a few enterprising people, and the endeavor to establish popular classical orchestral concerts at a low price of admission has been defeated because of the internecine struggles of its adopters; because of the inaccessibility of the place in which they were given, and because of the narrow-


minded policy which dictated the display of the names of a few women who sought social supremacy as the total object of their efforts . . .

Never before in America has there been such a series of programs as those at the Brighton Beach Musical Hall, considering the fact that these were summer concerts. Never before has there been spent so large a sum of money . . . with so little net results to the good of art.

Nothing ever published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle supports such an attack—but then the Eagle was for many years Langford's employer. It bears considering that denunciations of women who violated genteel codes were far from uncommon by 1896.

One signature fin-de-siècle phenomenon was the New American Woman. University-educated, sexually independent, she denied that fulfillment required marriage. She spoke of sexual desire as a beautiful and pleasurable impulse. She advocated a future world of sexual equality: of access to the "masculine" professions, of level camaraderie between men and women. She sometimes wound up celibate, lonely, and disappointed.

Ultimately, after 1900, the New Woman discovered a place within the modernist movement. In particular, dance, shedding the stigma of degeneracy, became an outlet for spirituality and self-expression. Modern dance, America's first native high art form, knocked culture off its pedestal. For Ruth St. Denis and other dance pioneers, art became praxis.

In this revolutionary context, Laura Langford seems a diligent worker on the sidelines of art, the New Woman's mother. She no more resembled St. Denis, born in 1880, than the Wagner cult embodied modernism, whose delayed American advent awaited the turn of the century. But Langford's Seidl Society shatters stereo-types of "feminized culture." On Wagner nights, the salty ocean breezes at Brighton Beach swept aside memories of the parlor spinet.

The legacy of the parlor lingered, however. Eleven years after Anton Seidl's death, Gustav Mahler became Seidl's most distinguished successor at the head of the New York Philharmonic. Concomitantly, the Philharmonic was reorganized by a group of philanthropic socialites. These "guarantors," headed by Mrs. George R. Sheldon, pledged to cover the orchestra's deficits in conjunction with expanding its activities. Mrs. Sheldon was no Mrs. Langford. When Philharmonic audiences dwindled, the lady guarantors began bickering with Mahler over his salary. They tried to supervise his programming. In the eyes of Mahler's wife, "he had ten ladies ordering him about like a puppet."[42] Mahler was already an ill man. His condition worsened. He died two years after his New York appointment.

In America, where the state stands aside, the affluent arts patroness has played a special role. Had Mahler enjoyed the services of a Laura Langford, of a "Mahler Society," the New World might have taken fuller advantage of his gifts, and he of ours.


A Style of Her Own:
The Patronage of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge

Cyrilla Barr

In his review of a concert sponsored by Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge (1864–1953) in Paris in 1931, Henry Prunières characterized her as "an American Maecenas."[1] No doubt the analogy was well meant, but a comparison of Coolidge's style with that of the epicurean Roman nobleman, sequestered in his luxurious palace on the Esquiline, with its lavish gardens and heated swimming pools, could hardly have been less suited. A far happier—though still imperfect—choice might have been the Renaissance princess Isabella d'Este, admired for her vitality and intelligence, a woman with the power to subpoena nearly any artist she wished to work for her. Fortunately, even flawed analogies can raise important questions that need to be asked: in this case, if Coolidge had a style of her own, what made it unique? Had she a role model? And above all, what motivated her characteristically swift and purposeful actions?

The ardor with which Coolidge guarded her privacy complicates any effort to answer these questions. Her work as a patron of music was actually a second career, begun in her early fifties, and the publicity generated by her magnanimous support of music and musicians is in almost inverse proportion to the public's knowledge of her life up to that age—a period that might be described as her apprenticeship. She began with the familiar route of the women's club and settlement house, but very soon moved beyond it into a position that ultimately challenged the U.S. government to take on the cause of the arts.[2]

Although the circle of Coolidge's friends was vast and included practically every major composer and performer of chamber music from the first half of this century—as well as such literary figures as Gabriele D'Annunzio and Paul Claudel—very few were admitted to her confidence or knew anything of her private life. It is in her personal letters to a few intimate friends that some understanding of her motivation and style of giving begins to emerge. A case in point is a letter written in 1930 to Persis Coleman.[3] Although it was ostensibly intended to

I wish to express my thanks to Dr. John C. Coolidge and Elizabeth Coolidge Winship for their generosity in providing unlimited access to documents relating to ESC's early life. Thanks are due as well to James Pruett, chief of the Music Division, and to members of the staff of the Library of Congress for their unfailing assistance. Research for this essay was supported in part by a grant-in-aid from the American Council of Learned Societies and a faculty research grant from The Catholic University of America. The following abbreviations are used in the notes:


C. Cor.

Coolidge Correspondence, Music Division, Library of Congress

C. Misc.

Unsorted Coolidge memorabilia, Library of Congress


Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge



Fig. 16.
Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge.
Charcoal drawing by John Singer Sargent, 1923.
Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

offer advice, it in fact reveals a good deal about Elizabeth's own philosophy. In it she declares the absolute necessity of:

having an objective interest in life which entirely excludes dwelling upon the thought of one's self. When I say "objective" I do not necessarily mean impersonal, for this great interest may be in some friend or acquaintance, and in fact, I really think that such an interest is the only thing which can take the place in the lives of such women as you and I, of a responsibility and devotion usually given to one's own family. . . . But whether it be to a person or cause, or to any outside enthusiasm, I think it should be animated not by what you want for yourself, but by what you want for it.[4]


There is no question as to the identity of the "it" in Coolidge's life, for music was in her words, "the high priestess in the service of the only religion which I know."[5] However altruistic her advice may seem, there is no denying that her early commitment to her art sprang from very personal experiences, and that it only later approached the objectivity suggested in the letter to Coleman. Some knowledge of the tragedies of her private life is essential to understanding the manner in which music became her lifeline in times of sorrow. Her own words, spoken on the occasion when her String Quartet was performed in 1936 as part of an NBC broadcast entitled "Music Is My Hobby," explain how she perceived her life to be divided into three periods differentiated from each other by the manner in which music served her:

First, stands the character discipline of a long course of piano study. My teacher's exaction from me, throughout my girlhood, of reverence for duty; of co-ordinated self-control, of uncompromising fidelity to standards. This laid the foundation of whatever mental and moral strength may be mine, and as an influence of lasting force was second only to that of my Mother.

During the second period of my musical life, this habit of wrestling with impersonal difficulties stood me in life-saving stead as I encountered many painful and insoluble personal problems. Without the mechanical stabilizer of hard piano practise and its concomitant sense of power and balance, my emotional equilibrium would have been wrecked.

The third and still present period includes my amateur efforts at composition. The need thus ministered to is that of self-expression, as a spiritual refuge from my increasing deafness. This, if anything, I must consider my hobby, and as such I modestly share it with the radio audience as a suggestion that making music, by either playing or writing it, is not the exclusive pleasure of the professional musician.[6]

Although these words beautifully express the centrality of music in her life, they reveal nothing of the exercise by which she developed her skills as a patron and refined the characteristics that would become her trademark. The letter to Coleman, however, clearly outlines three high-minded qualities that over the years became noticeably more operative in her work: (1) refusal to dwell upon one's own difficulties; (2) installation of one's "objective cause" in the exalted position of devotion usually reserved for family; and (3) genuinely altruistic sublimation of that cause above and beyond the personal interests and satisfaction of the patron.

The admonition to avoid indulgence in self-pity is unquestionably a reference to the "painful and insoluble personal problems" alluded to in connection with that second period of her musical life. Coolidge was above all a survivor, and she heroically exemplified her own good counsel in this case. Her youth, lived in the privileged environment of Chicago's "Gold Coast," could hardly have prepared her for the tragedies that lay ahead. It was after the requisite grand tour of a year in Europe, eighteen months of study in an exclusive French and English boarding school in New York City, and her official entry into society back in Chicago that she met and married Frederic Shurtleff Coolidge, then a young medical student at


Harvard.[7] His pedigree was easily the equal of hers: he was the scion of a prominent Boston family whose ancestors had been active in colonial government.

After a period of study in Europe, they settled into a comfortable life in the home that her parents built for her on Prairie Avenue. Shortly after the birth of their only child, Fred—through an accident in surgery—contracted syphilis. His condition was further complicated a few years later by the onset of tuberculosis; this necessitated their moving to Saranac Lake, where he spent two years in the sanatorium of Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau. As the syphilis progressed through the secondary and tertiary stages, he submitted to intensive bromide treatments and aggressive arsenic and mercury therapy. He sustained several debilitating strokes, which left him partially paralyzed and eventually demented. Their idyllic life together had quickly turned into a pilgrimage from one medical shrine to another in quest of healing, which tragically eluded him. With each affliction and every setback, Elizabeth's defense was to lose herself in her music. She well knew what it meant not to dwell upon one's misfortunes.

The suggestion to seek an "objective interest" capable of taking the place of the devotion usually given to one's family is also a poignant reference to Elizabeth's own situation, for between January 1915 and March 1916, her father, husband, and mother all died; and in June her only child, Sprague, graduated from Harvard, married, and moved from home.[8] She had indeed lost her family and was suddenly left alone—alone, not only to pick up the pieces of her personal life, but also to administer the Sprague fortune in a society that provided little opportunity for a woman to acquire the necessary knowledge to enter the world of finance and management. Moreover, the deeply ingrained Puritan values, work ethic, and moral rectitude that she had inherited from her parents' example brought with it a sense of accountability to society that more or less foreordained her entry into the arena of philanthropy.[9]

Patronage in one form or another has existed throughout history, from antiquity to the present—most often associated with an affluent, politically well connected, and typically male-dominated society. The concept of an individual artistic patron within a democratic society presented a new set of challenges in the pre-income tax era, when industrialists like Carnegie, Ford, and Vanderbilt acquired fortunes so vast that their surplus wealth could not be disposed of even by the most conspicuous consumption. In one year alone, Andrew Carnegie gave more than $6,000,000 for the restoration of organs in churches and civic buildings.[10] Coolidge's entire inheritance was less than that amount, yet she managed to establish her patronage on a sound basis, which continues to this day.

If anyone might be singled out as a role model, it must be her father, Albert Arnold Sprague (1835–1915), who made his fortune in the wholesale grocery business he established in Chicago just when the transcontinental railway was being completed.[11] Recognizing that Chicago would be a major distribution center, he



Fig. 17
Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge playing chamber music with her son
Sprague at her home in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Photograph courtesy of Dr. John C. Coolidge, Cambridge, Mass.

began in 1862 with a capital investment of $2,300 borrowed from his father. By the time of his death in 1915, the company was grossing over $14,000,000 annually. Her father's last official act—just four days before his death—was the establishment of a very generous and unique pension fund for his employees.[12] It was his example that inspired Elizabeth's first act of philanthropy, a gift of $100,000 to the Chicago Symphony for the establishment of a pension fund as a memorial to her father—an action unprecedented in the history of American symphony orchestras. She had inherited an estate of approximately $2,000,000 and a personal fund of $200,000. So the gift to the orchestra, given just one week after her father's death, was a generous half of her discretionary fund. Upon the death of her mother the following year, she inherited the remainder of the estate, totaling over $4,000,000, and promptly added another $100,000 to the pension fund.[13] Two marks of the style that would ever after characterize her more important undertakings were already noticeable in this first magnificent gesture: the speed with which she acted once she had determined the object of her largesse, and her desire to be an example to other would-be patrons. The Chicago press was quick to recognize that "someone was required to take the first step, and to take it in such a manner as would challenge attention. It has been done. On the honor rolls, not merely of the orchestra but of the community at large, the names of Mr. Sprague and Mrs. Coolidge will be written in letters that no man will forget."[14]

On hearing news that Bryan Lathrop had added $25,000 to the pension fund, Elizabeth wrote to her old friend Frances Glessner: "How nice it is that a fresh spirit has been infused into the musical public, assuring the ultimate completion of the fund and arousing new loyalty to the interests of the orchestra. I think that it


is, more valuable to music than the fund itself, and am correspondingly delighted, for it seems to vindicate my device."[15]

Although Coolidge knew all along that her work should be in support of music, she did not suddenly emerge a seasoned patron in the society of the Mellons and Whitneys—like Athene, springing fully armed from the brow of Zeus. Rather, in the period immediately following the loss of her family, she seemed at times to scatter her bounty abroad with a kind of generous, even indifferent, abandon, while she was preoccupied with refining the precise form that her principal work should take. Because her husband had been a physician, many of her early bequests were to the medical profession. She gave her Chicago home and that of her parents as nurses' residences,[16] established a $200,000 trust fund to build a hospital for the care of consumptives as a memorial to Fred,[17] endowed modest medical research fellowships at Columbia University,[18] gave $200,000 to the Berkshire County Society for Crippled Children, and then donated her beautiful house in the Berkshires as a school for them.

With her mother, she built Sprague Music Hall at Yale, her father's alma mater,[19] and soon after her mother's death, she promised her cousin Lucy Sprague Mitchell $50,000 for her recently established New School for Social Research, which would later become the Bank Street Establishment in New York. Coolidge's only condition was that she not be pressured to understand or even be interested in the group's work, an arrangement that stands in marked contrast to her intimate involvement in her musical endeavors.[20]

Two years after her father's death, Elizabeth embarked upon her major career as a patron of chamber music when she formed her Berkshire Quartet, established the Berkshire Festival, and inaugurated the Berkshire Competition for the composition of chamber music.[21] Her reasons for devoting herself so exclusively to this intimate medium stemmed partly from her eagerness to participate in the music making herself and partly from a desire to retain a degree of control that would not be realistic in the case of opera or symphonic music. Moreover, she could simply do more with less money by sponsoring small ensembles.[22] The speed with which she acted in the case of the Chicago Symphony pension fund would be duplicated numerous times, but perhaps none so dramatic as the action that had brought about the beginnings of her Berkshire enterprise.

Just as she was contemplating what form her work should take, she received a letter from Hugo Kortschak, a young Austrian violinist whom she had neither met nor heard of. He had recently left the Chicago Symphony in order to devote himself to chamber music and, with three of his colleagues who were still in the orchestra, had formed a quartet. But the demands of a rigorous orchestra schedule made it impossible for them to devote the necessary time to rehearsal. Knowing of Coolidge's dedication to the art of chamber music, Kortschak sent a deferential, but heartfelt, appeal, addressing her as one "who love[s] art sufficiently to lend . . .


help for art's sake."[23] The kind of idealism suggested by his well-chosen words found a willing ear in Elizabeth, for she was well acquainted with the Kneisel and the Flonzaley quartets, which had been brought into being by enlightened acts of patronage, and she knew their founders intimately. In her response to Kortschak, written the same day that she received his letter, she said, "It is a strange thing that your proposition is exactly what I have been having in mind for some time."[24] Within days she went to Chicago, heard the quartet, and immediately offered them a contract, which stipulated that they should at once move to New York, where she provided lodging for them and attended their rehearsals, which took place in the music room of her Park Avenue apartment. She reserved the right to perform with the group when piano was required, and became intimately involved in the selection of repertoire and scheduling. Commenting on this much later, she remarked, "You can imagine what an education this was for me, whose musical idiom had hitherto been so largely formed by keyboard standards. I had never before so well understood the possibilities of abstract music."[25]

During that same summer Frederick Stock, conductor of the Chicago Symphony and an old friend of the Sprague family, was in New England to attend the Litchfield County Festival in Norfolk, Connecticut, which was under the direction of his friend Gustave J. Stoeckel (see Vignette E). Stock was enthusiastic about the music shed that Stoeckel had built and suggested that Elizabeth's new quartet ought to play there. Her immediate reply was, "Why go so far? Why not have our own festival in our own home?"[26] With the dispatch that was becoming her signature, she set about building a festival hall and cottages for her musicians at the foot of South Mountain on her son's property at the edge of Pittsfield, and her work soon began to attract attention both in the United States and abroad. It was her desire that by "inviting thousands of listeners from everywhere instead of a few friends from New York or Pittsfield," she should be able to "free [the] concerts from the deadening influence of social fashion, and to stamp them with true artistic significance and authority."[27] Many years later she reflected on the wonderfully international character of her first festival, which took place two months before the armistice, while some of the nations represented by the performers were actually still at war with one another.[28]

The success of her Berkshire venture taught Coolidge that if her work were to survive her own lifetime, it must be made "impersonal and institutional, dependent upon no single life or good will."[29] It was at this juncture that Carl Engel came into her life. He had just become chief of the Music Division of the Library of Congress in 1922 and had attended the Fifth Berkshire Festival that year. He was brilliant, sensitive, urbane, and witty, and she was attracted to him in a kind of May and December friendship that would strongly influence her decision to endow the Library of Congress.[30]

By 1924 she began testing the waters of possible federal support for her work. In February she made her first musical offering in Washington, a festival that had


to be presented in the auditorium of the Freer Gallery owing to lack of a suitable performance space at the Library of Congress.[31] Before the euphoria of success could diminish, she confided to Engel her ideas for the Library of Congress and wrote officially to Herbert Putnam, Librarian of Congress, of her intention to endow a foundation and to build an auditorium in the Library. By mid November she had met privately with Engel and handed him a check for $60,000 for construction of the auditorium.[32] However, there were formidable obstacles to the realization of her intentions, and only someone with what Engel later characterized as her "enlightened obstinacy" could have persevered and achieved them in such a short time.

The gift of the auditorium was not the issue, but a serious problem was posed by the inability of the Library of Congress to accept the trust fund, for there existed no legislation enabling it to accept and hold in trust the principal of a fund whose income might be applied to its operational expenses and acquisitions. It necessitated an act of Congress. Such an offer to the government from a private citizen was unprecedented, doubly remarkable since the patron—as a woman—had, but a few years before, still been denied a vote. Coolidge's plan was a boldly innovative challenge to the U.S. Congress to undertake a new role in government. The legal procedure was complex, but, with Putnam's wisdom, Engel's tact, and some brilliant legal negotiations by her attorney, Richard Hale, donation of both the auditorium and the trust was accomplished in the record period of only five months from the time of Elizabeth's letter of intent to the final signing into law by President Calvin Coolidge.[33]

Construction began at once, and the auditorium was officially dedicated with a three-day festival ending on 30 October—Elizabeth's birthday—thus beginning the tradition of the so-called Founder's Day Festivals, which would later become the occasion for the presentation of the Coolidge Medal, as well as for the premieres of some very important twentieth-century works.[34]

The determination with which she undertook her plans was unfaltering (some would say stubborn), once she had made up her mind on a course of action. When Hale expressed concern over the possibility that with the Library of Congress project she might be financially overextended, she wrote to him: "[Y]ou say that if I understand the risks about which you are hesitating, you will let me run those risks. I hasten to tell you that I am perfectly willing to run them."[35] She was generous but never foolish or frivolous where money was concerned, and she quickly learned to stretch a dollar like the most frugal housewife.

During the Depression, when the city of Chicago defaulted on bonds in which she was heavily invested, her income was considerably curtailed. Even in her most serious retrenchment, however, she never sacrificed quality but instead economized on her various festivals by moving the concerts out of expensive theaters and salons and into the homes offered for that purpose by such distinguished musical friends and associates as Toscanini, Malipiero, Prunières, and even the reclusive D'Annunzio.[36] Similarly, she modified the social aspects of her festivals, espe-


cially her famed post-concert parties, which had previously been de rigueur . They were often occasions of noisy gaiety, which sometimes even found the ample-bodied Coolidge dancing the Virginia reel. That her soirées were not always appreciated by weary musicians is reflected in Hindemith's comment that trying to escape from one of these gatherings, where she positioned herself on a chair by the door, was like trying to escape from Polyphemus's hellish cave.[37]

With the Library of Congress Festivals in Engel's capable hands, Coolidge began to scatter her good works to an ever-widening circle. Through the agency of the Coolidge Foundation, she inaugurated an outreach program that brought the finest of music and musicians into colleges, universities, and libraries from coast to coast, and always free of charge, for, like Engel, she believed that "nothing should be too good for the common man and . . . he should be the first to know how good it is."[38] In the early 1930s, her activities reached new heights in the form of festivals both here and abroad, for which she commissioned new works, secured the services of the finest performers to premiere them, and paid all expenses for composers to attend. Alfredo Casella has left an amusing description of what it was like to travel with this indefatigable woman: "The arrival at the hotel of that tall, spectacled lady, followed by a retinue of twenty or thirty persons, most of them armed with musical instruments, was impossibly funny. The hotel was thus taken by assault by the cosmopolitan company, which was looked on with a certain amazement by other travelers who were not part of it."[39]

Over the years, her activities abroad grew to full-fledged festivals in London, Oxford, Cambridge, Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels, Ghent, Bruges, Liège, Louvain, Vienna, Graz, Warsaw, Budapest, Moscow, Prague, Berlin, Frankfurt, Milan, Rome, Venice, Treviso, Asolo, and Naples. And when the war disrupted her European endeavors, she simply changed the venue to Mexico City, San Juan, and Honolulu.

Through her association with Ugo Ara, violist of the Flonzaley Quartet, she met Gian Francesco Malipiero, Alfredo Casella, and Gabriele D'Annunzio, who had only recently formed the Società per la musica moderna (under the acronym SIMM), an idealistic but penurious body whose goal it was to provide for Italy the best of contemporary music and thought.[40] Coolidge came to the aid of the fledgling society by sponsoring ten performances of Schoenberg's Pierrot lunaire in seven Italian cities, with the composer conducting, twelve concerts of Stravinsky's Octet and L'Histoire du soldat , as well as assorted concerts devoted to Hindemith, Bartók, and Les Six. In addition she enabled the society to mount fully staged productions of early seventeenth-century Italian operas.[41]

Reflecting on this association, Casella recalled that Coolidge "always acted with complete critical independence, and none of us have ever been able to exercise the slightest influence on her taste or her selection."[42] Many close friendships with European composers were formed during this period, which also marked the beginning of one of her least well known enterprises, her enthusiastic support of



Fig. 18.
Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge's favorite string quartet, the Pro Arte,
on the stage of Mills College Auditorium, Oakland, California, one of
four performing facilities that she built between 1918 and 1928.
The photograph, taken in 1933, commemorates
the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of the Pro Arte in
Brussels (1913) and the tenth anniversary of the quartet's
performance in Rome at Coolidge's first European festival (1923).
Coolidge later recalled that hearing the Pro Arte in Rome was, for
her, "love at first hearing." The four players signed the
photograph: Alphonse Onnou, Laurent Halleux, Robert Maas, and
Germain Prévost. The greeting reads: "À notre grande
amie en souvenir de tant de choses" (To our great friend, in
recollection of so very many things).
Photograph, Library of Congress;
reproduced with kind permission of John C. Coolidge.

musicological endeavors. It was her subvention that enabled Malipiero to prepare the complete works of Monteverdi and Vivaldi, and Prunières to undertake his edition of Lully.[43]

Among Coolidge's innumerable unsung gifts to musical causes was her sustained support of the MacDowell Colony. Beginning in 1916, and for more than twenty years thereafter, she was one of the largest single contributors to the work of the colony and became a close friend of Marian MacDowell's.[44] The latter often acknowledged Coolidge's assistance, and she marveled that despite her own ambitious work, Elizabeth found time and interest to support that of others. MacDowell wrote Coolidge in 1918: "It has always been to me a sort of beautiful miracle, the wonderful help you have given us through all these years. Most people, with such a big interest [in] work of their own could never have even thought of helping along so splendidly another scheme. It first shows how big you are—without your help we could never have accomplished what we have."[45]


Some of Coolidge's finest humanitarian efforts were quietly undertaken on behalf of displaced Jewish composers who sought her help to find positions in the United States, among them Ernest Bloch and Darius Milhaud.[46] Because of her international reputation, many European artists appealed to her, especially during World War II. Perhaps the most dramatic example is that of the Belgian Pro Arte Quartet, her favorite of all the quartets that she supported (fig. 18). When Hitler invaded Belgium in 1940, they were stranded in America without their cellist, who had remained behind because of illness. Eventually, Coolidge was instrumental in his reaching the United States, but in the meantime their first violinist had died, and it appeared that this fine ensemble had come to an end. Largely through Coolidge's intervention and financial assistance, the quartet was able, not only to reform and continue under the name Pro Arte, but to become the quartet in residence at the University of Wisconsin, where it still continues. And although the concept of artist-in-residence is common today, this is believed to be the first example of it, and it was largely her invention.[47]

From even a brief overview of Coolidge's work, there emerge two elements in particular that mark the unique style of her giving: first of all, she did not believe in the dole. To a young musician who appealed to her for money, she responded sternly, "I am writing rather strongly to you, for I think it is a great mistake for a young man to contract the habit of soliciting money, especially from strangers, and I want to tell you for your own good that I think you will go much further in your profession if you do not begin this habit."[48] Instead of outright gifts, her method of endowment was usually designed to indoctrinate the recipient in the art of sound fiscal planning, by instituting a program and then gradually withdrawing support over a period of years, until the project was either being sustained by others—often recruited by her—or had become self-sufficient. Moreover, she frequently required some form of service in return, such as teaching or the organization of her European tours.

A second quality of her patronage, which sets it apart from that of others such as Isabella Stewart Gardner, for example, is that Mrs. Coolidge was herself a musician, an accomplished pianist. While still very young, she began to study piano with Regina Watson, who had been a student of Karl Tausig's in Germany, and thus belonged to the distinguished pianistic genealogy of Liszt, Tausig's teacher.[49] Under Watson, Elizabeth made rapid progress and, in fact, appeared as soloist with the Chicago Symphony under the direction of Theodore Thomas at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, playing the Schumann Piano Concerto. She went on to study composition seriously with such eminent tutors as Daniel Gregory Mason, Percy Goetschius, Arthur Whiting, Rubin Goldmark, and Domenico Brescia.[50] Her practical knowledge of repertoire was vast, and the respect that she earned from the professionals with whom she worked confirms Casella's assessment that "besides her great intelligence and her incomparable


generosity, she had been guided by a very solid musical culture and a first-rate artistic instinct."[51]

The lofty attitude of detachment that places the integrity of art above the mere pleasure of the patron was the most hard-won of the principles that she outlined in the letter to Coleman. And although there is much evidence that Coolidge always derived a good deal of personal satisfaction from her work, over the years she did in fact develop a degree of detachment from it, endowing her music with a kind of sacral quality. It is not merely fortuitous that she should choose to call her auditorium at South Mountain "the Temple." Her professed desire was "to serve Art, and through Art, to serve humanity, [since] the survival of the human spirit largely depends upon its artistic freedom."[52]

These were not merely noble platitudes but lived convictions, perhaps best exemplified by the courageous manner in which she spent the income from her investments down to the last penny and passed the last years of her life in accommodations of almost Spartan simplicity at the Hotel Continental in Cambridge.

But even more convincing is the intellectual detachment that enabled her to distance herself gradually from purely personal likes and dislikes. She never allowed differences of opinion to get in the way of friendship.[53] Nor did she permit herself to become involved in the petty arguments that inevitably arose within some of the ensembles that she sponsored. When tensions within the Coolidge Quartet threatened its dissolution, she wrote to the complaining violist, "Your relations to Kroll [the first violinist] are of no interest to me. . . . I consider [him] . . . as the leader of the Coolidge Quartet, and must leave it to you both to decide whether you wish to play together. To me it is a matter of indifference. Please do not re-open this useless discussion."[54]

Above all, her acceptance of the new and unfamiliar in the music she commissioned was remarkable. She not only fostered the contemporary but spoke out boldly on its behalf. "My plea for modern music is not that we should like it, nor necessarily that we should even understand it, but that we should exhibit it as a significant human document."[55] It mattered not whether she liked the music that she commissioned, for she recognized the importance of extending the boundaries of knowledge. On hearing the theremin for the first time, she wrote to Carl Engel, "Time and space are on their last legs, I think and we shall all have to reeducate our senses to interpret a new set of sensory impressions."[56] And when Jerzy Fitelberg's Fourth Quartet won the Coolidge Prize in 1936, the seventy-two-year-old Elizabeth wrote, "I must confess that his idiom is as yet too strange to me to enable me to understand his work: therefore, I have not yet really enjoyed it. But I have recently received the score which I intend to study in the hope of being able to respond to his message."[57] And although she enthusiastically offered Roy Harris a commission for a quartet in 1933, she quietly acknowledged to Engel, "I do not expect to like it much myself, but I consider that of no importance and am sin-


cerely glad to have assisted in bringing to notice another . . . serious American composer."[58]

This conscious distancing of herself from her work is nowhere more evident than in her truly visionary desire to perpetuate it beyond her own lifetime through the agency of the U.S. government. Unfortunately, some of her plans for governmental involvement were never realized. She strongly urged the creation of a cabinet post to administer the arts, and worked for the establishment of a National Conservatory in Washington. It was her belief that with this kind of government financing, "private patronage would then become unnecessary and, as a temporary means, would have served its ultimate purpose."[59] This is in decided contrast to Andrew Carnegie's belief that "the greatest patronage of music should come from a paying public."[60]

Nowhere is her attitude on this subject more clearly articulated than in a letter to the editor of the Washington Post , written at the time of the establishment of the National Symphony. To the widely publicized criticism of the conductor Hans Kindler over some peripheral issues concerning the orchestra's policies, she injected her unique viewpoint:

Not as between local or visiting musicians, nor as to costly and fashionable concerts versus wide-spread support of the best music do I wish to enter this discussion; but rather as a champion of excellence versus "compromise with mediocrity" do I wish to express my admiration for the standards toward which Mr. Kindler is striving. . . . In addition to the artistic prestege [sic ] which should attract the whole country to its national Capital, I believe that the citizens of Washington themselves, and the cause of music in general, would gain by the numerous secondary results which follow the establishment of a leading symphony orchestra in any community. . . . Is it too much to hope that one day the National Orchestra may become so in fact, as well as in name, and that, like other imperative needs of our country, the best music should be guaranteed to its citizens by the government, and exemplified by its maintenance at the governmental center of the Nation?[61]

She was visionary as well in her early recognition of the immense potential of radio, and one of her most notable pioneering efforts was an outreach effected through broadcast concerts, which were carried at first by the Navy Broadcasting Service in 1925. When she began her affiliation with commercial broadcast companies, she mustered all of her considerable influence in objecting to their policies, and fired off many a salvo chastising them for truncating concerts and playing single movements of works in order to fit into a limited time slot. Of this problem she wrote in 1937: "I do hope that the time may come when our government will superintend this business as they do in England in order that the vast influence of the radio may some time be exercised in behalf of culture, rather than a private profit. However we do not at present seem headed in any such direction."[62]


Her prognostications proved correct, and seven years later we still find her complaining—this time, like Queen Victoria, in the majestic plural. "We have protested. . . . The radio companies have grown so commercial that they are selling almost every minute of their time, leaving the more altruistic and cultural broadcasting in favor of advertising rich sponsors."[63]

But this brief recitation of Coolidge's good works and noble motives is not meant to enthrone her in some illusory pantheon of patrons. She was not perfect, and she would undoubtedly have been the first to object to such a pastel portrayal of her colorful and imposing personality. Not without reason did she earn—even from some of her best friends—such epithets as Victorian autocrat, benign dictator, and Empress of South Mountain. To disallow her any faults would be to fashion a dull icon out of a unique personality endowed with unusual vision and indomitable energy; she was a patron who did not shrink from challenging traditions and sacrosanct establishments.

Coolidge was, like her prose, benign and perfunctory when she chose, but she could rise to great magisterial heights when her most autocratic nature was provoked. She learned to handle large issues with equanimity; however, petty annoyances often aroused her impatience. But her Amazonian physical presence and sometimes imperious behavior belied the sensitivity and forebearance of which she was truly capable. What Daniel Gregory Mason said of patronage in 1915, before Coolidge had even begun her major work, might well have been written as the epilogue to her story:

To be a good patron one must have not only money and an interest in music, but what is rarer, tact, imaginative perception of other points of view, complete freedom from the wish to be personally conspicuous, and a greater love for art than for artists. . . . It is not enough to "abandon your money" to people, . . . your heart must go with it—that is your sympathetic understanding of their artistic aims. Otherwise, however you may try to gloss the matter, you are a dispenser of benefits, a king with a court, a patronizer rather than a patron. You are substituting a feudal relation of lord and vassal for the democratic one of the cooperation of equals variously endowed, for the realization of the ends desired by all.[64]

Walter Damrosch once characterized Andrew Carnegie's attitude as an "admiration for music [that] never crystalized into as great a conviction regarding its importance in life as that which he had regarding the importance of science or literature."[65] Although Coolidge's resources appear dwarfed when compared to Carnegie's fortune, her patronage went far beyond admiration for music; it was fueled by an absolute passion for the art that had sustained her throughout her life, and is characterized by an intensely personal commitment to and involvement in the details of her work up to the very week before her death at the age of eighty-nine. The full extent of her influence can perhaps never be measured, but among her most notable achievements is the Coolidge Foundation, which not only provided the best in chamber music to audiences throughout this country and much of Europe as well, but also created the legal machinery by which the Library of Con-


gress could accept and use all manner of gifts and bequests in the future. Today more than 150 such funds exist, well over 20 of them dealing specifically with music. In addition, the manuscript holdings of the Library have been vastly enlarged by the deposit of the holographs of all of the Coolidge commissions, works dedicated to her, and prize-winning compositions from the Berkshire Competition, which total over 500.[66] Her legacy to the nation and to the public at large was her career. Yet this career is far from that which she had envisioned earlier in life. On the occasion of her fortieth birthday in 1904, her father wrote commenting on this milestone in her life. Her disconsolate response reveals her great disappointment over the failure of the career that she would have chosen had not fate intervened:

I wish I could rejoice more over my anniversaries, as I should if they seemed to me to mark off the years of a satisfactory life. But I started out with such impossible ambitions that I cannot help feeling the forty-year milestone to mark a very insignificant career whose highest powers are already gone. I suppose this is only egotism, for my "career" matters so little. Still, it was dear to me. . . . In the meantime, the symphonies are still dumb, the pictures still unpainted, the radiant family of children unborn (save for the one dear exception), the home, center of hospitality to all that is happiest and most brilliant—a shifting, rented affair! Oh well, doubtless the effort is the chief joy.[67]

To measure her career against the ideals that she expressed to Coleman, and in light of her personal motivation, raises the question of what might have been had her life followed the comfortable and untroubled course that she no doubt anticipated at the time of her marriage. Would there be a Coolidge Foundation, a Coolidge Auditorium, the hundreds of commissions and dedications, and the countless other benefactions that inspired Walter Wilson Cobbett to christen her "The Lady Bountiful" when he awarded her the Cobbett Medal in 1925? Her real career was most aptly and prophetically characterized by Andrew W. Mellon on the occasion of the Fifth Library of Congress Festival, when he described how she, a private citizen, "induced a government complacent in the efficiency of its operations to adopt an entirely new role. . . . And then, having inspired the necessary convictions, she herself provided the resources for giving them practical effect. She did all this without organization, without the exercise of any political influence—did it single handed. That is her habit—except that when she gives, she gives with both hands. The consequences of all this may be such as no man can foresee—and only one woman!"[68]

Vignette G—
Coolidge on Gowns, Dedications, and American Musical Chauvinism

Annotated by Cyrilla Barr

The following excerpts are drawn from the extensive collection of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge's correspondence now housed at the Library of Congress. The three brief opening excerpts—to a concertgoer who had admired her gown at one of the many concerts she sponsored, and to two composers—reveal some of the private pleasures and frustrations of one of the most prominent public figures on the American "new music" scene and give some sense of her professional frustrations in carrying out her patronage. The long and frank exchange between the "Faerie Queene" and "Mike"—Coolidge and Carl Engel, the longtime head of the Music Division of the Library of Congress—gives particular insight into Coolidge's considered views on the relative merits of European and American music and on what the proper role of the patron—or, in this case, the foundation that she established and funded—should be in promoting local versus international talent. The paired nicknames "Mike" and "Line" allude to an ad for Michelin tires that claimed "Il boit l'obstacle" (It devours all obstacles), something that Coolidge and Engel did very well together.

To Mrs. Hortense Berry, 6 October 1940

 . . . I am sure that you must realize that to speak of my becoming gown and youthful appearance [at the concert] was a feminine touch that gladdened my heart; for I love to be thought of not as an impresario exclusively, but also as a woman with the usual foibles of her sex.

To the composer Roy Harris, 26 January 1932

It is nice to be reminded of something else that I can do other than with my check book! That is only the hired servant, whereas the love and fidelity which I feel toward Art are high priestesses in the service of the only religion which I know. . . . Thank you, my dear boy, for telling me this and for letting me know that I have contributed a little to you, not by what I am doing but perhaps by what I am.

To the composer Tibor Harsányi, 28 July 1930

At least three times I have had offered me, in the expectation of a gift of money, compositions which were openly intended for certain artists, and even accompanied by the re-


quest that I should arrange to give them the first performance. This also has been hard, as it did not always coincide with my plans, and moreover, I could not always secure the artists (who were supposed to have a monopoly on these works) at a time which coincided with my own plans, and I fear it has resulted in some annoyance and perhaps resentment, on the part of the players who regarded these compositions as their own special property, although wishing to gain for the composers the cachet and the brilliant audience which they were hoping to attain from me. I have, therefore, come to the conclusion that I cannot well accept the multitude of dedications which have recently been offered to me, unless with this acceptance goes the intention and ability to arrange for a first hearing and subsequent rights of performance by such artists as I may choose to engage, and at such times as suits my convenience. . . . I have been driven to this by the impossible situations in which I have found myself half a dozen times by becoming responsible for compositions, without the corresponding control and authority which should go with such a commission.


Dearest Mike,

 . . . I also want (for my own peace of mind) to add a word—or several—to what I said yesterday about Americanism! I should feel as you do about "America first" in any government undertaking (such as our Foundation and its functions) were it not that my idea of service to America does not fully embrace the Monroe Doctrine. In other words, it seems to me that one of our highest needs in this country is of an honest reverence for quality; the only way to know and revere musical quality is to hear it. So, it seems to me a more patriotic thing to supply the best than to protect the national "infant industry," and really, in the end, the only way to develop Art.

 . . . Dear Carl, this is for you alone. No "document," please, but a credo; because I care so much for Art, and because I care so much for you, that I long to be self-expressed.

Also, because I like to put my shoulder to the American wheel when my artistic loyalty and self-respect do not forbid it, I want to tell you what you already know, if you are inclined to disapprove of my outspoken preference for the European attitude towards music. I have given, I should think, hundreds of free concerts to the colleges, libraries and music-loving communities from Massachusetts to California, have started the career and maintained the existence of more than one American artist or organization, have included American composers in dozens of programs here and abroad (the latter not always to the advancement of their "prestige") and have had very few but Americans in the juries which have awarded the prizes to Europeans. So you see, my dear, my "last cent" is not spent abroad in spite of a very advantageous rate of exchange, and quite independently of the Foundation in Washington.

I know that this sounds Messianic and bombastic and I ask you to burn it; it is just for you because we are partners and because I care!

Yours devotedly,



Fig. 19.
Caricature by Carl Engel of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge and
himself as two Michelin people ("Michel" and "Line," the French
version of the name Lina) holding hands. "Almost as good as
[John Singer] Sargent!" notes the amateur artist, presumably in
reference to the drawing shown in fig. 16.
Courtesy of the Library of Congress.


Since dictating my letter, dear Mike, I have been thinking intensively. I believe I have seen a light, tho' probably not a great one. I have, for the first time, realized the Library not as a musical agent but as a part of America's machinery; and from this point of view I see differently the question of internationalism versus nationalism, I understand, as I have not before, that American music is logically the primary consideration of the governmental "Division of Music." Perhaps a high tariff and a Monroe Doctrine will serve a Library undertaking as well as they have served other infant industries, and when we are as grown-up artistically as we now are economically, we may, by this protective policy, have become independent enough to exchange our Art at par with other nations—or even to forget the racial distinctions.

This is not my own habitual opinion, as you know; but I think it might be, if I were a Government official; and so, du lieber Engel , I sympathize, more understandingly than I did, with your feeling of accountability to the American Muse, and will not place any international obstacles on your dinner table! Perhaps by fostering local (or at least National) art, we can, a little later most effectively contribute our share to the musical league of Nations and sound [a] significant note in the Altered Harmony of the world.

But if we thus accept our governmental limitations, all the more strongly do I feel a sense of private duty (privilege, rather) to serve Art and Humanity by listening (beyond the District of Columbia or the States of Massachusetts and California) for the music of the Morning Stars. (Vide William Blake!) As individuals we shall have to travel, unofficially if not incognito, in free-trade countries of an older culture. In later years the ESC Foundation may avail itself of these opportunities which now seem more advantageous for private endeavor. Meantime, I wish it might establish a "chair" of Musical Eugenics, for the engendering of native ability as well as native opportunity.


If this bores you, put it in the fire! (If there is a fire chez toi , Saint Michel!) I just had to write you that I am learning to see around the corner.


P.S. This is not final, but so vividly felt that I must write it. Don't hold me to it!

Sept. 8 [1926]

Dearest Faerie Queene,

Your magic power extends in every direction, including that of finding the right word for the right thing at the right moment. Your penciled "manifesto" which I have read and reread several times since it reached me, half an hour ago, is an inspired document. From the heart it came and to the heart it has gone. Therefore, I am brushing aside, for the moment, pursuing matters of routine (I've bolted my office door!) and let the heart speak in return. I knew you would "understand," and you always will. . . . A deep-seated skepticism leads me to believe that too much internationalism has its decidedly weakening influence. Nothing will further the ideal brotherhood of men—and women—as will a kinship of ideals. And of all the ideals that I know, none has the universality of appeal that belongs to the arts, particularly to the art of music. But there are racial limitations here as everywhere else. There are racial jealousies—and the urge to racial self-preservation. The latter has no stronger foe than internationalism. You may object that there is as yet (and perhaps never will be) an "American race." But there surely is an American Nation, which has national institutions—among them a National Library. Comparisons are lame, analogies always slip a cog, but I cannot think of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris or the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin going deliberately out of their way to offer subjects of foreign nationalities advantages which they are denying or curtailing, to their own countrymen. . . . and so, all things considered, I want to see the Library pursue the policy I was the first to suggest, that through government channels we extend invitations to foreign musicians; but I also want to see the ESC Foundation, as the only American governmental agency active in the furtherance of high class music, give every possible aid and encouragement to deserving American talent. This isn't really so far away from your own trend of thoughts. And you may be assured that so long as I am connected with the ESCF it shall never servilely cater to either nationalism or internationalism. Disagreement adds zest to life. The trouble is that there are so d——d few people worth disagreeing with. I'm not frightened by—I rather relish—any disagreeing voices that become articulate or scream in the "meeting" or in the press. I'm ready to defend everything I do. But I'm also ready to learn when I see the things from a different angle. Just as you are for that matter. (As to the possibilities of "hysteria" and its "easy cure" which you dismiss a little airily, I am not quite prepared to follow you. I think that "crowd hysteria" is the most dangerous thing imaginable. I would never deliberately


arouse it, but do all I could to side-step it, unless I was prepared to burn at the stake—which under the certain circumstance, I am prepared to do.) . . .

It takes a lot of patience to handle these situations, I know, and to "evade" difficulty is not in line with the reputation that our impatient team "Michel-Line" is trying to gain. But it's arisen and in the end more helpful. . . .

Bless your dear soul, and please tear up any letter you get from me—don't keep mine for the ESC archives!

Ever lovingly,


Vignette H—
Mildred Bliss Tells Nadia Boulanger to Think of Herself for Once

Annotated by Jeanice Brooks

Igor Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks Concerto was premiered as part of a program conducted by Nadia Boulanger on 8 May 1938 at the Washington, D.C., home for which the piece was named. The concerto was the result of a commission by the philanthropists Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss for a piece to celebrate their thirtieth wedding anniversary. The commission was apparently negotiated in the spring of 1937 by Boulanger, a passionate champion of Stravinsky's music. Early plans may have involved a first performance conducted by Stravinsky himself, but his poor health, which forced him to undergo a cure for tuberculosis in the spring of 1938, made the voyage to America impossible. The program was turned over to Boulanger, who presented the concerto with extracts from Bach cantatas (sung by the tenor Hugues Cuénod and bass Doda Conrad, who had both come from France with her for her American tour) and Stravinsky's own Duo Concertant violin and piano.

Mildred Bliss wrote the following letter to Boulanger (now in the Bibliothéque nationale, Paris)[1] a week after the Dumbarton Oaks concert, in the fluent but somewhat idiosyncratic French she normally employed in communications with the musician. She explains that her letter was delayed because of the sudden death of a close friend, whose admirable qualities she describes; the highest praise she can imagine is that he was "a useful citizen," the emphasis reflecting her own strong commitment to public service and her belief in the necessity of contributing to society in practical ways.[2] After explaining why her letter is late, Bliss discusses the arrangements for paying the composer and the participants in the concert. She wants Stravinsky's concerto to be named after Dumbarton Oaks, a gesture that seems to have had the desired effect of affording the mansion's owners at least a degree of anonymity (at its premiere in England later the same year the piece was identified as named "after the California house in which it was written").[3] Throughout the letter Bliss's deep affection and regard for Boulanger is evident. She is concerned about Boulanger's tendency to overwork, as well as her penchant for dispensing money to her students rather than keeping it for herself.[4] And her reference to perfume and a negligé (which she did send to Boulanger's ship when she sailed for France, as a subsequent letter makes clear) seems to indicate a desire to help Boulanger to pamper herself more than she was generally inclined to do.

Bliss closes with a request for Boulanger's opinion on two letters, which she encloses; she does not discuss the content, but it is clear she values her advice greatly. Her trust in Boulanger's musical judgment worked to Stravinsky's advantage again the following year: Boulanger acted as Stravinsky's go-between with Bliss to arrange for the premiere of his Symphony in C during the fiftieth anniversary season of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.





Wie will ich mich freuen
Mein Gott, verwirf mich nicht.
Wie zittern und wanken
Wohl aber dem
Lass, Seele, kein Leiden.


J. S. Bach 1685–1750



Duo Concertant for violin and piano
Eglogue I
Eglogue II


Igor Stravinsky 1882



Beglückte Heerde, Jesu Schafe
Der Tod'bleibt doch—Selig sind die Toten
Es ist genug

J. S. Bach



Dumbarton Oaks Concerto in Eb major
for small orchestra (1937–1938)
First performance

Igor Stravinsky


Con moto


1 Flute
1 Oboe
1 Clarinet
1 Bassoon
2 Horns


3 Violins
3 Violas
2 Celli
2 Double basses


Under the direction of



Dumbarton Oaks
May 8, 1938


Fig. 20.
Program of a concert conducted in 1938 by Nadia Boulanger at Dumbarton Oaks
(the home of Mildred and Robert Bliss) and featuring the world premiere of Stravinsky's
Dumbarton Oaks Concerto , as well as other works by Stravinsky and Johann Sebastian Bach.
Additional pages included the German texts of the Bach selections but no translations,
perhaps reflecting how cosmopolitan the audience was expected to be.
Photograph courtesy of the Bibliothèque nationale, Paris.


Monday, May 16 [1938]

My very dear friend, what must you think of me? But listen to what has happened—it was downright cold in Wilmington, and the tours of gardens, museums and greenhouses left me with a cold that moved into my chest on my return. Thursday I worked with Beatrix Farrand (what an interesting woman, isn't she? you won her over completely)[5] until I was ready to collapse, and since then I haven't been able to leave my bed. My husband left by himself on Friday morning, arriving in Long Island about 5:30 to hear some tragic news: the sudden death of a very dear friend, with whom we were planning to stay from the next day (Saturday) until today! All four of us were together in Wilmington from Monday to Wednesday, planning to meet again two days later; the couple came home from the theatre Thursday in perfect health. At six o'clock—a cry and then the end . . .

Seventeen years of harmony, of health, of happiness; of joyful and productive life; two sons and a daughter; civic and social responsibilities; two households, involving serious financial obligations; in sum a useful citizen. And now, the happiness over, and shock and immense sadness and the weariness of solitude. Poor woman, I feel this deeply and am heart-broken not to have been able to help her during the first days of her great grief—my husband accompanied hers to the end. Tomorrow he comes back from New York and once more I will thank God for his goodness to me.

There it is, dear Nadia, the reason for my silence, which must have surprised you.

I left you reluctantly. Every hour spent with you enriches one's life. You have not only a vast amount to give, but you are generous, and the poorer one is the more you offer of yourself.

And now, for business:

Stravinsky : second cheque, completing the fee as we agreed, sent May 4. Hope to write him tomorrow. Sam [Dushkin] is taking him program with signatures, etc. Sent a telegram the 9th as you know. We would like the Concerto to be associated with the name Dumbarton Oaks, not our name.

Dushkin : is leaving day after tomorrow the 18th on the Normandie —cheque sent.

Webster : all in order

Jacobsen : letter thanking him will go off tomorrow and cheque will be sent as soon as I know the sum of the fees and expenses of the orchestra.

Conrad : Wanted very much to send his fee before his departure on the Normandie , but can't, not knowing the sum. Will be very obliged to you, dear friend, to let me know what it is, as well as his address in Paris.

Cuénod : Ditto

The enclosed cheque is for the conductor. With a certain hesitation I ask her to keep it for herself, knowing that she is capable of emptying every penny into the pockets of others.

Even a postcard to tell me that you have been able to rest would be welcome. And be


good enough to tell me again the date of your departure and the name of the ship. I will send the pattern for the negligé and some perfume to you there! How frivolous!

But, my dear good friend, I beg you not to wear yourself out. I know in advance everything you could reply about the quality of life and not its length! But I object that quality and moderation are worth more sustained generosity! There! Am I ungrateful to preach to you when I should only tell you of my gratitude?

I felt so much all that you gave of yourself so that the the work of the Master would be properly performed. He will know of it and will be infinitely grateful. As for us, it is difficult if not impossible to tell you how grateful we are. If I add their part of our thanks for Sam and Sasha [Jacobsen]—how much they gave of themselves, those two.

The memory of that anniversary music is uniquely sweet. The music itself—the serenity of Bach, the vitality of Stravinsky; the vibration of your intelligence; the cooperation of the artists and the anima that enveloped you—and the dawn of awakening that etched itself in the soul of Schilling—all together will light the way for us for a long time to come.

Enclosed, two letters. After you have read them, please send them back to me with your comments. I am especially eager to have your opinion.

Good night, anniversary friend! It is pleasant to think that from now on you are part of Dumbarton Oaks, where my heart will always be—


"As Large As She Can Make It":
The Role of Black Women Activists in Music, 1880–1945

Doris Evans McGinty

In 1904, Fannie Barrier Williams, a leading African-American clubwoman, reflected on the position of the black woman with the words,

The old notion that woman was intended by the Almighty to do only those things that men thought they ought to do is fast passing. In our day and in this country, a woman's sphere is just as large as she can make it and still be true to her finer qualities of soul.[1]

Although she focused on the role of women in business affairs, Williams aptly expressed the viewpoint of many early-twentieth-century black women activists. The sphere of the black woman in music, as much as in any other field, was large—larger than historians have suggested.[2] From the second half of the nineteenth century to the end of World War II, black women were active professionally, not only as performers and teachers, doing work "that men thought they ought to do," but also as artist managers and journalists, taking on positions traditionally occupied by men. The vocational changes precipitated by the war continued into the era of peace and brought greater opportunities for all women.

While much is known about black women prominent on the concert stage from the 1880s into the early twentieth century,[3] the extent to which black women influenced the development of classical music traditions among African-Americans during these years has yet to be fully assessed. However, scattered sources such as newspapers, minutes of meetings, school records, programs, archives, and recollections reveal activities of African-American women musicians whose contributions were significant. This chapter discusses black women activists who were prominent from around 1880 to 1945, whether on a national or the most local community level, as educators, writers, and preservers of the black musical heritage. Most of these women were performers at some point in their lives, but the following discussion centers on activists in roles other than or in combination with that of performer.


Formative Conditions

As the twentieth century began, most black Americans, particularly in the rural South, lived in bleak and deteriorating social, political, and economic circumstances. Seeking better and higher-paying jobs and hoping for more acceptable living conditions, African-Americans began to move from the South as early as 1879. What began as a trickle soon developed into a flood—a massive exodus known as the Great Migration—and by 1915 numerous northern cities had sizeable black populations.[4] But the de facto segregation of the northern cities resulted in a culture within a culture, with the African-American communities establishing their own institutions and traditions as a means of survival. Black churches, masonic lodges, schools, newspapers, and colleges enhanced awareness of a distinctive subculture, while businesses dependent exclusively upon the black community took shape. From this social and economic matrix, a solid black middle class composed of businessmen and professionals emerged.[5] Within this world, black women occupied a position quite different from that of their counterparts in mainstream America. Historically, from the earliest days after the Civil War, it had been necessary for black women to contribute to the economic stability of the family because they could sometimes obtain low-paying employment when black men could not. However, gender discrimination both in the larger community and in their own, along with racism, compounded for black women the problems of work, education, and family. That composers, conductors, instrumentalists, artists' managers, and journalists were far less likely to be female than male was hardly accidental, but rather the result of widespread American attitudes—held in the black community as well—that relegated women to traditional roles. Barriers to participation in professions such as medicine or the ministry were similar to those faced by the white American female but reinforced by the racist hiring policies of many hospitals and other social institutions, and even in occupations where their numbers were large, black women were often denied positions of authority.[6] As the civil rights leader Mary Church Terrell expressed it, "The Afro-American woman had two heavy loads to carry through an unfriendly world, the burden of race as well as that of sex."[7]

In the face of these difficulties, black women developed a sense of independence that allowed them to reconcile domesticity and activity outside the home.[8] Fortunately, a relatively high degree of acceptance was accorded black women activists in music.[9]

The Community Leader

Women musicians assumed roles of leadership on several different levels: as performers in various settings (e.g., churches, schools, civic organizations, social groups, etc.), founders and directors of ensembles, and organizers of clubs. In Washington, D.C., the nation's capital, for example, women made outstanding contributions to the heritage and life of a large black population.[10]


The Church Setting

By 1900, black Washingtonians were able to look back upon a fifty-year history of interest in classical music, a tradition in which there was considerable opportunity for women to participate.[11] As centers of social as well as religious activity, the churches were the main support of concert life. Churches furnished concert auditoriums, and it was through various church clubs and committees that tickets were sold and arrangements made for musical programs. Staples of the concert season were regular choir concerts and recitals featuring local musicians and visiting artists of national stature.

Choir concerts were most popular in the Washington black community's musical season, and the choirs of the largest and oldest churches achieved national reputations. Organists, choir directors, and a few outstanding accompanists assumed leadership positions, most of which, until after World War II, were held by men. Few of these musical leaders, though, were more visible in early-twentieth-century black Washington than Mary L. Europe (1884–1947), who by 1909 was organist and choir director at the influential Lincoln Memorial Congregational Church, which presented its share of concerts and recitals, including those of its highly trained choir.

Community Organizations

Mary Europe's activity in the community was diversified. Called a "musicians's musician" by her admirers, she performed solo piano recitals and often accompanied local and visiting artists.[12] As the accompanist for the Coleridge-Taylor Choral Society, she occupied a position of special prominence, resulting from the organization's renown. When the well-known Afro-British violinist, conductor, and composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875–1912), son of a Sierra Leonean father and an English mother,[13] came from London in 1904 to conduct the society in his cantata Hiawatha's Wedding Feast , he publicly recognized Europe's fine musicianship, with the result that her reputation was considerably enhanced in Washington music circles.

Founded in 1901, the Coleridge-Taylor Choral Society had 160 to 200 voices and was, justly, a source of great pride in Washington, D.C. The idea for its creation came from Mamie Hilyer, founder of the Treble Clef Club (discussed below), although—as was often the case—her husband, Andrew F. Hilyer, a leading businessman and treasurer of the organization, and the conductor, John Turner Layton, were more prominently associated with the society in the public mind.

Mamie Hilyer had met Coleridge-Taylor during a trip abroad and had returned to the United States enthusiastic about establishing a choral group that would perform his compositions. She and her associates conceived the plan to invite Coleridge-Taylor to Washington to conduct the society; her husband carried on the main correspondence. Mamie Hilyer promoted the society through her performances as a pianist and other fund-raising efforts. Concerts of the choral society were enthusiastically reviewed by the local and national black newspapers,


and the audiences, made up of whites as well as blacks, were so large that some persons were turned away for lack of seating. A writer for the Evening Star (24 April 1903, 13) described the society's first concert as "splendid" and "an event of interest in the musical history of this city."

Ensembles and Clubs

In the first decades of the twentieth century, except for a few popular dance ensembles, orchestras and bands in Washington's black community generally did not include women players.[14] In keeping with the movement spreading over the United States, Washington women, in a few instances, developed their own ensembles. Such a group was the Corda Club, a thirty-piece women's string ensemble of mandolins and bowed strings, which presented concerts under the direction of Gregoria Frazier Goins (1883–1964) in the decade from 1910 to 1920.[15]

Another important group that offered leadership in the community by presenting annual concerts and encouraging young musicians was the Treble Clef Club, founded in 1897. Made up of professional women musicians and music teachers interested in the study of music for their own development, this group brought the "best music"—with special emphasis on that of black composers—to the community. The local respect and national regard for this women's organization were indicative, at least in part, of the effectiveness of its leadership.[16]

The Treble Clef Club was probably an outgrowth of the black women's club movement, which was solidified with the founding of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) in 1896. The motto of the NACW, "Lifting as We Climb," was important to black women. The implied commitment to social welfare programs and self-development became the raison d'être for the establishment not only of clubs but also of educational institutions in the early twentieth century.

The Educator

If there was a common motivation for this century's pioneer black women activists, it was the conscious desire to enhance the status of the African-American. With missionary zeal, they carried on their work and repeatedly spoke of its potential to "stamp weal or woe on the coming history of [their] . . . people."[17] The ideal of assisting the needy and underprivileged was a goal shared by the white women's club movement of the nineteenth century. For white women, though, the act of giving aid to others made it possible to work outside the home without losing claim to true womanhood; for the black woman, helping the less fortunate was a necessity for all.

No group carried out the theme of self-help more than black women educators. Teaching was the profession most open to them despite low pay (smaller than that of either males or white women), regulations that excluded married women from teaching in the public schools, and gender discrimination in higher positions, and frequently women who made their mark in other areas also entered the field


of teaching at some point in their lives. A significant appeal lay in the fact that education was seen as the most important avenue of racial progress—an ideal way to expedite racial betterment.

Immediately after the Civil War, black men held most of the jobs of teaching and preaching, but by 1890 black women had become a dominant force in the educational system of southern states. The number of black women teachers grew rapidly in the South and also in the North during the exodus, so that by 1910 women outnumbered men five to one.[18]

The respect accorded music teachers enabled them not only to influence their students but also to provide assistance and guidance to other members of the community. Like Mary L. Europe, who discovered the distinguished singer Larry Winters (1915–65)[19] and guided his early study of music, they encouraged and promoted talented young musicians.

Taking the next step, educators found the ways and means of offering scholarships to assist in the education of their students. The B-Sharp Club of New Orleans, for example, organized in 1917 by pianist, singer, and teacher Camille Nickerson (1888–1982),[20] offered and continues today to provide substantial scholarship awards to aspiring musicians.[21]

Public School Teachers

In the early twentieth century, women music teachers on the high school level conducted choirs and, less frequently, bands. It is not surprising that the directors of instrumental ensembles in public schools were usually male, since American women instrumentalists received training mainly as organists and pianists or sometimes as violinists and were less likely to find encouragement to take up wind instruments. Black women instrumentalists were, however, in evidence during these years, especially in show business, and occasionally they worked in the public school system.[22]

Isabelle Taliaferro Spiller (1888–1974), orchestral supervisor at Wadleigh High School in New York starting in 1942, was a competent wind instrument performer. She studied piano in early life and continued to do so through college,[23] but her experience in performing on tenor alto, and baritone saxophone and trumpet as a member of the Six Musical Spillers, a vaudeville group formed by her husband, furnished important preparation for her position as orchestral supervisor.[24] Isabelle Spiller was also assistant manager for the Musical Spillers (1912–26) and director of the Spiller Music School, founded in 1926.

In the case of Revella Hughes (1895–1987), stage experience was both detrimental and helpful. A soprano, pianist, and organist, she organized and conducted the band of Douglass High School of Huntington, West Virginia Earlier, Hughes had trained the chorus for the road show version of Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle's celebrated musical comedy Shuffle Along (1921) and had been a star of


Runnin' Wild , a successful musical comedy by James P.Johnson (1923). According to Hughes, her show business background turned out, at first, to be a liability:

Some parents who knew that I had been in show business complained to the school board that they didn't want this show business woman teaching their children. . . . I told you that show people had an awful reputation. But I was allowed to remain in the system. I was supervisor of music for the Negro public schools, and I taught music in the elementary school and at Douglass High School. When I was ready to leave the parents begged me to . . . stay with them. Isn't life funny? When I left, I left them with a band of 124 pieces. There was $900.00 in the bank; they had uniforms and good instruments, including sousaphones. . . . When I began we had to borrow instruments from stores and organizations for our parades.[25]

Her success in producing and directing musicals and operettas that turned out to be profitable fund-raisers may have helped to convince dissenting parents that "this show business woman" was truly an asset to the community.[26]

Although the administrative level of the public education system was still, as late as the 1930s, viewed as a predominantly male province, black women music teachers—such as Spiller and Hughes—were occasionally able to infiltrate it. In Washington, D.C., from the turn of the century to 1925, three women were appointed supervisors of music in the colored schools: Alice Strange-Davis (from 1896 to 1900); Harriet Gibbs Marshall (1900 to 1905), whose further contributions will be discussed later; and Josephine E. Wormley (1916 to 1925). In Chicago, Mildred Bryant Jones (dates unknown, active from the early decades of the century to around the 1950s) influenced large numbers of students in her position as head of the music program at Wendell Phillips High School.[27]

Similarly, in Washington, D.C., the music curricula in two of three public high schools available to black youth were established by women: Mary L. Europe at Dunbar High School and Estelle Pinckney Webster at Armstrong High. But they contributed to community events in significant ways outside of their responsibilities of conducting high school choirs and teaching classes. For example, Europe and Webster were among those invited to provide music and lectures for meetings of the Bethel Literary and Historical Association, the leading cultural organization of the city. Of course, Europe and Webster, both of whom conducted private teaching studios, could expect to reap benefits from opportunities to perform or present students at Bethel Literary meetings. Attention resulting from coverage by the national press could, at the very least, add to their reputations as teachers.[28]

College Teachers

Historically, institutions of higher education offered the widest scope for the talents of women teachers, and even in the early years of the historically black colleges and universities, a few black women were hired to give instruction in music. When the Fisk Jubilee Singers set out from Fisk University in 1871 on the first of


their famous tours, which raised $150,000 for the university and popularized the African-American spiritual in America and Europe, a young pianist, Ella Sheppard (Moore), was charged with the vocal training and general oversight of the singers. She also directed them on occasion, and, when illness forced the director, George White, to resign, she took over full management of the group. Sheppard also assisted Theodore Seward in compiling the 1872 publication Jubilee Songs as Sung by the Fisk Jubilee Singers of Fisk University . These words from a eulogy published in the Fisk University News indicate the impact of her leadership: "As a leader of music, Mrs. Moore had few equals. Well do I remember, when, more than a score of years ago, she trained a Jubilee chorus in which I sang bass. We were young, life was all a dream, but she had us only a few hours when we began to realize that 'the Lord had laid His hands on' her."[29]

In the early twentieth century, black women performers were attracted to the faculties of historically black colleges and universities in surprisingly large numbers, both for financial security and for the chance to teach promising young students. Discrimination limited the possibilities for national recognition and also reduced the number of jobs available to performers. College administrators were very likely anxious to include on their faculties artists who had extensive concert experience and who had studied at American colleges and universities or perhaps in Europe. Joining forces, then, was desirable for both college and artist, as well as for the surrounding community, which welcomed increased opportunities to hear highly trained performers.

Hazel Harrison (1883–1969), the leading black woman pianist of this era, combined teaching with a concert career. Harrison, who appeared with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of twenty-one, taught at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama (1931–34) and Howard University in Washington, D.C. (1934–59), and ended her teaching career at Alabama State College at Montgomery (1959–64). With the double limitation of race and gender, she was unacceptable to the Hurok Concert Bureau, the leading American management agency,[30] but determination led her to make whatever adjustments were necessary to continue a career as concert artist. Acting as her own concert manager, she periodically took leave from teaching to concentrate on performing. During a three-year leave of absence from Howard University, she performed some 100 concerts throughout the United States. Harrison's devotion to her students took many forms, including the use of receipts from her concerts to establish the Olive J. Harrison scholarship fund—named for her mother—at Howard University.[31]

Other examples of outstanding black women on college faculties include Maud Cuney-Hare (1874–1936), a pianist and author who served as director of music at the Deaf, Dumb and Blind Institute of Texas and at Prairie View State College in Prairie View, Texas (see further below),[32] and the singer Florence Cole Talbert (ca. 1890–1961), who in 1930 became the first black director of music at Bishop College in Dallas, Texas. As a result of successful tours in Italy, especially her appearance in the leading role of Aida at the Teatro comunale in Cosenza


(Calabria), Talbert was well known to African-American musicians. She later headed the voice department at Tuskegee College (1934–40).[33]

Founders of Institutions

Although college-level training in music was available to African-American students at historically black colleges and universities, as well as at some predominantly white music schools, such as Oberlin Conservatory and the New England Conservatory, the need for easily obtainable training in music beyond high school was often met by small local institutions. Several music schools or departments of music within schools were founded by black women during the years 1903 to 1930;[34] moreover, many music studios (sometimes called schools) were established by performers after retiring from the stage. Of the several women who founded institutions, Harriet G. Marshall (1869–1941), Lulu Vere Childers (1870–1946), Emma Azalia Hackley (1867–1922), and Mary Cardwell Dawson (1894–1962) stand tall because of the unusual nature of their contributions.

Most impressive among institutions established by black women was the Washington Conservatory of Music and School of Expression founded in Washington, D.C., by Harriet Gibbs Marshall.[35] Marshall was the first of her race to graduate from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music as a piano major, and, after piano study in Europe, she concertized in the United States. She established a department of music (ca. 1890) at Eckstein-Norton, a small black college in Cane Spring, Kentucky, and raised money for the music building through her piano concerts and through performances of the Eckstein-Norton Choir, a group she organized and directed.[36]

Marshall's most remarkable contributions, however, were made in connection with the Washington Conservatory. Her experience at Eckstein-Norton convinced her of the need to find and train talented youth and inspired Marshall to open her school in 1903.[37] It was more widely known than other private schools owned and operated by blacks and, by offering conservatory-level instruction, attracted students mainly from Washington but also from the North, South, and Midwest. It was also the longest to survive, although not without tremendous effort on Marshall's part. In order to keep the school financially afloat, she wrote voluminously for assistance to politicians, artists, and any others whom she considered possible donors.[38] Although there was never a surplus of money on hand, the school continued to operate until 1960 with assistance from white as well as black philanthropists.[39]

From its beginning, the Washington Conservatory recruited a faculty of highly trained, and, in some cases, widely known musicians. Emma Azalia Hackley, whose later achievements as singer, conductor, and educator are discussed below, commuted from Philadelphia to teach at the conservatory during the 1903–4 academic year. Her response to the invitation to teach at the school was probably representative: "I would enjoy very much the association with you and other persons mentioned as the faculty-to-be. In a kind of faint far-off way, we have nursed a


somewhat similar idea here, but we are not so blessed with talent as is Washington."[40]

Throughout her career, Marshall was fortunate in that she was encouraged by her father, Judge Wistar Mifflin Gibbs. He contributed the building in which the school was housed, and in his letters he assured her of his support for whatever decisions she made.[41] Although she received assistance from many donors, and endorsements from prominent black musicians such as the composer Florence Price,[42] some questioned the need for the school. Henry C. King, president of Oberlin, spoke of his initial reservations, "The question . . . was whether with the musical department of Howard University, there really was any such demand for another school [in Washington]." He did finally give Marshall his endorsement, commenting, "I am glad to send you a word that I hope may be of help to you in building up your work. You certainly seem already to have developed quite an institution."[43]

In addition to the meritorious service of providing music instruction to many students, the Washington Conservatory of Music offered the Washington community a concert series that annually presented artists of national stature. As discussed earlier, the most widespread institutional support of the black concert artist came from the churches, which had since the early nineteenth century assumed the management and promotion functions of concert bureaus. Increasingly, black colleges began to sponsor musical programs, and the larger institutions such as Fisk, Hampton, and Howard sponsored annual concert series for the enjoyment of the students and the wider African-American community. At the same time, these series (whether in churches or colleges) were crucial to black performers, who in the early twentieth century, especially as they began their careers, were dependent upon this "black circuit" for performance opportunities.

An 1896 graduate of Oberlin Conservatory, Lulu Vere Childers came to Washington to join the faculty of Howard University in 1905. She was responsible for turning a small music program into, first, a Conservatory of Music (1913) and, later, into a School of Music (1918). When Howard offered its lecture-recital series in the 1920s, the young singer Marian Anderson, a friend of Childers', was among the artists. As the years passed, the series assumed an important position in Washington music affairs. Concerts by artists of national and international standing drew racially mixed audiences, an anomaly in the segregated city, and were prominently reviewed in newspapers of both black and white communities. In preparation for the 1938–39 season, Constitution Hall was sought as a larger auditorium for a recital by that same Marian Anderson, who was by now a world-renowned contralto. This request set in motion events that led to the great singer's triumphant Lincoln Memorial concert of April 1939, the result of the Daughters of the American Revolution's refusal to rent Constitution Hall for a performance by a black artist.

In view of the fact that college choir directors among women were relatively few, the achievements of Childers in this regard are particularly noteworthy. She won favorable criticism for presentations of choral masterpieces such as Handel's Messiah ,



Fig. 21.
Lulu Vere Childers, choral conductor and longtime dean of the School of Music, Howard University.
Photograph possibly taken upon her receiving the honorary doctorate in music, 1942.
By permission of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University
Archives, Howard University.


Mendelssohn's Elijah , Gabriel Pierné's The Children's Crusade , and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's Hiawatha trilogy. Vespers services featuring the choir brought overflow audiences to the University Chapel, especially at Easter and Christmas.[44] The Department of Music at Howard University must be viewed as Childers' legacy.

Emma Azalia Hackley's wide-ranging musical activities, which included teaching voice, lecturing, and performing, seemed to be equal components in her struggle to assist young black performers. She believed that "there is a future for colored musicians. . . . If we encourage our young people generally throughout the country every five or six years some one of them will leap out of the circle of mediocrity and push his way to the front, and perhaps represent us musically as we have never been represented."[45] She, too, founded a music school, the Vocal Normal Institute of Detroit, Michigan, which existed from 1912 to 1916. After a trip to Paris to study voice, she conceived the idea of sending students to study abroad and raised money for scholarships through her own concerts and donations from patrons. She could point to several outstanding musicians whom she had helped. Clarence Cameron White (1880–1960), a violinist who became a celebrated black composer, was the first beneficiary. His $600.00 scholarship was, in Hackley's words, "a mere pittance [but still helpful] if it would score one point in favor of so many millions of people" (i.e., black Americans).[46] White used the money to study in London with Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Foremost among recipients of the Hackley scholarship awards was another composer of national standing, R. Nathaniel Dett (1882–1943), also a pianist. The singers Cleota Collins (1893–1976) and Florence Cole Talbert and the violinists Harrison Emmanuel (dates unknown) and Kemper Harreld (1885–1971) also received assistance for study from Hackley. Carl R. Diton (1886–1962), who used his Hackley scholarship to study piano in Munich, Germany, spoke of the large number of black singers who profited from Hackley's educational activism, "She more than anyone else is responsible for the trend toward the cultivation of the Negro's natural voice and higher musical training. . . . No other Negro to my knowledge has given her time, money, and energy in this way, unselfishly and purely for the sake of the other individual."[47]

Training a young performer was not, of course, enough. Black educators must have found it galling that even their best students could find few professional opportunities. Black singers, for example, were systematically excluded from performing with white opera companies in the United States; Lillian Evanti (1890–1967) and Caterina Jarboro (1903–86), though, did sing with established companies in Europe.[48] At the turn of the century, a few singers found opportunities to perform with black traveling companies that introduced operatic finales into their shows.[49]

To counteract this state of affairs, which existed until 1955, when Marian Anderson made her belated appearance at New York's Metropolitan Opera as Ulrica in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera , black opera companies were formed. These companies, most of them episodic and short-lived, began staging opera with black casts in the 1870s.[50]

Mary Cardwell Dawson (1894–1962) accepted the challenge and established



Fig. 22.
Call for contributions (in a [1940s?] program for  Aida ), National
Negro Opera Company, Inc., founded by Mary Cardwell Dawson.
Louia Vaughn Jones scrapbooks, Moorland-Spingarn Research
Center, Howard University.

the National Negro Opera Company (NNOC) in 1941. An activist teacher when she founded the Cardwell School of Music in Pittsburgh in 1927, Dawson had become aware of the desperate need of the black singer for an operatic outlet. Her company lasted for twenty-one years, mounting productions of operas and oratorios, and presenting some of the best-known black singers. One of its most successful productions was La traviata presented in 1943 in Washington, D.C., with Lillian Evanti singing the lead role. The production was heard initially by an audience of 15,000 and, to accommodate others who wished to hear it, was scheduled for a repeat performance.[51] The favorable critical review of the production must have brought well-deserved professional satisfaction to the prima donna, Lillian Evanti, and also to the far-sighted Mary Cardwell Dawson.



Fig. 23.
Maud Cuney-Hare.
By permission of Atlanta University Center, Robert W. Woodruff



After the appearance in 1878 of Music and Some Highly Musical People , the first history of African-American musicians, by the journalist and concert manager James M. Trotter,[52] no extensive historical work on the subject emerged until 1936, when Maud Cuney-Hare (1872–1936) published Negro Musicians and Their Music .[53] This volume was the culmination of Cuney-Hare's published work. She had contributed articles to The Musical Quarterly, Musical Observer, Christian Science Monitor , and Musical America ; and she wrote on current events in music and art for Crisis magazine almost from its beginning in 1910. She also toured widely as a pianist in lecture-recitals with the baritone William Richardson and assiduously collected data and materials relating to the music of black people.



During the early twentieth century, black journalists regularly reported musical events in the black community. National black newspapers such as the New York Age, Chicago Defender, Afro-American , and Indianapolis Freeman usually carried a music column or an entertainment section in which music was often featured.[54] Writing about music took the form of simple announcements of events, extended promotions of performers and events, and, occasionally articles containing substantial critical discussion. Although the practice of music criticism was a fledgling endeavor in the black press, it was an important one, since white-controlled newspapers generally gave scant attention to music events in the black communities or, when they did, sometimes offered superficial and often supercilious comments. For the black press, informed journalistic writing about music in general and specific musical events in the black community had the educational mission of encouraging the growth of an audience for classical music.

Nora Douglas Holt (1885–1974) wrote for the Chicago Defender (1917–21; 1938–43) and later for the New York Amsterdam News (1944–64). Her thoughtful columns on music earned her a special place among pioneer African-American classical music critics and prompted the composer and music critic Virgil Thomson to sponsor her membership in the Music Critics Circle of New York in 1945. (She was its first black member.) In her desire to inform her readership about the technical aspects of classical music, to recognize talent, and to underscore the importance of the artist's contribution, she was, in effect, a music educator.[55]

Another outlet for Nora Holt's journalistic interests was the magazine Music and Poetry , which she established in January 1921. Citing the death of her husband and the resultant lack of financing as the reason for its demise "sometime in 1922," after twenty-four issues, Holt described the publication of the magazine as "a labor of great joy, [and] of course, great disappointment when it was finally given up."[56] The magazine's statement of purpose projects the themes of her newspaper columns:

This magazine is launched with the hope of interesting all who have [accepted] or anticipate accepting music as a profession, and for those who love it for the genuine happiness it brings in feeling it as an art as well as a pleasure. And next, but quite important, of encouraging and nursing creative talent—decrying sham and vulgar apishness—awarding applause and support to all sincere artists who reveal the heart of a people through their native talent. For art is greater than an individual and only that art endures which paints the soul of a race through its expression.[57]

Holt attempted to make the magazine useful to a professional readership by including guest articles by white and black writers on technique and pedagogy. A feature that must surely have attracted readers was the presentation of a complete composition for voice, violin, or piano solo in each issue; the first ten issues included two of Holt's own compositions.

Music and Poetry was the second magazine published by a black American that



Fig. 24.
Nora Holt, composer, critic, and founder of the National
Association of Negro Musicians.
Rose McClendon Collection, Yale Collection of American Literature,
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscripts Library, Yale University.


was devoted to music. Thirty-five years earlier, in 1886, another black woman, Amelia L. Tilghman, had produced the first issue of the Musical Messenger . Announcing it as "the first attempt at musical journalism among the colored people in this country," Tilghman expressed the belief that her audience would "feel a deep interest in every new step that has for its object the further advancement and progress of our race in all the intellectual avenues of life."[58]

In 1919, Holt was instrumental in the founding of the National Association of Negro Musicians (NANM), a unique organization that is still in existence. Its aim of "furthering and coordinating the musical forces of the Negro race for the promotion of economic, educational and fraternal betterment" was consonant with Holt's purpose as announced in Music and Poetry .[59] As NANM's first vice president, Holt publicized the organization in each issue of her magazine, announcing activities and meetings of branches. Women activists in music of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s were well represented in the NANM, both in membership and in positions of leadership. Four women were among those who served as presidents from its founding in 1919 to 1942.[60]

Preservers of the Heritage

Among community leaders, educators, and writers, there were those who understood that the precious folk-music heritage of the African-American should be preserved. Beginning in the late nineteenth century with the publication of collections of spirituals, the process of preservation gained impetus through the performance and recognition of the Fisk Jubilee Singers.[61] Further impetus was provided by organizations such as the Society for the Collection of Negro Folklore, founded in 1890 by blacks in Boston. One of the founders was a black woman, Florida Ruffin Ridley (dates unknown).[62]

The New Negro Movement of the 1920s and early 1930s, or, as it was later called, the Harlem Renaissance,[63] infused energy into the thrust to preserve the black heritage in music. Some theorists valued the folk genres in their original state and wished to preserve, in a form as close to the original as possible, what they saw as genuine, albeit vanishing, cultural expressions. Others, devoted to the concept of concert music in the classical sense, promoted the trained composer and valued folk music for its use in concert pieces written in European style. Harriet Gibbs Marshall established a National Center for Negro Music, which she envisioned as a repository for both folk music and the published compositions of black composers.[64] Maud Cuney-Hare and Camille Nickerson collected and made arrangements of Creole folk songs[65] and used the recital to make them known. Nickerson dramatized her concerts by adopting the sobriquet "Louisiana Lady" and performing in Creole costume as she toured in the United States and France.[66]

In the movement to preserve the black heritage in music, Emma Azalia Hackley again looms large. Pursuing her purpose of stimulating interest in the Negro spiritual with characteristic vigor, she lectured and conducted community cho-

In the notes to this essay, the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University is referred to as MSRC, and the National Negro Opera Company as NNOC.


ruses from 1910 to 1921, the year before her death, in the United States and other countries, including Japan (1920). "Wherever she has been the results have been surprising, not only in arousing interest among the colored people, but also among the white population," a writer for Musical America said with reference to a program in Montgomery, Alabama. Citing features of a typical Hackley Folk Song Festival, the article notes that the aggregation of around 200 mixed voices aroused tremendous enthusiasm in the audience. Hackley's dedicated activity caused her to be known among black writers on music as "Our National Voice Teacher."[67]

The first half of the twentieth century was a period of growth for the black classical musician and, at the beginning, outlets for musical activity were to be found mainly within the black community. The careers of black women activists who worked to develop interest in music of the cultivated tradition among African-Americans reflect a common struggle against racism and sexism and also demonstrate the impossibility of separating personal ambition from the desire to enhance the status of black Americans. Whether working as individuals or as groups, on a local or national scale, black women activists sought and found ways to expand the "sphere" not only of black women, but also that of blacks generally, in music, until it was indeed "just as large as [they could] make it."

Women Patrons and Crusaders for Modernist Music:
New York in the 1920s

Carol J. Oja

Rising young American composers of the 1920s have been vigorously acclaimed in histories of this country's music. As the legend goes, something special happened during that decade, and New York City was the central place where it occurred. Struggling against a conservative and inhospitable music establishment, figures such as Aaron Copland, Henry Cowell, and Edgard Varèse struck out on their own, forming performance societies and publishing enterprises to promote their work. They cultivated an image of autonomy and iconoclasm, and that image has been retained with little question by historians, who have tended to enshrine these composers within two cherished American mythologies, those of the pioneer and the inventor. This began in writings by the composers themselves. Henry Cowell, for example, described his colleagues during the 1920s as "experimental," "uninhibited," and "untamed," and the British historian Wilfrid Mellers echoed that language in a survey of American music, titling his overview of composers since World War I "The Pioneer and the Wilderness."[1]

While this view contains elements of truth, it also involves exaggeration. For although these composers certainly dominated the foreground and achieved much, they did not do so alone, but relied on a strong network of supporters. Theirs was a community effort rather than one of isolated trailblazers, and women were central to its success. Working behind the scenes, women financed, published, organized, and promoted the newest music with energy and imagination. When in 1923 Walter Damrosch wrote, "I do not think there has ever been a country whose musical development has been fostered so almost exclusively by women as America,"[2] he was not only reflecting on some distant past but revealing much about the present—about the world in which the musical avant-garde took hold. By exploring women's contribution to the new-music movement, striking perspectives on the decade emerge, revealing close connections to patterns of support in literature


and art; suggesting what might on the surface seem an unlikely alliance between social feminism and the American avant-garde; and posing the question of what role the "New Woman," as the feminist slogan of the day put it, played in the growth of modernist music.

The full impact of women on New York's new music is a sizeable topic. A complete account would include not just those few women who were composers (to date, they are the only ones who have received much attention) but also those who edited the modernists' magazines (and they edited all of them).[3] Others worked as performers, and still others as patrons, promoters, and organizers. The focus here will be on several key figures from the latter group—first, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, Alma Morgenthau Wertheim, and Blanche Walton, who were New York's most important patrons of new music, and, finally, Claire Reis, who was its indefatigable organizer. Together, they show various dimensions of the female contribution. Most of these women have previously been absent from chronicles of the period. In part this is because they kept such a low profile and because documentation of their work is extremely uneven. But attitudes toward them have also shaped the telling of history. The Daniel Boones of American music did not tackle the frontier alone. They had a group of hard-working women by their sides.

Women As Patrons

In 1925 George Antheil, a young American composer soon to become celebrated for his audacity, wrote to Mary Louise Curtis Bok, the woman who had been financing his work for several years. While his outcry was typically histrionic, it articulated the central economic issue for his generation: "If you want composers like Beethoven or Chopin, you shall have to be prepared to do what the princes of other days did for these people. The joke of it is that the rich and wealthy people of our States want these thing[s] without paying for them [underlined twice]. For nothing ! The princes of other days had to pay for them. So will the princes of today."[4]

Antheil made his appeal, of course, to the American equivalent not of a prince but of a princess , as would so many of his contemporaries. Women, more than men, stepped forward as patrons. Whether Mary Louise Curtis Bok in Philadelphia, Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge in Washington, D.C., or Alma Morgenthau Wertheim in New York City, women of means put their energy and dollars behind young, often experimental, composers. This was not just a musical phenomenon or an American one: wealthy European women subsidized the avant-garde in music, and women on both sides of the Atlantic supported writers and visual artists. Private patronage experienced a major revival during the 1920s. In Paris, for example, the princesse de Polignac (an American from the Singer sewing-machine family) supported Igor Stravinsky; he dedicated his Piano Sonata of 1924 to her, and many of his new compositions received private auditions in her salon. She also subsidized Ravel and Satie, among others.[5] A legion of wealthy women


also supported writers and painters of the period—for example, Lady Gregory, who financed Yeats; Harriet Shaw Weaver, who subsidized Joyce; and Mabel Dodge Luhan, who supported D. H. Lawrence and others. In discussing early-twentieth-century modernist writers—both European and American—the literary critics Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar have observed: "A striking characteristic of the twentieth-century avant-garde, after all, was its determinedly anti-commercial cast. Perhaps there has been no circle of writers since the sixteenth century which was more dependent on private patronage, and, like such sixteenth-century figures as Sidney and Spenser, many prominent modernists were subsidized by a series of wealthy women or publicized by a set of powerful women."[6]

Such was certainly the case among concert-music composers in New York, where Whitney, Wertheim, and Walton provided essential financial help and moral support. Yet for Americans, private patronage of composers was a relatively new concept. In the late nineteenth century, as an American wealthy class rose to prominence through expanding railroads, mines, and industry, it became involved in supporting cultural improvement. However, in music that support most often had gone toward performance, not composition, and its focus had been on the European repertory.[7] Just as the notion of being a patron was modeled on European precedents, so was the choice of music to promote. The same applied to the patronage of American museums: supporting European masterworks brought a cachet of sophistication and cultivation. Therefore America's wealthy citizens munificently funded the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, and Carnegie Hall. With the exception of Isabella Stewart Gardner, who in Boston at the turn of the century subsidized Charles Martin Loeffler, patrons paid little attention to native composers.

Things began changing in the late 1910s, especially with the work of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, and by the early 1920s patronage of composers had become more frequent. Many patrons continued to support the performance of European masterworks. Yet others reached out to composers, and they made quite a difference. Suddenly an ambitious group of young musicians did not need to spend time earning a living outside of composition, as had William Billings who worked as a tanner in late eighteenth-century Boston, or Charles Ives who built a successful insurance business in early-twentieth-century New York. Instead they could devote themselves fully to practicing their art.

Gertrude Whitney, Alma Wertheim, and Blanche Walton, then, were continuing an old tradition but giving it a new twist. Each allied herself with a different faction of the avant-garde, and each shaped her giving in an individual way. Yet all sought personal satisfaction by contributing to a cause that seemed both adventuresome and important.

Although remembered primarily as a patron of visual artists, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875–1942) advanced modernism in America in a variety of art forms,


including music. An accomplished sculptor, she was a major benefactor of the famous 1913 Armory Show, through which European modernist painting first reached New York, and she later founded the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Her involvement in music, while brief, had a similar purpose: to promote modernism in a society reluctant to accept it. Beginning in the late 1910s, she championed the music of Edgard Varèse and helped support his ill-fated New Symphony Orchestra, which served as one of music's answers to the Armory Show by revealing works of European modernists, such as Alfredo Casella and Béla Bartók, that were unknown to New Yorkers.[8] Later Whitney became "one of the principal sponsors" of Varèse's International Composers' Guild.[9]

In embracing philanthropy, Whitney followed the example of older members of her family, most of whom were male, at the same time as she sought personal satisfaction. Among the inheritors of the Vanderbilt family fortune, built on ships and railroads, she expanded her financial base by marrying Harry Payne Whitney, whose money lay largely in oil and tobacco. Yet in the first decade of the twentieth century, when Whitney turned to living artists as the target of her gifts, she chose her own version of the family's philanthropic mission, which had centered on major institutions such as Columbia University and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For her, patronage became a way of relieving what the historian Anne Firor Scott has described as "the inchoate sense of uselessness which afflicted young women of leisure."[10] It also became her weapon for dealing with an unhappy marriage. After bearing children and submitting herself to the constraints of New York's high society, Whitney began to seem like a wealthy counterpart of Lily Bart in Edith Wharton's House of Mirth , whom Wharton characterized as "so evidently the victim of the civilization which had produced her that the links of her bracelet seemed like manacles chaining her to her fate."[11] Whitney struggled with those chains, waging a moral battle against the limitations of privilege. In 1901 she wrote in her journal of feeling useless: "I pity, I pity above all that class of people who have no necessity to work. . . . [The wealthy are] the great and grand unemployed—the dregs of humanity."[12] Whitney wanted to avoid such immobility, turning to both sculpture and patronage as a means of finding fulfillment.

Whitney's support of Varèse appears to have been her primary activity in new music. Besides helping to underwrite his performance organizations, in 1921 she gave him what has been described by his wife, Louise, as "an adequate allowance" so that he would not have to take a job. She also hosted after-concert parties and lectures.[13] But details of her substantial support of the International Composers' Guild remain obscure. Louise Varèse shares some information in her account of the early years of the guild, as does B. H. Friedman, Whitney's biographer.[14] Little else about Whitney's contribution survives in her papers, however, and Varèse's personal correspondence remains inaccessible to scholars.[15]

Because information about Whitney's music patronage is so spotty, her importance could easily be diminished. Yet her assistance in launching the first major organization for American modernist composers made her one of the earliest pa-


trons to subsidize new music in New York. She simply extended the support she was giving visual artists to those who wrote music. Whitney's efforts in the late 1910s and early 1920s helped turn the attention of American music patrons away from support for the performance of European classics and toward the encouragement of creative ventures.

Alma Morgenthau Wertheim (1887–1953) expanded on the work that Gertrude Whitney had begun. Among several subsidiary financers of Whitney's big cause, the International Composers' Guild, Wertheim went on to become a substantial underwriter of both composers and new-music organizations.[16] Although Whitney's deepest connection had been to the visual arts and her direct participation in music projects—outside of financial support—had been slight, Wertheim took much more of a music-focused, hands-on approach. She was among the dissenters who broke from the International Composers' Guild in 1923 to form the League of Composers, and she became an active member of the league's board. She even founded her own publishing firm for issuing new scores.[17]

In yet another contrast to Whitney, Wertheim's work as a music patron has been better documented, but its sources are still scattered. The Morgenthau archive at the Library of Congress contains materials mostly about male family members, especially Alma's father, the financier and ambassador Henry Morgenthau, and her brother, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., who became Secretary of the Treasury under Franklin Roosevelt.[18] Thus information about Alma's legacy largely comes from the files of composers—especially Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, and Louis Gruenberg—and from interviews with Claire Reis and Minna Lederman, two women with whom she worked at the league. Even her daughters (who included the late historian Barbara Tuchman) saved few of her papers.[19]

Wertheim's efforts took several forms. First there were contributions to organizations. In addition to providing cash to both the guild and the league, she also underwrote the league's journal, Modern Music , for several years.[20] Then there were her stipends to individual composers, most of whom fell within the league's orbit. Aaron Copland was a central recipient of her help and became a kind of hub around which her patronage spun.[21] Ironically, considering that the new-music movement focused on breaking with the past, Copland's link to Wertheim began within the social conventions of old New York. In 1925 he made at least two pilgrimages to her Upper East Side apartment for tea. Both times he played some of his music, and as a result she handed him a check for $1,000. Copland later recalled, "I don't know how, without that, I would have managed in the year that followed while I was composing Music for the Theatre ."[22] Wertheim helped others as well. She presented Roy Harris with at least $1,800 so that he could study with Nadia Boulanger, and she provided smaller cash stipends to Israel Citkowitz, among others.[23]

The third aspect of Wertheim's work was by far the most monumental: the founding of Cos Cob Press in 1929 (see frontispiece), which in the next nine years


published some thirty-five volumes of music by young Americans—music that commercial houses would never have considered releasing. With this effort Wertheim took a bold risk. Cos Cob Press gained distinction as Copland's first major American publisher, and it also gave publication premieres to Roy Harris, Walter Piston, Roger Sessions, and Virgil Thomson.[24] Wertheim underwrote the expenses of the press entirely, and through it she joined other women, especially in Paris, who were publishing the work of young writers. For example, Nancy Cunard ran The Hours Press in the late 1920s, counting Samuel Beckett among her major literary discoveries, and Caresse Crosby started Black Sun Press with her husband, Harry, and managed it singlehandedly after his death.[25] Wertheim assumed a similar function, not only funding her press, but being involved in its operation. She designed the cover used for the scores and had some say in the pieces chosen.

Yet Wertheim's relationship to composers was highly volatile. Minna Lederman, a member with Wertheim of the league's board, has described her as "a very special figure in her own circle . . . with beautiful taste for decor, personal and otherwise, and a very hot, passionate temperament."[26] That passion appears to have directed her patronage. Just as her tenure with the guild had ended explosively, so it did with the league. In the November-December 1928 issue of Modern Music , Wertheim's name did not appear in the list of the league's executive board. It never reappeared. According to Claire Reis, Wertheim resigned because of a confrontation over the design of Modern Music and a belief that her opinions were not being taken seriously by the board.[27] The next year she struck out on her own and founded Cos Cob Press.

Blanche Wetherill Walton (1871–1963) presents an altogether different case. Whereas Whitney allied herself with Varèse, and Wertheim with Copland and his circle, Walton befriended another faction of the new-music community: Henry Cowell and some of his colleagues, including Ruth Crawford, Carl Ruggles, and Charles Seeger. By no means as wealthy as Whitney or Wertheim, she gave modest cash stipends. Her largest contribution came through offering composers housing and presiding over a kind of salon for modernists. In other words, she used the traditional female domain of the home to help the struggling avant-garde, becoming a kind of domestic impresario. Carl Ruggles acknowledged the value of her work in a 1928 letter, "Keep on, and you will become such a power in musical circles that all we poor, damned composers will have to do is to take our scores and our troubles to you and everything will be 'velvet.'"[28]

Like Whitney and Wertheim, Walton took up her work as part of a search for personal satisfaction. Unlike them, she had professional potential as a musician. A gifted pianist who had studied with Edward MacDowell, she was later described by Henry Cowell as "a pianist of professional calibre in the days when a public career was unthinkable for a girl of good family."[29] Instead, after raising two chil-



Fig. 25.
Marion Walton Putnam and Blanche Walton in the early 1930s.
Photograph in the collection of Marion Walton Putnam.

dren, she sought a new life in contemporary music, and her various New York apartments—in Bronxville, at West Sixty-Eighth Street and Central Park West, and in Washington Square—became havens for experimentalists. Walton later recalled: "The one contribution I could make to the gifted and struggling pioneer composer was to turn my apartment on Central Park West into a meeting place. It was then a shabby elderly house which had a large corner room which proved to be excellent for a music room with Steinway piano. My rooms were comfortably apart which left other rooms for visiting composers of whom Cowell was a frequent one."[30] Walton's path to patronage came about through two principal contacts: with Edward De Coppet, her husband's employer, who as a major early-twentieth-century patron founded and supported the Flonzaley Quartet, and with Cowell, whom she met through the singer Radiana Pazmor during a visit to California in the early 1920s.[31]

Walton was involved in the modernist movement from the very beginning of the 1920s. A few remaining letters, part of a small collection of her papers at the New York Public Library, suggest the dimensions of her efforts.[32] She gave money to the International Composers's Guild and helped support Cowell's New Music Society and its various offshoots, especially New Music Editions.[33] Principally, though, she established a kind of boardinghouse for vanguardists. Bartók used her West Sixty-Eighth Street apartment as a base during his 1927 tour of the United States; Carl Ruggles and Henry Cowell stayed with her for long periods during


their many trips to New York; and during the winter of 1929–30, the young Ruth Crawford lived with Walton while she began studying with Charles Seeger. The first meeting of what would become the American Musicological Society was also held at her apartment in 1930.[34]

Walton's private musicales served an important function for the young modernists. In early December 1929, for example, she arranged an informal concert in her apartment for Ruth Crawford, which featured the premiere of Crawford's Suite No. 2 for Four Strings and Piano.[35] Another musicale, probably scheduled that same year, centered on Aaron Copland's work, suggesting that Walton's generosity extended beyond the circle surrounding Henry Cowell.[36]

Because Walton did not take on huge financial responsibilities with new music, like Whitney and Wertheim, or step forward as an outspoken activist, as will be seen with Claire Reis, her legacy is more difficult to assess. Measured against today's standards of feminine achievement, her work might easily be devalued because of its domestic nature. Yet by establishing a base of operation for struggling young composers and by hosting musicales, as well as after-concert parties, she gave essential assistance. In 1959, Henry Cowell paid tribute to Walton, calling her "one of the most important and best beloved sponsors that modern music has had here." He went on to pinpoint the substance of her contribution: "Much of the activity of composers of modern music was centered in her home, and we owe to her hospitality an early focusing of modern musical thought in New York. She created a stimulating atmosphere where nothing but generosity toward divergent ideas was possible."[37]

As patrons, then, these women provided the support necessary for composers to write, publish, and perform new works. While their gifts took different forms—whether giving stipends to individual composers, subsidizing performance organizations, underwriting the publication of music and journals, hosting social functions after concerts, presenting musicales, or housing composers—they shared a commitment to advancing modernism in America. Yet an important part of their role as patrons was to stay modestly in the background. Louise Varèse called Gertrude Whitney "self-effacing," and the same adjective could be applied in varying degrees to all three.[38] A woman's place as patron was to be generous as well as selfless. Her creative energy went into discovering and encouraging others, not into drawing attention to her own work. No matter how crucial her role, it fit into a well-established hierarchy based on gender and occupation, making her subsidiary to the mostly male composers she aided.

Volunteering for the Cause

While women patrons generally stood discreetly behind the scenes, Claire Raphael Reis (1888–1978), perhaps the single most indispensable woman to modernist musicians, was much more visible, as executive director first of the International Composers' Guild and later of the League of Composers. Her "luminous,


nourishing energy," as the writer Waldo Frank once characterized it, became legendary.[39]

Diverse ideologies converged to inspire Reis. Ironically, given modern music's small, elite audience, she approached her task with the tools and ideals of the settlement-house volunteer. If Gertrude Whitney embodied the high-society ambivalence of an Edith Wharton character, Claire Reis felt the social mission of a Jane Addams or Lillian Wald. A consummate organizer, she had deep roots in important feminized spheres—social service and the woman's club—and she embraced the goals of social feminism: to promote reform through vigorous action. While some of her female contemporaries labored for the rights of children, new immigrants, and the poor, Reis took on another of society's underdogs, the composer. Her activism and progressive roots closely paralleled those of Katherine Dreier, one of the founders and driving forces behind New York's Société Anonyme, an organization begun in 1920 to exhibit contemporary art.[40] Reis's career also reveals much about early musical modernism in New York—especially the years between 1910 and 1920, a decade that remains almost completely overlooked by music historians.

Like Blanche Walton, Claire Reis was a gifted pianist inhibited from becoming a professional by the conventions of her time and class. While Reis later claimed that her teachers had encouraged a concert career, "playing for charity was my mother's idea of bringing up a musical daughter."[41] And musical charity became her principal pursuit. But she also happened upon modernism while both she and it were young, especially through piano studies with Bertha Fiering Tapper at the New York Institute of Musical Art (now the Juilliard School).[42] Tapper held Saturday-afternoon musicales at her home, and it was there that she presented Leo Ornstein, another of her students, whose career she helped promote. Reis later recalled bringing both the writer Waldo Frank and another of her good friends, the future critic Paul Rosenfeld, to hear Ornstein at one of Tapper's Saturday-afternoon concerts.[43] For all three, as well as for others, these musicales gave a valuable introduction to music that was just beginning to reach America. Frank vividly recounted one of Tapper's afternoons, which probably took place in 1914:

The long room [in Tapper's home on Riverside Drive] with a façade of windows giving on the Hudson was astir like a convention of birds with the elegant gentlemen and ladies perched on their camp stools. . . . [After Ornstein played some Debussy, Ravel, and Albéniz], Mrs. Tapper stood up and announced to her guests that Leo would now play some of his own music. Leo responded with a voluminous, cacophonous broadside of chords that seemed about to blow the instrument in the air and break the windows. Chaos spoke.[44]

For Reis, encountering Ornstein "was really the beginning, the ear opening, if not the eye opener for me."[45] In the spring of 1916, eight months after Tapper's death, Reis took up her teacher's mission, presenting Ornstein in a series of "Four Informal Recitals" at her home on Madison Avenue.[46] Those events were an important harbinger of developments in art music in the 1920s. The critic Paul



Fig. 26.
Bertha Fiering Tapper and students, ca. 1908. Mrs. Tapper is at the
center. To her left are Leo Ornstein and Claire Raphael. To her right
are Kay Swift and Pauline Mallet-Provost (who later married Ornstein).
Photograph in the collection of Vivian Perlis.

Rosenfeld had proposed the concerts in letters to Reis, and as he wrote, a portent of her future unfolded: "The point is, that in the back of my mind there is a desire to help organize a modern music club, . . . and I wonder whether an audience gotten together for Leo's recital couldn't help form a nucleus for such a society? There's really a crying need for such an organization to make headway against the sluggish conservatism in musical circles."[47] Although no such organization materialized immediately, Rosenfeld's letter shows that the idea for the International Composers' Guild and the League of Composers was germinating in the mid 1910s, long before either organization became a reality.

At the same time as Reis was aiding the career of a rising modernist, she was also helping the poor. In 1911, she had fulfilled her mother's vision of musical charity by establishing the People's Music League, an organization that presented some two hundred free concerts for newly arrived immigrants each year in New York schools.[48] It was an extension of the settlement house—of places such as Henry Street Settlement House in New York or Hull House in Chicago, where education and social services were provided for struggling newcomers to America. Reis later described it as her "first satisfying experience combining music and social service in a civic project. . . . [It] stirred great sympathy [for] people poor and hungry for music."[49] For the tenth anniversary of the People's Music League in 1922, Reis staged a concert of contemporary music, which included works of Rebecca Clarke, Louis Gruenberg, Frederick Jacobi, A. Walter Kramer, Lazare



Fig. 27.
Claire Raphael Reis and the violinist Max Rosen, whom she
accompanied in New York during the early 1910s.
Photograph in the collection of Hilda Reis Bijur.

Saminsky, and Deems Taylor, almost all of whom would become major figures in the League of Composers.[50] For Reis, it was a pivotal event, as she later recalled, "My reputation with the Cooper Union Composers' concert led me into the next phase of music—this time with a feeling of service to composers . . . . My sympathy for the masses and for music seemed to begin a new chapter; sympathy for the composers ."[51]

That fall, after the People's Music League ended, Reis became executive director of the International Composers' Guild. It was a productive but unhappy appointment. She moved the concerts uptown to the Klaw Theater, which she obtained from a family friend at low rent; she put Alma Wertheim and the art dealer Stephan Bourgeois on the board; and she brought the guild out of debt. Yet. according to Louise Varèse, her husband felt Reis had "[taken] over" the guild, and


he disdained her after-concert receptions as "those delicatessen parties."[52] In giving her side of the story, Reis recalled "great disorder" at board meetings of the guild and puzzlement at the organization's pride in obscurity: "People like Ruggles would loudly voice their opinions. His was: If more than a dozen people [were] in [the] hall they were catering to the public."[53]

Yet Reis worked vigorously for the guild, even turning to journalism as a means of promoting it. In a 1923 article titled "Contemporary Music and 'the Man on the Street'" and published in the guild's unofficial journal, Eolian Review , Reis made an unusual suggestion: that the audience for new music might develop, not from the "so-called musically educated class," as she put it, but from those less acquainted with the European classics. She went on: "'The man on the street,' as signified by the average person without esthetic standards which belong to the past, this man can hear, can see, can sense an art belonging to his age because it is part of his life, because he has not been educated to accept definite laws based upon tradition ."[54]

This hope that the newest art would find an accepting audience with the most unsophisticated listener might seem naive, if not downright condescending. Yet it grew out of Reis's experience working with the poor, and its intent was genuine. She was applying social feminism to contemporary male composers. Not surprisingly, then, Reis's article was greeted with charges hurled at other social feminists of the day. Jerome Hart, a conservative freelance music critic, wrote that her theory gave evidence of the depths to which modernism had plunged: "Of course, this is but a phase of present-day unrest and revolutionism, which finds its extreme expression in Bolshevism, under which anarchists are elevated into prime ministers, incendiaries and criminals into judges, and all the rules of decent and orderly living are thrown into the discard. It is a passing phase, in which ugliness, both moral and physical, boldly asserts itself."[55]

Hart published this not long after the Red Scare of 1919–20, when the epithet "Bolshevist" had been hurled at many espousing new ideas. It hit social feminists especially hard. The pioneering Sheppard-Towner Maternity- and Infancy-Protection Act of 1921, for which women had campaigned vigorously, was dubbed "Bolshevist" by its opponents, and four years later such name-calling defeated a child-labor initiative in Congress. Hart, then, applied the language used against women as social reformers to Reis as a reformer in music. In viewing as subversive both the music she supported and the audience she anticipated, Hart also echoed contemporaneous indictments brought by his colleague Daniel Gregory Mason against modernism and jazz and foreshadowed the charges that composers, especially those involved in any way with folksong, would face decades later during the McCarthy hearings.

Another crucial element in Reis's background was her early membership in the Women's City Club of New York, which was begun in 1916 by a group of suffragists.[56] Just as her work for composers reflected social-feminist concerns, it likewise drew upon the organizing methods of the women's club. Women's music clubs (with


which Reis seems to have had no association) played a major role from the 1870s on in educating and elevating taste. But the women's club movement as a whole provided the principal means for women to become active outside the home.[57]

Reis's work in social service and the women's club thus prepared her for activism in new music. As leader of the group that seceded from the International Composers' Guild in 1923 to form the League of Composers, she became executive director of the new organization, which was also a successor in name as well as spirit to the People's Music League.[58] It became a major forum in New York for the presentation of both European and American new music, and unlike the guild, which disbanded in 1927, the league remains active today. Reis conceived the organization in a democratic spirit, similar to other leagues that were being founded in the late 1910s and early 1920s. Some, such as the National League of Women Voters and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, were the inspiration of women activists. Another, the League of Nations, had a broader base.

From the outset, Reis mobilized the composers' league. She organized its concerts, staged publicity campaigns, negotiated with conductors and performers, hosted social functions, raised money, provided office space in her home, and made her car and chauffeur available for league business. Directing the league became the equivalent of a full-time job—a job for which she was not paid but volunteered. Aaron Copland later characterized her as "a pro. Her day was as highly organized as that of any modern career woman," and his words provide an important clue to the context in which she should be viewed.[59] By no means a radical feminist, Reis belonged to a particular breed of "modern" woman. Proud to have marched with the suffragists—or so her daughter, Hilda Bijur, recalls—she embraced a feminist ideal that combined activism with a Victorian sense of womanly duty.[60] The historian Dorothy Brown has observed that social feminists campaigned for suffrage not to advance themselves but rather "to win the power to clean up America. Social feminism was serviceable and safe."[61] Reis later acknowledged her model to be one of social feminism's great architects, Jane Addams, who advocated combining home and family with public service. Addams also supported volunteerism for women, and Reis later articulated the same philosophy: "In those days if a girl did not need to earn money [she did not work]. Neither Jane Addams nor Lillian Wald—both very modern, liberal women—[did. They] were adamant that girls should not work for money."[62] To Reis and others of her generation, social service was modern, and volunteering provided an acceptable way of accomplishing it.

Also striking, in light of Reis's connection to women's clubs, was one of her methods for raising money. To finance the league's special staged productions, such as those of Igor Stravinsky's L'Histoire du soldat in 1928, his Les Noces in 1929, and Schoenberg's Die glückliche Hand in 1930, Reis formed an auxiliary board, probably modeled on a parallel appendage of the New York Philharmonic.[63] The league's auxiliary board seems to have been established in 1927 and had a slightly


fluctuating membership of around thirty-five, most of whom were women. Each gave a small gift of approximately $100 to $200 for individual stage presentations.

Yet while the auxiliary board made it possible for the league to produce these special events, most of which were American stage premieres, it also faced some scorn, both for the gender and social pretensions of its members. This was partly true because the auxilliary's contributions focused so singularly on splashy productions, many of which took place in the Metropolitan Opera House. But it also reflected a prevailing attitude about the network of "ladies" that supported America's cultural institutions. Louise Vàrese, for example, recalled somewhat disparagingly that Vàrese's New Symphony Orchestra had a "large Ladies' Committee" that did "whatever ladies' committees do."[64] The league's "ladies' committee" sponsored stage productions featuring major conductors such as Pierre Monteux, Leopold Stokowski, and Tullio Serafin. It chiefly funded performances of works by European modernists, however, not by young Americans. When Reis tried to persuade the auxiliary board to raise money for a composers' fund that would commission new American works, she found that its members' aesthetic boundaries were firmly set: "We were keenly disappointed when not a single response came from any of the hundred-odd 'pillars of art,' although they had gladly spent $250 for a box from which to see and be seen for one evening. . . . They seemed little aware of the composer as a fellow human being."[65]

Among Reis's many other achievements, a final item deserves attention: her publication in 1930 of American Composers of Today , the first catalogue of music by American modernists. Although today the compilation of bibliographies and work lists has become almost commonplace, in 1930, for these composers, such a source was unique. It served as an invaluable and highly practical means of giving conductors, performers, publishers, and critics a sense of existing contemporary literature, and it made access to these works possible. Two years later Reis produced a revision of the catalogue with two and a half times as many entries (expanding from 55 names to 135). Subsequent editions appeared in 1938 and 1947.[66]

The Critical Response

If the involvement of Reis, Whitney, Wertheim, and Walton in new music during the 1920s has been obscured in the ensuing years, attitudes at the time helped prepare for its eclipse. While the female leaders of composer organizations may have disparaged the social pretensions of "the ladies" on their auxiliary boards, men viewing these same groups often had an even broader disdain, which extended to women organizers and patrons. Certainly, some composers expressed gratitude for all the good work done on their behalf and the hard cash they received. Copland and Cowell, for example, publicly acknowledged their debts to Reis and Walton.[67] But others demonized their benefactors. Music critics tended to be the most outspoken, often attacking women as a group rather than singling out any individu-

Earlier versions of this essay were presented as part of the Project for the Study of Women in Music at the Graduate Center of CUNY and at the 1991 annual meeting of the American Musicological Society in Chicago. Another version appeared in Modernism/Modernity (January 1997). Research has been aided by a Mellon Faculty Fellowship at Harvard University and a grant-in-aid from the American Council of Learned Societies. Judith Tick has been extraordinarily generous in suggesting sources and giving comments. I am grateful to others as well, especially Adrienne Fried Block, Minna Lederman, Ralph Locke, Vivian Perlis, Catherine Smith, Mark Tucker, and Linda Whitesitt. Throughout the notes, the following abbreviations are used for the location of manuscripts: DLC (Music Division of the Library of Congress) and NN (Music Division of the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center). The names of individual collections are abbreviated (e.g., "Antheil-DLC" refers to the George Antheil Collection at the Library of Congress).


als. Intolerance was widespread and openly expressed in the 1920s. Like the racism in critiques of jazz and the anti-Semitism directed toward the high percentage of Jews in new music, misogyny flowed freely in America during the period. Its sources were many.

The 1920s witnessed not only the birth of a new American art, straining to free itself from ties to the past and to Europe, but the continuing struggle of the "New Woman," whose desire for freedom was equally intense and ambitious. She threatened cherished traditions. This, after all, was the first decade after the Nineteenth Amendment, when women gained the right to vote. As Minna Lederman, the editor of Modern Music , has said, "We thought we could do anything."[68]

That was the "modern" side of the issue. For musicians, however, there was an even stronger attitude—the notion of music as a femininized sphere—which had roots in the nineteenth century. As stewards of the parlor, as supporters of the opera and symphony, as teachers, and as vigorous local activists through music clubs, women had gained control over certain aspects of music making in the United States. For many men, this gave music a disturbing whiff of effeminacy. Women had been strong supporters of art in the genteel tradition of the late nineteenth century, and when that tradition faced rejection, women suffered accordingly. This was a major issue in early modernism, and it remained strong throughout the 1920s. Charles Ives is well known for labeling his detractors "old ladies," but he by no means stood alone in doing so.[69] Enough others felt similarly for Musical America to run an editorial in 1924 titled "Music and Manliness," discussing the effect of the "manliness complex" on American musicians.[70] And in an article published in 1929, Nicolas Slonimsky, a member of the young generation of composers, illustrated how views of women were twisted into the tensions between new and old, "Yes, we want our musical tastes to be governed by the young sophisticates rather than by Mrs. Carrie Jacobs Bond."[71]

The 1920s opened with one such indictment, penned by no less than the critic Paul Rosenfeld—the same Rosenfeld who was a close friend of Claire Reis and who would become one of the most enlightened voices of the decade (at least in his concert-music tastes). In a 1920 article for the Dial , written to mark the end of Varèse's tenure with the New Symphony Orchestra—subsidized primarily by Gertrude Whitney—Rosenfeld analyzed the orchestra's failure to succeed in performing contemporary music as "one of the innumerable consequences of the fact that in America musical organizations have patronesses more often than they have patrons." He continued:

Great musical bodies cannot exist in America today, it is a commonplace, without subsidies. . . . But in our civilization, the man is not interested in art. . . . The control of the purer forms of music are [sic ] almost entirely left to the distaff side. . . . But, unfortunately, the control by women of art is not the health of art. . . . In consequence, artistic activity remains, for the majority of those who engage in it, a lightly social expression.[72]


In 1928, a year after Varèse's next organizational effort, the International Composers' Guild, had come to an end, Rosenfeld again articulated this bias. In an article titled "Thanks to the International Guild," he hailed the group for its achievements and drew a comparison with its principal rival, the League of Composers, which he claimed had "a social function where the performance of music served the ambitions of mediocrities; handsomely dressed people conversed up and down the aisles; and music preluded to an apotheosis of personal projections and chicken salad in close quarters."[73] Women are indicted here by implication. The parties they hosted were not just an opportunity to use the good silver; rather, they made it possible for composers to forge crucial alliances with publishers, performers, concert managers, and even other composers. For example, an annotated list of guests that Aaron Copland sent Blanche Walton for a party she was to give after a Copland-Sessions Concert bears witness to the care taken in making the right connections (see Vignette I).[74]

Other damning pronouncements followed, including one by Deems Taylor, a firmly established composer and critic of the 1920s, who contributed an essay on music to Civilization in the United States (1922), perhaps the most important contemporaneous assessment of American culture. In it, Taylor featured women as first-string players in American music and blamed them for many of its limitations: "Women constitute ninety per cent of those who support music in this country. . . . It is no disparagement of their activities to say that such a state of affairs is unhealthy." He went on to criticize women for "demand[ing] that art be edifying" and for encouraging chauvinism among American composers.[75] Through his indictments, Taylor acknowledged the power of women in America's musical life, and he chafed under its force.

As the decade wore on, critics increasingly connected women to the new-music movement, and they continued to question whether those on the "distaff side" were capable of intellectual engagement with the bold new sounds they fostered. Satire became a frequent weapon. The critic W.J. Henderson published an article in the New Yorker in 1926 entitled "The Modern Music Jag" in which he sarcastically pointed out that women were giving up the Charleston for another fad: new music.[76] And in 1929 a caricature in Vanity Fair by the Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias, captioned "A Salon Recital of Modern Music: One of Those Awesomely Elegant Evenings Which Society Has to Suffer," ridiculed the wealthy women who presented musicales of new compositions (fig. 28), an attitude in keeping with the magazine's arch commentary on many aspects of New York's high society.[77]

Over the years, the disparagement of women patrons and promoters has recurred. In Marc Blitzstein's The Cradle Will Rock (1937), a painter and composer mock their patron as "a stupid woman . . . what she doesn't know about music would put Heifetz back on his feet again"—and then eagerly accept an invitation to visit her country home for the weekend. And in the early 1980s the composer Jerome Moross wrote the scholar Catherine Smith that the League of Composers



Fig. 28.
Miguel Covarrubias, "A Salon Recital of Modern Music: One of Those Awesomely
Elegant Evenings Which Society Has to Suffer—Seen by Covarrubias,"  Vanity Fair ,
February 1929, 54. The caption (Covarrubias's own?) continues with a snide
explication du texte : "In the forefront of mondaine [sic ] musical circles is M . Pierre
Paravent, the most recently imported Parisian pianist. Not to have heard Paravent
is to be completely out of the present season. He has therefore been rented for the
evening by Mrs. Bartow Blodgett, the monumental matron at left-center, for the
entertainment of a number of tremendously important people. This he is
endeavouring to do by rendering a program of his own compositions, in which he
specializes. This is no stuff for weaklings and the auditors are taking it according to
their several capabilities. The hostess is flanked by her daughter who is entranced by
both the piece and the performer, and by her mother, Mrs. Holzderber, who is resting
easily on her pearl dog-collar. In the center row, from left to right, are Horace Bankhead,
critic, Lady Cragsmoor and lorgnette, Mrs. Dapper, wearing her famous  Mona Lisa
smile, and the young Camberwells who are plotting an escape. In the background two
low-browed husbands are talking about the stock market while the host, at right,
ponders grimly on the cost of all this noise Paravent produces."


"was not a dues paying organization, but . . . a pet project of two rich ladies who were constantly struggling over the leadership."[78]

Such stereotyped views do not, however, change the fact that women championed modernist music with gusto, freeing young composers to pursue their artistic vision. The work of these women was indispensable to the growth of American music in the 1920s, and it has had lasting implications. Today, performance societies, including the League of Composers, continue to provide an essential forum for the newest pieces, and the idea of giving financial help to composers remains alive—although private benefactors, such as Betty Freeman in Los Angeles, now stand out as exceptional, while universities and foundations provide most of the support. Gertrude Whitney, Blanche Walton, Alma Wertheim, and Claire Reis, then, set an important precedent by dedicating themselves to the avant-garde. Their vigorous activism belongs not just to women's history but helps explain how modern music came to be in America.

Vignette I—
The Power of Social Events:
Aaron Copland's Guest List for a Post-Concert Reception Given by Blanche Walton

Annotated by Carol J. Oja

Sometime during the spring of 1930, Aaron Copland sent Blanche Walton a handwritten list of suggested guests for an after-concert party, presumably given at her New York apartment.[1] The list provides an unusual view of how the social events hosted by women helped composers build power bases. Although the document is undated, it was probably drawn up for a party after the Copland-Sessions concert on 13 April 1930. There were a number of Hungarians among the invitees—the Hungarian consul general, the violinist Leopold Auer, the violinist and composer Sándor Harmati—and the program that evening included three new Hungarian works, István Szelényi's Recitative , Pál Kadosa's Sonatina , and Imre Weisshaus's Piano Study . Walton may well have had a personal interest in these young Hungarians perhaps through Béla Bartók, who stayed with her during his 1927 visit to the United States. The probability that the reception followed this April 1930 concert is further strengthened by the presence of the Polish violinist and composer Joseph Achron on the guest list, for the young Polish composer Jerzy Fitelberg's Piano Sonata No. 2 appeared on the same program. Also performed were Roy Harris's String Quartet and Israel Citkowitz's Five Songs from "Chamber Music" by James Joyce and Sonatina for Piano.[2]

Copland and Roger Sessions had founded their concert series two years earlier "in the interests of the younger generation of American composers," hoping to provide the same service for their contemporaries that the League of Composers offered to older Americans and Europeans.[3] They also reached out occasionally to young composers abroad, especially in this particular 1930 program. Largely funded by Mary Senior Churchill, another of modernism's unsung female supporters, the Copland-Sessions Concerts lasted for three years, giving eight programs in New York and one each in Paris and London.

Copland's choices for the party hosted by Walton reveal a shrewd political sense. The guests included leaders of the League of Composers (Claire Reis and her husband, Arthur, as well as their co-founders Emerson Whithorne and Frederick Jacobi),[4] concert managers

The Blanche Walton Collection in the Music Division of the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center is cited in these notes as Walton-NN.


(especially Arthur Judson and F. C. Coppicus, two of the most important of the day), and the press (especially the British critic and composer Leigh Henry and Robert Simon of the New Yorker ). Other subtexts resonate from the list as well. For example, Citkowitz's Five Songs , which appeared on the April program, was published that same year by Alma Morgenthau Wertheim's Cos Cob Press, and she appears on the party list, as does Whithorne, who in addition to his role in the league was one of her principal advisors.

Culture, Feminism, and the Sacred:
Sophie Drinker's Musical Activism

Ruth A. Solie

In our civilization women are so far devitalized by the long suppression of their real inner life and its voice in music that they do not even know why they are still not in the right relation to music.

In 1965, near the end of her life, Sophie Hutchinson Drinker wrote a memoir for her children and their descendants. The final chapter describes her busy schedule, even in her seventies, as a writer and popular lecturer. Of these activities she says, "My theme is ever the same: the repression of women by the patriarchal culture pattern."[1] This view, from the Olympian perspective of her last years, sums up a life's work that would, I think, have surprised a younger Sophie. The intellectual course that her life took, and the work that she did, seem startling for someone of her particular background and upbringing, so they pose interesting questions for students of the vagaries of culture.

What would have been more likely for her, a woman of high social standing and comfortable means with a particular devotion to music, was a career dedicated to the familiar sort of artistic patronage. The direct sponsorship of some musical institution or one or more individual composers, or the explicit commissioning of musical compositions, would have given her, as it gave Elizabeth Coolidge and Isabella Gardner, an active role in the production of new music and in the tending of the high-culture mainstream. But Sophie Drinker took a different route. Her patronage—or "matronage," as she would surely have preferred us to say—encouraged ordinary people, especially women, to participate in music making; she underwrote a lifelong campaign to inform the wider world about women's roles in the history of culture and to persuade modern women to reclaim those roles.

Many of her projects originated in partnership with her husband Henry, also a dedicated musical amateur; I shall shortly describe the family's extensive involvement in and sponsorship of musical activities. But Sophie also branched out on her own; with the research she did for her best-known book, Music and Women , she was launched into a more radical trajectory than typical bourgeois amateur music making would have led anyone to expect.[2] It eventually took her beyond the field of music into religion, history, and politics; she ended with a strongly feminist vi-

I wish to express my particular gratitude to Sophie Drinker's daughters, Cecilia Drinker Saltonstall and Ernesta Drinker Ballard, for their gracious assistance with this and two other writing projects concerning their mother. They and their husbands offered me warm hospitality and wonderful conversation, and freely shared photographs, home movies, manuscripts, and family reminiscences. Special words of thanks must go to Judith Tick for the determination with which she persuaded me to conduct these interviews; both she and Lawrence W. Levine read an earlier version of this essay and offered the helpful suggestions of experts in the field, for all of which it is much the better. I am also grateful for the assistance of the staff members of the Sophia Smith Collection (Smith College) and the Schlesinger Library (Radcliffe College), the two major repositories of Sophie Drinker's papers.

Sophie Hutchinson Drinker is cited in these notes as SHD, and Henry Sandwith Drinker as HSD.


sion and a well-developed theory of patriarchal culture—an extraordinary achievement for any woman in 1948, but an astonishing one for someone situated as she was.

Sophie Hutchinson was born in 1888, into a condition as near to hereditary aristocracy as is possible in the United States; her forebears had, as she remarks in her memoir, "played a conspicuous part in the life of Philadelphia" since the seventeenth century, and when in later life she joined the Colonial Dames, she found that she "could fill the admission requirements many times."[3] Her family was not remarkably wealthy, but Sophie and her siblings had a thoroughly genteel upbringing, with nursemaids, finishing schools, and coming-out parties; her sister-in-law Catherine Drinker Bowen later described her as "cousin to half of well-bred Philadelphia."[4]

Sophie notes that she had piano lessons as a child, could sight-read well, and practiced on "Mamma's upright piano . . . by the hour." But she nonetheless disparages her own early musical education, assessing it from the later perspective of the Drinkers' full-blown philosophy of music training: "At that time, group singing in school was unheard of and the idea that one's ear and sense of rhythm could be developed by singing had not yet influenced music education."[5]

After graduating from St. Timothy's School in Maryland, Sophie decided against college, although she had been admitted to Bryn Mawr: a sure mark of the distance between her adolescent and mature selves. No bluestocking, she maintained that neither she nor her parents ever thought of her going to college, although the 77-year-old author of the memoir observed later that it "would have suited me far better than the attempt [at] being a debutante."[6] But this recognition was a long time coming, and for many years her references to her missed college education have just a tinge of the sour grape. In 1927, at the age of thirty-nine, she wrote in her diary that she sometimes wondered "whether it is not the refinement of cruelty to send poor innocent girls to college & train them to believe that they can have careers & 'express themselves'—& then marry them to some nice unsuspecting man who is trying to do the same thing himself, and expect the girl to completely re-orientate herself."[7]

One of the preoccupying questions for anyone who studies Sophie Drinker is her ambiguous understanding of social class: as the remainder of this essay will reveal, attempts to match her published writing to her private life bring to light a persistent tension between egalitarian assertions and the assumption of privilege. Nor does she seem to have thought very deeply about the complex interactions of class and gender even as she herself experienced them. Drinker's description of this period in her life is perfectly characteristic:

I cannot condemn too harshly the customs for girls of my set at the time I grew up. The idea that a girl's place was in the home helping her mother was too limiting, since there was nothing to do at home. Manufacturing had long since gone to factories out of the home and servants did the household chores. I had no training in any-


thing at home or outside in the business world, such as girls have now. All I could do was to play tennis very feebly and the piano very poorly.[8]

While she clearly identifies her entrapment as a daughter, she makes no comment about the leisure time provided for her by those servants. In any event, for five years after her graduation from finishing school, she endured the stifling life of a "young lady" at home with her mother, a life enlivened only by parties and by participation in the expected round of volunteer social service activities, before she met and married Harry Drinker (fig. 30).

The Drinker family was similar to Sophie's own in terms of its history--the memoir traces connections between them dating to a time before the Revolution—although it was understood to be somewhat lower on the social scale, having originally been Quaker.[9] Although Harry and Sophie began their married life in 1911 on the proverbial newlyweds' shoestring, they were living extremely well by the time their five children were growing up, with several live-in servants and a brand-new, large, and well-appointed house on the "Main Line" in Merion. But a feature of their backgrounds just as important as wealth, it seems to me, is the striking sense of entitlement , no doubt a product of what used to be called "breeding," that marked all their activities. It was this almost inexhaustible self-possession that permitted both of them to assume commanding roles in a musical world in which, after all, neither of them had anything approaching serious training.

Harry brought with him into the marriage the Drinker family temperament—boisterous, emotional, and hyperactive—and his own passionate, almost excessive, love of music. By all accounts he was equally passionate about his professional calling, the law, but various family documents portray him, from a very young age, as nearly always at the keyboard when he was at home. He loved to play chamber music, first with his youngest sister, Catherine, then with Sophie and their children; at various times in their lives, both Sophie and Harry were known to hire musicians, from the Curtis Institute or from the Philadelphia Orchestra, to play with them. Once, living away from home during an extended court case, Harry had a rented piano brought to his hotel room. One of the many curiosities about them as a couple is the unusual position Harry Drinker seems to have negotiated vis-à-vis the vivid gender-typing of this just post-Victorian generation. He was unperturbed by the feminine associations that music then carried in American culture, sharing his emotional response to it with all who would listen; like all the Drinker men, he was known to weep under the influence of strong emotion (Sophie, made of sterner stuff, detested "sentimentality").[10] Perhaps in compensation, Harry also devoted considerable amounts of time to hunting, shark fishing, log splitting, and a general frenzy of masculine physical activity redolent of the "strenuous life" that had been prescribed in Teddy Roosevelt's famous 1899 speech.[11]

The Drinkers' household was musical from the start; indeed, four-hand piano playing had formed a significant part of their courtship and continued for many



Fig. 30.
Cecilia Beaux, "Portraits in Summer," honeymoon portrait of Henry and Sophie
Drinker, painted at Green Alley, Gloucester, in the spring of 1911. The making of
the picture is described in detail in Beaux's diary, 29 May through 6 August
(Archives of American Art, Cecilia Beaux Papers, roll 427). Collection of Ernesta
Drinker Ballard.
Photograph courtesy of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College.


years afterward. All of their children were given daily music lessons by their father and participated regularly in family singing. Harry and Sophie were regular subscribers to the Philadelphia Orchestra concerts for twenty-five years, and they often attended the opera and a variety of other concerts, much as would be expected of a couple in "their set," but their commitment to music went far beyond what might be discounted as routine social activity. They went to Washington for the Coolidge Festival, and kept up with the musical offerings on all the area college and university campuses. Sophie's diaries, which she kept in 1913 and from 1923 to 1934, detail many performances they attended and record her reactions, illuminating for us her musical growth as well as contemporary social attitudes. "How we wish Salomé would be given here! Now that we are safely married nothing could prevent our going," she wrote in March 1913—challenging, if cautiously, the prevalent attitude that no virtuous American woman could witness Strauss's scandalous opera; and ten years later, "My conversion to Brahms is certainly complete. It is probably maturity" (late March 1923).[12]

Although my focus is not on Harry Drinker, a brief recounting of his independent musical activities seems appropriate here in order to complete the picture and to indicate the full extent of the family absorption with music. In his early adulthood he did some composing, including a trio and several songs; he became rather well known in the musicological world for his extensive series of singing translations of cantata and Lied texts, for his index of Bach chorale tunes with a solfège finding system, and later for the huge Drinker Library of Choral Music—multiple reproductions with his English translations inserted—circulated at minimal cost among college choral groups. He organized concert and recital series in Philadelphia as a member of the Musical Fund Society; he took an activist role—how welcome is not always clear—in the design of music curricula at both the University of Pennsylvania and Haverford College, and on the board of trustees of the Juilliard School. Whenever he and Sophie traveled in Europe, they went armed with the names and addresses of prominent musicologists they wished to meet; they visited the Benedictine abbey at Solesmes to hear Gregorian chant sung "authentically," and on one trip Harry tracked down and purchased a set of partbooks that had been used by the women's chorus Brahms had conducted in Hamburg.[13] These activities remained intensely meaningful to Harry throughout his life, notwithstanding the awkwardness of their fit into his life as a successful corporate lawyer; in one heartfelt letter he complained to a friend, "Nobody seems to be able to take my music work as seriously as I do."[14]

More prophetic than their concertgoing and other public activities, however was the music making that increasingly went on in their home. Ironically, as it later turned out, the first visitors were a long line of professional performers. Apparently, some of these were paid for their services as ensemble players or accompanists, but it is impossible in family documents to distinguish such hired musicians from the equally prominent ones who were sometimes received as guests in the house. This confusion, hinted at occasionally in Sophie's diaries, seems to me


symptomatic of the somewhat ambiguous social relations of an American patronage class and the largely European remnants of what Nancy Reich has called an "artist-musician" class.[15] As we shall see, the development of the Drinkers' personal philosophy of music-making" was indelibly marked by this characteristic uncertainty as to whether professional musicians should be considered esteemed guests or hired help.

Gradually the musical activity sharpened its focus on amateur participation, as the Drinkers developed together what they came to call their "philosophy of music" and turned their attention very particularly to large-scale participatory music making. Sophie describes the philosophy this way, in a 1933 diary entry:

In fact, our ideas about music have diverged considerably from the accepted point of view. Most people regard it as an ART , something held apart, sacred for professionals who perform with varying ability to a more or less critical audience. Musical education concentrates on two phases, ability to perform & ability to create. Whereas we regard music as a language, as a means of self-expression to be enjoyed by the amateur & to be an integral part of life.[16]

In the same vein, she later wrote in Music and Women that "the glorification of performing artists out of all proportion to their real service to society leads us to a secondhand and vicarious participation in music," one of the principal themes of her feminist analysis.[17]

The Drinkers' new house, built in 1928, had been inspired largely by one abiding wish, for a music room; this, I think, symbolized for both of them the opportunity to translate their philosophy into audible form. When completed, the room measured forty-five by twenty-three feet and contained two grand pianos, a Hammond organ, and space for as many as 150 musicians. Then began the thirty-year tradition of "singing parties," readings of Bach cantatas and other choral literature, for which Harry and Sophie ultimately became so widely celebrated (fig. 31).

The parties originated, so the story goes, in a visit by Augustus Zanzig, a prominent music educator and promoter of amateur participation in music. Listening one day to Harry's frustration at his own inability to play a piano piece well, Zanzig observed that an amateur choral group would produce more satisfactory musical results.[18] Pleased by the idea, the Drinkers began to invite singers—and, later, orchestral players as well—for Sunday evenings of singing and buffet suppers.[19] In keeping with the principles of a nonprofessional, participatory activity, none of the repertory was rehearsed with the group or "performed" before any audience. Although many professional musicians—from the Curtis, from the Philadelphia Orchestra, and from other local institutions—and musicologists came regularly to the parties, most came to sing rather than to provide their own professional expertise (although a few were apparently hired as "ringers" to support the efforts of the amateurs in the orchestra). Over the years, the family calculated, probably three thousand people took part.[20]



Fig. 31.
Harry Drinker conducting a singing party in the music room at Merion, around 1950.
Sophie Drinker is seated directly in front of him, her hair in a bun. Among the notable
singing guests identifiable in the photograph are Professor Otto Albrecht (University
of Pennsylvania), sitting to the left of Sophie; Dr. Stanley Reimann (a prominent
physician), behind Albrecht, slightly to his left; the Drinkers' neighbor Frederick
Osborn, his forehead "touching" the lamp at the left side of the photograph; and
Joseph Fraser (director of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Arts), to the right of that
lamp, wearing a hearing aid. Claribel Thomson is seen at the Hammond organ; her
husband Richard Thomson sings and turns pages for her. The woman with braided
coiffure (left margin, second from bottom) may be Maria von Trapp, second of the
daughters of the well-known family of musicians.
Photograph, reprinted by kind permission of Cecilia Drinker Saltonstall, apparently
by Auspitz Associates, Inc. See Catherine Drinker Bowen,  Family Portrait
(Boston: Little, Brown, 1979), 178, for another photograph of this singing party,
taken at a different angle and showing Dr. William Reese at the grand piano,
four vocal soloists standing, and the concertmaster, Catherine Bowen.

Early on, Sophie Drinker began to articulate the philosophy underpinning these events in the particular ways that would influence her later work so strongly:

That this idea fulfills an actual need is demonstrated by the success of our singing parties. We now have over 100 people, amateurs & professionals together about five times in the winter. They are heart & soul interested & the result is amazing.[21]


We never give a concert, but we meet music directly for its benefit upon us. Weeks of talking could not show you our philosophy about music in life as well as three hours of participation in an activity of this kind.[22]

There are clues here about the sources of her musical philosophy: her references to fulfilling a "need," to the participants' "heart and soul" interest, and to the benefit of the music upon the singers supply those sources, and at the same time point toward Drinker's own later, much more radical, feminist beliefs.

It is impossible to trace this family commitment to amateurism to any specific source; Catherine Bowen reports that even in her childhood her brother Harry supervised her violin lessons in a way compatible with the amateur ideal (rather to the irritation of successive violin teachers).[23] The idea was freely circulating in bourgeois American culture at the time, championed especially for school music programs by a number of pedagogues including Thomas Whitney Surette, who was later a close friend and frequent house guest of the Drinkers.[24] In his own writing, Surette promoted musical participation in order to exercise the "higher functions of the soul." He scorned "music by proxy," music that is "bought and paid for"—a recurring phrase—and he, too, focused upon what seemed to him a real need whose fulfillment was thwarted partially by gender ideology: "Men, in particular,—all potential singers, and very much needing to sing ,—look upon it as a slightly effeminate or scarcely natural and manly thing to do. Music is, in short, too much our diversion, and too little our salvation."[25]

In 1932, Augustus Zanzig was commissioned by the National Recreation Association to survey the state of musical activities in the United States, and three years later Eric Thacher Clarke undertook a similar task on behalf of the Carnegie Corporation. Daniel Gregory Mason's foreword to Zanzig's book sets the zealous tone for the whole effort:

How can such steadily diminishing individual initiative in the production of music be compensated? Obviously only through the means Mr. Zanzig studies: through amateur groups—in schools, colleges, settlements, playgrounds, art museums summer camps, public libraries, and above all in homes. Only through the activities of such groups can music, atrophied and mummified as it tends to be by exclusive professionalism, remain a living art among us.[26]

Indeed, amateur music was a national campaign at the time. A contemporary observer—who, however, made the galling observation that "the amateur standing of many [participants in the Drinkers' singing parties] would be difficult to establish"—shared the reigning philosophy, although he diagnosed the situation more positively: "It is the conviction of many leading sociologists and psychologists that such multitudinous clubs and choruses exert a potent influence for public good. . . . Let us advance the thought that the musical leaven of many choral groups works in the loaf itself, and does not serve to decorate its upper crust."[27]


But I would observe, at the same time, that neither the rhetoric nor the energy expended on developing amateur performance in the United States carried any invitation to amateur or vernacular composition; on the contrary, all the hundreds of pages exhorting Americans to moral uplift by means of choral singing or ensemble playing ring with invocations of "the best" music and "the great" composers of the tradition. As Harry himself wrote, "the musical understanding attainable by the participants in a reverent and enthusiastic, though technically inferior, performance of a masterpiece of music is far greater than that resulting from listening to a technically perfect rendering by others."[28] Suspicion arises that much of the effort was intended to shore up the channel of the musical main-stream against encroachment by other kinds of music in which people's participation was more spontaneous. Thus was handed on from the last Victorian generation what Judith Tick has called "the covenant between the European past and the [American] upper classes."[29]

In any event, at least as concerns the Drinkers' contribution to this campaign, its effectiveness was undoubtedly great; there exist dozens of tributes, recollections, and celebrations of the singing parties by those who attended. By mutual agreement the parties continued through World War II, for the sake of the solace they provided, and there is an especially moving account of the impact one party had on the journalist Nora Waln immediately after her return from reporting on the Korean War.[30] I want to stress the aspect of these activities that is particularly important in understanding the development of Sophie Drinker's own work: she and Harry thought of music first and foremost as a matter of spiritual sustenance. It was that conviction that prompted their intense interest in music as an activity for everyone and kept the parties going through times of national turbulence, and it was the same belief that led Sophie to demand wholly new religious and societal structures on behalf of the well-being of women.

It must be said, however, that the high-mindedness of this contribution to musical life had its dark side: their commitment to general participation was somewhat compromised, perhaps, by their determination to maintain rigid controls over the proceedings; furthermore, the warmly pro-amateur sentiment could sometimes reveal itself as a slightly rancorous anti-professionalism. Nothing captures the Drinkers' paradoxical musical politics better than the organization of the singing parties. On the one hand, their quasi-populist dedication to general participation led them to devote the gatherings purely to sight-reading, to invite anyone with a genuine love of music (regardless of talent), and to disdain performances before nonparticipating spectators. Catherine Bowen tells the story of an unfamiliar gentleman who arrived one Sunday to participate in the reading of the Ralph Vaughan Williams Mass in G Minor, and was identified only over supper afterward as the composer himself.[31]

On the other hand, their personal conservatism and aristocratic assumptions assured that attendance was by invitation only,[32] and their financial underwriting of the entire operation was intended, according to Sophie's memoir, to assure


their total control over the repertoire and operation of the group. She writes, "the point was to make the evening's music a success. To this end, we spared no trouble or expense. Professional instrumentalists and vocalists received adequate compensation for their services. They liked to come to our house and cooperated with us on our terms"; and "during the first few years of the chorus, members of it used to ask [for] particular pieces. Also, impromptu male quartets sang close harmony at supper time. As we established control, this ceased entirely and our guests came to trust us to construct the evenings' programmes"; and again, "we made it very clear that no one was a 'member' but that everyone was our guest. We bore the entire expense of the entertainment. There was, therefore, no doubt about the control over the proceedings."[33]

By the same token, distaste for professional soloistic display sometimes ran at cross-purposes to the music itself and seems ultimately incompatible with claims of reverence for the works—for example, in Harry's habit of "omitting the florid solos and having the others done by all the altos, all the tenors, etc."[34] Catherine Bowen's experience—like her niece Cecilia's years later—bears witness to Harry's assertion: "I have advised each of my musically ambitious young friends not to become a professional if they can possibly help it ."[35] Reading between the lines of these stories and discussing them with family members, it is impossible to ignore the sense of unease about the social status of professional musicians—the same unease that made decisions about whom to pay so awkward. It is a mental and aesthetic sleight-of-hand, surely, that positions the amateur performer above the professional—apparently because of superior class status—while at the same time professing reverence for the work of composers who, after all, also belonged to artisanal classes.

Let me be clear that I do not raise these issues in order to cast aspersions on the Drinkers' musical work. On the contrary, it seems always to have been marked by deep commitment, seriousness of purpose, and genuine thirst for musical knowledge, and to have been warmly respected by all who knew the couple; their achievements were considerable. Rather, I want to mark the traces here of a number of curious contradictions that seem rooted in the cultural psyche of Americans at that moment in history, and of which the ambiguities in the Drinkers' philosophy are only symptomatic. How, in a presumptively democratic culture, could the claims of gifted individuals and those of "ordinary people" be arbitrated? How justify and promote an elite high-culture art form, as against vernacular manifestations, in a country whose official ideology was egalitarian? How explain the extraordinary artistic gifts of some members of lower classes, practitioners of distasteful religions like Judaism and Roman Catholicism—and immigrants, at that—whom the American bourgeoisie were accustomed to regard as inferior and even suspect? How could women and men, so recently (and so tentatively) released from the bondage of Victorian "separate spheres," negotiate appropriate interactions in the cultural realm? All of these questions resonate not only in Drinker family musical activities, but also in the activities, and ultimately the scholarship, of Sophie Drinker on her own.[36]


After the singing parties were established, Sophie began to sing with a much smaller group as well, a women's chorus called the Montgomery Singers. She joined it in 1930, in search, she says, of the spiritual enrichment the music could provide, but almost immediately the need for control asserted itself. She recruited Thomas Surette to speak to the chorus about performing only "the best music," and "after that, the women seemed willing to accept my leadership. I moved the club to our house and held the meetings there for the next fifteen years."[37] This group provided the final catalyst for Drinker's career as a feminist and amateur scholar. Having taken charge of the repertory and programming, she set to work searching out music for the chorus. By her lights it had to meet two criteria: first, it had to be musically authentic—that is, written originally for treble chorus and not arranged from some other format; second, both music and words had to express what she thought of as genuinely female sentiments. This latter demand proved especially problematic, since much of what little there was for treble voices turned out to be music for children or liturgical music that would originally have been sung by boys' choirs. She also noticed what will not astonish today: that none of what she found had been composed by women. Drinker reacted first with surprised frustration and finally with rage where were the authentic musical expressions of women's artistry and spirituality? What had happened to women in modern Western culture that they were so bereft of artistic life?

Note particularly that the questions as Drinker articulated them bear the traces of the family amateur philosophy: the belief that musical expression was an intimate part of spiritual life, and that it must therefore be accessible to everyone and not entrusted to a handful of cultural superstars. Her search for repertory for the Montgomery Singers gradually led Drinker to suspect that half of all humankind had systematically been deprived of this crucial means of expression. With this observation, the die was cast for the next decades of her life, as she set about the work of answering the questions that nagged her. Her massive collection of data about women's musical activities culminated in her book, Music and Women , the achievement for which she is best known now (see fig. 32). Like many products of obsession, the book is both rich and strange. "Strange" because, unschooled and angry as she was, Drinker used methods wholly unmodulated by the customary practices of disciplinary musicology or by traditional academic commitments to objectivity and personal distance. But "rich," even more, because she collected material about women's musical lives that is to this day unavailable in any other source, and because in the process of writing the book Drinker formulated powerful theories about the effects of patriarchy and about the cultural construction of gender.

In Music and Women Drinker examines a wide variety of cultural patterns, past and present. Her work is archaeological, anthropological, and historical all at once: a method that forced her to see the arbitrariness of sex-role assignments. What she learned in researching the book is that women will behave according to the expectations their societies have for them. This does not seem surprising today, since feminist scholarship has resoundingly taught us that gender—for both males



Fig. 32.
Advertising flyer for Sophie Drinker's book  Music and Women  (1948). The publisher's insistence on Drinker's
marital and maternal status and upon her "normal woman's experience" betrays some anxiety about the book's
reception in the anti-feminist postwar era. The reference to "Mark K. Beard" involves two typographical
errors; intended is the noted historian Mary R. Beard. Collection of Ruth A. Solie. Other copies of this flyer
are to be found in the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, and the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College.


and females—is constructed by culture; but in the 1930s and 1940s people still thought largely in terms of "naturally" gendered behavior and capacities. Drinker also found that her multicultural study confirmed her assumptions about the intimate link between musical and spiritual practice. She concluded that women had lost musical power when they lost religious power—that is, when the great monotheistic world religions were established. How, she asked, could women be expected to exercise artistic creativity in cultures where the only god—the only transcendent source of creation—was male?

It seems to me that the notion of the "sacralization of culture," as recently expounded by Lawrence Levine, helps to explain some of the more egregious paradoxes of belief and behavior evident in the Drinkers' crusade for amateur music making and later in Sophie Drinker's particular brand of feminism.[38] If the principal period of their activity—1930 to 1960—seems a bit late for this quasi-religious ideology to hold sway over them, it is at the same time true that the couple were personally conservative in a number of respects and rather stringently isolated from broad cultural currents—almost entirely so from popular culture in any form.[39]

Levine argues that, during the nineteenth century, a split gradually appeared between "high" and "popular" culture in the United States; a gulf formed between "cultural worlds moving farther and farther apart; worlds with less and less tolerance for or understanding of each other."[40] From a vigorous common culture that was comfortable familiar with the European artistic heritage without taking it overseriously—and without abdicating its own right to critical judgment—the country moved toward the emergence of an acutely self-conscious "cultured" class, and then finally to the assumption by that class of responsibility for cultural missionary work among the masses. A prominent aspect of this new attitude was the increasing tendency to perceive and describe artistic experiences as quasi-religious ones, as uplifting" and as a necessary part of moral development.

Thus by the early decades of this century the changes that had either begun or gained velocity in the last third of the nineteenth century were in place: the master-works of the classic composers were to performed in their entirety by highly trained musicians on programs free from the contamination of lesser works or lesser genres, free from the interference of audience or performer free from the distractions of the mundane; audiences were to approach the masters and their works with proper respect and proper seriousness, for aesthetic and spiritual elevation rather than mere entertainment was the goal.[41]

Only the stipulation of "highly trained musicians" distinguishes this program from the Drinkers' and those of the music pedagogues who, as we have seen, shared their goals. In that one respect the gospel of amateurism might be seen as a "reaction to the reaction" to nineteenth-century cultural democracy. Once the period that Joseph A. Mussulman describes as the "Cultured generation"—the generation born during and just after the Civil War, that of Harry and Sophie's parents—succeeded in establishing the European high art forms, with profession-


ally accomplished performers, as the standard toward which the aspirations of cultural mobility should reach, how were the privileged classes to fulfill their obligations of cultural citizenship?[42] Impossible to return to the kind of classless situation Levine describes in the earlier nineteenth century, merely allowing the marketplace to give audiences what they wanted.[43] Instead, conceiving the arts as a sacred experience, a mode of spiritual expression of which all human beings had a deep need (whether or not they realized it), suggested a new form of social action in which the people were to be raised to the level of the art.

Let me attempt to tease out four ideas that seem to be entailed by this notion of sacralization, and that shaped Sophie Drinker's scholarship in important ways.

First, it is abundantly clear that to the Drinkers the purpose of art was spiritual uplift, but no orthodox or institutionalized form of religion was necessarily implied; rather, their sense of the sacred partook of what Jackson Lears has called the "therapeutic world view."[44] After reading an array of new psychology books (she does not name them), Sophie mused in her diary about "what kind of religion people will want when all this teaching shall have been absorbed by the next generation."[45] Her historical work suggested to her that music itself might appropriately play this role; on the first page of her research notebook labeled "20th century," Drinker has written that since organized religion had lost its hold over contemporary society, "music is now as free as the air."[46] By this she did not mean free from spiritual imperative, but rather free of extraneous institutional demands on its expressive capabilities, free to contain within itself the means for fulfilling that imperative: music had itself become religious practice.

Indeed, this was always the implication of Harry's incessant campaign against the ancient suspicion of musical enjoyment that still haunted Philadelphia. In 1916, when the Presbyterian Ministers' Association tried to halt Sunday performances by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Harry wrote in protest to the Public Ledger that on Sundays "the spirit should be fed by beautiful thoughts":

How any one can think that there is anything unholy in either making or listening to beautiful music I am unable to imagine.

There are, of course, some unfortunate people to whom music makes no appeal, but one would think that even these could understand that to many others a sermon of eloquence and spiritual uplift may be preached by Mr. Stokowski and his fellow-artist[s] equal to any preached from the pulpit.[47]

The presuppositions underlying Sophie's argument in Music and Women —and thus the form her feminism took—are grounded in this same creed. Women, she thought, were closer to "the life force," and, in a civilization correctly arranged according to natural principles, would have special uses for musical expression: "Everywhere in the world simple, unlettered women who live more under the open sky than under roofs, without men's books, without men's churches and universities, feel their being as women peculiarly linked to the celestial being of the moon."[48] The generalization she brought to bear on her study of all civilizations


was that "healing, religion, and music are the three fields in which woman is preeminently fitted by nature and by experience to express herself and to serve her fellows," but it is clearly from the rhetoric of sacralization in the culture around her that she learned to conflate the three. Apart from amateur music making, the most hopeful sign of female ascendancy that Drinker noted during the 1940s, when she was writing, was the development of therapeutic uses for music.[49]

Second, the sacred is not notably a democratic category. It suggests the need for some form of priesthood—at the very least, for procedures of initiation and of interpretation—and, in the Western context at any rate, invites the establishment of canons. (Both Sophie and Harry believed in organizing repertory thematically, around the works of one composer at a time—a season on Bach, a season on Brahms—thus setting the masters in prepared reverential niches.) Under this rubric it seems to me that the Drinkers' controlling behaviors can be understood as the felt necessity for the already-enlightened to supervise the performance of ritual and the transmission of dogma, and they were frank about the role their financial underwriting played in legitimating the transaction.

Levine has identified this emphasis on order and hierarchy as part of a class-based "quest for cultural authority" around the turn of the century.[50] His description of the increasingly authoritarian behavior of orchestral conductors—Toscanini, Stock, Damrosch, Stokowski, and their fellows around the country—could serve (reading "participants" for "audiences") as the recipe for Harry Drinker's management of the Merion singing parties: "The thrust of the conductors' efforts was to render audiences docile, willing to accept what the experts deemed appropriate rather than play a role themselves in determining either the repertory or the manner of presentation."[51] And Mary Beard, Sophie's friend and colleague in the writing of women's history, understood well that the financial privilege of upper-class status could purchase the same cultural authority in the preparation of "her amazingly rich book on Women in Music," as "she has been able to buy precious books costing $50 and pay for expert help by musicologists, among other assets."[52]

Third, the spiritually uplifting qualities of music may not be evident to everyone; indeed, one might surmise that—as with religion itself—those most in need of its benefits may be the last to recognize and rectify the deficiency in their lives. "How hard it is," Sophie lamented in her diary, "to convince the average person that good music is pleasant & enjoyable."[53] This conviction had also informed all of Harry's work with the various institutions he proselytized on behalf of music; in a 1942 statement of his hopes for the music curriculum at Haverford, he urged the college to hire "a musical ball of fire who believes, with unquenchable faith both in the power of great music to influence conduct and in the certainty that if only it be given to college boys and girls with discrimination and conviction, they will prefer it to any other kind."[54] Sophie's efforts of the same kind were further complicated by what she considered the deadly interaction of professionalism and current gender ideology. In the 1950s she served as an advisor to a chapter of Delta Omicron, the national music sorority, but she was not happy with the outcome:


In truth, it was a case of incompatibility, since I am not interested in professional musicians or in trying to secure engagements for them. After several years, I resigned but I still occasionally write for their magazine The Wheel , trying (in vain) to impress upon the sorority leaders the value of following up the girls who do not become professionals but marry, and "give up" music, instead of using their talents to enrich their lives.[55]

Ironically, sometimes even the beloved compositions themselves might be compromised in the effort to bring them closer to those who needed them: Harry Drinker labored for years over his English singing translations because he valued the singers' access to the feeling-content of the texts over any sound-properties they might have brought to the pieces.[56]

Fourth, if the spiritual function of art is expressive as well as edifying, and if the modern sense of the "spiritual" partakes of the psychological, it is crucial in a healthy society that all people have access to it. Drinker's experience with the Montgomery Singers had already awakened in her mind the recognition that American women—indeed, she gradually realized, all Western women in modern times—had either been deprived of this expressive medium or had through some monstrous coincidence collectively eschewed it. She could not, naturally, believe the latter explanation, and instead went in search of the causes of women's spiritual silencing and disempowerment.

Like most people of her time, Drinker believed that masculinity and femininity were to some extent universally given categories.[57] She argued that both musical and spiritual power were well within the natural domain of women in cultures that permitted their exercise, and in fact, anthropologically speaking, belonged more naturally to women than to men. In making this assertion, Drinker wrote in the mainstream tradition of American cultural feminism.[58] That tradition argued that peculiarly female inclinations and capacities had been excluded from public culture to its detriment, and must be restored if social ills were ever to be corrected. Its rhetoric, grounded in essentialist beliefs held by the majority of Americans at the time, had fueled the suffrage movement and was still very much in the general discourse. The special spiritual character and needs of women, Drinker asserted, demanded special musical expression. This belief serves as a benchmark for assessment throughout her book; of an early-Christian precursor of the "Wachet auf" text, she writes: "This hymn was written by Methodius to be sung by girls—an early example of the now prevalent custom for men to formulate what women think and feel about their most intimate personal lives, and women, parrot-like, to repeat the words in song."[59]

It will already have become apparent that some important tensions lurk between and among these four principles. I believe that these tensions—contradictions that seem indeed to be part and parcel of the aesthetic faith—help to explain many of the paradoxes and curiosities we have noticed in the playing out of the Drinkers' musical agendas. First, there is the inevitable clash between the belief


that individuals must have access to musical sustenance, must experience it and participate in it on their own behalf, and the priestly claims of the initiated. Levine remarks that "sacralization increased the distance between amateur and professional. The blurring of that distinction had been one of the characteristics of music in America for much of the nineteenth century. But by the end of the century the gap had widened."[60] In the Drinkers' activities, the assignment of the clerical role to composers rather than to virtuoso performers was a strategy that helped to bridge this gap.

Closely related to the awkward relationship between professional and amateur is an unresolvable tension between the belief that everyone wanted and needed to participate in uplifting cultural activities, and the necessity to persuade, perhaps even to impose upon, those unfortunates who could not recognize their need. In the classic American meliorist tradition, both Harry and Sophie remained perpetually astonished whenever they encountered resistance to their program of spiritual betterment.

Finally, for Sophie Drinker's feminist scholarly work, yet a third painful contradiction is inherent in this complex belief system: the great masterpieces of the canonic tradition, the very works whose transcendent freedom and meaning were to provide aesthetic salvation for the many, were precisely the characteristic products of the "patriarchal culture pattern" that prevented women from exercising their own creative powers. That Drinker herself never fully appreciated this contradiction is evident in her description (years after the fact) of the repertory she sought for the Montgomery Singers—"My idea was to find music that had been written by the foremost composers and that also had been originally written for women's voices and that furthermore had some meaning to the inner life of women"[61] —she never recognized the contradiction, and yet it pervades the book. In her discussions of nonliterate cultures, and indeed of virtually all the non-Western cultures she describes, Drinker takes it for granted that women's spirituality, their intimate connection to "the life force" and its expression in distinctly feminine emotional experience, must and naturally would be articulated in musical compositions made by women themselves; indeed, the linkage between composition and female religious ritual that she found in so many cultural situations was the principal goad to her assertion that modern women needed to institute their own goddesses and forms of worship. But when her historical account moves into the era of the European common practice, she takes as simple fact that no women composers of stature existed in the tradition, and shifts her focus to women's development as amateur performers or "camillae." The implication lingers that, despite her argumentation, Bach, Beethoven, and her beloved Brahms could indeed capture the "inner life of women" in musical forms useful for women performers.[62] Somehow, it seems, the composers of the sacralized repertory could not be found deficient in their ability to fulfill modern spiritual needs, even those of women.

Like so many of us, Sophie Drinker found it impossible to make that last leap


from theory to practice, from what seemed inevitable on the page to what would be undeniably painful in life.[63] But the effort to make private and public life blend seamlessly has always been made extraordinarily difficult for women in modern Western cultures, and, despite logical tensions perhaps clearly visible only forty years later, Drinker's research for Music and Women enabled and empowered her future writing projects. From music her scope broadened to questions of creativity in general, and from there to observations about the impact of cultural formations on the expressive behavior of individuals and groups. In a 1960 talk on "the dilemma of the woman artist," Drinker enumerated the cultural forces in contemporary U.S. life that were inhibiting women's artistic expression—patriarchal religion, language with its conflation of the masculine and the generic, psychological systems in which anatomy is destiny, the teaching of history and the organization of museums in ways that obliterated women—in short, a feminist scholar of the 1990s could hardly produce a more canny and thoroughgoing critique.[64] Summing up, Drinker says:

I will now reiterate that a culture dominated by patriarchal values does not allow a woman to be proud of womanhood or to adopt an affirmative attitude toward her sex or to develop all of her native powers. We are faced to-day with the predicament that if a woman adjusts herself to a patriarchal religion, or way of life, or to a patriarchal marriage, she is forfeiting her natural right to develop her brain and her creative imagination.[65]

She apparently did not feel the need to address the other horn of the dilemma—what happens to the woman who does not so adjust herself.

Thus, what began as a history of women's musical activities ended as an interrogation of the very foundations of patriarchal society; this much larger issue continued to occupy her for the rest of her life, as her publication and lecturing turned from music to American colonial history and an array of larger topics. Projects left uncompleted at her death in 1967 included a study of St. Cecilia,[66] a projected book for teenage girls about goddesses from many religions, and studies of laws on witchcraft, rape, and abortion.

In recent years, Sophie Drinker has been taken to task by some feminist musicians for not practicing her patronage in a more conventional manner: would it not, they say, have been more consistent with her own beliefs to have used her financial resources for the support of women musicians?[67] Indeed, she seems to have been almost unaware of the existence of contemporary women composers, and this willful ignorance is certainly disconcerting to anyone who has spent time reading her wonderfully polemical speeches. But, in the last analysis, such criticisms do not take into account the historical forces and class assumptions at work within the Drinker family circle that shaped Sophie's thought so definitively. Her personal spiritual commitment to the great music that had meant so much in her life, her


distrust of professional music careers, a confused but conspicuous populist strain that caused her to privilege communal over individual activity, her dislike of the modern[68] —all conspired to blind her to the struggles as well as the accomplishments of women who actually were creating music even as she was lamenting their absence.[69]

Finally, Sophie Drinker's was not a patronly but a scholarly activism. Such a career, such an intellectual pilgrimage, was not readily to be expected from a woman of Drinker's background, conventional and comfortable as it was. She confessed some surprise at it herself, noting that she had not been raised up in feminism or even exposed to it in her family or social circle.[70] Neither, of course, had she been in any way prepared for a life of research and publication. Instead, she did what must speak in a particularly poignant way to academics and teachers: she radicalized herself through scholarship.

But that scholarship was undertaken in a particular social and historical environment. I want to stress especially my argument that, in Sophie Drinker's intellectual career, a somewhat old-fashioned belief in the sacredness of art led directly to the discovery of feminism. The naive view that "healing, art, and religion" are all one—an aspect of sacralized culture that informed her study of women—gradually unfolded itself to reveal a much more sophisticated understanding of cultural structures at work: that patriarchy as a system is all-pervasive, and that the aspects of it we see at work in religious practice will turn out also to prevail in the artistic arena as in all aspects of social life. It was her intense awareness, by the end of her life, of the mutual imbrications of these facets of culture that allowed her, finally, to characterize all of her work as one large project: "My theme is ever the same; the repression of women by the patriarchal culture pattern and the necessity for women to develop a religion in which they are recognized as creative in their own right and as adult individuals with all the attributes of humanity."

Vignette J—
Music at the Drinkers':
Claribel Thomson and Alfred Mann Recollect

Annotated by Ralph P. Locke

Behind man a great woman stands a man who is not easily threatened. Such were, clearly, Jack Gardner, Francis Thurber, and several other spouses who must remain but shadowy presences in the present book. Although they did not themselves engage in much musical patronage or activism, they supported their wives' efforts, whether by signing checks or, no less important, by adjusting respectfully, even admiringly, to their wives' increased level of out-of-home activity and public visibility.

In contrast, Henry Drinker was a major patron of music himself. He and Sophie formed something of a patronage team, engaging in many-pronged efforts in music, the arts, and education generally. Sometimes they worked together; more often, though, one or the other took the lead in a given project.

Two musical colleagues, the organist Claribel Thomson (in remarks assembled from recent telephone interviews) and the musicologist and conductor Alfred Mann (in a memoir written expressly for this volume), here recall the couple and their various undertakings, especially three singing groups: the Trapp Family Singers whom the couple helped to promote, the all-female Montgomery Singers, and—Henry's pride and joy—the Sunday-evening "singing parties," which were devoted to masterpieces of the mixed-choral repertoire, and which he sometimes called the "Accademia dei dilettanti di musica," a somewhat grand appellation that meant to stress, however, that the amateur singers came together to sing for pure pleasure (diletto) not performance.[1]

A View from the Hammond Organ

Claribel Thomson

The Montgomery Singers met every Wednesday morning at Sophie Drinker's house. I played piano for that, and Sophie sang in it. She didn't conduct—that was Lela Vauclain—but she chose the repertoire, together with the conductor. She was a very affable hostess, genial, cordial. She would take care of the seating arrangements, greet people, and would serve at intermission. I can only remember one time that the Montgomery Singers performed in public. It was at Second Presbyterian Church, Dr. McCurdy's church. (They weren't that great, either!)

Dick and I always went to the Sunday-evening singing parties. Henry greeted people at the door, not Sophie.[2] There were usually some string instruments, sometimes a bassoon. Their daughter Cecilia played. I filled in what was missing on the organ—flutes, oboes—and Bill Reese (chairman of the music department at Haverford College) supported everything on piano. I was already organist at First Presbyterian then in Ardmore when I started playing for the Drinkers. I played from full score. Once I played a line from the Bach Gesamt -


ausgabe [the scholarly complete edition] that was written in alto clef; Henry was amazed that somebody could do that. Sometimes he'd ask me to play a pertinent Bach chorale prelude before they sang. The singers included a lot of middle-aged people, housewives, business people.[3] For a while Thomas Matthews played the organ instead of me (I was away for a year during the war); sometimes he played piano, too.

Sophie was very much of a feminist. She said she wouldn't go to a male obstetrician. She helped out her daughter Ernesta with the kids when they were little and moved in with them when Henry died. Her views rubbed off on Ernesta, who is involved in women's things, Planned Parenthood. Sophie liked to garden and gave us wonderful bouquets of flowers all the time.

I sort of had the feeling that she was the boss around the house. Henry had no mechanical ability whatsoever. If the organ wasn't working properly, he would get my husband to come over. Sometimes all Dick had to do was plug it in. Henry didn't even know what kind of car they had. When I asked him, he said he thought it was a Dusenberg; but that hadn't been made for years! Sophie drove the car more, I think, than Henry did. They didn't live extravagantly, weren't part of the social crowd or jet set. Sophie told me she hated cocktail parties and wouldn't go to them.

One time they invited my husband and myself to dinner. When they were done eating, they got up and went into the study, without saying a word. They were both like that on the telephone, too. They would hang up when they had finished saying what they had to say. They were down to earth, matter of fact.

Sophie was very unemotional: Henry's sister Catherine said she simply didn't cry.[4] Henry had his favorite pieces, like Bach's Christ lag in Todesbanden . We did Honegger's King David [an oratorio with narration (1921)] a number of times, and Henry was the reader as well as conductor. Whenever we got to David's last words, he started to cry. ["And while Nathan crowned Solomon, (David) went up to look upon the temple for the last time . . . 'Ah, how good it was to be alive! I bless Thee who gave me life.'"]

Recollections of a Singing Party and of the von Trapp Family

Alfred Mann

I was introduced to Henry and Sophie Drinker by the composer Randall Thompson. When I arrived in the United States, shortly before World War II, Thompson, then newly appointed as director of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, had taken an interest in my work and called me to the Institute as a research assistant in musicology and the performance of early music. The Drinkers had invited Thompson to one of the Sunday musicales at what Sam Rosenbaum has nicely described as their "chateau-styled manor house" in Merion, Pennsylvania,[5] and the invitation included Thompson's new assistant as well.


The performers of the Accademia, who also constituted their own audience (though a few listeners had gathered around them), included an orchestra of Curtis students and capable amateurs that, in easy-going enthusiasm, was nevertheless totally professional about its assignment. The choral ensemble was not. Its members, from the haute volée of Philadelphia, nudged one another, pointing out with smiles and raised eyebrows an occasional high a as the parts were given out; and very few of them had likely ever vocalized.[6] Drinker himself presided, wielding his small baton with a rather heavy hand. When the last chord of the wonderfully rich concerted sound had died away, I saw the radiant glow in the fine features of his strong face, and he exclaimed one word—"Boy!"

I was curiously offended by the total impression. A Bach cantata in the living room? Rendered merely as an object of aesthetic pleasure, without any concern for its spiritual message? Why had our hosts not hired one of the Institute's young conductors who knew their business?

How utterly rigid was the perspective of the young immigrant! Of course, I was honored and delighted to be a guest in this cultivated home; its friendliness and devotion to the beautiful chosen task were heartwarming. The occasion reminded me of my high-school years' many evenings of string-quartet playing, which had been guided by a similar sporting spirit ("Auf Wiedersehen bei der Fermate!"),[7] and, though the music had been just as sublime, this spirit had never seemed inappropriate. But it was foreign to the Bach performances (and attitudes toward Bach) that I knew.

Later I understood the lesson of history. Unlike Bach's church music, classical chamber music (e.g., by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven) was written for just such gatherings in European society; and in Europe neither genre had essentially relinquished its original environment. And I realized the Drinkers' altogether admirable achievement. While purely instrumental music had easily found new homes in the New World, it took a heroic initiative to introduce Bach's cantatas to a wider group of American performers and listeners.

Henry Drinker, I should add, had an imposing, handsome appearance, as earnest as it was genial, which seemed to recall the world of the gentlemen farmers that his colonial ancestors had been. His wife, to whom he was totally devoted, gave a more modest and reserved impression; but it became immediately apparent what an interesting woman she was.

I remember one occasion when I was at the von Trapp family and Sophie Drinker phoned to say that she was going to pay a call. (Henry Drinker had given "Old Mrs. Drinker's House"—across the street from his own—to the newly arrived immigrants, and I was soon enlisted to teach recorder to the members of the family.) "Oh, we've got to spruce up," was the immediate reaction of the Baroness, which seemed funny coming from her. It was clear you'd have respect for Sophie Drinker.

The great personal interest that the Drinkers had taken in the Trapp Family Singers—the first traveling madrigal group in the country—was characteristic of the benefactors' artistic orientation. The Trapps had a good musical director, Dr. Franz Wasner, the young family priest, who lived with them. He was a sensitive conductor, well versed in the revival


of Renaissance music, and under his guidance the group had become the ideal model for such amateur organizations as the Accademia and Sophie Drinker's Montgomery Singers.

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.

Beyond Stereotypes

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?[1] 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.[2]

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.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7] 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."[8]

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.[9] 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);[10] 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.[11]

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.[12] 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."[13]

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."[14] 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.[15]

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."[16]

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).[17] 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.[18] 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.[19]

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.[20] 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."[21]


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.[22] 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."[23]

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."[24] 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.[25] 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 ).[26]

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").[27] 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."[28] 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.[29] 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."[30] 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."[31]

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."[32] 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."[33] 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).[34]

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.[35] 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.[36] 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."[37] 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.[38]

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.[39]

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.[40] 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.[41] 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."[42]

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."[43]

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."[44]

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."[45]

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.[46] 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."[47] Higginson made a similar observation at the Boston Symphony: although he had originally had "one great anxiety," namely, "whether the audiences would continue,"[48] 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."[49] 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."[50]

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."[51] 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.[52]

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.[53] 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."[54]

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."[55] 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.)[56] 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."[57]

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.[58] 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."[59]

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).[60]

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.[61]

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.[62] 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.[63]

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,[64] 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.[65] The results can be read in the reviews: not enough string players, no true pianissimo, underrehearsed ensemble, raspy violins, out-of-tune winds.[66] 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."[67] 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.[68]

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.[69] 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."[70]

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).[71]

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."[72]

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.[73]

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."[74]

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.)[75] 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),[76] 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.[77] 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."[78]


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.[79] 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.[80] 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."[81]

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).[82] 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).[83] 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).[84] 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.[85]

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.[86]

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.[87] 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.[88] (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.[89] 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)?[90]

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.[91]


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.[92]

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.)[93]

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.[94] 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.[95] 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).[96] 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.[97]

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).[98] 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.[99]

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.[100] 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.[101]

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).[102] 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.")[103] 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.[104] 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.[105] 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.


Introduction: Music Patronage As a "Female-Centered Cultural Process"

1. David Schiff, "The Bounds of Music: The Strange New Direction of Musical Criticism," New Republic , 3 February 1992, 32-37.

2. See Women in Music , ed. Carol Neuls-Bates (New York: Harper & Row, 1982); Women Making Music , ed. Jane Bowers and Judith Tick (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986) Women and Music in Cross-Cultural Perspective , ed. Ellen Koskoff (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1987); Marcia Citron's wide-ranging Gender and the Musical Canon (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993); Women and Music: A History , ed. Karin Pendle (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991) and the rich bibliography therein; and the New Grove Dictionary of Women Composers , ed. Julie Anne Sadie and Rhian Samuel (New York: Norton, 1994). A recent overview of the literature on women and music is Susan C. Cook and Judy S. Tsou, "Introduction: 'Bright Cecilia'," in Cecilia Reclaimed: Feminist Perspectives on Gender and Music , ed. Cook and Tsou (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994)1-14. See also Margaret Ericson, Women and Music: A Selective Annotated Bibliography on Women and Gender Issues in Music (New York: G. K. Hall, 1996).

3. Jazz, for example, shows—especially in recent decades—many of the features of an almost recherché "high-art" tradition, in the sociologist's sense of the term; rock music is performed in concert and is often, in its own way, serious; and many Broadway musicals and Hollywood movies rely on fully notated and orchestrated scores no less than do operas and oratorios.

4. For further discussion of the terminological issue (and some arguments in defense of the term "Western art music"), see the first half of Chapter 10 below, or the fuller version: Ralph P. Locke, "Music Lovers, Patrons, and the 'Sacralization' of American Culture," Nineteenth-Century Music 17 (1993-94): 149-73, and 18 (1994-95): 83-84. Richard Crawford has recently offered a new dichotomy: Beethoven's symphonies are a "composer's music" as opposed to various types of "performer's music," such as jazz. See his The American Musical Landscape (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993), 41-107, 250-303.

5. See excerpts from etiquette manuals, in Elizabeth Aldrich, From the Ballroom to Hell: Grace and Folly in Nineteenth-Century Dance (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1991), 125-28; see also two articles by Julia Eklund Koza: "Music Instruction in the Nineteenth Century: Views from Godey's Lady Book , 1830-77," Journal of Research in Music Education 38 (1990): 245-57, and "Music and the Feminine Sphere: Images of Women as Musicians in Godey's Lady Book , 1830-77," Musical Quarterly 75 (1991): 103-29. The evidence gathered and sorted by Aldrich and Koza—and by Judith Tick in her magisterial American Women Composers before 1870 (Ann Arbor, Mich.: UMI Research Press, 1983), reprint, with a new preface by Ruth A. Solie (Rochester, N.Y.: University of Rochester Press, 1996)—serves to reinforce the basic arguments of Ann Douglas, The Feminization of American Culture (New York: Knopf, 1977), a book that focuses almost entirely on literary evidence (including sermons). Further on American women and "art" music, see chapters by Adrienne Fried Block and by J. Michele Edwards in Women and Music , ed. Pendle, 142-72 and 211-57 (additional chapters treat American women working in popular music and jazz), and by Block and by Bonny H. Miller in Cecilia Reclaimed , ed. Cook and Tsou, 107-33 and 156-82. Basic to any research on these topics are Donald W. Krummel, Jean Geil, Doris J. Dyen, and Deane L. Root, Resources of American Music History: A Directory of Source Materials from Colonial Times to World War II (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981); Women in American Music: A Bibliography of Music and Literature , ed. Adrienne Fried Block and Carol Neuls-Bates (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1979); The New Grove Dictionary of American Music , ed. H. Wiley Hitchcock and Stanley Sadie, 4 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1986); and the New Grove Dictionary of Women Composers .

6. Harold T. Randolph, "The Feminization of Music," Music Teachers National Association Proceedings , 17th ser. (1922): 194-200, quoted in Catherine Parsons Smith, "'A Distinguishing Virility': On Feminism and Modernism in American Art Music," in Cecilia Reclaimed , ed. Cook and Tsou, 90-106. Among other distressed male musicians was the critic-composer Deems Taylor (best known today for his later role as the narrator in Walt Disney's Fantasia ): "this well-nigh complete feminization of music is bad for it . . . [and] aggravates our already exaggerated tendency to demand that art be edifying" (quoted by Smith, from Taylor's article "Music," in Civilization in the United States , ed. Harold Stearns [New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1922], 211).

7. Among twentieth-century performers, singers often have written memoirs, e.g., Nellie Melba and Beverly Sills, and recent years have seen fine, detailed books published on Callas's recorded legacy and on the violinist Maud Powell. No fewer than three excellent books are now available on the pedagogue and conductor Nadia Boulanger. Performers in the nineteenth century were also often composers (and were often pedagogues, too). See Nancy B. Reich, Clara Schumann: The Artist and the Woman (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1985); also other studies cited in Reich's "European Composers and Musicians, ca. 1800-1890" and in Marcia J. Citron, "European Composers and Musicians, 1880-1918," both of which are chapters in Women and Music , ed. Pendle, 97-122 and 123-72. Oddly the twentieth-century chapters in Pendle's book (except those on popular music) focus almost exclusively on composers; the net result is that the book leaves unmentioned some of the most prominent, influential, and (to some extent) well-paid musicians, including world-renowned instrumentalists (e.g., Myra Hess, Clara Haskil, Marie-Claire Alain, women in string quartets) and opera singers (Callas, Marian Anderson, Kirsten Flagstad, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Christa Ludwig, Leontyne Price, Joan Sutherland, Marilyn Home). On the omission of teachers and patrons, see n. 18.

8. Lubov Keefer's Music Angels: A Thousand Years of Patronage (Baltimore: Sutherland Press, 1976) is engaging but uncritical and error-ridden. (American patrons of dance, symphony, and the like are discussed on pp. 157-84. The earlier chapters owe much to standard reference works and perhaps also to Sophie Drinker's idiosyncratic but insightful Music and Women , a work discussed in Chapter 9 below.) Much shorter but more reliable (and carefully documented) is Linda Whitesitt, "Women's Support and Encouragement of Music and Musicians," in Women and Music , ed. Pendle, 301-13. The brief attention given various patrons of turn-of-the-century American composers in Nicholas E. Tawa's The Coming of Age of American Art Music: New England's Classical Romanticists (New York: Greenwood Press, 1991), esp. 17-19, 35-37, is a step in the right direction; see also Victor Fell Yellin's review in Music Library Association Notes 48 (1991-92): 1237-41.

9. Several of these, including one by Marc Blitzstein, are discussed in Chapter 8, and several more (by Sinclair Lewis et al.) are mentioned in Chapter 10. Samuel R. Rosenbaum, an important figure in classical-music life in the 1950s and 1960s, shared with his readers a "popular anecdote" (i.e., a supposed rib-tickler) to the effect that in America the love affair between a musician and a wealthy woman results not in a baby (as would be the case in Europe) but in a new symphony orchestra ("Financial Evolution of the Orchestra," in The American Symphony Orchestra , ed. Henry Swoboda [New York: Basic Books, 1967], 172).

10. The tendency of scholars to ignore, at least until very recently, unpaid "cultural work" in music (and also ill-paid work within the music profession, such as that of the private piano teacher, referred to in a later paragraph) is apparent at a glance in "An Annotated Bibliography of Recent Writings on Women in Music," compiled by Nancy Reich and others for Women's Studies / Women's Status , CMS Report 5 (Boulder, Colo.: College Music Society, 1988), 3-77. Some valuable work on music patronage through the ages (in Europe and America) is summarized in Whitesitt, "Women's Support." A fascinating collection of studies on patronage in and outside of music, in different times and places, is Paying the Piper: Causes and Consequences of Art Patronage , ed. Judith Huggins Balfe (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993). Private arts patronage of course overlaps with several other topics that are receiving increasing attention from social scientists, notably the function of private foundations and the overall problem of arts funding (private, corporate, foundations, and government). See Dick Netzer's classic study, The Subsidized Muse: Public Support for the Arts in the United States (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), as well as several more recent sources: James Heilbrun and Charles M. Grey, The Economics of Art and Culture: An American Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993); America's Wealthy and the Future of Foundations , ed. Teresa Odendahl ([New Haven?]: Foundation Center and Council on Foundations, 1987); The Costs of Culture: Patterns and Prospects of Private Arts Patronage , ed. Margaret Jane Wyszomirski and Pat Clubb (New York: American Council for the Arts, 1989); Who's to Pay for the Arts? The International Search for Models of Arts Support , ed. Milton C. Cummings, Jr., and J. Mark Davidson Schuster (New York: American Council for the Arts, 1989); and The Arts in the World Economy: Public Policy and Private Philanthropy for a Global Cultural Community , ed. Olin Robison, Robert Freeman, and Charles A. Riley II (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1994). On women's art clubs, see n. 38 (studies by McCarthy and by Blair).

11. See Rose Rosengard Subotnik, "Individualism in Western Art Music and Its Cultural Costs," in her Developing Variations: Style and Ideology in Western Music (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991), 239-64. An analogy may be seen in the area of social policy: ever since the Civil War, union leaders, veterans' groups, and women's voluntary organizations, although they take no part in the state apparatus, have helped shape—i.e., have to some extent driven or "made"—federal programs, for example by pressing the government to establish pensions for soldiers and their widows—see Theda Skocpol, Protecting Soldiers and Mothers: The Political Origins of Social Policy in the United States (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, Belknap Press, 1992). In this book, Skocpol moves from the "state-centered" model of her earlier writings to a "polity-centered" model, as Alan Brinkley notes in his review ( New York Review of Books , 26 May 1994, 40); should we, then, be speaking of music's "polity"—its whole network of interested and influence-wielding parties?

12. Higginson's letters were published a year after his death, and Kahn's story has been often and well told in numerous histories of the Met, as well as in Mary Jane Matz, The Many Live's of Otto Kahn (New York: Pendragon Press, 1984) and John Kobler, Otto the Magnificent: The Life of Otto Kahn (New York: Scribner, 1988). Paul Fromm's activities have long been chronicled by himself and others (see, notably, A Life for New Music: Selected Papers of Paul Fromm , ed. David Gable and Christoph Wolff [Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Department of Music, 1988]). A not atypical example of how this gender imbalance in the historical record filters down is Milton Goldin's The Music Merchants ([New York?]: Macmillan, 1969), which divides the history of America's musical institutions into three ages, those of impresarios (e.g., soprano Jenny Lind's tours in the nineteenth century), patrons (who established the big orchestras and opera companies), and organizers (of such modern institutions as New York's Lincoln Center, or the National Endowment for the Arts). The patron is represented by two institutions, the Boston Symphony and the Metropolitan Opera; the former was founded and funded by a single man (Higginson), but here the Met, too, becomes the story of one male individual's (Kahn's) devotion, although the institution's continuing strength throughout the century can hardly be discussed meaningfully without reference to Mrs. August Belmont and the women of the Met Guild.

13. Judith Tick, review of The Musical Woman , vol. 2, American Music 8 (1990): 238.

14. The Musical Woman: An International Perspective , 3 vols. to date (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1984-).

15. Organized music making in America today includes such things as group singing in scouts and teen clubs, hymn singing in places of worship, amateur and student choruses (including doo-wop and vocal jazz ensembles), gospel choirs, barbershop-type groups (e.g., Sweet Adelines), musical comedies in colleges and elsewhere, town bands, community orchestras, and amateur rock or country bands. This is not an insignificant list of activities, but it still involves as participants a small percentage of the adult population; a far greater number, one suspects, neither play an instrument nor lift their voices in song in the presence of another person, except on a few social occasions (lullabies, Christmas carols, karaoke and "Happy Birthday" at parties). And, of course, few of the activities listed in this note involve Western art music.

16. School music programs, it is often said, may do more harm than good. But that is surely no reason to ignore them. Quite the contrary, we need to be better informed about the work that those who run such programs do, the circumstances in which they labor, and—to the extent that school music programs are detrimental—what we might do to renovate them.

17. An article in the third volume of The Musical Woman does treat public-school music. Consistent with the emphasis in the series, it focuses on the increasing presence of music by women composers (e.g., Lili Boulanger, sister of Nadia) in the schools, rather than on the women teachers themselves and their efforts and struggles, much less the parents (largely female) who fight for funding (or, in certain towns, increasingly, raise the funds themselves) to keep the music programs alive.

18. Similarly, but more explicitly, patrons, music therapists, and women active in music education, administration, publishing, and recording are excluded from J. Michele Edwards's chapter "North America since 1920" in Women and Music , ed. Pendle, 211-57; the reason given is that "additional research" is needed (p. 253). But at least their existence is noted, as it is not in analogous chapters on Britain and Europe.

19. As the cultural historian George Martin has bluntly noted, "Some men like to mock the women's committees [of the orchestras, opera companies, and choral societies]. These men are fools. In the United States the role of women in the support and spread of music has been vital" (George Martin, The Damrosch Dynasty: America's First Family of Music [Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1983], 135; and see detailed documentation on p. 455, n. 26).

20. Barry D. Karl and Stanley N. Katz, "Foundations and Ruling Class Elites," Daedalus 116, no. 1 (Winter 1987): 38-89.

21. See Nicholas Fox Weber's delightful, perceptive Patron Saints: Five Rebels Who Opened America to a New Art, 1928-1943 (New York: Knopf, 1992): "this book is about believers" (p. 363).

22. Weber ( Patron Saints ) discusses Lincoln Kirstein and Edward Warburg's work for modern (visual) art but also, in some detail, their building of modern ballet in America (with Balanchine, Stravinsky, and others); he also explores at length A. Everett Austin's funding of the premiere of Virgil Thomson's widely heralded "Negro" opera Four Saints in Three Acts (to a text by Gertrude Stein). See also (on Kirstein and other German-Jewish and WASP members of "Uptown Bohemia") Thomas Bender, New York Intellect: A History of Intellectual Life in New York City, from 1750 to the Beginnings of Our Own Time (New York: Knopf, 1987), 324-41.

23. Brooke Astor's campaign for Manhattan neighborhoods was explored in the New York Times Magazine , 17 November 1991, 40-43, 68, 72. Hull House even had its music and theater activities: see Hilda Satt Polacheck, I Came a Stranger: The Story of a Hull-House Girl , ed. Dena J. Polacheck Epstein (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989), e.g., 80, 105, 107, 109-25.

24. Under "networking" we would also include recognizing the obligations that come with one's privileged position. The first symphonic broadcasts of a major orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, took place in 1922 when Ira Hirschmann proposed to Felix Fuld, his boss at the department store L. Bamberger & Co. (which owned and operated station WOR) that $15,000 a season was a small cost for the good publicity it would generate. Fuld rejected it as "a damn fool idea," but Mrs. Fuld, having learned of the plan from her husband, phoned Hirschmann the next morning and told him to go ahead. "She ended the conversation with the admonition, 'Remember this, young man, men have no imagina- soft

tion.'" Part of what may have convinced Mrs. Fuld was her husband's report that a dozen young female members of the clerical staff had told Fuld that they would indeed listen to such broadcasts (Hirschmann, Obligato: Untold Tales from a Life with Music [New York: Fromm International, 1994], 6-7).

25. See Judith Tick, "Charles Ives and Gender Ideology," in Musicology and Difference , ed. Ruth A. Solie (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993), 83-106.

26. Joan Wallach Scott, "Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis," in her Gender and the Politics of History (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), 28-50, esp. 40-41, regarding Carol Gilligan. At the same time, though, we hope that the term "women's sphere" does not come to be rejected outright by scholars. Given that it clearly reflected, and reflects, many people's experience of social reality, it seems to us a "trope"—the term is Linda K. Kerber's—that may still be helpful. (Kerber, in contrast, goes on to argue that this trope's day is past: "Separate Spheres, Female Worlds, Woman's Place: The Rhetoric of Women's History," Journal of American History 75 [1988]: 9-39, quotation from p. 39.) Jane Rendall explores alternatives to the "sphere" metaphor but then admits that it is particularly well suited to (and was indeed used by) middle-class people in nineteenth-century Europe and the United States ("Nineteenth-Century Feminism and the Separation of Spheres: Reflections on the Public/Private Dichotomy," in Moving On: New Perspectives on the Women's Movement , ed. Tayo Andreasen, Anette Borchorst, Drude Dahlerup, Eva Lous, and Hanne Rimmen Nielsen [Århus, Denmark: Århus University Press, 1991], 17-37).

Still, scholars must seek to locate the woman's "sphere" in a precise ideological or evidentiary context (as we endeavor to do in this book) and must never forget that the real divisions between men's and women's realms can easily mask the interdependence of those realms. Janet Wolff rightly emphasizes the constraining effects of the women's "sphere" on the lives of real (middle-class) women and argues cogently for the complicity of "culture"—literature, the arts, and leisure activities—in its construction ( Feminine Sentences: Essays on Women and Culture [Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990], esp. 12-33). On the interdependence of gender realms, even in such apparently male-dominated areas as foreign policy and the military, see Cynthia Enloe, Bananas, Beaches, and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990), and Gendering War Talk , ed. Miriam Cooke and Angela Woollacott (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993).

27. See Myriam Chimènes, "La Princesse Edmond de Polignac et la création musicale," in La Musique et le pouvoir , ed. Hugues Dufourt and Joël-Marie Fauquet (Paris: Aux amateurs de livres, 1987), 125-45, and Jeanice Brooks, "Nadia Boulanger and the Salon of the Princesse de Polignac" Journal of the American Musicological Society 46 (1993): 415-68.

28. Brief information on these and two dozen more of America's most prominent women music patrons (e.g., Marian MacDowell, Martha Baird Rockefeller) is given in Whitesitt, "Women's Support." Tully's largesse, it should be added, was often bestowed anonymously through the Maya Corporation, which she founded. Concerning Belmont, Patrick J. Smith writes: "[T]he [Met] Guild, the almost single-handed creation of the dynamic Mrs. August Belmont, helped shore up the finances of the house in the later 1930s and was vital in channeling the enthusiasm of less affluent operagoers" ( A Year at the Met [New York: Knopf, 1983], 71). Belmont's friend Mary Ellis Peltz organized and administered the Met Archive for years, without pay, and founded and edited the Guild's widely respected magazine Opera News . Dissertations on Minneapolis and St. Paul are listed in Women's Studies / Women's Status , 68-69 (nos. 189, 207); a dissertation on Elise Boyer Hall is no. 222 (p. 71). Another major figure is the composer Eleanor Everest Freer, who funded the annual David Bispham Medal honoring the best new opera composed in the English language; see Sylvia Miller Eversole, "Eleanor Everest Freer: Her Life and Music" (Ph.D. diss., City University of New York, 1992). Leon Botstein draws attention to yet another crucial patron, the founder of what later became the New York City Opera (a house dedicated to performing American opera and, in its early decades, opera in English translation): "Subjects for Debate: Women and Patronage in Music: Remembering Helen Huntington Hull (1893-1976)," Musical Quarterly 78 (1994): 641-45.

29. "Unlike Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, Gertrude Clark Whittall is remembered less for fostering new music than for preserving old music. . . . [Her Strads, in their display cases in the Whittall Pavilion] have tended . . . to reify the traditional string quartet repertory played at the Library of Congress" (Joseph Kerman, "In Memory of Gertrude Clark Whittall," unpublished address given on the fiftieth anniversary of the concert series sponsored by Whittall at the Library of Congress, May 1987).

30. See Anthony Rooley, "On Patronage: 'Musick, that mind-tempering art'," in Companion to Contemporary Musical Thought , 2 vols., ed. John Paynter, Tim Howell, Richard Orton, and Peter Seymour (London: Routledge, 1992), 1: 226-47.

31. Nancy F. Cott, "What's in a Name: The Limits of Social Feminism, or Expanding the Vocabulary of Women's History," Journal of American History 76 (1989): 809-29. See also various detailed studies of aspects of volunteering and social policy: J. Stanley Lemons, The Woman Citizen: Social Feminism in the 1920s (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1973); Gertrude Himmelfarb, Poverty and Compassion: The Moral Imagination of the Late Victorians (New York: Knopf, 1991); Theda Skocpol, Social Policy in the United States: Future Possibilities in Historical Perspective (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995); and Michael B. Katz, Improving Poor People: The Welfare State, the "Underclass," and Urban Schools as History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995). The literature on voluntarism generally is surveyed in William H. Brackney, Christian Voluntarism in Britain and North America: A Bibliography and Critical Assessment (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1995).

32. Lori D. Ginzberg, Women and the Work of Benevolence: Morality, Politics, and Class in the Nineteenth-Century United States (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990). See also Sarah Deutsch, "Learning to Talk More Like a Man: Boston Women in Class-Bridging Organizations, 1870-1940," American Historical Review 97 (1991-92): 379-404. More generally, Anne Firor Scott's Natural Allies: Women's Associations in American History (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991) well states the case for taking the work of women's institutions seriously, see review by Lois W. Banner, American Historical Review 98 (1992-93); 225-26.

33. Wendy Kaminer, Women Volunteering: The Pleasure, Pain, and Politics of Unpaid Work from 1830 to the Present (Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Press, 1984), 5.

34. Ibid., xvi.

35. "About half of the 124 active volunteers on the Parental Stress Line are not parents. . . . And about 80 percent of them are women" (René Becker, "Volunteers," Boston Magazine 80, no. 12 [December 1988]: 204).

36. Kaminer, Women Volunteering , xiv-xvii. Particularly interesting are two interviews by Kaminer with women who volunteered in the arts and then went on to political organizing (e.g., disarmament, desegregation, reproductive choice), 79-84, 113-21. Further comments from deeply committed (and/or self-glorifying—see Chapter 10 below) volunteers and social-agency board members are given in Susan A. Ostrander, Women of the Upper Class (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1984), 111-39.

37. We are also disregarding for the moment the enormous contributions made in recent decades by the Ford Foundation, say, or the National Endowment for the Arts. The latter, we note, is no faceless bureaucracy but rather has often been guided and publicly validated by prominent and determined women, e.g., Nancy Hanks, Joan Mondale, and, recently, Barbra Streisand.

38. Similar patterns are found in art clubs and other women's groups: see Kathleen D. McCarthy, Women's Culture: American Philanthropy and Art 1830-1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), 49, and Karen J. Blair, The Torchbearers: Women and Their Amateur Arts Associations in America, 1890-1930 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994). We might note an irony: women have had to fight the reputation of being unable to work cooperatively. This and other ancient prejudices were regularly noted and combated in Women in Music , the newsletter edited by Frédérique Petrides, the conductor of the pathbreaking Orchestrette Classique. All 37 issues are reprinted in facsimile in Jan Bell Groh, Evening the Score: Women in Music and the Legacy of Frédérique Petrides (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1991).

39. Symptomatic is the treatment of women patrons in New Grove Dictionary of American Music . The encyclopedia was originally scheduled to include an article on patronage, but the idea was scrapped, we are told, when the editors finally realized that not enough basic research existed. The justly praised article on "Women in [American] Music" by Judith Tick, though, does refer to the work of Jeannette Thurber, and there are entries on Thurber and a few other patrons (e.g., Coolidge, Gardner, Walton).

40. Richard Crawford, "Studying American Music," Institute for Studies of American Music Newsletter 14, no. 2 (May 1985), 1-2, 10-13, quotation from p. 11.

41. Pamela Perry, "The Role of Women as Patrons of Music in Connecticut during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries" (DMA thesis, University of Hartford, 1986), [iv]; Catherine Parsons Smith, "Founding the Hollywood Bowl," American Music 11 (1993): 206-42. Another possible case of substitution is discussed in Vignette F, n. 10; the beneficiary in that case was Igor Stravinsky (in Europe), the money American. Of course, many women's contributions to American musical life and institutions have been honestly admitted from the start, .g., that of Jeanne Wynne Estes and Ruth Porter Doster, two early proponents of Bach choirs in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (see Raymond Walters, The Bethlehem Bach Choir: An Historical and Interpretive Sketch [Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1918], 44-46, 204, 212-13, 215; and, confirming Estes's importance, Robin Leaver, "New Light on the Pre-History of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, Bach: The Journal of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute 12 [1991], no. 2: 24-34).

42. In March 1990, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum lost a dozen precious art works in a widely reported burglary. The Tapestry Room, in which concerts have been held for decades, is the upper half of the original concert hall (see Chapter 3).

43. This naming question (should we say "Mrs. H. H. A. Beach" or "Amy Beach"?) foregrounds the irresolvable tension between historically authentic terminology and present-day usage, as do analogous questions (e.g., "Negro," "Black," "black American," "African-American").

44. Carolyn G. Heilbrun, Writing a Woman's Life (New York: Norton, 1988), 22 (summarizing, in part, Patricia Spacks).

45. Anthony Tommasini, Virgil Thomson's Musical Portraits (New York: Pendragon Press, 1986), 101, 110, 112, 115 (the "rock-bound"—Thomson's phrase—Constance Askew), 124, 139-40 (Guggenheim quotation), 151, 179, 196. Could Guggenheim have been amusing herself with the tart comments in Thomson's ch. 7 on the effects of private patronage on a composer's style? "Composers living on subsidies personal or impersonal [e.g., governmental], it reads, "tend to write introspective music of strained harmonic texture and emphatic instrumental style. . . . They think of themselves . . . as persecuted men. Appearing to be persecuted is, of course, their way of earning their living" (Virgil Thomson, The State of Music [1939; rev. ed., New York: Vintage Books, 1962], 90-91).

One— Patronage—and Women—in America's Musical Life: An Overview of a Changing Scene

1. See Charles Hamm, Music in the New World (New York: Norton, 1983), 3-23, and Gilbert Chase, America's Music , 3d ed. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987), 395-412.

2. On the cultivated-vernacular dichotomy (actually a three-way split, with folk music), see H. Wiley Hitchcock, Music in the United States: A Historical Introduction , 3d ed. (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1988), 53-63.

3. See the thorough study by W. Douglas Bomberger, "The German Musical Training of American Students: 1850-1900" (Ph.D. diss., University of Maryland, 1991).

4. See Camilla Cai and Einar Ingvald Haugen. Ole Bull: Norway's Romantic Musician and Cosmopolitan Patriot (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1993), and Lowell Gallagher, "Jenny Lind and the Voice of America," in En travesti: Women, Gender Subversion, Opera , ed. Corinne E. Blackmer and Patricia Juliana Smith (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), 190-215.

5. Henry A. Kmen, Music in New Orleans: The Formative Period, 1791-1841 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, [1966]), 56; more generally, see Katherine Bumpass, "The USA: A Quest for Improvement," in Music and Society: The Early Romantic Era, Between Revolutions: 1789 and 1848 , ed. Alexander Ringer, vol. [6] of Music and Society , ed. Stanley Sadie (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1991), 259-79. (The British edition of this series was entitled Man and Music .)

6. On instruments deemed acceptable to Western women in recent centuries, see Freia Hoffmann, Instrument und Körper: Die musizierende Frau in der bürgerlichen Kultur (Frankfurt a./M.: Insel Verlag, 1991).

7. Fascinating glimpses into the popularity of opera are offered in George Martin, Verdi at the Golden Gate: Opera and San Francisco in the Gold Rush Years (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993), John Dizikes, Opera in America: A Cultural History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), June C. Ottenberg, Opera Odyssey: Toward a History of Opera in Nineteenth-Century America (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994), and Katherine K. Preston, Opera on the Road: Traveling Opera Troupes in the United States, 1825-60 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994).

8. Nancy Atwood Sprague, Pleasant Memories of My Life , ed. Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge (New York: privately printed, 1916).

9. Richard Crawford, "Studying American Music," Institute for Studies of American Music Newsletter 14, no. a (May 1985), 1-2, 10-13, quotation from p. 11. Crawford develops these ideas in The American Musical Landscape (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993), 41-107, 250-303.

10. Beth L. Miller, "The Ridgelys of Hampton: New Perspectives on Musical Life in Nineteenth-Century Baltimore," Journal of Musicological Research 14 (1994): 35-54.

11. Recent findings of Carol Pemberton and others on Lowell Mason and the Handel and Haydn Society are reported and carried further in Michael Broyles, " Music of the Highest Class": Elitism and Populism in Antebellum Boston (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), and in the various articles of Lowell Mason: A Realistic Portrayal , a special issue of the Quarterly Journal of Music Teaching and Learning 3, no. 2 (Fall 1992). On concerts, see Strong on Music: The New York Music Scene in the Days of George Templeton Strong, 1836-1875 , ed. Vera Brodsky Lawrence, vol. 1 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), and vols. 2-3 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995- ).

12. For example, the concerts of the Winchester Orchestral Society (1909-17), in the town hall, were "crowded and enjoyed," and "many beautiful gowns were noted in the audience" ( Winchester Star , 18 April 1913 and 9 December 1910, cited in Ellen Knight, "Music in Winchester, Massachusetts: A Community Portrait, 1830-1925," American Music 11 [1993]: 283-82, quotation from pp. 278-79).

13. These developments are traced in Hitchcock, Music in the United States , and various articles (e.g., "music education," "orchestras," "phonograph," "publishing") in The New Grove Dictionary of American Music , 4 vols., ed. H. Wiley Hitchcock and Stanley Sadie (New York: Macmillan, 1986). The question of "serious" composers' search for an American identity is discussed in Chase, America's Music , 302-19, 341-59, 379-94, and Hamm, Music in the New World , 307-38, 410-59, and explored more fully in Barbara A. Zuck, A History of Musical Americanism (Ann Arbor, Mich.: UMI Research Press, 1980), and Barbara L. Tischler, An American Music: The Search for an American Musical Identity (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986). On pianos, see Ronald V. Ratcliffe, Steinway (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1989), and Cyril Ehrlich, The Piano: A History , 2d ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990). See also two valuable overviews with annotated bibliographies: Bumpass, "USA," and Charles Hamm, "The USA: Classical, Industrial and Invisible Music," the latter in Music and Society: The Late Romantic Era, from the Mid-Nineteenth Century to World War I , ed. Jim Samson [British series title: Man and Music ] (Englewood Cliffs N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1991), 295-326.

14. Gillian B. Anderson, "Putting the Experience of the World at the Nation's Command: Music at the Library of Congress, 1800-1917," Journal of the American Musicological Society 42 (1989): 108-49. See also Oscar Sonneck and American Music , ed. William Lichtenwanger (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983), and Carol June Bradley, American Music Librarianship: A Biographical and Historical Survey (New York: Greenwood Press, 1990), 69-83.

15. Robert A. McGaughey, "The Genius Was a Jerk," review of Charles Sanders Peirce: A Life , by Joseph Brent, New York Times Book Review , 7 February 1993, 11-12. The development of American museums is explored in Lillian B. Miller, Patrons and Patriotism: The Encouragement of the Fine Arts in the United States, 1790-1860 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966), and in Lawrence W. Levine, Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1988).

16. See, e.g., Therese M. Volk, "A History of Multicultural Music Education in the Public Schools of the United States" (Ph.D. diss., Kent State University, 1993). We return to this neglected aspect of music's history in various places below, notably Chapter 7 and Chapter 10.

17. See the trenchant discussion of consumerism in Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations (New York: Norton, 1978).

18. See Alan Trachtenberg, The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age (New York: Hill & Wang, 1982), esp. 78-88, 140-46, and Thomas Bender, New York Intellect: A History of Intellectual Life in New York City, from 1750 to the Beginnings of Our Own Time (New York: Knopf, 1987), 206-19 (on the commercial basis of New York's literary eminence—Scribner's publishing house, The Century magazine—and on the conductor Frank Damrosch's resolutely grassroots People's Chorus). Women of modest means, profiting from the general affluence, began to indulge, although at some self-sacrifice, in stylish clothing, boat excursions, and the like. See Kathy Peiss, Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1985), excerpted in Women's America: Refocusing the Past , ed. Linda K. Kerber and Jane Sherron De Hart, 3d ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 267-75. On public entertainment generally, see David Nasaw, Going Out: The Rise and Fall of Public Amusements (New York: Basic Books, 1993).

19. Hilda Satt Polacheck, I Came a Stranger: The Story of a Hull-House Girl , ed. Dena J. Polacheck Epstein (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989), 106; she speaks also of repertory opera performances for 25¢ at the Castle Square Opera Company, besides the grander productions she frequented somewhat later at the Auditorium.

20. See Kevin V. Mulcahy, "Government and the Arts in the United States," in The Patron State: Government and the Arts in Europe, North America, and Japan , ed. Milton C. Cummings, Jr., and Richard S. Katz (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 311-32; Dick Netzer, The Subsidized Muse: Public Support for the Arts in the United States (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978); and Nicholas E. Tawa, Serenading the Reluctant Eagle: American Musical Life, 1925-1945 (New York: Schirmer Books, 1984), 106-19.

21. On the varieties of arts funding and their ramifications, see James Heilbrun and Charles M. Gray, The Economics of Art and Culture: An American Perspective (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993). The social activist Jane Addams's reliance on her own funds (she was "her own best benefactor") and on the funds and labor of two female friends is explored in Kathryn Kish Sklar, "Who Funded Hull House?" in Lady Bountiful Revisited: Women, Philanthropy, and Power , ed. Kathleen D. McCarthy (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press 1990), 110. Characteristic American patterns of giving (e.g., Julius Rosenwald and the concept of "matching funds") are sketched, although with a one-sided emphasis on the simple goodness of the donor, in Daniel J. Boorstin, Hidden History , ed. Daniel J. Boorstin and Ruth F. Boorstin (New York: Harper & Row, 1987), 193-209.

22. A classic, evocative study of the Gilded Age and its impact is Howard Mumford Jones, The Age of Energy: Varieties of American Experience, 1865-1915 (New York: Viking, 1971).

23. Susan Curtis, A Consuming Faith: The Social Gospel and Modern American Culture (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991).

24. McGaughey, "Genius," 11-12.

25. Andrew Carnegie, The Gospel of Wealth and Other Timely Essays , ed. Edward C. Kirkland (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, Belknap Press, 1962), 32.

26. Barry D. Karl and Stanley N. Katz, "Foundations and Ruling Class Elites," Daedalus 116, no. 1 (Winter 1987): 38-89; also other articles in the same special issue of Daedalus (entitled Philanthropy, Patronage, Politics ).

27. Eric Clarke, Music in Everyday Life (New York: Norton, 1935); Randall Thomson, College Music: An Investigation for the Association of American Colleges (New York: Macmillan, 1935).

28. "Married women's property acts, devised state by state in the middle decades of the nineteenth century . . . gave married women the right to hold and manipulate their own earnings and property." The earliest enacted versions "protected only property willed or given to women," but, by the early twentieth century, revisions established a woman's right to full control over whether or not to work for wages and how to use her earnings. (Linda K. Kerber, "Separate Spheres, Female Worlds, Woman's Place: The Rhetoric of Women's History," Journal of American History 75 [1988]: 21-22.)

29. The present authors believe, along with many of these patrons, that classical music and democracy are not inherently incompatible; on the charges that such music is, by its nature, elitist, see Chapter 10.

30. Bateson invokes the musical image of jazz improvisation—"an artistic activity that is at once individual and communal, performance that is both repetitive and innovative"—to explain the shifting, adaptive life choices of five American women over the past few decades, now that a woman's life is no longer "dominated" by motherhood yet remains subject to "conflicting demands" (Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Life [(Boston): Atlantic Monthly Press, 1989], 2).

31. See Kathleen D. McCarthy, Women's Culture: American Philanthropy and Art, 1830-1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), e.g., 71-75 (Cincinnati art museum), 196-209 (Museum of Modern Art).

32. The words are Karen J. Blair's, summarizing the work of clubwomen generally ( The Clubwoman as Feminist: True Womanhood Redefined, 1868-1914 [New York: Holmes & Meier, 1980], 119). Blair, in this passage, argues that the "Domestic Feminism" typical of the club-women made it, by "its very moderation," "attractive to millions of women who were able to enrich the quality of their own lives while transforming the world of culture and reform." She expands on the art, music, pageant, and theater clubs in The Torchbearers: Women and Their Amateur Arts Associations in America, 1890-1930 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994), esp. 44-75. See also Theodora Penny Martin, The Sound of Our Own Voices: Women's Study Clubs, 1860-1910 (Boston: Beacon Press, 1987), not least the pages on "public ridicule and private satisfactions," 117-33.

33. On the "compensatory" search for "women worthies," an essential but limited version of women's history, see Gerda Lerner, The Majority Finds Its Past: Placing Women in History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), 145-46.

34. Kerber, "Separate Spheres," 11 (quoting Barbara Welter) and 15 (summarizing Kathryn Kish Sklar).

35. This topic is treated further in Ralph P. Locke, "Women in American Musical Life: Facts and Questions about Patronage," repercussions 3, no. 2 (Fall 1994), 81-95, and 4, no. 1 (Spring 1995), 102.

36. Marilyn Frye, The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory (Trumansburg, N.Y.: Crossing Press, 1983), 1-16.

37. Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, "The Female World of Love and Ritual: Relations between Women in Nineteenth-Century America," Signs 1 (1975): 1-29, quotation from p. 16. Reprinted in her Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America (New York: Knopf, 1985). Among other studies of the nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century woman, see (besides various works cited in other notes in the Introduction and this chapter) The Nineteenth-Century Woman: Her Cultural and Physical World , ed. Sara Delamont and Lorna Duffin (London: Croom Helm, 1978); Harvey Green, with Mary-Ellen Perry, The Light of the Home: An Intimate View of the Lives of Women in Victorian America, with Illustrations from the Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum (New York: Pantheon Books, 1983); Frances B. Cogan, All-American Girl: The Ideal of Real Womanhood in Mid-Nineteenth-Century America (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1989); and the various testimonies gathered in Victorian Women: A Documentary Account of Women's Lives in Nineteenth-Century England, France, and the United States , ed. Erna Olafson Hellerstein, Leslie Parker Hume, and Karen M. Often (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1981).

38. Suzanne Gordon, Prisoners of Men's Dreams: Striking Out for a New Feminine Future (Boston: Little, Brown, 1991), esp. 1-16, 268-96.

39. Kerber, "Separate Spheres," 14-15, summarizing Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, Disorderly Conduct ; also Nancy F. Cott, The Bonds of Womanhood: "Woman's Sphere" in England, 1780-1835 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977).

40. Quotation from Earl Barnes, "The Feminizing of Culture," Atlantic Monthly 109 (June 1912): 770.

41. Confirming evidence and further insights can be found in Blair, Torchbearers , esp. 1-75.

42. The Friday Club: The First Hundred Years, 1887-1987 , ed. Susan Dart (Chicago: privately printed, 1987), 5-6. Henrotin was raised in luxury—partly in Europe—and her banker husband headed the Chicago Stock Exchange.

43. Ibid., 17.

44. The story of American women's struggle for professional training, opportunity, and recognition in music is briefly told in Judith Tick's "Women in Music" article (with bibliography) in the New Grove Dictionary of American Music ; in the introduction to Women in American Music: A Bibliography of Music and Literature , ed. Adrienne Fried Block and Carol Neuls-Bates (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1979); and in two chapters of Women and Music: A History , ed. Karin Pendle (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991): Adrienne Fried Block, "Women in American Music, 1800-1918" (142-72), and J. Michele Edwards, "North America since 1920" (211-57). Christine Ammer pulls together information and anecdotes in entertaining fashion in Unsung: A History of Women in American Music (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1980). Further research materials are listed in Donald W. Krummel, Jean Geil, Doris J. Dyen, and Deane L. Root, Resources of American Music History: A Directory of Source Materials from Colonial Times to World War II (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981), and recent writings are listed in Women's Studies / Women's Status (see Introduction, n. 10) and the ongoing series The Musical Women: An International Perspective , 3 vols. to date (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1984-).

45. Kerber, "Separate Spheres," 14.

46. This fight for the right to do musical work for pay is thus related to various larger-scale women's battles. A recent and nuanced account of the latter is Christine Bolt, The Women's Movements in the United States and Britain from the 1790s to the 1920s (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993).

47. "Minerva, we know, was partial to the flute until she discovered that in playing it she distorted her countenance most unlovelily ; but the disfigurement caused by the mild 'tooting' of the flute is as nothing compared to the hideous expansion of the cheeks induced by the action of the cornet. A lady with a cornet would be a monstrum horrendum " (from "Social Etiquette and Home Culture," in The Lounger in Society, pseud., Franklin Square Library [New York, 1881], 5-7, reprinted in Elizabeth Aldrich, From the Ballroom to Hell: Grace and Folly in Nineteenth Century Dance [Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1991], 127).

48. Adrienne Fried Block, assisted by Nancy Stewart, "Women in American Music, 1800-1918," in Women and Music , ed. Pendle, 142. On parallel phenomena in Europe, see also Nancy B. Reich, "Women as Musicians: A Question of Class," in Musicology and Difference , ed. Ruth A. Solie (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993), 125-46.

49. Judith Tick, "Women in Music," in the New Grove Dictionary of American Music , 4: 554, 550. Census data indicate that "the proportion of women among teachers of music had grown from 41 percent [in 1870] to 81 percent [1910]" (Catherine Parsons Smith, "'A Distinguishing Virility': On Feminism and Modernism in American Art Music," in Cecilia Reclaimed: Feminist Perspectives on Gender and Music , ed. Susan C. Cook and Judy S. Tsou [Urbana University of Illinois Press, 1994], 90-106, quotation from p. 98).

50. Tick, "Women in Music," 551.

51. Block, "Women," 142.

52. Oscar Sonneck, Suum cuique: Essays in Music (New York: G. Schirmer, 1916), 131.

53. Quoted in Karen A. Shaffer and Neva Garner Greenwood, Maud Powell: Pioneer Violinist (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1988), 276.

54. See Rupert Hughes's review of Margaret Ruthven Lang's concert overtures, quoted in Ann E. Feldman, "Being Heard: Women Composers and Patrons at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition," Music Library Association Notes 47 (1990-91): 18.

55. Judith Tick, "Women as Professional Musicians in America, 1870-1900," Yearbook for Inter-American Musical Research 9 (1973): 95-133; also eadem, "Passed Away Is the Piano Girl: Changes in American Musical Life, 1870-1900," and Carol Neuls-Bates, "Women's Orchestras in the United States, 1925-45," both in Women Making Music: The Western Art Tradition, 1150-1950 , ed. Jane Bowers and Judith Tick (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986), respectively 325-48 and 349-69.

56. Shaffer and Greenwood, Maud Powell , 200.

57. Mabel Daniels, letter to Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, 18 February 1934. Coolidge Correspondence, Library of Congress.

58. Ethel Smyth, letter to Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, 14 May 1926, Coolidge Correspondence, Library of Congress.

59. Christine Ammer, Unsung (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1980), 121.

60. Michael G. Kammen notes a similar diversity in the tastes and activities of women who collected art and Americana ( Mystic Chords of Memory: The Transformation of Tradition in American Culture [New York: Knopf, 1991], 163-93, 266-69). Many important collectors of musical instruments were women—e.g., Mary Elizabeth Adams Brown (who formed and donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art the massive Crosby Brown Collection); see Laurence Libin, "Musicians and Musical Instruments at the Metropolitan Museum of Art" (unpublished).

61. On jokes and negative or positive stereotypes, see Introduction, esp. nn. 8, 9, 12, 19, and 38, and the concluding paragraph of the "Structure of This Book" section; also nn. 21 and 32 in the present chapter, the end of Chapter 8, and the opening and "Misapprehensions" sections of Chapter 10.

62. McCarthy, Women's Culture , xiv-xv. Other overviews of women patrons and philanthropists are offered in Kathleen D. McCarthy, Noblesse oblige: Charity and Cultural Philanthropy in Chicago, 1849-1929 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), 173-79, and in various chapters of Lady Bountiful Revisited: Women, Philanthropy, and Power , ed. Kathleen D. McCarthy (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1990). On Rockefeller, see Bernice Kert, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller: The Woman in the Family (New York: Random House, 1993). On men and women donors of different kinds, see Francie Ostrower, Why the Wealthy Give: The Culture of Elite Philanthropy (Princeton Princeton University Press, 1995).

63. McCarthy, Women's Culture , 179-212, quotation from p. 180. See also Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, No Man's Land: The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century , 3 vols. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988-94), 1: 147; and Smith, "'A Distinguishing Virility'."

64. On salons generally, in this period, see Robert M. Crunden, American Salons: Encounters with European Modernism, 1885-1917 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993); see also Steven Watson, Strange Bedfellows: The First American Avant-Garde (New York: Abbeville, 1991).

65. See esp. Linda Whitesitt, "The Role of Women Impresarios in American Concert Life, 1871-1933," American Music 7 (1989): 159-80. See also numerous references to music clubs in Blair, Clubwoman , and in eadem, The History of American Women's Voluntary Organizations, 1810-1960: A Guide to Sources (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1989).

66. The collectively hefty sum pulled in by the Metropolitan Opera Guild enables the Met to mount expensive new productions and publish its program book; the guild also publishes its own lively and expertly informative magazine, Opera News . In recent years, guild officers have included men as well as women. In 1994, about half of the officers of the guild (including two vice presidents, secretary, and assistant treasurer) were still women, but men held the powerful positions of chairman, president, chairman of the executive committee, treasurer, and managing director. Data from Alton E. Peters, "Metropolitan Opera Guild Annual Report," Opera News 59, no. 4 (October 1994): 49 (see also list of officers on p. 5).

67. "They framed into imperative demands upon their husbands, brothers, or friends in the Board . . . [their opinion that] this or that scene was performed entirely incorrectly and that the costumes were vile and that the prima donna ought to be taken out of the part. And what they said had no small power in directing the affairs of the opera house. The two or three who really knew things were wise enough to let the professional musicians alone" (W.J. Henderson, The Soul of a Tenor: A Romance [New York: Henry Holt, 1912], 68-69).

68. Consider, e.g., Mrs. Cecil Frankel of Los Angeles. Her father, A. G. Bartlett, was a cornetist, the president of the Bartlett Music Company, and a prominent supporter of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She, in turn became president of the women's committee of the Philharmonic, organized the California Federation of Music Clubs in 1918 and served as its president, and, as a vice president of the national federation, brought the Philharmonic to the public schools for concerts, and personally sponsored—at the cost of thousands of dollars a year—the first professional string quartet recitals in southern California. She was also an amateur composer, under the name Bessie Bartlett Frankel (Catherine Parsons Smith and Cynthia S. Richardson, Mary Carr Moore: American Composer [Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1987], 110-13). A similar case—musical plus, in this case, political, as well as musico-political—is Anne Macomber Gannett (of Portland, Maine, wife of the newspaper publisher Guy Patterson Gannett), who was, at various times, an influential proponent of women's suffrage and a member of the Republican National Committee; a trustee of the New England Conservatory of Music; and board member and, beginning in 1941, president of the National Federation of Music Clubs. As vice president of the NFMC, she had urged that Congress set up a Federal Bureau of the Arts; under her presidency, in wartime, the NFMC among other things proposed that school teachers who spread "subversive and incendiary doctrines" be expelled; sponsored a radio program of Latin American music in order to support the country's good-neighbor policy; and opposed the musicians' union's ban on the making of recordings. She also helped found and set up the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, served actively on the Metropolitan Opera Guild Board, and assisted the UNESCO planning team for rebuilding education in postwar Europe. See the authorized biography, by an anonymous author, Music in Her Sphere: A Biography of Anne Macomber Gannett (Portland, Maine: Guy Gannett Publishing Co., 1953), 2, 23, 36-79, 86-88, quotation from p. 43.t

69. An infamous case of women indeed taking charge is the program committee of the New York Philharmonic in 1909: four "strong-willed ladies"—as Howard Shanet puts it—plus two musicians from the orchestra. Their disagreements with Gustav Mahler as conductor have led them to be labeled clownish bunglers. ("He had ten ladies ordering him about like a puppet," Alma Mahler recalled.) But perhaps their side of the story has not been sufficiently told. See Howard Shanet, Philharmonic: A History of New York's Orchestra (New York: Doubleday, 1975), 215; also see Joseph Horowitz, Understanding Toscanini: How He Became an American Culture-God and Helped Create a New Audience for Old Music (New York: Knopf, 1987), 72-73 (including Alma's words).

70. Anne Firor Scott, Natural Allies: Women's Associations in American History (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991), 2.

71. Corrine Moore-Lawson (of the Ladies' Musical Club of Cincinnati), cited in Chapter 2.

72. Cited in Chapter 2.

73. See Susan Moller Okin, Justice, Gender, and the Family (New York: Basic Books, 1989).

74. Carol Ann Feather, "Women Band Directors in American Higher Education," in The Musical Woman 2 (1984-85): 388-410.

75. The individuals are James Edmunds and Jackie Lyle, heads of the Performing Arts Society of Acadiana (New Iberia, Louisiana), which holds its events in the Heymann Center in Lafayette (Calvin Trillin, "Culture Shopping," New Yorker , 15 February 1993, 48-51).

76. See "Introduction," Karen Monson, "Byline Monson: Music Critic," and "Orchestra Manager on the Go: An Interview with Joan Briccetti," all in The Musical Woman , vol. 2 (1984-85): xvii-xxv, 59-70, 71-90. Also, see the Women in Opera issue of Opera News (July 1992) and, on Borda, "New Hands at the Helm," American Record Guide 55, no. 4 (July-August 1992): 10-14.

77. Northern cities have the further problem of wealthy people (and many merely comfortable people) taking their money to the Sunbelt, whether for the winter—i.e., most of the concert season—or the whole year.

78. On newspaper coverage see Nancy Malitz, "The Incredible Shrinking Arts Page," Opera News 57, no. 4 (October 1992): 18-19. On the ongoing need for board members "with status and acquaintanceship in the financial, mercantile and industrial community," see Robert Commanday, "Symphonies Suffer in California: Recession Takes Its Toll," San Francisco Chronicle , 27 December 1992, "Datebook," 36. The sudden blossoming of highly professional performing organizations in such places as Naples, Florida, is a relief for unemployed orchestral musicians and for touring chamber groups, but it does little to alleviate (and indeed feeds on—see n. 77) the implosion of the high-cultural infrastructure in many densely, populated cities of the Northeast, Midwest, Texas, and California.

79. Jane Moss, vice president of programming for New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, quoted in Jamie James, "Sex and the 'Singles' Symphony," New York Times , 2 May 1993, § H , 27.

80. In Rochester, New York, for example, the only professional opera performances (i.e., aside from the often remarkable student performances of certain operas, e.g., those of Mozart, that can safely be handled by young singers at the Eastman School) tend to take place in halls that are too big (in order to offset costs by selling large numbers of seats), with orchestras that are too small either relative to the size of the hall (too few string instruments on a part) or in absolute terms (nobody playing the second and third trombone, second oboe, and second bassoon lines), with a pocket-sized chorus, and inexperienced or uncharismatic singers in lead roles (especially when the production comes on tour from else-where). In contrast, the unstaged performances of Tosca and Walküre , act 1, done in "concert" dress, by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra with major guest soloists are more engaging, both musically, and, at times, dramatically. But it is a little like hearing only the audio track of a movie, and hardly an experience likely to build mass audiences for staged opera.

81. "Snap and Crackle over the Pops," Economist , 13 March 1993, 99. The article also quotes Samuel Lipman's judgment that the American elite are continuing to pour money into the visual arts "but have lost interest in supporting serious music." Betty Freeman has complained of this very pattern: people who eagerly attend art openings will not go to hear a new piece of music (interview in Rochester, 28 September 1991; see Vignette B).

82. On women volunteers, see Naomi Gerstel's sociological research, briefly reported in "Volunteerism and Women's Crowded Lives: 'Points of Light' in Sharper Focus," Massachusetts [alumni bulletin of the University of Massachusetts] 3, no. 2 (Winter 1992): 5.

1. The terms "vernacular" and "cultivated," as used by the music historian H. Wiley Hitchcock, are discussed further in Chapters 1 and 10.

2. On the "old way of singing" and on Lowell Mason and the church-music reform movement, see The New Grove Dictionary of American Music , ed. H. Wiley Hitchcock and Stanley Sadie, 4 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1986), s.vv. "Psalmody," "Hymnody," and "Shape-Note Hymnody." Michael Broyles emphasizes certain surprising commonalities between the music published by Mason and the revivalist hymns despised by Mason and like-minded church leaders and musicians (" Music of the Highest Class": Elitism and Populism in Antebellum Boston [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992], 33-91).

3. Rev. William H. Gleason, D.D., Pastor, Semi-Centennial Celebration of the First Reformed Protestant Church, Hudson, N.Y. (Hudson, N.Y.: M. Parker Williams, Register and Gazette, 1886), 39.

4. Ibid., 39-41, 46, 50. The organists and "leaders (choirmasters) are listed in a one-page appendix; Blanchard's middle initial there is "A." The two brief intervals in his term (noted above) were filled by Gleason (the author of the brochure; dates of service not given—p. 41) and, in 1861-62, by two people: Miss Maggie Heath as organist and Mr. John Graff as leader. Edwin C. Rowley, Esq., succeeded Blanchard in 1875, and Mrs. Emma Skinner assumed the position in 1883.

1. Further on Freeman, see John Rockwell, All American Music: Composition in the Late Twentieth Century (New York: Knopf, 1983), 67-68, 81, and especially Albrecht Dümling's detailed article- cum -interview, "First Lady zeitgenössischer Musik: Ein Porträt der kalifornischen Mäzenin Betty Freeman," Neue Zeitschrift für Musik 152, no. 2 (February 1991): 6-12.

2. The precise wording, from her September 1991 typed list (mentioned below and entitled "Betty Freeman Music Commissions & Assistance"): "John Cage: No direct commission but since the 1960's he has had a grant to do with as he wished. Cage dedicated to her The Freeman Etudes , 32 pieces for solo violin." "La Monte Young: Many years of support from 1961 through the 1970's for his living and performances."

3. "Upper partials" is the technical term for what are commonly called overtones. Much of Young's music consists of structured improvisations (often in "just intonation" rather than the equally tempered tuning of the modern piano) over long-held tones analogous to the drones played by the tanbura in the classical music of India.

4. Betty Freeman married her second husband, Franco Assetto, in 1979.

5. The traveling exhibit mentioned in the introduction to this interview has twice resulted an illustrated catalogue: Music People and Others: Fotografie di Betty Freeman (Milan: Nuova edizioni Gabriele Mazzotta, 1987), and Music People and Others: Photographs by Betty Freeman ([Berlin?]: n.p., [1991]). Both contain autobiographical data on Freeman.

6. Paul Fromm, 1906-87, immigrated from Germany to Chicago and owned the successful Great Lakes Wine Co. In 1952, to promote the composition and performance of new music, he created the Fromm Music Foundation, which for many years sponsored an annual Festival of Contemporary Music at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, the Boston Symphony Orchestra's summer home. A list of more than 150 commissioned works is printed in The New Grove Dictionary of American Music , ed. H. Wiley Hitchcock and Stanley Sadie, 4 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1986), s.v. "Fromm Paul."

7. Several women are among the portraitees in one or the other version of Freeman's Music People catalogue: Joan La Barbara, Pauline Oliveros, Kaija Saariaho, and the artist Marian Zazeela (La Monte Young's wife and collaborator).

Two— Women As "Keepers of Culture": Music Clubs, Community Concert Series, and Symphony Orchestras

1. The chapter epigraph quotes Madeline Heineman Berger from John Bret Harte, "Bicentennial Profile: She [Berger] Brought Magic of Music to Dusty Desert Community," Tucson Citizen , 25 June 1975 (University of Arizona Library, Special Collections). In 1906 Berger helped found the Saturday Morning Musical Club, and she served as its president for 30 of the next 34 years.

2. Jennie June Croly, The History of the Woman's Club Movement in America (New York: Henry-G. Allen, 1898), 1.

3. See James R. Hines, "Musical Activity in Norfolk, Virginia, 1680-1973" (Ph.D. diss., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1974), 310, 313.

4. Club motto as quoted in Maryann M. Burns, "Portland Rossini Club" (typescript in Rossini Club Archives, Portland, Maine), 2.

5. Anna Dennis, "The Zoch Club, of Minneapolis, Minn.," in The Record of the Founding Meeting of the National Federation of Music Clubs , National Federation of Music Clubs, pub. no. R3 (1973) [hereafter cited as Record ], 97-98

6. Mrs. Sara B. Thresher, "The Mozart Club, of Dayton, Ohio," in Record , 57.

7. Mrs. William H. Myers, president, Morning Musical Club of Fort Wayne, Indiana, quoted in Record , 46.

8. Mrs. S. S. DeLano, president, Tuesday Musical Club of Detroit, Michigan, quoted in Record , 59.

9. Record , 4.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid., 5.

12. Theodore H. Bauer, "Women's Clubs a Dominant Factor in Music," Musical Monitor 8, no. 9 (June 1919): [431].

13. C. A., "Woman—The Potent Influence in Our Musical Life," Musical America 12 (8 October 1910): 4. Mrs. Crosby Adams, author of "Musical Creative Work among Women," Music 9 (1895-96): 163-72, may have been C. A.

14. Past Presidents' Assembly of the National Federation of Music Clubs, Blue Book (N.p.: National Federation of Music Clubs, 1927), 1.

15. Reprinted in "Women's Musical Clubs," Musical Courier 4 (September 1904): 6.

16. These include the orchestras of Boston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York Symphony, New York Philharmonic, and Russian Symphony of New York. The opera companies were the Ben Greet Players, the Chicago Grand Opera Company, and the San Carlo Opera Company. The chamber ensembles included the Cleveland, Flonzaley, Kneisel, Olive Mead, and Spiering string quartets; the Metropolitan Grand Opera Quartet, and the New York Opera Quartet.

17. By the second decade of this century, the NFMC had an extensive service platform that encouraged member clubs to demand the use of English by visiting concert artists, found local music libraries, give money to an Emergency Loan Fund for needy musicians, entreat local governments to nurture bands and orchestras, and champion music in public education. By 1930 the NFMC had a membership of 400,000 including 5,000 organizations and 2,000 junior clubs. (Ruth Haller Ottaway, "Music Clubs, A Significant Factor in National Development," in Volume of Proceedings of the Music Teachers National Association . . . December 29, 30, 31, 1930 [Oberlin, Ohio: Music Teachers National Association, 1931], [120].)

18. Cleveland Fortnightly Musical Club (18 February 1896), Minutes, 1895-96 Western Reserve Historical Society [hereafter WRHS], MSS 3509, container 1, vol. 2). The minutes for 3 March 1896 report that the club had gone ahead and secured Heinrich as soloist; a woman either could not be engaged or was too expensive.

19. The minutes of the Second Annual Meeting of the Cleveland Fotnightly Musical Club report that the club had sponsored the great Belgian violinist Eugene Ysaÿe and the Thomas Orchestra (Minutes, 1894-95, WRHS, MSS 3509, container 1, vol. 1).

20. As quoted in "The Woman's Club a Factor in General Music Culture," in "Woman's Work in Music," Etude 16 (May 1898): 132.

21. Minutes, 1895-1896, WRHS, MSS 3509, container 1, vol. 2.

22. The minutes of 14 April 1896 report a deficit of $1,988.37 for the four Thomas concerts, making it necessary to call for 80 percent of the guarantee fund (Minutes 1895-96, WRHS, MSS 3509, container 1, vol. 2). The following year the club was more effective in selling seats (the minutes do not reveal if different methods were tried). The treasurer's report indicates that the club received $5,673.25 ($3,704.25 from the sale of seats and $1,969.00 from guarantors) to offset expenditures of $5,645.97 (the orchestra was paid $4,000.00 for four concerts). This special budget for the orchestra concerts was kept separate from the regular club budget: receipts $4,343.86 ($2,504.00 from membership fees) and expenditures $3,989.06 (Fortnightly Musical Club, Cleveland, Members' Book, 1896-97, WRHS, MSS 3509, container 4, folder 4).

23. C. A., "Woman—The Potent Force in Our Musical Life," 3.

24. Record , 69.

25. Women mentioned include: Marie G. Deem of Valley City, North Dakota, Rebecca Switzer of Itasca, Texas, and Frances Weller of Peoria, Illinois, for bringing artists to their communities; Bettie Fleischman Holmes of Cincinnati for her work in establishing the Cincinnati Symphony; and Mrs. George O. Fuller and Mrs. E. C. Ellis of Kansas City for their efforts in raising the money to organize a permanent orchestra.

26. Address by Amor W. Sharp, 18 March 1913, printed by the Women's Music Club of Columbus, Ohio (Ohio Historical Society, MSS 446, box 1, folder 24), 9.

27. Ibid.

28. Ibid.

29. This is cited as the first time that blacks had been invited to participate in a state convention.

30. WRHS, MSS 3509, container 1, vol. 4.

31. Adella Prentiss Hughes, Music Is My Life (Cleveland: World Publishing Co., 1947), 56-57.

32. "Annual Report of Secretary," in The Fortnightly Musical Club, Cleveland, Ohio, Member's Book, 1901-1902 (WRHS, MSS 3509, container 4, folder 4, 12).

33. "Annual Report of the Symphony Orchestra Concerts Sixth Season, 1906-1907" (WRHS, MSS 3509, container 4, folder 4, 13).

34. Hughes, Music , 118.

35. As reported in Wilma Salisbury, "Adella Prentiss Hughes," Plain Dealer Magazine , 10 December 1978, as cited in Jennifer Lancashire Zapfe, "The Founding and Early Years of the Cleveland Orchestra" (master's thesis, University of Georgia, 1990), 12.

36. Ibid. Zapfe relates that Hughes, in her retirement speech (presumably as manager of the Cleveland Orchestra in 1933), acknowledged that she was fortunate to have family connections with the Castles, the Nortons, the Severances, the Mathers, the Wades and the Chrisholmes (clipping file, Fine Arts Division, Cleveland Public Library).

37. Fortune , November 1931, as cited in Zapfe, "Founding and Early Years of the Cleveland Orchestra," 11.

38. Barbara Sue Lamb, "Thursday Musical in the Musical Life of Minneapolis" (Ph.D. diss., University of Minnesota, 1983), 36-37.

39. Musical U.S.A. , ed. Quaintance Eaton (New York: Allen, Towne, Heath, 1949), 134.

40. Anna Eugénie Schoen-René's activities are described in her autobiography, America's Musical Inheritance: Memories and Reminiscences (New York: Putnam, 1941).

41. [Anna Tucker], The Atlanta Music Club, Silver Anniversary, 1915-1940 (n.p., n.d.), copy from the Atlanta Historical Society, 28.

42. M. S., "Public Service Must Be Aim of Manager, Says Mrs. Colbert," Musical America 33 (2 April 1921): 29.

43. See Leonie C. Frank, Musical Life in Early Cincinnati and the Origin of the May Festival (Cincinnati: Ruter Press, 1932), 23, and Louis Russell Thomas, "A History of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to 1931," 2 vols. (Ph.D. diss., University of Cincinnati, 1972), 41.

44. Sophie Guggenheimer Untermeyer and Alix Williamson, Mother Is Minnie (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1960).

45. Anna Laura Kidder, "The Northampton Clef Club Story, 1905-1939" (Northampton Historical Society, Northampton, Mass., typescript), 33.

46. Ibid.

47. Lawrence Levine, Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1988), 118, 129.

48. Ibid., 129-32.

49. Kathleen D. McCarthy, Women's Culture: American Philanthropy and Art, 1830-1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), 61.

50. The Boston Symphony Orchestra is the clearest exception: during its first thirty years, it was the pet project of one devoted and musically cultured financier, Henry Lee Higginson.

51. Many other women have worked for the establishment of permanent orchestras in their communities. In 1907, Nettie Snyder helped to organize a fund to start the St. Paul Symphony, which she managed until 1909 (Linda Faye Parker, "Women in Music in St. Paul Minnesota, 1983], 91-92). The founding of the Houston Symphony Orchestra was organized by Ima Hogg, who served twelve terms as president of the board of directors, founded the women's committee, and directed fund-raising efforts. See Virginia Bernhard, Ima Hogg: The Governor's Daughter (Austin: Texas Monthly Press, 1984), 3. In Washington, Alice Byrnes, longtime leader of the Friday Morning Music Club, along with the composer Mary Howe and her husband Bruce, were prime movers in the establishment of the National Symphony. Mary Howe generously contributed both labor and money to the establishment of the orchestra. See Mary Howe, Jottings (Washington, D.C.: privately printed, 1959), and Sister Mary Virginia Butkovich, "Hans Kindler, 1892-1949" (Ph.D. diss., The Catholic University of America, 1965). The Greeley Philharmonic was an outgrowth of concerts presented by the Fortnightly Musical Club between 1908 and 1911; similarly the Grand Rapids Symphony was organized through the work of the St. Cecilia Society in that city.

52. Levine, Highbrow , 132.

53. The full history of the orchestra has been reconstructed in Thomas, "History of the Cincinnati Symphony."

54. Ibid., 101, quotes the Times-Star , 13 April 1894, 5, as assuring its readers that the "officers will be ladies," but the "advisory committee in charge of the funds . . . will be representative business men."

55. Ibid., quoting the Musical Courier , 9 January 1895.

56. Helen Herron Taft, Recollection of Full Years (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1914), 30. In her early twenties Taft held literary salons at her home that were frequented by her future husband, William Howard Taft, twenty-seventh president of the United States.

57. Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Minutes (13 May 1895), vol. 1, p. 92, as quoted in Thomas, "History of the Cincinnati Symphony," 159.

58. Thomas, "History of the Cincinnati Symphony," 206-24, 326.

59. Ibid., 356.

60. Ibid., 144.

61. Ibid., 390-93.

62. Ibid., 393.

63. Anonymous notes from the program of the Philadelphia Orchestra of 27 and 28 March 1925, as quoted in Frances Anne Wister, Twenty-Five Years of the Philadelphia Orchestra, 1900-1925 (Philadelphia: Women's Committees of the Philadelphia Orchestra, 1925), 19.

64. Wister came from a wealthy and prominent Philadelphia family. Her father, William Wister, was an attorney. Her sister was married to the novelist Owen Wister (1860-1938), a distant cousin, author of The Virginian .

65. Wister, Twenty-Five Years , 61

66. Ibid., 63.

67. Ibid., 68, 70. In Philadelphia there were approximately 750 people who contributed to the guarantee fund over a period of sixteen years (1900-1916).

68. Howard Shanet, Philharmonic: A History of New York's Orchestra (New York: Doubleday, 1975), 209.

69. Ibid., 215-17. See also Alma Mahler, Gustav Mahler: Memories and Letters , enl. and rev. ed., trans. Basil Creighton, ed. Donald Mitchell (New York: Viking, 1969), 166, 184-85, 188-89; and Harold C. Schonberg, "Gustav Mahler," in The Great Conductors (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1967), 233-35.

70. Hughes, Music , 248-55. Zapfe, "Founding and Early Years of the Cleveland Orchestra," stresses Sokoloff's role in the forming of the Cleveland Orchestra but recognizes the financial importance of Hughes's efforts.

71. Zapfe, "Founding and Early Years of the Cleveland Orchestra," 18-19.

72. Hughes, Music , 283-84.

73. Ibid., preface, [13]

74. Wister, Twenty-Five Years , 69. "The discouraging part of the Guarantee Fund method of financing an orchestra lay in the fact that the work was never-ending. A certain number of guarantees expired each season and the guarantors had to be persuaded by all the arts of man and woman to renew their pledges. The fact that their money was to be immediately spent, militated, in the minds of many people, against the Fund. It is so much pleasanter to think of one's gift safely ensconced in a permanent fund yielding an income year after year for a favorite cause."

75. Ibid., 114-15.

76. Shanet, Philharmonic , 224-26.

77. Ibid., 294.

78. Thomas, "History of the Cincinnati Symphony," 614-16.

79. See Carolyn Heilbrun, Writing a Woman's Life (New York: Ballantine Books, 1988).

80. Marie Benedict, "Woman's Share in the Musical Civilization of the Public," Etude 19, no. 9 (September 1901): 318.

81. Rose Fay Thomas, "Women's Amateur Musical Club," Music (1899): 279.

82. McCarthy. Women's Culture , 145.

83. Ibid., xv.

84. Gregoria Fraser Goins, "History of the Treble Clef Club (Founded 1897)" (Gregoria Fraser Goins Papers, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University, notebooks 36-15, folder 149, typed transcript of wire recording), [2].

85. Minutes of the Treble Clef Club, 1924-28 (Gregoria Fraser Goins Papers, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University, 36-15, folder 152), 28 April 1926.

86. Enquirer , 8 February 1904, n.p., Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Scrapbook, vol. 2, as quoted in Thomas, "History of the Cincinnati Symphony," 240.

87. Olivia H. Grosvenor, president of the Rubinstein Club of Memphis, in Record , 61. Many clubwomen left the concept of "separate spheres" unchallenged. See Karen Blair, The Clubwoman as Feminist: True Womanhood Redefined, 1869-1914 (New York: Homes & Meier, 1980), 119.

88. Croly, Woman's Club Movement , [1].

89. May Wright Sewall, "Women's Clubs—A Symposium," Arena 6, no. 33 (1893): 378.

90. Mary I. Wood, The History of the General Federation of Women's Clubs (New York: Norwood, 1912), 305.

91. Rheta Childe Dorr, What Eight Million Women Want (Boston: Small, Maynard, 1910), 13.

92. Amy Fay, "Women and Music," Music 18 (October 1900): 506.

93. Grover Cleveland in the Ladies' Home Journal (January 1902), as quoted in Sophonisba P. Breckinridge, Women in the Twentieth Century: A Study of Their Political, Social and Economic Activities (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1933), 32.

94. C. A., "Woman—The Potent Influence," 3.

95. "Press Women Hear Music and Wit," Musical Courier 49, no. 22 (30 November 1904): 33.

96. Quoted in Louise Llewellyn, "The Development of the Music Conservatory in America," Musical America 14 (24 June 1911): 13.

97. Linda Kerber, "Separate Spheres, Female Worlds, Woman's Place: The Rhetoric of Women's History," Journal of American History 75 (1988): 15.

98. See Judith Tick, "Charles Ives and the 'Masculine' Ideal," in Musicology and Difference Sexuality and Gender in Musical Scholarship , ed. Ruth A. Solie (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993), 83-104. It is interesting to note that individual women's clubs do not appear to have played a leading supportive role in the funding of all-women's professional orchestras and ensembles. They did, however, provide opportunities for instrumentalists to perform in all-member groups for club programs.

99. Concerning the concept of gender, the feminist philosopher Elizabeth Minnich states: "When we look for gender, we bring to the surface the immensely complex construction of power, knowledge, identity, and culture of the articulated hierarchy—which . . . is informed by and informs also race and class, as well as other human systems of differentiation" ( Transforming Knowledge [Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990], 141). Feminist theorists have led the way from our early notion of "gender as the socially constructed and highly varied cultural expression of biological sex (gender as a slightly more politicized understanding of the old 'sex role') to a point at which sex itself seems to be constructed by gender rather than the other way around" (ibid., 140). Following Minnich's lead, I use the term "sex/gender" to refer to what has been the most essential power-signifying system of the dominant culture.

100. See Kerber, "Separate Spheres," 32.

Three— Living with Music: Isabella Stewart Gardner

1. On ISG and her museum, see Louise Hall Tharp, Mrs. Jack (Boston: Little, Brown, 1965); Morris Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner and Fenway Court (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1925; reprint, Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 1972); Kathleen D. McCarthy, Women's Culture American Philanthropy and Art, 1830-1930 , ch. 6, "Isabella Stewart Gardner and Fenway Court" (Chicago University of Chicago Press, 1991), 149-76; and further bibliography in Ralph P. Locke, "Isabella Stewart Gardner," in The New Grove Dictionary of American Music , ed. H. Wiley Hitchcock and Stanley Sadie, 4 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1986). Catalogues of the Gardner Museum's holdings can be purchased from the museum, and specific holdings are explored in its annual journal, Fenway Court . Much can also be gleaned about Gardner from three rich biographical studies of her chief artistic advisor, Bernard Berenson: Ernest Samuels, Bernard Berenson: The Making of a Connoisseur (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1979); idem, with Jayne Newcomer Samuels, Bernard Berenson: The Making of a Legend (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1987); and Meryle Secrest, Being Bernard Berenson: A Biography (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Win- soft

ston, 1979). A well-informed overview of ISG's life and collecting can be found in Hadley's pages of commentary in Letters of Bernard Berenson and Isabella Stewart Gardner, 1887-1924, with Correspondence by Mary Berenson , ed. Rollin van N. Hadley (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1987), xiii-xxvi, 3-4, 33-37, 241-42, 585-86; the letters themselves are studded with remarks on opera performances, private concerts, and encounters with musician friends and with other patrons of the arts. The epigraph to the present chapter is from a letter of 1894 in Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 141.

2. Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 160-61; Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 197-98.

3. Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 111, 196, 197, 316; Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 199.

4. Quoted in Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 4. On the exclusiveness of Boston society, see Ronald Story, Harvard and the Boston Upper Class: The Forging of an Aristocracy, 1800-1870 (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1980), and Betty G. Farrell, Elite Families: Class and Power in Nineteenth-Century Boston (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993).

5. In March 1990 the Gardner Museum made the news when it was robbed of a dozen art works by, among others, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas, and Manet; the case remains unsolved.

6. Most research on local history in music depends, of course, on newspapers. But the dailies and even the week or monthly "society" journals give only the briefest glimpses into such matters—crucial to the social history of American music—as performances at private parties and celebrations, or individual patronage of institutions. At least this seems to be the case with Town Topics (excerpts cited throughout Tharp, Mrs. Jack ; discussed there on p. 329) and Pittsburgh's Pittsburg [sic] Bulletin (unpublished study and index of the issues for the social year 1897-98 by Sharon Saunders).

7. Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 10; Judith Tick, "Passed Away Is the Piano Girl," in Women Making Music: The Western Art Tradition, 1150-1950 , ed. Jane Bowers and Judith Tick (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986), 325-48; Clara Kathleen Rogers, The Story of Two Lives: Home, Friends, and Travel (Norwood, Mass.: privately printed, 1932), 36.

8. Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 39, 113. For glimpses of musical life in Boston at various times in ISG's years there, see, in addition to various books cited below (including accounts of the Boston Symphony and the Boston Opera Company, and various musicians' memoirs), three life-and-works studies of important composers: John C. Schmidt, The Life and Works of John Knowles Paine (Ann Arbor, Mich.: UMI Research Press, 1980); Ellen E. Knight, Charles Martin Loeffler: A Life Apart in American Music (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993); and Victor Fell Yellin, Chadwick: Yankee Musician (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990). See also David Francis Urrows, "Apollo in Athens: Otto Dresel and Boston, 1850-90," American Music 12 (1994): 345-88. (In those days, Boston fancied itself the "Athens of the New World," also the "Hub of the Universe": headlines in Boston newspapers still sometimes refer to the city as "the Hub.") Further insights are offered in a review essay by Pamela Fox: "Rebellious Tradition and Boston's Musical Spirit of Place: Elitism, Populism, and Lives Apart," Musical Quarterly 78 (1994): 220-45.

9. Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 36, 38, 44, 61, 67, 69, 70, 73, 76-78, 81, 128; Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 57, 103, 133, 148. One might also mention trips to galleries, concerts, and the theater in England, Paris, and Bavaria, 1890 (Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 146). In Venice, 1884: "the music was good" at Mrs. Bronson's, ISG said (Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 103).

10. Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 44, 100-105, 116-17, 138-39, 146, 178. Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 100-101. William Coles, "Isabella Stewart Gardner and the Brownings," Fenway Court , 1987, 24-29. On ISG's Wagnerian passion (in 1886 she seems to have attended three festival performances of Tristan and three of Parsifal in eight days), see Ralph P. Locke, "Leaves from Bayreuth," Fenway Court , 1975, 19-26, and Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 101.

11. Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 110.

12. Ibid., 116, 139, 178, 243, all based on Gericke's letter to ISG (February or March 1889), which simply asks whether the Boston Symphony members (over thirty of them) could come at 10 A.M. to rehearse for the forthcoming concert there (including works of Wagner and others), or whether that would be too noisy for Mr. Gardner.

13. On gender roles in nineteenth-century America, see, e.g., Nancy F. Cott, The Bonds of Womanhood: "Woman's Sphere" in New England, 1780-1835 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977), and Harvey Green, with Mary-Ellen Perry, The Light of the Home: An Intimate View of the Lives of Women in Victorian America (New York: Pantheon Books, 1983). In Boston, more than in many other cities, men dominated the institutions of high culture (e.g., the Atheneum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Handel and Haydn Society, and, of course, Higginson's Boston Symphony). ISG's almost single-handed creation of an art museum—and holding of two weeks of "open days" on which two hundred people daily could, for $1.00 apiece, visit it—was a frank incursion into male cultural terrain, complete with its attendant risks. (One visitor tried to snip herself a souvenir from a tapestry.) Her home musicales, in contrast, built on a more familiar female pattern, in that they were mainly arranged for private guests, not thrown open to the unpredictable public.

14. Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 173; also 14, 24, 34, 118, 128, 166. Carter was the aging Isabella's amanuensis and, at her instruction, the first director of the Gardner Museum. He had not, however, known her husband, so his remarks about the couple's relationship must have been based primarily on what he could glean from Isabella herself, from remarks of her friends and relatives, and from the letters and (rather unrevealing) diaries in the collection.

15. Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 191-93.

16. Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 173: "Mr. Gardner had shielded and protected her, had done everything to make life go smoothly for her and to provide the setting and background for her fascinating personality. He was delighted to see her surrounded by brilliant men, artists, and musicians, and to have his house the centre of a coterie unrivalled in Boston." See Jack's pleased, self-mocking letter about the ride in "Guillermo's music boat" with which Isabella surprised her guests in 1892 (ibid., 128).

17. Letters , ed. Hadley, gives Jackie's birth date correctly on p. xiii, incorrectly on p. xviii. Tharp infers a second pregnancy and miscarriage; Carter cities the doctor's fear that ISG's always delicate health would be threatened by a second childbirth (the first had been traumatic); Hadley accepts Tharp's inference ( Letters , xviii). Sometime later, beginning in 1875, the Gardners did again have the (perhaps bittersweet) pleasure of being responsible for children, when Jack's three nephews, aged 9-14, were suddenly orphaned; the boys, though, lived primarily at boarding schools, not at 150-152 Beacon Street.

18. Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 35-44; Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 25-29. On definitions and images of female depression in this period, see Diana Price Herndl, Invalid Women: Figuring Feminine Illness in American Fiction and Culture, 1840-1940 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993).

19. One blowup by Jack, in 1898 (months before his sudden death), was the result of rumors that Berenson was "dishonest in money dealings" (i.e., asking clients to pay inflated prices, from which he would skim additional profit for himself and the firm for which he effectively worked, Colnaghi). Even so, Jack did not refuse to lend Isabella the money for four paintings that she wanted; rather, he warned Berenson (through Isabella) that his honesty was at stake, implying that he should bargain with the owners to keep the price as low as possible ( Letters , ed. Hadley, 154, also 36). Berenson complied, and the pictures, three Rembrandts and a Terborch (see text below), were purchased for the collection.

20. Letter of 1918 (?) in Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 233; cf. 230-33.

21. Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 143, 157-58; Hadley states that the figure was closer to $1.75 million ( Letters , xix).

22. ISG did have to contend occasionally with Jack's "nay-saying trustees," as McCarthy puts it ( Women's Culture , 169, 174, 176). One instance (in Letters , ed. Hadley, 188) shows Gardner herself realizing that an available Titian, Sacred and Profane Love , was far out of her league. Nonetheless, she succeeded in depleting her various funds, much more fully than others would have thought wise, in order to snag the best art when it came on the market, often vying with major museums, including Boston's own Museum of Fine Arts.

23. See, e.g., Letters , ed. Hadley, 610.

24. Susan Metcalfe Casals to ISG, various dates; also Loeffler to ISG, no. 73, "Sunday." Ferruccio Busoni, Letters to His Wife , trans. Rosamond Ley (London: Edward Arnold, 1938), 70-72; also Loeffler to ISG, no. 46, 28 October 1904. On d'Indy, see text below, at n. 80.

25. Damrosch: Loeffler to ISG, no. 37, "Monday":; Damrosch to ISG, [1908]; ISG to Damrosch, 2 April [1908] (Library of Congress, with plans for a similar talk on Strauss's Salome the next year). The rest: Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 205-6, 211-12, and Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 252, 254-55, cf. 206. The Kneisel performance with the Foote premiere was reviewed in the Boston Evening Transcript , 9 December 1908, 27 (according to the Foote scholar Wilma Reid Cipolla). There are degrees of "publicness" in concerts. The Kneisel concerts—true public events, as the existence of a published review attests—were held at ISG's home only because their usual hall was under repair. I do not know how widely the other two events (Damrosch, Flonzaley) were publicized. Perhaps notice of the Damrosch went only to subscribers to the Boston Opera Company; still, a small fee was definitely collected at the door from at least some people (from nonsubscribers?), for ISG forwarded the minuscule proceeds ($4.00 total) to Damrosch in the above-mentioned letter.

26. The Music Room was split after a final concert, by the soprano Alice Nielsen and George Proctor, for six or eight friends (Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 240).

27. Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 247, and Ralph P. Locke, "Charles Martin Loeffler: Composer at Court," Fenway Court , 1974, 30-37. ISG called Proctor "a musical protégé of mine" in a letter of 1901 to Bernard Berenson ( Letters , ed. Hadley, 253).

28. ISG to Hans Coudenhove, 15 November 1922, in Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 251; cf. Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 249, 291.

29. On ISG's house-museum as aesthetic creation and exemplar of turn-of-the-century taste, see Anne Higonnet, "Where There's a Will . . . ," Art in America 77, no. 1 (May 1989): 65-75. The desire of ISG and others to create a new aesthetic-and-social context for art, replacing but perhaps also echoing its original context of church or palace, was made explicit in public lectures by her friend, the noted museum director Matthew Stewart Prichard (copies are in the Gardner Museum); this re contextualizing is not adequately addressed by some recent cultural historians, who stress solely the de contextualization of collected art and at most admit that the new context is a specious attempt at "harmony" (e.g., Rémy Saisselin, The Bourgeois and the Bibelot [New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1984]). ISG was also close to the historicizing architect Ralph Adams Cram: on his work (e.g., at the Episcopalian Church of the Advent) and his involvement in Boston's gay and lesbian subculture, see Douglass Shand-Tucci, Ralph Adams Cram: Life and Architecture , vol. 1: Boston Bohemia, 1881-1900 (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1995).

30. See three thank-you notes to ISG after visits: L. Earl Rowe (12 June 1908; he was an important museum director), Heinrich Gebhard (11 June 1908), and Garrick Mallory Borden (n.d.). There was, by design, no electric lighting installed in the three floors of galleries, although there was in the Music Room, the private quarters on the fourth floor, and, presumably, the kitchen and other service areas.

31. Apthorp to ISG, 12 February 1908, Helouan, Egypt.

32. Apthorp, review of the Boston Symphony performance at the home's unveiling, cited in Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 244. In November 1903 she purchased four tapestries and "placed" them on the Music Room stage—apparently on standing frames (see fig. 9)—"where they made the setting for whatever performance was given there" (Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 215).

33. Apthorp review, cited in Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 244; also Ferruccio Busoni, Briefe an seine Frau , ed. Friedrich Schnapp (Zurich: Rotapfel-Verlag, 1935), 75 ("einen idealen Concertsaal"); Letters , ed. Hadley, 71; Loeffler to ISG, no. 55, Tuesday [24 April 1906]; Arthur Foote to ISG, 12 March 1906. Cf. Clayton Johns, Reminiscences of a Musician (Cambridge, Mass.: Washburn & Thomas, 1929), 54, Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 190-91, and Letters , ed. Hadley, 313 (ISG sending Bernard Berenson the article by Apthorp and expressing her own pleasant surprise at the acoustics: "Perfection is the only word. Don't you call that luck?").

34. On the Whistlers, see Deborah Gribbon, "Whistler's Sketch of an Unfinished Symphony," Fenway Court: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum , 1980, 26-33.

35. Sullivan to ISG, 21 July 1892.

36. Cf. Ignace Jan Paderewski and Mary Lawton, The Paderewski Memoirs (New York: Scribner, 1938), 208.

37. Johns, Reminiscences , 55-56, 68-71. Could these Dixeys be related to the renowned actor Herbert Edward Dixey?

38. Gebhard, Reminiscences of a Boston Musician ([Boston?]: [the author?], ca. 1945), [5, 9-11]. (This brief, unpaginated booklet lacks publishing data; no copy, to my knowledge, exists in any library. I am grateful to Ellen Knight for providing me with a photocopy.) The other host families mentioned are Bird, Higginson, Mason, Sears (again), and Slater; the Loeffler-Gebhard duo's repertoire around this time included Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Strauss, Grieg, Franck, Fauré, Debussy, d'Indy, Saint-Saëns, and Ropartz. Gebhard mentions, for the solo performance at Lowell's soirées, "Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, DeFalla, etc."

39. Paderewski, Memoirs , 230-34.

40. Loeffler to ISG, no. 86, 29 January 1920.

41. Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 148.

42. Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 243, 252-53 (quotation from letter of Elise Fay to her future husband, C. M. Loeffler); Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 206. Tharp says (inaccurately?) Melba "and her entire company."

43. Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 114-15, cf. 206.

44. How thrilling ISG's every move had become is apparent in the report, in Town Topics (December 1895), of this very activity: "There is quite a twitter among the Boston elect over the first appearance in a public concert tomorrow of Mrs. Gardner's latest and most interesting protégé, Tirindelli, the Venetian violinist. . . . Tirindelli is to play at Miss [Lena] Little's concert. Miss Little, too, is one of Mrs. Jack's favorites and through this lady's friend- soft

ship has become the accepted concert singer for the ultra swell coterie. It is rumored that Mrs. Jack, in a ravishing costume, will distribute the programs as she did at Clayton Johns' recital" (quoted in Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 195).

45. Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 3-4, 243. Cf. Paderewski, Memoirs , 229-30.

46. Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 199-200.

47. Ibid., 205; Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 247-48, 381; Gebhard, Reminiscences [4-6]; Letters , ed. Hadley, 414-15.

48. M. A. DeWolfe Howe, The Boston Symphony Orchestra: 1881-1931 , rev. ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1931), 69, 117-18, 121, 137-51; Gebhard, Reminiscences , [6-7, 9-10]; Quaintance Eaton, The Boston Opera Company (New York: Appleton-Century, 1965), 140-42; more generally, see Elaine Brody, "Vive la France: Gallic Accents in American Music from 1880 to 1914," Musical Quarterly 65 (1979): 200-211.

49. One of the surviving programs is reproduced in Locke, "Charles Martin Loeffler," 35. The Rameau pieces were presumably drawn from the Pièces de clavecin en concert (1741). The Mattheson sarabande was presumably the same one that later served as the theme for a set of variations in Loeffler's Partita for Violin and Piano (published 1930; the theme is stated by the piano alone). The Martini was presumably performed in the arrangement by Louis van Waefelghem, Loeffler's copy of which is now in the Library of Congress.

50. Mary Berenson to ISG, 10 December 1904, in Letters , ed. Hadley, 353.

51. Bernard Berenson had earlier (6 January 1897) written to ISG of the revelation of hearing, in Fiesole, "[Arnold] Dolmetsch with his ancient instruments, and old music," saying, "at last I am hearing the sort of thing I always have longed for" ( Letters , ed. Hadley, 73).

52. Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 117-18 (private flamenco performance in the New York studio of the artist William Merritt Chase, arranged by Sargent, who shared the expense), 140-41, 123.

53. Paderewski, Memoirs , 215-18 and (quotation) 209.

54. Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 122-23; cf. Johns, Reminiscences , 54, and Paderewski, Memoirs , 208-9 (other "at home" performances).

55. Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 91.

56. Ibid., 172.

57. Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 216.

58. Ibid., 218.

59. Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 167; cf. 128-29, 148.

60. ISG to the Berensons, 24 December [1904], in Letters , ed. Hadley, 355. Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , Tharp, Mrs. Jack , and Letters , ed. Hadley, all contain references to further occasions that (either explicitly or presumably) were enriched by music. Some of these were rather simple (ISG wrote of "amateur performances . . . for a charity" [ Letters , ed. Hadley, 330]), others quite elaborate, e.g., a "Come-Out" ball for her niece Catherine Gardner in winter 1904-5 that brought social luminaries in from New York ( Letters , ed. Hadley, 354, 357n) or a "Japanese Festival Village" set up for a week in the Music Room to raise funds for a tuberculosis hospital—the village, constructed and run by "the Japs" ("such neat, able, delightful little workmen!")—included singing and dancing, rickshaw rides, games, jiu-jitsu exhibitions, and hawkers selling penny toys ( Letters , ed. Hadley, 357n, 364). On "ladies' fairs," or "fancy fairs" (charitable bazaars and the like), see Fox, "Rebellious Tradition," 225.

61. Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 141, 194 (this, to be fair, apparently took place at an open rehearsal); cf. 186 and Loeffler's revealing description of "Tim Adams" (cited in Locke, "Charles Martin Loeffler," 32).

62. Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 160, 172, 192, 194; Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 253-54. Foote (also regarding a third summer in Beverly, 1893): Arthur Foote, An Autobiography , ed. Wilma Reid Cipolla (New York: Da Capo Press, 1979), 57, 85-86, 88, 92, 140, 145. "Green Hill," which Jack inherited in 1884, was, as already noted, the scene of various concerts: these included performances by Julia Heinrich, Proctor, and Gebhard (17 May 1900), by Adamowski, Loeffler, and Johns (1891; Locke, "Charles Martin Loeffler," 32), and several by the singer Lawrence Smith Butler, who also sang to ISG in Paris (Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 186, 219; Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 106-8, 117, 309). ISG sold "Green Hill" sometime before the end of 1919.

63. Complete programs in Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 114-15.

64. Johns gave her the manuscript of his "Scythe Song," her favorite of his songs (Johns, Reminiscences , 64); nineteen Tirindelli manuscripts are also in the Gardner Museum.

65. "Plaisir d'amour": Locke, "Charles Martin Loeffler," 33-35. Grainger to ISG, 14 December 1906 and 28 February 1915 (responding to a letter from her asking the name of the piece, which he had played—as an encore?—in a public recital); see also letter from Grainger to ISG, 7 December 1918, formerly in Library of Congress, now in Grainger Museum, University of Melbourne, Australia.

66. Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 234 (with a letter to her that suggests that those friends who were "up to" The Red Moon may have been mostly male). The somewhat demeaning tone of Carter's (Mrs. Gardner's?) remark about feet is echoed more explicitly in several other discussions of African-Americans (ibid., 11, 25-26), but admiration is also there—for the dancers' skill (Gardner was a fine dancer herself [ibid., 21, 30-32]) and for their vitality (cf. ibid., 107). As for May Irwin, a new generation of listeners and critics can now experience her brazen art on the 3-CD set Music from the New York Stage , vol. 1 (Pearl 9050), and reflect on its astonishing mixture of female self-assertion and rank racism.

67. Carter also mentions her distaste for "the cynical, sophisticated licentiousness which rewards so richly our theatrical producers" ( Isabella Stewart Gardner , 234).

68. ISG to Loeffler, Friday [late November 1910?], Library of Congress. Foote to ISG, 15 August 1892, telling her that the song she has asked about—presumably the oft-anthologized "Dreams"—is by Anton Strelezki: "It has been wonderfully popular, but not the sort of thing you care for." (It is indeed a piece of hollow, if tuneful, grandiloquence.)

69. Gericke to ISG, no. 5a [1889].

70. This series of recitals was spread over four years (beginning in 1889?): Johns, Reminiscences , 45; Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 91. The surviving checkbooks list payments of $50 for each of the musicians on 2 February 1891 and 6 November 1891; $75, on 1 November 1892, 19 February 1892 ("for Bach"), and 10 March 1893 (this last was possibly a joint recital with Lena Little, since the singer also received a check—two, actually—that day).

71. 29 March 1894. Other musicians receiving checks in 1890-96 included Joseph Adamowski and Heinrich Gebhard (the latter for playing for Lena Little on 13 December 1895; presumably a tryout for her public recital, for which Gardner bought $17 worth of tickets on 20 December); also recorded are purchases of concert tickets and published music, and contributions to "Beethoven Club" ($12) and "Theodore Thomas Testimonial Fund" ($10).

72. Loeffler to ISG, no. 60, "Monday 27th" [1890?].

73. Gebhard to ISG, 25 May 1920; M. Carter to Loeffler, 26 April 1920 (Library of Congress); and over two dozen letters from Loeffler to ISG or vice versa from, mostly, 1919 to 1922 (selections in Locke, "Charles Martin Loeffler," 36).

74. Locke, "Charles Martin Loeffler," 32-36.

75. Gebhard, Reminiscences , [1].

76. Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 159-60, 179-80, 205-6, 224, 259, 274, 294-96; Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 123, 145-46.

77. Busoni, Stücke für Pianoforte , Op. 33b, nos. 4-6: "Fantasia in modo antico," "Finnische Ballade," and "Exeunt omnes" (Leipzig: C. F. Peters, 1896); nos. 1-3 in the set are dedicated to Max Reger. Cf. Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 141, and Nicolas Slonimsky, A Thing or Two about Music , repr. ed. (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1972), 167-70.

78. Bayreuth: Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 100-101, and Johns, Reminiscences , 44-45, 49-50; cf. 12-15 and 25-37. Ischl: Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 145-46, and Johns, Reminiscences , 61-62, cf. 82-86.

79. Johns, Reminiscences , 62.

80. Loeffler to ISG, no. 86, 19 January 1920; ISG to Loeffler, 13 April [1920] (Library of Congress); Loeffler to ISG, no. 92, 17 April 1920; Loeffler to ISG, no. 46, 28 October 1904; Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 252.

81. Rogers, recalling events in the Boston music rooms of ISG, Montgomery Sears, and Henry Lee Higginson ( Story , 36-37).

82. Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 209-11.

83. Loeffler to ISG, no. 24, 30 June 1899; Richard Hammond (Composer's Music Corporation, New York) to ISG, 20 December 1920; see also Gustave Schirmer to ISG, n.d., and Locke, "Charles Martin Loeffler," 33.

84. Tharp, Mrs. Jack , esp. 114-15, 247-51.

85. Melba: Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 95, 254 (letter undated). Gebhard to ISG, 5 May, 26 June, and 30 August 1922. Margaret Ruthven Lang to ISG, 14 May 1905. Johns to ISG, 2 April 1919.

86. Copies still in the Gardner Museum or (on her Verlaine holdings) attested in her letter to him of 30 January 1923 (Library of Congress, dictated to Morris Carter); Melville: ISG to Loeffler, dictated, 30 December 1921 (Library of Congress). The Mattheson works are Exemplarische Organisten-Probe (1719), and Der vollkommene Kapellmeister (1739). He also lent her a book on Lourdes (ISG to Loeffler, dictated, 4 December 1922; Library of Congress).

87. Locke, "Charles Martin Loeffler." Rogers notes that Loeffler, always unsure of himself, needed "inspiration and stimulus from our sympathetic appreciation" ( Story , 248).

88. Much later, he dedicated to her the first of his Historiettes for string quartet and harp (1922), a piece inspired by Jules Laforgue; cf. his letter to ISG, no. 104, 22 March 1921.

89. Loeffler to ISG, no. 22, 10 August 1898; no. 43, Thursday [1903]; no. 71, 6 January 1914; no. 78, 17 November 1918; ISG to Loeffler, 30 January 1923 (cited in n. 83); Loeffler to ISG, no. 94, 15 May 1920; further, see Tharp, Mrs. Jack , esp. 114-15, 247-51; Locke, "Charles Martin Loeffler"; and Knight, Loeffler , passim, esp. the photos after p. 242, plus pp. 58, 68-69 (but "afterward" may mean "years later"), 120-30, 93-94, 104-5, 156-58, 162, 169 (he kept a copy of Sargent's portrait of her on his desk), 192, 197, 232 (Loeffler to Richard Aldrich in 1924: "Since I lost my great friend Mrs. Gardner, this town means next to nothing to me").

90. On his "addiction" (as he put it) to jazz and his serious professional and personal relationship with George Gershwin (arranged through Kay Swift, who was his pupil), see Knight, Loeffler , 231-42.

91. Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 320. There is, though, an appreciative letter from Frederick Shepherd Converse in the Museum; also a letter from Loeffler praising Converse (29 January 1920)—cf. Knight, Loeffler , 208-16.

92. Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 188, 211. Her cosmopolitan absolutism resembles that of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge (see letter to Carl Engel in Vignette G below).

93. Rogers, Story , 149. Cf. Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 70, 149, 159, 171, 180, 202, 224, 258-60 (younger men); Johns, Reminiscences , 64; and Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 31-32, 102, 173.

94. Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 112-14; Rogers, Story , 187-89.

95. Rogers, Story , 148-49 (ISG), also 35-36 (ISG, discreetly left unnamed by Rogers) and 73-74 (Rogers—who had earlier been an opera singer—and the pianist Gericke perform Gounod's Faust for ISG and Loeffler plus six others).

96. Mary Berenson's husband Bernard, once a protégé of the Gardners, became one of the leading art scholars and dealers of the day (he sold the Gardners numerous master-works). Corinna Smith's husband, Joseph Lindon Smith, was an active painter with a strong literary bent. Tharp reports that ISG tried to help Joe and Corinna get his parents' approval to marry and that she befriended Loeffler's sometimes lonely fiancée, Elise Fay ( Mrs. Jack , 203, 250; Tharp's exaggerated view of Fay is counterbalanced by the portrait in Knight, Loeffler , esp. 40-42, 63-65, 169-71). On the Mucks, see below, at nn. 108-9.

97. Another reason that literary women were something of an exception (see n. 99) may be that Gardner was herself so confident about her own verbal acuteness and therefore did not feel threatened by them or unable to engage on an equal level.

98. Rogers, Story , 149.

99. McCarthy stresses Gardner's relative, although by no means total, avoidance of women's clubs ("separatist" organizations), a similar phenomenon; she rightly notes, though, that Gardner had several significant female literary friends, including Maude Howe Elliott, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Annie Fields ( Women's Culture , 162-63); to these one should perhaps also add the poet Amy Lowell and one painter, Cecilia Beaux. (On Jewett's circle of supportive women friends, see Paula Blanchard, Sarah Orne Jewett [Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1994]).

100. Knight, Loeffler , 120, 203; also further information from Ellen Knight (on Gardner's role).

101. B. J. and M. R. Lang to ISG, various dates.

102. See Katharine Foote Raffy's letters to ISG.

103. Eaton, Boston Opera Company , 8-9, 13, 97, 101, 162-63; Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 142, 237; Henry Russell, The Passing Show (London: Thornton Butterworth, 1926), 154, 165-68 (Mrs. Gardner, knowing the animosity between Melba and the opera director Russell "begged us to be friends for art's sake"; "terms and other conditions were arranged through Mrs. Gardner"—the crucial paragraphs are also reprinted in Nellie Melba: A Contemporary Review , compiled by William R. Moran [Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1985], 177-78).

104. ISG to Loeffler, "Friday" (Library of Congress), responding to his letter no. 68, 24 November 1910.

105. Tharp, Mrs. Jack , esp. 60, 113-14, 193-94, 290, 292.

106. Johns, Reminiscences , 65-66. Cf. Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 290.

107. ISG to the Berensons, 10 November [1916], in Letters , ed. Hadley, 591.

108. Pourtau: Loeffler to ISG, no. 22, 10 August 1898; ISG to Loeffler, [the 19th of an illegible month; year not stated] (Library of Congress). Nikisch: Locke, "Charles Martin Loeffler," 31. Henschel, Gericke, Monteux, Rabaud: various letters from them (and/or Loeffler) to ISG.

109. Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 300-306, based largely on letters from the Mucks to ISG.

110. Higginson to ISG, various dates, including 15 February 1903 and 14 March 1906 ("quick stocks").

111. "Alborni" (Emma Albani?)—31 January 1905.

112. Higginson to ISG, 9 January [1910?]. He also urged her to go to a dinner meeting for an unspecified cause: "Have no fear, for they want but will not ask for money" (21 February 1905). An earlier note (6 March 1883) thanks her for a $200 gift to "the Annex" (i.e., the future Radcliffe College).

113. H. Earle Johnson, Symphony Hall, Boston (Boston: Little, Brown, 1950), 25; cf. 27, 29. The Boston Symphony's clipping books (1889-1900) reveal that she bid high prices for seats year after year (information from Ellen Knight; one such case is cited in Tharp, Mrs. Jack , 194). She also had a plaque installed in Symphony Hall to honor the widely reported heroism of the musicians of the Titanic , who continued to play—hymns, it was said—as the ship sank (Johnson, Symphony Hall , 20; Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 237-38).

114. Hadley surely gives the wrong impression: "[W]ith [Ida Higginson's] husband Mrs. Gardner had helped found the Boston Symphony" ( Letters , 586).

115. Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 237 (regarding the Boston Opera Company).

116. Cf. Loeffler to ISG, regarding opera: "What is of course of greatest value to the cause of keeping the Opera in Boston alive is your interest in it, your speaking to others about it. Your words go a long ways on all matters and those of art above all. We shall be grateful to you for any words encouraging and stimulating others" (no. 67, "Friday" [1910]; cf. no. 68, which precedes no. 67 [from Gardner, cited above] chronologically, 24 November 1910).

117. Higginson to ISG, 10 May 1900 (inviting her to tour the orchestra's new home, Symphony Hall, with him before its official opening), in Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 186; cf. a long undated postscript (bearing the pagination 7) to a letter that otherwise does not survive): "I always knew that Jack would help me if need be, and I'd have asked him. I'm aging fast and wish to leave the orchestra set up well." Another deeply felt letter, written on his own wedding anniversary, states: "I can now only regard you as a benefaction & a friend to us [himself and his wife] & to me by whom you have always stood as staunchly as Jack did—& one can't possibly find a more loyal, courageous, nicer friend than he—Daily I miss him—very much" (5 December 1908). Also 10 January 1908: "I am ever mindful of your kindness or of Jack's."

118. ISG lent a number of Higginson's letters to his widow for possible use in his biography (letter of Ida Higginson, Christmas 1919). This—or ISG's destruction of many letters late in life—may explain why the first six pages are now missing from the letter with long postscript discussed in the previous note.

119. Higginson to ISG, 1 June 1905, also printed in Carter, Isabella Stewart Gardner , 208.

120. Gebhard, Reminiscences , [16].

121. Bernard Berenson to ISG, 3 December 1907, in Letters , ed. Hadley, 415.

122. Or, as the prominent conductor Walter Damrosch put it, ISG was "the leaven in the Boston lump" (Damrosch, My Musical Life [New York: Scribner, 1923], 115, 333-35, quotation from 334). Two reminiscences of ISG by musicians' wives have, like Damrosch's gone relatively unnoticed: the unpublished memoir of Marian MacDowell (Library of Congress) and Mrs. Reginald de Koven, A Musician and His Wife (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1926), 236-37.

123. The writings of Lawrence W. Levine, Paul DiMaggio, Bruce McConachie, and others reveal, but arguably overemphasize one-sidedly, the exclusivist aspects of private patronage in America's cultural life: see my "Music Lovers, Patrons, and the 'Sacralization' of Culture in America," Nineteenth-Century Music 17 (1993-94): 149-73, and 18 (1994-95): 83-84; a reduced version of that article is incorporated in Chapter 10 below. The full article also includes a more extensive discussion of the term "art music" (used without qualification in these concluding paragraphs).

1. A typed transcript of the letter was made available to me by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. (The original is lost.) The text is published by kind permission of the museum and Keller's daughter, Joan Keller Alden.

2. Letters of Bernard Berenson and Isabella Stewart Gardner, 1887-1924, with Correspondence by Mary Berenson , ed. Rollin van N. Hadley (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1987), xvi, 585, gives the date as 1919 in one place and, wrongly, as 1918 in another.

1. See David Stanley Smith, Gustave J. Stoeckel: Yale Pioneer in Music (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1939).

2. Quoted in Alice V. Waldecker, Norfolk, Ct., 1900-1975 (Winsted, Conn.: Winchester Press, 1976), 56.

3. Sydney Thompson, The History of the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Trust (n.p., n.d. [New Haven, ca. 1950?]), 11.

4. Winsted Evening Citizen , 3 June 1910.

5. Nils-Eric Ringborn, Jean Sibelius: A Master and His Work , trans. G. U. C. De Courcy (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1954), 125.

6. Letter of 5 June 1914 to Carpelan, cited in Erik Tawaststjerna, Sibelius , vol. 2: 1904-14 , trans. Robert Layton (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986), 274.

7. Harold Johnson, Jean Sibelius (New York: Knopf, 1959), 161.

8. Sibelius to his brother, cited in Johnson, Jean Sibelius , 163.

9. Ibid., 160.

10. "Will Norfolk Music Festivals Be Resumed? Hartford Courant , 3 December 1922, sec. 5, 2.

11. A direct parallel is found in the "singing parties" run by the Drinkers a bit later (see Chapter 9 and Vignette J).

12. State of Connecticut Probate Court, Will to the estate of Ellen Battell Stoeckel.

1. New York Times , 29 January 1919, p. 13.

2. Olga Samaroff Stokowski, An American Musician's Story (New York: Norton, 1939), 48.

3. Samaroff to Dehon, 5 October 1908. All letters cited here, as well as other relevant private materials and photographs, are now the property of the International Piano Archives at College Park, Maryland, Olga Samaroff Stokowski Collection. Permission for publication here is gratefully acknowledged. For further documentation of certain points made in this essay, see Geoffrey McGillen, "The Teaching and Artistic Legacy of Olga Samaroff" (Ph.D. diss., Ball State University, 1988).

4. Samaroff to Dehon, 5 October 1908.

5. Samaroff to Dehon, 29 October 1908.

6. Dehon to Stokowski, 28 July 1911.

7. Cincinnati Enquirer , 13 June 1912, p. 1.

8. Dehon to Samaroff, 4 May 1922.

9. Samaroff to Jane Hickenlooper, 2 January 1923.

10. Harriett Johnson, Samaroff's trusted assistant in her music-education efforts, claimed this in an interview on 22 December 1985. Johnson later became a music critic for the New York Evening Post. Stokowski and Stravinsky, in their surviving letters, both wrote as if the payments of 1923-25 (totaling $6,000) came from a woman who preferred to remain anonymous; Robert Craft has recently surmised that this was a ruse: "Surely this person was Leopold Stokowski" ("Stravinsky, Stokowski, and Madame Incognito," in Craft's Stravinsky: Glimpses of a Life [New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992], 73-81, including excerpts from the letters). But Craft seems neither to have talked to Harriett Johnson nor even to have considered possible female candidates for the role, including such Stokowski supporters as Dehon, Harriet Lanier, and Mary Louise Curtis Bok.

11. Samaroff to Jane Hickenlooper, 6 April 1941.

12. Samaroff Stokowski, An American Musician's Story , 49.

Four— Jeannette Meyer Thurber (1850–1946): Music for a Democracy

1. Edward N. Waters, Victor Herbert: A Life in Music (New York: Macmillan, 1955), 52-53.

2. John Sullivan Dwight, who believed in and preached the doctrine of music listening as an innately ennobling experience, taught two, if not three, generations of Americans what was "correct" in music through his influential, Boston-based Dwight's Journal of Music . He had strong leanings toward German instrumental music and was not particularly appreciative of American music and musicians except as they conformed to his own views. Louis Moreau Gottschalk, for instance, felt himself to be a special target of Dwight's scorn. In 1841 Dwight solemnly assured a Harvard Musical Association audience that instrumental music, uncorrupted by language, was the highest form of musical expression, and that Beethoven's slow movements were in fact profound utterances of sacred music. That lecture is also cited in Michael Broyles, "Music and Class Structure in Antebellum Boston," Journal of the American Musicological Society 44 (1991): 451-93.

3. Body's letter to JMT and his accompanying notes are in the Boyd Memorial Foundation Collection of the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, Pa., filed as a "Class A" letter, dated 25 September 1918.

4. James Gibbons Huneker, Steeplejack , 2 vols. (New York: Scribner, 1920-21), 2: 65-66.

5. [Olin Downes], "Friend of Music," New York Times , 12 January 1946, 14. This article is unsigned; however, a copy bearing his signature was sent to a summer resident of the Onteora colony by Downes, implying that it was his (Archive of the Onteora Club Library).

6. My thanks to E. Davis Gaillard, librarian of the Onteora Club, Tannersville, N.Y., for making his personal files, which contain a great deal of previously unpublished information on JMT, available to me.

7. Other members of the quartet were Richard Grant White, Eugene Dabney, and its founder, Joseph W. Drexel.

8. See Kathleen McCarthy, "Candace Wheeler and the Decorative Arts Movement," in Women's Culture: American Philanthropy and Art, 1830-1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), 35-36; also, Mary Blanchard, "The Intellectual Roots of an Aesthetic: Candace Wheeler and Her American Vision" (paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association, 1991).

9. "A Few Words on Aunt Cannie" (talk given by Jeannette Thurber Connor, daughter of Francis and Jeannette Thurber, on the occasion of the dedication of the Candace Wheeler Wild Flower Garden at Onteora, 7 September 1921; privately printed, [1921]), Onteora Club Library.

10. Ibid., 3.

11. Candace Wheeler, The Annals of Onteora (privately printed, n.d.), 16-18.

12. Ibid., 18-19.

13. Program Notes , New York Philharmonic concert of 7 November 1940.

14. This seems to have constituted the first full-dress production of Wagner's works as a series in the United States. In 1859 Carl Bergmann had given the American premiere of Tannhäuser at the old Stadt Theatre in the Bowery with the participation of the Arion chorus. A second production of a full Wagner opera did not take place until 1870, when A. Neuendorf put on Lohengrin at the same hall. While extracts had been presented in concert form at other times and places, those were the only performances of complete, fully staged Wagner operas preceding JMT's 1884 festival.

15. Rose Fay Thomas, Memoirs of Theodore Thomas (New York: Moffat, Yard, 1911), 283-85.

16. New York Evening Post , 23 October 1883.

17. Thomas, Memoirs , 285.

18. Charles Russell, The American Orchestra and Theodore Thomas (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page, 1927), 163.

19. Thomas, Memoirs , 278.

20. Russell, American Orchestra , 165.

21. New York World , undated clipping. This and a number of other newspaper citations given here are taken from undated, unpaginated, and sometimes unidentified clippings pasted into scrapbooks by JMT and now housed in the New York Public Library Performing Arts Division, filed under "National Conservatory of Music." (Hereafter cited as "JMT Scrapbooks.")

22. Inter-Ocean Journal , 26 March 1886 (JMT Scrapbooks).

23. Russell, American Orchestra , 176.

24. Ibid., 177.

25. "A Prima Donna Sues for Her Salary," New York Times , 5 February 1887 (JMT Scrapbooks).

26. New York Herald , 25 March 1887 (JMT Scrapbooks).

27. New York Times , 28 April 1887 (JMT scrapbooks).

28. Reprinted in Theodore Thomas, A Musical Autobiography (New York, Da Capo Press, 1964; reprint of the two-volume edition of 1905), 192.

29. Russell, American Orchestra , 168-69.

30. Thomas, Memoirs , 281.

31. New York Times , 1 January 1887, 4.

32. Ibid.

33. Theodore Thomas, A Musical Autobiography , ed. George Upton (1905; reprint, New York: Da Capo Press, 1964), 193.

34. The article appeared, for example, in the Omaha Herald , the Kansas City Times , and a number of other publications, running in different papers on 10 or 11 March 1887 (JMT Scrapbooks).

35. This account book, which runs from 1 December 1885 through 1898, was discovered by the present writer among the papers of Richard Irvin in the New York Historical Society, New York City.

36. Waters, Victor Herbert , 53.

37. I am indebted to Josephine Harrold Love for bringing the name of Edward Bolin (or Bohlen) to my attention. It has been difficult to track down his identity, however. He may have been the same person as Paul Bolin, identified as a piano student at the National Conservatory.

38. "National Conservatory Concert," New York Evening Post , 22 February 1899 (JMT Scrapbooks).

39. "National Conservatory," in Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, American Supplement , ed. Waldo Selden Pratt and Charles N. Boyd (Phildelphia: Theodore Presser, 1920), 6: 306.

40. "Mrs. Thurber Talks: Gives Plans for Future," Boston Daily Globe , 11 January 1887 (JMT Scrapbooks).

41. Quoted by Merton Robert Aborn in "The Influence on American Musical Culture of Dvorak's * Sojourn in America" (Ph.D. diss., Indiana University, 1965), 70.

42. The National Conservatory of Music, 1887-88 , brochure.

43. Others who deserve to be listed include Romualdo de Sapio (director of opera and one of the two conductors of Adelina Patti's last New York performances), W. V. Holt (dic- soft

tion), Eleanor Warner Everest (voice, better known in later life as the composer Eleanor Everest Freer), and Madame Elena Corani (voice). In addition to three teachers of solfeggio (Alberto Frencelli, Leila LaFetra, and Johannes Wershinger), separate dictation sessions were supervised by a Sigr. Pizzarello. Mamert Bibeyran, who taught stage deportment and choreography, was also the choreographer and ballet master for the American Opera Company.

44. Quoted from an advertisement printed on the back of the National Conservatory Trio Club program of 18 February 1890, in the "National Conservatory" file of the New York Public Library.

45. "The National Conservatory of Music of America," Harper's Weekly , 34 (1890): 969-70.

46. The National Conservatory of Music, 1887-88 (brochure).

47. Ibid.

48. The petition may have failed as much because it came before Congress at an awkward time as for any other reason. President Grover Cleveland vigorously opposed "pork-barrel" increases in government spending and had specifically charged Congress not to use the large tax surplus for new projects. Furthermore, everyone's attention was riveted on election politics, with Benjamin Harrison challenging Cleveland in a heated contest centering on tariffs and taxes.

49. Congressional Record , 51st Cong., 2d sess., 1891, 22, pt. 4: 3804. To trace the history and discussion of this bill more fully, see also ibid., pt. 1: 197, 234, 956, pt. 4: 3821, 3854, and 3916.

50. Ibid., 3804.

51. New York Post , 18 March 1891. Cited at length in Waters, Victor Herbert , 54-55.

52. "Fine Spirit of Americanism in National Conservatory's Policy," Musical America , 16 October 1915, 14.

53. Harper's Weekly , 34 (1890): 969-70.

54. Approximately $165,000 per year, in 1988 dollars.

55. See Aborn, "Influence on American Musical Cultural of Dvorak's Sojourn," ch. 3, "The National Conservatory Prior to Dvorak: The Period from 1885-91," 52-80.

56. Ibid., 140. Aborn places this undated memo around the middle or end of April 1894.

57. This score was rediscovered in 1990 after having been lost for many years, and is now available in a critical edition with an accompanying cassette recording (Toronto: Sixty-Eight Publishers, 1991).

58. "Dvorak Leads for the Fund," New York Herald , 24 January 1894, 10.

59. The Plantation Dances were reportedly published in 1894 by the German firm of P. L. Jung. The only copy of the Jung edition (or any other) that I have located is a piano arrangement of, presumably, one movement of the suite (Library of Congress, M35.A); it is entitled Amerikanische Plantagentänze für Orchester . . . für Piano Solo , Op. 33, No. 2.

60. The other judges were Dudley Buck (1839-1909), William Wallace Gilchrist (1846-1916), Asger Hamerik (1843-1923), Rafael Joseffy (1853-1915), Benjamin Johnson Lang (1837-1909), John Knowles Paine (1863-1919), and William Lawrence Tomlins (1844-1930).

61. Others that may have studied with Dvorak were Edward (or Paul) Bohlen (or Bolin), Jenney Layton, and a person as yet unidentified whose last name was Zammernick.

62. Antonín Dvorak * : Letters and Reminiscences , ed. Otakar Sourek * , trans. Roberta Finlayson Samsour (reprint, New York: Da Capo Press, 1985), 167.

63. Quoted in an unsigned article in the Musical Magazine and Musical Courier , 4 July 1898, p. 117.

64. Safonov had come to New York as guest conductor of the Philharmonic on 4 March 1904, making such a dazzling impression that he was asked to remain for three more years.

65. Musical America , 4 September 1909, p. 17.

66. Editorial, New England Conservatory Quarterly , 1, no. 54 (May 1895), 90, quoted in Edward John FitzPatrick, Jr., "The Music Conservatory in America" (Ph.D. diss., Boston University, 1916), 507.

67. Musical Magazine and National Courier , 4 July 1898, p. 117.

68. See, e.g., his article, "America's Growth in Music Schools," Musical Leader 24 (1912): 24-25 (originally written for the New York Sun ).

69. Harper's Weekly 34 (1890): 970.

70. Ibid.

71. Abron, "Influence on American Musical Culture of Dvorak's * Sojourn," 314.

72. Quoted by Waters in Victor Herbert , 53.

Five— Laura Langford and the Seidl Society: Wagner Comes to Brooklyn

1. Brooklyn Daily Eagle , 4 September 1894.

2. Anton Seidl: A Memorial by His Friends , ed. Henry Finck (New York: Scribner, 1899; reprint, 1983), 117.

3. Brooklyn Daily Eagle , undated clipping (June 1889?).

4. Seidl Society archive.

5. Spirit of the Times , 26 July 1890. I am indebted to Paul Charosh for bringing this article to my attention.

6. Seidl quoted in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle , 3 June 1891 "Scoff . . . pray," Brooklyn Daily Eagle , undated clipping (August 1890).

7. "Expression of restraint," Brooklyn Daily Eagle , 24 June 1894. "Ridiculously little," Musical Courier , undated clipping, Seidl Society archive.

8. Musical Courier , 22 June 1922 (recalling the years 1885-98). In Wagner Nights , I pursue the reasons why Gilded Age women "screamed with delight" when Wagner was performed. Two indispensable points of reference: T.J. Jackson Lears, No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture, 1880-1920 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1981), which ponders the hunger for "intense experience" in America at the close of the nineteenth century; and Willa Cather's 1904 short story "A Wagner Matinee" (in The Troll Garden [New York: New American Library, 1984]), a poignant account of Wagner jarring awake the dormant emotional world of a farmer's wife who as a young woman had taught music in Boston—an emotional world obscured by a life of submission and toil.

9. Anton Seidl , ed. Finck, 42.

10. Unidentified newspaper clipping dated 28 July 1889, in "Anton Seidl" clippings file at the Performing Arts branch of the New York Public Library.

11. Brooklyn Daily Eagle , undated clipping (June 1889).

12. Brooklyn Daily Eagle , 20 June 1894.

13. "New departure in the history of women's clubs," Brooklyn Daily Eagle , 5 August 1894. "Coney Island," Scribner's Magazine , July 1896. "Hustle and sell," Brooklyn Daily Eagle . 13 September 1891.

14. Brooklyn Daily Eagle , 21 June 1894.

15. Musical Courier , 27 April 1896.

16. David Nye, Electrifying America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 50. I am indebted to Kathleen Hulser for bringing this reference to my attention.

17. "Eager, intelligent faces," New York World , 1 April 1890. Libraries, music stores, and toque, unidentified clipping, dated 23 March 1890, Anton Seidl archive, Columbia University (rare books collection).

18. Lilli Lehmann, My Path through Life (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1914), 279-81.

19. The keynote of American Wagnerism, ca. 1880-1900, was spiritual uplift. Even Tristan und Isolde , which certain Europeans found pessimistic, decadent, or nascently modernist, was interpreted as a meliorist drama in the United States.

20. New York World , 1 April 1890.

21. Brooklyn Daily Eagle , 5 March 1891.

22. At Brighton Beach during the summer of 1895, for instance, Seidl's orchestra gave 156 performances of works by Wagner. The number of performances of works by other composers included: Liszt, 50; Saint-Saëns, 46; Mendelssohn, 33; Beethoven, 29; Weber, 17; Schumann, 15; Haydn, 15; Schubert, 14; Bach 10; Mozart, 6; Brahms, 2. Brooklyn Daily Eagle , undated clipping (late August 1895), Seidl Society archive.

23. Brooklyn Daily Eagle , 5 August 1894.

24. Brooklyn Daily Eagle , 29 April 1894.

25. Anton Seidl , ed. Finck, 116.

26. Ann Douglas, The Feminization of American Culture (New York: Knopf, 1977), 8.

27. Ibid., 42.

28. Ibid., 10.

29. Ibid., 243.

30. According to the historian of American music Charles Hamm (in conversation and correspondence).

31. Douglas, Feminization , 10.

32. Ibid., 255.

33. Kathleen McCarthy, Women's Culture: American Philanthropy and Art, 1830-1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), 113-15.

34. St. Paul Post-Dispatch , 2 December 1898.

35. Anne Firor Scott, Natural Allies: Women's Associations in American History (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991), 2.

36. Ibid., 4.

37. Laura C. Holloway, Adelaide Neilsen: A Souvenir (New York: Funk & Wagnall, 1885), 5, 6, introduction.

38. Laura C. Holloway, Ladies of the White House (New York: Bradley, 1870), 561-66.

39. Ibid., introduction, 566.

40. Letters, Seidl Society archive, Brooklyn Historical Society.

41. "Applauded wildly," Brooklyn Daily Eagle , 8 September 1895. "Queen of the musical world," letter from Anton Seidl to Laura Langford, 15 May 1893, Seidl Society archive, Brooklyn Historical Society.

42. Alma Mahler, Gustav Mahler: Memories and Letters (London: John Murray, 1946), 160.

Six— A Style of Her Own: The Patronage of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge

1. Pittsfield Eagle , 27 November 1931. The concert was part of a celebration honoring Coolidge on the occasion of her induction into the Légion d'honneur, for which she was nominated by Paul Claudel.

2. Coolidge had been an active member of several of Chicago's well-known women's clubs. She patterned her work in Pittsfield on that of the Settlement House in New York's Lower East Side and sought instructors who were employed there to help organize her work.

3. Persis Coleman was associated with Mills College in Oakland, and Coolidge often stayed with her when in California.

4. ESC to Persis Coleman, 12 January 1930, C. Cor.

5. ESC to Roy Harris, 26 July 1932, C. Cor.

6. Typescript fragment, C. Misc.

7. Frederic Coolidge's father, David Hill Coolidge, was a prominent Boston attorney and his brother Charles Allerton Coolidge became a renowned architect in the firm of H. H. Richardson.

8. Coolidge's son, Sprague, went on to become a distinguished professor of chemistry at Harvard after taking his Ph.D. there.

9. The Chicago Post , 18 January 1915, eulogized A. A. Sprague as "perhaps the most finely generous man in the generation of large-minded men who lifted Chicago up from a village to a great city." Sprague's conviction that men of means had an obligation to contribute generously to the common good thrust him into a leadership role in Chicago's Relief and Aid Society as well as numerous other charitable organizations. He became prominent in Chicago's commercial life as well as one of the organizers of the Northern Trust Co., served on the board of numerous corporations, and was a trustee of the Chicago Symphony, Rush Medical College, and the Art Institute.

10. Cited in Willliam Bedford. "Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge: The Making of a Patron" (Ph.D. diss., University of Missouri, 1964).

11. After A. A. Sprague formed a partnership with his brother, Otho Sylvester Sprague, and Ezra Warner, the firm became known as Sprague Warner, Inc.

12. Unidentified newspaper clipping, C. Misc. One of the plan's most remarkable features was the fact that the workers were never required to pay into it themselves.

13. On that occasion the gift was renamed "The Albert and Nancy Sprague Memorial Fund." Philo Adams Otis, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra: Its Organization, Growth, and Development, 1891-1924 (Chicago: Summy, 1925), 179-80.

14. Karleton Hackett, unidentified Chicago newspaper clipping, C. Misc.

15. ESC, letter to Fanny Glessner, 16 March 1915, Glessner journals, Chicago Historical Society, insert p. 183.

16. Not to be confused with the Sprague Home for Nurses of the Presbyterian Hospital of Chicago, which was built in 1912-13 with generous contributions from Otho and Albert Sprague. See Wholesale Grocer , June 1915, 12.

17. The money was given to the Pittsfield Anti-Tuberculosis Association, which Fred had helped to found, and the building was to be called the Frederic Shurtleff Coolidge Memorial Home.

18. See letters of Nicholas Murray Butler to ESC, 17 February and 1 March 1915, 3 April 1916, and 1 April 1918. C. Cor.

19. Nancy Sprague died before the building was completed. Of the $200,000 that she had given to Yale, $175,000 was designated for construction and, when the bids came in over that amount, Elizabeth supplied the additional $25,000 necessary.

20. Lucy Sprague Mitchell, letter to ESC, 15 April 1916. C. Cor. See also Joyce Antler, Lucy Sprague Mitchell: The Making of a Modern Woman (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987), 218-20.

21. Berkshire Festivals of Chamber Music 1918-1938 (South Mountain, Mass.: privately printed, n.d.). Contains complete programs of the festivals.

22. Her determination to restrict her contributions exclusively to chamber music sometimes led to misunderstanding, as in the case of her refusal to contribute to the National Symphony even though her old friend Hans Kindler was the conductor and the request came from another good friend, Mary Howe, who had contributed generously to Elizabeth's work. In the end, Coolidge did give to the cause.

23. Hugo Kortschak, letter to ESC, May 1916. C. Cor.

24. There is evidence that she had already discussed the possibility of such an undertaking with her friend Edward De Coppet, founder of the Flonzaley Quartet. See ESC, letter to Hugo Kortschak, 10 May 1916. C. Cor.

25. Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, Da Capo (Washington, D.C.: Coolidge Foundation, Library of Congress, 1952), 2.

26. Ibid., 3.

27. ESC, typescript of address at California Institute of Technology, 13 June, no year. C. Misc. Hereafter, "Cal. Tech."

28. Coolidge, Da Capo , 4.

29. "Cal Tech," 13.

30. For more complete treatment of Coolidge's friendship with Carl Engel, see Cyrilla Barr, "The 'Faerie Queene' and the 'Archangel': The Correspondence of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge and Carl Engel," American Music 11 (1997): 159-82.

31. Of the nine works performed in the course of the three concerts, seven were either prize-winning compositions in the Berkshire Competition or were commissioned by Coolidge, and four of the seven composers represented were present in the audience.

32. She later increased the amount to $90,000.

33. The coincidence of names led to frequent and often amusing identification of Coolidge as the wife of the president. She delighted in referring to herself as "the other Mrs. Coolidge."

34. For example, Copland's Appalachian Spring , Stravinsky's Apollon Musagète , and Barber's Hermit Songs .

35. ESC to Richard Hale, 10 January 1925. C. Cor.

36. All concerts were public except the program at Gardone in D'Annunzio's villa, "La Vittoriale," which was given for a very few privileged guests.

37. Hindemith's journal, 11 April 1937, trans. Luther Noss, Yale University (typescript).

38. Carl Engel to ESC [14 April 1926]. C. Cor.

39. Alfredo Casella, Music in My Time , trans. and ed. Spencer Norton (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1955), 162.

40. D'Annunzio later changed the name to Corporazione delle nuove musiche, and the society became the Italian wing of the International Society for Contemporary Music. On the importance of D'Annunzio's friendship with these composers and his role as their advocate with Mussolini, see Harvey Sachs, Music in Fascist Italy (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1987), and Fiamma Nicolodi, Musica e musicisti nel ventennio fascista (Fiesole: Discanto Edizioni, 1984).

41. See Alfredo Casella, "Corporazione delle Nuove Musiche," Christian Science Monitor , 20 June 1925. See also Casella to ESC, 13 July 1924. "Cette année pour agrandir notre champ d'action, nous donnerons aussi quelque[s] oeuvres anciennes. Par exemple, L'Orfeo de Monteverdi en représentation scenique, avec des décors modernes." C. Cor.

42. Casella, Music in My Time , 169.

43. For fuller treatment, see Cyrilla Barr, "The Musicological Legacy of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge," Journal of Musicology 11 (1993): 250-68.

44. Edward MacDowell Memorial Association Inc. Reports , MacDowell Collection, box 72, MS Division, Library of Congress.

45. Marian MacDowell to ESC, 17 May [1924]. C. Misc.

46. She was instrumental in securing a position for Bloch at the Mannes School of Music, where she also guaranteed two-thirds of his salary, and she obtained the position for Milhaud at Mills College in Oakland.

47. See Coolidge's extensive correspondence with Carl Bricken, George Haight, and C. A. Dykstra, Pro Arte Collection, Division of Archives, University of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin, Madison.

48. ESC to Thomas King, 16 September 1922. C. Cor.

49. Watson (née Cohn) was born in Breslau, Germany, in 1845, and settled in Chicago after her marriage to Dr. Louis H. Watson in 1874. Her studio on the south side of the city rivaled that of Amy Fay on the north. Among her greatest friends and ardent admirers was Teresa Carreño, who gave much of the credit for her career to Watson's influence. See Carreño letters, MacDowell Colony Papers, MS Division, Library of Congress, box 74.

50. Coolidge's compositions are all catalogued in the Library of Congress collection. Testimony of her diligence as a student of composition is contained in the reams of carefully worked out exercises preserved in C. Misc.

51. Casella, Music in My Time , 161.

52. ESC. Address to the American Federation of Music Clubs (undated typescript). C. Misc. Hereafter cited as Federation Paper.

53. See Barr, "Faerie Queene" on her disagreement with Carl Engel concerning the programming of American music. See also their letters on this subject in Vignette G.

54. ESC to Nicolas Moldavan, 20 January 1941. C. Cor.

55. ESC, Federation Paper.

56. ESC to Carl Engel, 7 February 1928. C. Cor.

57. ESC to Bruno David Ussher, 22 April 1937. C. Cor.

58. ESC to Carl Engel, 14 May 1932. C. Cor.

59. ESC, Federation Paper.

60. Walter Damrosch, My Musical Life (New York: Scribner, 1923), 94-95.

61. Washington Post , undated newspaper clipping. C. Cor.

62. ESC to Howard Hinners, 29 December 1937. C. Cor.

63. ESC to Juliet Noehren, 6 February 1944. C. Cor.

64. Daniel Gregory Mason, "Music Patronage as an Art," New Republic 4 (21 August 1915): 71.

65. Damrosch, My Musical Life , 94.

66. In addition, many of the composers with whom Coolidge was associated bequeathed their private papers and manuscripts to the Library of Congress.

67. ESC to Albert Arnold Sprague, [30 October 1904]. Insert in diary of Nancy Ann Atwood Sprague, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Mass.

68. Andrew W. Mellon, testimonial read to the Fifth Library of Congress Festival, 30 October 1931 (typescript). C. Misc.

1. Bibliothèque nationale, Département de la musique, N.L.a. 56, pièces 240-41. Translation by Jeanice Brooks.

2. The Blisses' commitment to these ideals was manifested not only in support for music and musicians. They donated Dumbarton Oaks to Harvard University in 1940 to found a research center for the study of medieval and Byzantine art and archaeology; Robert's collection of pre-Columbian art, formerly on loan to the Corcoran Gallery became the nucleus of the museum section of the mansion, along with Mildred's extensive gardening library. The 27-acre grounds were donated at the same time to the District of Columbia for use as a public park. These private donations were augmented by service on innumerable boards of various charities, arts organizations, and institutes of medical research. The remarkable music room has remained in use for concerts by chamber ensembles and noted soloists—see John Thacher, Music at Dumbarton Oaks, 1940 to 1970 (Glückstadt, Germany: privately printed, 1977).

3. Review by "E. E" in the Daily Post (Liverpool), 5 November 1938. Sir Jack Westrup's review in the Daily Telegraph (London), 5 November 1938, similarly states, "There was a new concerto by Stravinsky entitled 'Dumbarton Oaks' (the name of a house in California)." The anonymous Times (London) reviewer (7 November 1938) also thought Stravinsky was living in the house when the concerto was written.

4. The latter continued to be a problem in Bliss's relationship with Boulanger. A Janu- soft

ary 1942 letter (Bibliothèque nationale, N.L.a. 56, pièce 263) expresses Bliss's reluctance to take back a check she had written to Boulanger in order to write four new checks (totaling the same sum) to four of Boulanger's students. Bliss acquiesced to Boulanger's request, but insisted that Boulanger make it clear to the students that the money was a gift from their teacher and not from Bliss.

5. Beatrix Farrand was the landscape gardener who designed the grounds of Dumbarton Oaks with Mildred Bliss.

Seven— "As Large As She Can Make It": The Role of Black Women Activists in Music, 1880–1945

1. Fannie Barrier Williams, "The Woman's Part in a Man's Business," Voice of the Negro 1 (1904): 544.

The terms "African-American," "black American," "Colored," and "Negro" are used interchangeably in this chapter.

2. The most comprehensive general references for the history of black musicians are Eileen Southern, The Music of Black Americans , 3d ed. (New York: Norton, 1997), and eadem, Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1982). See also Hildred Roach, Black American Music: Past and Present , 2d ed. (Malabar, Fla.: R. E. Krieger, 1992), and Tilford Brooks, America's Black Musical Heritage (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1984). Of bibliographical interest are Samuel A. Floyd, Jr., and Marsha J. Reisser, Black Music Biography (White Plains, N.Y.: Kraus International, 1987), and idem, Black Music in the United States: An Annotated Bibliography of Selected Reference and Research Materials (White Plains, N.Y.: Kraus International, 1983).

Studies focusing on black women include M. A. Majors, Noted Negro Women (Chicago: Donohue & Henneberry, 1893); Lawson A. Scruggs, Women of Distinction: Remarkable in Works and Invincible in Character (Raleigh, N.C.: L. A. Scruggs, 1893); Mildred Denby Green, Black Women Composers: A Genesis (Boston: Twayne, 1983); Notable Black American Women , ed. Jessie Carney Smith (Detroit: Gale Research, 1991); and Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia , 2 vols., ed. Darlene Clark Hine (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Carlson, 1993). See also Notable American Women, 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary , 3 vols., ed. Edward T. James and Janet Wilson James (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, Belknap Press, 1971); and No - soft

table American Women: The Modern Period , ed. Barbara Sicherman and Carol Hurd Green (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, Belknap Press, 1980).

3. On the contributions of black women performers in classical music, see Josephine Wright, "Black Women and Classical Music," Women's Studies Quarterly 12 (1984): 18-21; also eadem, "Black Women in Classical Music in Boston during the Late Nineteenth Century: Profiles of Leadership," in New Perspectives on Music: Essays in Honor of Eileen Southern , ed. Josephine Wright, with Samuel A. Floyd, Jr. (Warren, Mich.: Harmonie Park Press, 1992), 373-408. Wright mentions eight women composers and three impresarios of the nineteenth century.

4. Washington, D.C., New York, New Orleans, Baltimore, and Philadelphia led the list of 43 cities having 10,000 or more black residents in 1910. See Edgar Toppin, A Biographical History of Blacks in America from 1528 , 2d edition (New York: McKay, 1971), 152.

5. This period in African-American history is discussed in John Hope Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom , 5th ed. (New York: Knopf, 1980), 280-84. On the Great Migration, see also Rayford W. Logan, The Negro in the United States , vol. I: From Slavery to Second Class Citizenship, 1619-1945 (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1970); Cary D. Wintz, Black Culture and the Harlem Renaissance (Houston: Rice University Press, 1988), 6-29.

6. Two examples of gender discrimination cited by Paula Giddings are the furor raised when Ida Wells Barnett was elected financial secretary of the Afro-American Council and the exclusion of women from the prestigious American Negro Academy. Giddings, When and Where I Enter: The Impact of the Black Woman on Race and Sex in America (New York: William Morrow, 1984), 110-11, 116. Linda M. Perkins notes instances in which black women held positions of authority but received discriminatory treatment ultimately resulting in their leaving the positions. For example, Mary Jane Patterson was removed as principal of the M Street High School in Washington, D.C., so that a black man could be placed in the position. Perkins, "The Impact of the Cult of 'True Womanhood' on the Education of the Black Woman," Journal of Social Issues 39, no. 3 (1983): 25.

7. Mary Church Terrell, "Being a Colored Woman in the United States," Mary Church Terrell papers collection 102, box 3, folder 53, 1, Manuscript Division, MSRC. Cited by Cynthia Neverdon-Morton, Afro-American Women of the South and the Advancement of the Race, 1895-1915 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1989), 2, 237 n. 3.

8. E. Franklin Frazier, The Negro Family in the United States . rev. and abr. ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966), 102-3.

9. Giddings shows that, although sexual inequality was not the norm, black women activists were generally accorded a high degree of acceptance ( When and Where , 59).

10. The number of African-Americans in Washington, D.C., reached 28.5 percent during the first three decades of the twentieth century. By 1950, 35 percent of Washington's residents were African-American.

11. For a full discussion of nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century classical music traditions in Washington, D.C., see Doris Evans McGinty, "The Black Presence in the Music of Washington, D.C.," in More Than Dancing: Essays on Afro-American Music and Musicians , ed. Irene V. Jackson (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1985), 81-106.

12. Elsie B. Smith, "Mary Lorraine Europe, Musician: October 13, 1885-October 20, 1947" (unpublished paper), 2-3. Vertical File, MSRC.

13. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, prominent in England both as conductor and composer, was greatly admired by African-Americans, who must have viewed his success as an impossible dream, and he demonstrated his kinship with black Americans through his settings of the poems of Paul L. Dunbar, his arrangements of spirituals for piano, and his visits to black communities in the United States. See further William Tortolano, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Anglo-Black Composer, 1875-1912 (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1977), and Geoffrey Self, Hiawatha Man: The Life and Works of Samuel Coleridge- Taylor (Brookfield, Vt.: Scolar Press, 1995).

14. For a reference to an unusual female brass band of 1903, see Doris Evans McGinty, "Black Women in the Music of Washington, D.C., 1900-20," in New Perspectives on Music: Essays in Honor of Eileen Southern , ed. Josephine Wright, with Samuel Floyd, Jr. (Warren, Mich.: Harmonie Park Press, 1992), 428.

15. Corda means "string" in Italian. The use of mandolins with traditional stringed instruments was not unusual, the trend having emerged in the United States around the turn of the century, especially in colleges and universities. The Corda Club performed in Philadelphia as well as Washington, D.C.

16. McGinty, "Black Women," 412-17.

17. Anna Cooper, Voice of the South (Xenia, Ohio: Aldine Printing House, 1892), 28.

18. Jacqueline Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family from Slavery to the Present (New York: Basic Books, 1985), 180; see also Florette Henri, Black Migration: Movement North, 1900-1920, The Road from Myth to Man (Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Press / Doubleday, 1976), 34. According to John Hope Franklin, more than 28,560 Negro teachers were in the public schools in 1900, and of these teachers most, by far, were women, a trend in keeping with the general feminization of the teaching profession in America. Franklin, From Slavery , 272.

19. Larry Winters, born Lawrence Whisonant, first sang professionally with the Eva Jessye Choir and eventually became a principal baritone with the Hamburg (Germany) opera. See Southern, Biographical Dictionary , 411.

20. Camille Nickerson was a teacher in her father's School of Music in New Orleans before she joined the Howard University music faculty in 1926.

21. Lillian Dunn-Perry, music teacher and former president of the B-Sharp Club, expended great effort on enlarging the scholarship awards of the club. The club makes an annual scholarship award of $1,000 from a Perpetual Scholarship Fund in the name of her late husband, Robert N. Perry, Jr., also a former president of the B-Sharp Club.

22. D. Antoinette Handy's Black Women in American Bands and Orchestras (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1981) is the basic reference on black women instrumentalists.

23. Isabelle T. Spiller studied at the New England Conservatory of Music, Columbia Teachers College, and the New School for Social Research.

24. Handy, Black Women , 129; Southern, Biographical Dictionary , 356.

25. Doris E. McGinty, "Conversation with Revella Hughes: From the Classics to Broadway to Swing." Black Perspective in Music 16, no. 1 (Spring 1988): 100.

26. Ibid., 101.

27. Southern, Biographical Dictionary , 218; Chicago Defender , 30 October 1937.

28. For more information on Europe and Webster, see Doris Evans McGinty, "Gifted Minds and Pure Hearts: Mary L. Europe and Estelle Pinckney Webster," Journal of Negro Education 51, no. 3 (Summer 1982): 266-78.

29. Thomas W. Talley, "Appreciation of Mrs. Ella Sheppard Moore by a Fellow Student," Fisk University News , November 1914. Cited by Jessie Carney Smith, "Ella Sheppard Moore," in Notable Black American Women , 1005-10. See also Mary E. Spence, "The Jubilee of Jubilees," Southern Workman 51 (1922): 77.

30. Jean E. Cazort and Constance T. Hobson Born to Play: The Life and Career of Hazel Harrison (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1983), 118.

31. Helen Hagan (1891-1964), the first black pianist to present a solo recital in New York's Aeolian Hall (1921), was another distinguished pianist who later taught on college faculties. She taught at Tennessee State Agricultural and Mechanical College, became dean of the School of Music at Bishop College in Marshall, Texas, and finally, sometime after 1935, established the Helen Hagan Music Studio in New York. See Southern, Biographical Dictionary , 158.

32. Maud Cuney-Hare, Negro Musicians and Their Music (Washington, D.C.: Associated Publishers, 1936; reprint, New York: Da Capo, 1974), xi.

33. Tuskegee Institute had more than one well known vocal artist on its faculty. From 1932 to 1934 the faculty included Abbie Mitchell (1884-1960), a soprano who toured Europe as a recitalist, was a lead actress with the Lafayette Players, and also achieved fame as a performer in musical comedy on Broadway and in Europe. For more on her career, see Annetta Jefferson in Black Women in America , ed. Hine, 2: 802, 803; and Dictionary of American Negro Biography , ed. Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston (New York: Norton, 1982), 441-43. Cleota Josephine Collins, concert soprano, was a member of the Tuskegee faculty in the 1930s; she also taught at Bluefield State College in West Virginia and later headed the voice department at Virginia State College. See later in this essay on A. Hackley scholarships. See also Southern, Biographical Dictionary , 79.

34. A few institutions for music instruction established by black women during the early twentieth century were the following: 1903 —Washington Conservatory of Music and School of Expression, Washington, D.C., (Harriet Gibbs Marshall); 1912 —Howard University School of Music, Washington, D.C. (Lulu Vere Childers); 1912 —Vocal Normal Institute, Chicago (Emma Azalia Smith Hackley); 1919 —Cosmopolitan School of Music and Fine Arts, Indianapolis (Lillian Morris LeMon); 1920 —Chicago University of Music, Chicago (Pauline Jones Lee); 1926 —Junior Preparatory Department of Music at Howard University, Washington, D.C. (Camille Nickerson); 1927 —Cardwell School of Music, Pittsburgh (Mary Cardwell Dawson).

35. The school was originally named the Washington Conservatory of Music and was renamed in 1911 when a department of elocution was added. For further discussion, see Doris Evans McGinty, "The Washington Conservatory of Music and School of Expression," Black Perspective in Music 7, no. 1 (Spring 1979): 59-75.

36. Harriet Marshall helped to establish yet another school. During her stay in Haiti, where her husband served with the U.S. legation, she co-founded the Jean Joseph Industrial School in 1926 with Rosina J. Joseph. Washington Conservatory of Music Collection, box 112-2, MSRC.

37. Washington Conservatory of Music Bulletin, 1931, 3. Washington Conservatory Collection, box 112-3, MSRC.

38. Boxes 112-4 to 112-8, Washington Conservatory of Music Collection, MSRC, contain correspondence dealing with the operation of the Conservatory.

39. After Marshall's death in 1941, her cousin Josephine V. Muse directed the activities of the Washington Conservatory until its closing in 1960.

40. Hackley to Marshall, 15 September 1903, Washington Conservatory of Music Collection, box 112-5, MSRC.

41. Mifflin W. Gibbs to Harriet Gibbs (Marshall), 4 April 1899, Washington Conservatory Collection, box 112-1, MSRC.

42. Florence Price wrote, "I have long regarded you as a pioneer whose efforts will not have been spent in vain." Price to Marshall, 26 October 1939. See also other correspondence from Price and letters from Shirley Graham Du Bois. Washington Conservatory Collection, box 112-5, MSRC.

43. H. C. King to Marshall, 15 April 1907 and 12 January 1914, Washington Conservatory of Music Collection, box 112-5, MSRC.

44. Rayford W. Logan, Howard University: The First Hundred Years, 1867-1967 (New York: New York University Press, 1969), 216.

45. Emma Azalia Hackley, The Foreign Scholarship (n.p.: E. A. Hackley, 1908), 3.

46. Ibid., 5.

47. M. Marguerite Davenport, Azalia: The Life of Azalia Hackley (Boston: Chapman & Grimes, 1947), 130. Hackley was not reticent in making her views concerning her art and the African-American voice known; she spoke on the subject and wrote articles for publication in newspapers. See, for example, New York Age , December 1914, January 1915, and March 1915 for a series entitled "Hints to Young Colored Artists." The most reliable biographical information is found in Ernestine Perkins Lewis Holly, "The Emma Azalia Hackley Memorial Collection of Negro Music, Dance, and Drama: A Catalogue of Selected African-American Materials" (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 1978).

48. In her unpublished autobiography (Evans-Tibbs Collection, Washington, D.C.), Lillian Evanti describes being invited to audition for the Metropolitan Opera Company by the general manager, Giulio Gatti-Casazza, after he had heard her sing in Italy, and of experiencing great hope and eventual disappointment when the board refused to defy the racial policy of the organization. Caterina Jarboro made a debut with the Chicago Civic Opera (directed by Alfredo Salmaggi) in 1932 and subsequently sang in opera at the Hippodrome Theater in New York, but she was forced to return to Europe to continue her operatic career.

49. Anna Madah Hyers (1855-1920s [?]) sang in "Thirty Minutes around the Operas," the operatic finale of John Isham's Octoroons (see also n. 50), and Inez Clough (ca. 1860s/1870s-1933), along with Sidney Woodward, J. Rosamond Johnson, and William E. Elkins, sang in a forty-minute finale of choruses and solos from grand operas in Isham's Oriental America . M. Sissieretta Jones (1869-1933), known as the "Black Patti," was the star of the "Operatic Kaleidoscope" that ended part 2 of her vaudeville show, Black Patti's Troubadours.

50. Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield (ca. 1824-76), the first internationally known black singer, directed an opera troupe that performed in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia in the 1860s. Her career as "The Black Swan" is discussed in James M. Trotter, Music and Some Highly Musical People (1878; reprint, New York: Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1969), and Arthur LaBrew, The Black Swan (Detroit: The Author, 1969). See also Kathleen Thompson in Black Women in America , ed. Hine, 1: 499-501. The sisters Anna Madah and Emma Louise Hyers (both of the late nineteenth century) organized the first black American concert company in the 1870s and used operatic literature as the core repertory. For a discussion of their early concert careers, see Eileen Southern, "An Early Black Concert Company: The Hyers Sisters Combination," in A Celebration of American Music , ed. Richard Crawford, R. Allen Lott, and Carol J. Oja (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1990), 17-35. Another noteworthy company was the Colored American Opera Company (sometimes referred to as the Colored American Opera Troupe), formed in Washington, D.C., in 1873. See McGinty, "Black Presence," 91-93. Theodore Drury established the Theodore Drury Colored Opera Company in 1899 and produced operas in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston throughout the 1920s and into the 1930s.

51. Evanti's most celebrated appearance in La traviata took place on 28 August 1943 as one of the Watergate Summer Concerts, so-called because the performances were presented on a barge moored on the Potomac River near the Lincoln Memorial. The concerts were favorites with Washington audiences, who had the opportunity to hear the National Symphony Orchestra in its "Sunset" series and special performances such as that of the NNOC. Other productions of La traviata by the NNOC in 1944 took place in Pittsburgh (25 January), New York (29 February), and Washington, D.C. (31 July). The NNOC repertoire of operas included Verdi's Aida , Gounod's Faust , and Clarence Cameron White's Ouanga . The NNOC also performed R. Nathaniel Dett's oratorio The Ordering of Moses . I am indebted to Wayne Shirley, Library of Congress Performing Arts Division, for information concerning the NNOC's 1944 season.

52. See n. 50 above.

53. See n. 32 above. Two other works published on the subject during the period covered in this essay are Maud Wanzer Layne, The Negro's Contribution to Music (Philadelphia: Theodore Presser, 1942), and Alain L. Locke, The Negro and His Music (1936; reprint, New York: Arno Press, 1969).

54. Black women writers on music for the larger newspapers included Virginia Williams of the Baltimore-Washington Afro-American ; the syndicated columnist Gladys Graham (1913-1976) of the Associated Negro Press (her column was called "Graham Crackers"); and Maude Roberts George (early twentieth century), writer for the Chicago Defender in the 1920s.

55. Analysis of Holt's columns in the Amsterdam News is found in Rawn W. Spearman, "Music Criticism by Nora Douglas Holt in the New York Amsterdam News : Saturday Edition (1944-1952)," in "Essays Submitted to the Summer Seminar for College Teachers" (typescript [sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities], Howard University, 1984). MSRC.

56. A handwritten statement of these particulars appears over Nora Holt's signature on the cover of Music and Poetry 1, no 1. I have seen only vol. 1, nos. 1-10, in the Beinecke Library at Yale University (James W. Johnson Memorial Collection: Carl Van Vechten papers).

57. Music and Poetry 1, no. 1 (1921), pages unnumbered.

58. Musical Messenger 1 (1889): 2. According to Josephine Wright, the publication ran for three to four years. Wright, "Black Women in Classical Music," 20.

59. Music and Poetry 1, no. 1 (1921), pages unnumbered.

60. Lillian LeMon (1932 to 1934), Maude Roberts George (1934 to 1935), Camille Nickerson (1935 to 1937), and Mary Cardwell Dawson (1939 to 1941).

61. The first extensive collection of African-American spirituals was Slave Songs of the United States , compiled by William Allen, Charles Ware, and Lucy McKim Garrison (1867). Collections generated from the Fisk Jubilee Singers experience include Theodore F. Seward, Jubilee Songs as Sung by the Fisk Jubilee Singers of Fisk University, Nashville, Tenn . (New York and Chicago: Biglow & Main, [1872]) and Jubilee Songs as Sung by the Jubilee Singers, Enlarged , comp. Theodore F. Seward and George L. White (New York and Chicago: Biglow & Main [1884]).

62. See Wright, "Black Women in Classical Music in Boston," 395.

63. See Black Music in the Harlem Renaissance , ed. Samuel A. Floyd, Jr. (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1990); Nathan Irvin Huggins, Harlem Renaissance (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971); and Bruce Kellner, The Harlem Renaissance: A Historical Dictionary for the Era (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1984).

64. The large library that Marshall collected was given to Howard University when the Washington Conservatory closed and is now held in the Sheet Music Collection of the Manuscript Division, MSRC.

65. Nickerson, herself of Creole origin, published separate pieces in choral and solo arrangements; Maud Cuney-Hare published a collection of Six Creole Folk Songs (New York: Carl Fischer, 1921).

66. Doris E. McGinty, "Conversation with Camille Nickerson: The Louisiana Lady," Black Perspective in Music 7, no. 1 (Spring 1979): 81-94. Nickerson was on the faculty of the School of Music at Howard University when she began her tours with the Creole Songs.

67. Musical America , 29 March 1919, 16; Southern, Biographical Dictionary , 157.

Eight— Women Patrons and Crusaders for Modernist Music: New York in the 1920s

1. Henry Cowell, "Introduction to the 1962 Edition," in American Composers on American Music , ed. Henry Cowell ([Palo Alto:] Stanford University Press, 1933; reprint, New York: Frederick Ungar, 1962), x; Wilfrid Mellers, Music in a New Found Land (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 1.

2. Walter Damrosch, My Musical Life (New York: Scribner, 1926), 323.

3. Best known among modernist women composers during the 1920s were Ruth Crawford and Marion Bauer, and the three principal female editors of the day were Minna Lederman at Modern Music ; Louise Varèse, who assisted Carlos Salzedo at Eolian Review and wrote program notes for the International Composers' Guild; and Ely Jade (pseudonym for Germaine Schmitz) of Pro Musica Quarterly .

4. George Antheil to Mary Louise Curtis Bok, 7 July 1925, written from Paris, Antheil-DLC.

5. For more information, see K. H. Ruppel, "Die Prinzessin Edmond de Polignac," Melos 34, no. 6 (June 1967): 198-203.

6. Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, No Man's Land: The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century , vol. 1: The War of the Words (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988), 147. The historian Dorothy Brown describes patronage in the 1920s as a "feminized" area, similar to teaching, social work, nursing, and librarianship (Dorothy Brown, Setting a Course: American Women in the 1920s [Boston: Twayne, 1987], 151), and Minna Lederman concurs, observing that being a patron in the 1920s was "like tithing" (Lederman, interview with the author, 3 March 1988).

7. One of the few studies of music patronage in America is Richard Crawford, "Professions and Patronage I: Teaching and Composing," in The American Musical Landscape (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993), 41-69.

8. Varèse conducted only one concert by the orchestra in April 1919 and then resigned in the wake of a harsh critical response. A program for that concert, as well as a flier announcing the orchestra's spring season, lists Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney among a group of four women who formed the "executive committee" (Program Collection, NN).

9. Louise Varèse, Varèse: A Looking-Glass Diary , vol. 1: 1883-1928 (New York: Norton, 1972), 154.

10. Anne Firor Scott, Making the Invisible Woman Visible (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984), 127.

11. Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth (1904; reprint, New York: Signet Classics, 1964), 9.

12. B. H. Friedman, with the research collaboration of Flora Miller Irving, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1978), 181.

13. After the first ICG concert in February 1922, Whitney hosted a party at the Whitney Club that was attended "by practically the entire audience," and later there were parties for composers at the Whitney Club and at the home of Juliana Force, Whitney's secretary and active liaison to artists; there were also luncheons at Whitney's studio (Louise Varèse, Varèse , 1: 172, 153).

14. See esp. ibid., 153-55 and 259; Friedman, 387, 405.

13. After the first ICG concert in February 1922, Whitney hosted a party at the Whitney Club that was attended "by practically the entire audience," and later there were parties for composers at the Whitney Club and at the home of Juliana Force, Whitney's secretary and active liaison to artists; there were also luncheons at Whitney's studio (Louise Varèse, Varèse , 1: 172, 153).

14. See esp. ibid., 153-55 and 259; Friedman, 387, 405.

15. Whitney appears to have left only incomplete records of her philanthropy. The painter John Sloan wrote of her in 1949: "No one will ever know the extent of the private benefactions Mrs. Whitney performed through Mrs. [Juliana] Force. The records have been destroyed, probably at Mrs. Whitney's request. But . . . I know of innumerable artists whose studio rent was paid, or pictures purchased just at the right time to keep the wolf from the door, or hospital expenses covered, or a trip to Europe made possible" (Sloan, in Juliana Force and American Art: A Memorial Exhibition, September 24-October 30, 1949 [New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1949], 35-36). Whitney's contribution as an art patron is evaluated in Roberta K. Tarbell, "Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney as Patron," in The Figurative Tradition and the Whitney Museum of American Art , ed. Patricia Hills and Roberta K. Tarbell (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1980), 11-22, 171-72, and in Kathleen D. McCarthy, Women's Culture: American Philanthropy and Art, 1830-1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991) 214-44.

16. Another of the guild's patrons was Mrs. Christian Holmes, born Bettie Fleischmann and heir to the Fleischmann yeast fortune, who came to New York from Cincinnati around 1920. She had been head of the board of directors of the Cincinnati Orchestra (it was she who hired Leopold Stokowski as the Cincinnati Orchestra's conductor in 1909). An article published in the Cincinnati Times Star after her estate was settled gives a rare view into the dimensions of one person's patronage. Among the reported $20 million that Holmes gave away during her lifetime, $222,812 went to the Philharmonic Symphony Society of New York, $158,118 to the National Music League, and $36,500 to the American National Opera Company. By contrast, her gifts to the guild must have been too small to be reported ("Holmes Estate Is $7,836,623," Cincinnati Times Star , December 23, 1947; clippings, Cincinnati Historical Society). Other information about Holmes comes from Oliver Daniel, Stokowski: A Counterpoint of View (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1982), 50-53.

17. The split between the guild and the league ostensibly came over whether or not the performance of Pierrot lunaire should be repeated after its American premiere (Varèse opposed repeat performances, and those who eventually formed the league favored them). But a big power struggle was under way, principally between Varèse and Claire Reis, and it left hard feelings on both sides. Probably because of this, Louise Varèse gave little credit to Wertheim in writing the guild's history. She mentions Wertheim only twice: as one of Claire Reis's appointments to the guild's executive board and as a host of guild meetings (Louise Varèse, Varèse , 1: 177, 185). In addition to her financial and administrative involvement in the guild, Wertheim wrote at least one article promoting its work: Wertheim, "World-Wide Guild of Composers," Christian Science Monitor , 17 December 1922.

18. Alma's first husband, Maurice Wertheim, owned a Wall Street investment firm and was a major patron of the Theatre Guild. Their marriage ended in 1929. A recent "family history" of the Morgenthaus continues the focus on males, noting that Henry Morgenthau, Jr., had "real talent" as a singer, but that "a musical career was the last thing in the world [his father] had in mind for his only son. Music was all right, though, for the girls. Alma, one of my father's three sisters, trained her voice to the edge of professionalism; later she became a discriminating and demanding patron of avant garde composers like Arnold Schoenberg and Aaron Copland" (Henry Morgenthau III, Mostly Morgenthaus: A Family History [New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1991], 240.)

19. Barbara Tuchman, letter to the author, 11 December 1987; Anne W. Werner, interview with the author, 21 February 1988.

20. Minna Lederman, editor of Modern Music , has said that Wertheim contributed $1,500 annually to the journal during the first few years of its existence (Lederman, interview with the author, 1 April 1989).

21. While New York composers tended to fall into separate ideological camps after the split between the guild and league, there was some overlap. For example, a letter from Carl Ruggles to Blanche Walton, written in 1926, shows that Wertheim continued to reach out to Ruggles, one of the ICG's principal figures: "Curious: Dr. Bartlett forwarded a note from Mrs. Wertheim asking about me, and what I was doing, and I answered her a fortnight ago, but have received no reply" (Ruggles to Walton, postmarked 19 November 1926, Walton-NN).

22. Aaron Copland and Vivian Perlis, Copland: 1900 through 1942 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1984), 112.

23. On Harris, see ibid., 129. "Mrs. Wertheim gave me $100 for Israel [Citkowitz]," Copland wrote to Nadia Boulanger on 19 December 1927 (Copland-DLC).

22. Aaron Copland and Vivian Perlis, Copland: 1900 through 1942 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1984), 112.

23. On Harris, see ibid., 129. "Mrs. Wertheim gave me $100 for Israel [Citkowitz]," Copland wrote to Nadia Boulanger on 19 December 1927 (Copland-DLC).

24. More about Wertheim and her support of Cos Cob Press can be found in Carol J. Oja, "Cos Cob Press and the American Composer," Music Library Association Notes 45 (December 1988): 227-52. Wertheim's obituary, "Mrs. Morgenthau, A Patron of Arts," New York Times , 26 December 1953, is also informative. Through their dedications, Cos Cob imprints suggest something of Wertheim's patronage. Five scores were dedicated to her: Copland's Piano Concerto, Gruenberg's Jazz-Suite for Orchestra, Marion Bauer's "Chromaticon" from Four Piano Pieces, Roy Harris's Concerto for Piano, Clarinet, and String Quartet, and Israel Citkowitz's "Gentle Lady," published in the Cos Cob Song Volume .

25. For a discussion of women publishers, see Shari Benstock, Women of the Left Bank: Paris, 1900-1940 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986).

26. Lederman, letter to the author, 17 July 1988.

27. Claire Reis, interview with Vivian Perlis, 5 February 1976, Oral History / American Music, Yale University. Wertheim's daughter, Anne Werner, recalls, too, however, that her mother's income diminished after she divorced Maurice Wertheim in 1929.

28. Ruggles to Walton, 7 February 1928, Walton-NN.

29. Henry Cowell, "Program Note" for a concert honoring Blanche Walton, given at the New School for Social Research, 12 April 1959 (typescript in the collection of Mildred Baker, New York City). See also Richard Jackson, "Blanche Wetherill Walton," in The New Grove Dictionary of American Music , ed. H. Wiley Hitchcock and Stanley Sadie (New York: Macmillan, 1986), 4 :474.

30. Walton, "Only a Sketch" (manuscript fragment of a memoir, n.d.), Walton-NN.

31. In 1901, Walton's husband Ernest was killed in a railway accident while commuting between his job with De Coppet on Wall Street and their home in New Rochelle, but Blanche and De Coppet remained friends afterward. At the time of her husband's death, she had two daughters—the younger was one year old and the elder was three. Only after raising them did she turn to patronage (Marion Walton Putnam, interview with the author, 19 Apr