The commentaries and criticisms of William Foster Apthorp


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The commentaries and criticisms of William Foster Apthorp
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vii, 310 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Nelson, Robert B., 1952-
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Musicians -- Biography -- United States   ( lcsh )
Music -- History and criticism   ( lcsh )
Curriculum and Instruction thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- Curriculum and Instruction -- UF
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1991.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 302-308).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Robert B. Nelson.
General Note:
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University of Florida
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Copyright 1991


Robert B. Nelson


As one wends along the path of scholarly endeavors, there are certain

markers that seem to say you are on the right track. My supervising chairman, Dr.

David Kushner, is one of the most illuminating of those markers. He has guided my

progress not only through his feedback but by his example as well, and I shall always

be indebted to him. The others of my committee have also taken numerous hours

out of their schedules to lend a hand. Special thanks go to Dr. Camille Smith for

her willingness to step in on relatively short notice. Another valuable asset to any

researcher is those librarians who provide much-needed technical assistance.

Robena Cornwell, the music librarian, and the interlibrary loan staff deserve my

gratitude. I wish to acknowledge my parents for their support and for encouraging

me to persevere toward lofty goals, and past teachers and professors who have

provided me with the specific tools and examples to achieve them. I especially wish

to thank my wife, Diane, for her encouragement and for keeping things going while

I was "away." Otto and BJ have also been somewhat neglected while I was hard at

work on this project, and I look forward to spending more time with them. Finally,

I wish to express thanks to friends and fellow students who have always had an

encouraging word.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ..................................... iii

ABSTRACT .................................... ........... vi


1 INTRODUCTION ............. ........... ............ 1

The Problem .................. ........... ........... 6
Research Questions ................................... 11
Focus of the Study .................. .................. 12
Limitations ................... ....................... 13
Significance of the Study ................................. 13
Assumptions................... ............ .......... 15
Review of the Literature ................................. 16
Method of Analysis ..................................... 22

2 JOHN SULLIVAN DWIGHT ....................... .......... 25

3 ATLANTIC MONTHLY ................................. 50

The Folio ....... ......... ........ .......... 50
Dexter Smith's Paper ........................ ........... 59
Dwight's Journal and the Atlantic Monthly ................... 67

4 BOSTON EVENING TRANSCRIPT ........................ 99

Edward H. Clement .................................... 100
Boston Daily Advertiser .................................. 104
William Foster Apthorp ................................. 107
Henry T. Parker .................. .................... 111
Specific Reviews .................. .................... 117


General Comparison .................................. 164
Specific W orks ............................ ........... 178

6 MUSICIANS AND MUSIC-LOVERS ........................ 199

Musicians and Music-Lovers .............................. 200
Johann Sebastian Bach .................................. 204
Additional Accompaniments to Bach's and Handel's Scores ....... 209
Giacomo Meyerbeer .................................... 219
Jacques Offenbach ..................................... 223
Two Modem Classicists (Robert Franz and Otto Dresel) ......... 226
John Sullivan Dwight ................................... 231
Some Thoughts on Musical Criticism .................. ..... 232
Music and Science ..................................... 234

7 OTHER WRITINGS ................................... 242

Hector Berlioz .... .................................. 242
By the Way, Vol. 1, "About Music"......................... 247
By the Way, Vol. 2, "About Musicians" ...................... 253
The Opera Past and Present............................... 259

8 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS ....................... 268

Summary ............................................ 268
Conclusions .......................................... 270
Implications for Higher Education .......................... 272
Suggestions for Further Research .......................... 274

WILLIAM FOSTER APTHORP ............................. 278


REVIEWED IN THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY, 1872-1877 .......... 285

BIBLIOGRAPHY .......................................... 302

Books and Articles ....................................... 302
Journals and Newspapers ................................... 308

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .................................. 309

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Robert B. Nelson

December 1991

Chairman: Dr. David Z. Kushner
Major Department: Instruction and Curriculum

Much is known and has been written of John Sullivan Dwight, Boston's infamous

music critic of the latter 1800s, largely due to the significance of his Journal of Music.

Likewise, there is much information available on the life and work of Philip Hale

and other well-known music critics around the turn of the century. However, the

man in the middle, William Foster Apthorp, has received no attention in the

literature whatsoever. This is unfortunate, since it was Apthorp who parted from

Dwight's dogmatic style of music criticism and developed a more temperate,

objective, personal-opinion style that became the norm for critics that followed.

Apthorp wrote music columns for the Atlantic Monthly, the Boston Courier, and

the Boston Evening Traveller. His most remarkable work, however, was for the

Boston Evening Transcript, from 1881-1903. Apthorp was praised for his

open-mindedness, perception, and common sense, and he successfully balanced

progressive and conservative viewpoints in his criticisms. He championed new music

and American music. Ever mindful that the public was his true audience, his lucid,

instructive writing style appealed to everyone.

Although he had significant influence on public taste and music criticism as a

form of literature, Apthorp is better known for his commentaries. He was the

annotator for the Boston Symphony Orchestra Programme book, authored several

books about music, and selected, translated, and edited writings of Hector Berlioz

and Emile Zola, as well as songs by Robert Franz and Adolf Jensen. In these

educational writings he used his vast knowledge of science, math, psychology, and

painters and writers to inform the public on the proper relationship of music to

society. In so doing, he provided modern music scholars with valuable accounts of

some little-known musical matters.

William Foster Apthorp was a significant influence both on his public and on

the next generation of music critics. Others have gained recognition for their work,

but it was Apthorp who paved the way for them, enabling them to flourish. It is

time he received credit for his notable work.

,.. W,

!L~~ ~



There are two major areas of concern to music educators: musical concepts

or content, and the teaching of those concepts or content. The content area that is

the most exhaustive, and is therefore the most interesting and receives considerable

attention, is the history of music.For example, the time line of music history is

divided into style periods, such as Baroque and Romantic, based on various features

that the music of that style period has in common, and music curricula require

courses in such style periods. Music students, then, do learn something about music

of the past. What is often missing from music courses, even at higher levels, is an

examination of the people who listened to that music as evidenced by those who

wrote about them, the music critics. Critics' views were but a reflection of society,

its tastes and appreciations. This study will focus on one such music critic, William

Foster Apthorp, and will legitimize the study of his criticisms in higher lever


As important and elemental as the study of composers and their music is, it

is unidirectional. It flows from the composer to the audience. It is here that the

role of music criticism comes into sharp focus, for it is the music critic who records

for posterity how society feels about the music it is hearing. Although the role of

music critics is extremely valuable, little research has been completed in this area,

and music criticism is largely missing from music curricula in higher education.

Perhaps a fundamental cause for this shortcoming is the subjective nature of such

a study. Music criticism is but a branch of the stout trunk of musicology. Music

theory, historiography, performance practice, bibliography, and acoustics and physics

are only a few of the areas of "hard" research wherein definitive data are sought to

discover relics of the past. For example, music students learn that La Serva Pedrona

was a comic intermezzo composed by Giovanni Pergolesi (1710-36). Its first

performance in Paris took place without incident in 1746. Such definitive data will

never change.

The raison d'tre for music critics, on the other hand, is the audience, which

is always changing and is more difficult to "define." When La Serva Pedrona played

in Paris only six years later, in 1752, the attitude of the audience was so different

that its performance sparked what is now known as the "War of the Buffoons," and

an entirely new style of opera, comic opera, was born.1

Music criticism, then, is an extremely valuable area of study, since it calls

attention to the audience. Commentaries on musical matters significantly enliven

the music for future generations, for they are provided through the writings of critics

a social context. We are able to experience vicariously the music as it was, which

enhances our hearing of it today and deepens our understanding and appreciation.

A study of a music critic, then, would be enlightening and informative.

Criticism itself is difficult to define. We have often heard it said that

everyone is a critic. But just what is a critic, or just what is it that everyone is doing

1 For more on the War of the Buffoons, see the essay on Giacomo Meyerbeer
in Chapter 6, "Musicians and Music-Lovers," 219ff.

when they are being "critical"? That is a question that has received more attention

within the general heading of music criticism than any other. Today's music journals

are sprinkled with regular contributions attempting to clarify the goals of criticism.

Ever since musicians and journalists have been writing music reviews of one sort or

another there has been a concomitant discussion, either from the pen of the writer

himself or from a second or even third party, of what the role of a music critic is.

What is the objective? What are they attempting to accomplish?

These are pertinent queries, and the answers naturally lead to discussions of

how critics go about their work. For example, is the writing style appropriate? Does

the critic accomplish the task by writing stinging, caustic reviews, or would a less

dogmatic approach, perhaps, be more suitable? Does the critic broach topics of

discussion that are pertinent, or are there areas that are extraneous to the topic at

hand? This is, in itself, a noteworthy feature of music criticism, for what is discussed

in reviews, especially consistently among critics of a particular time and place, is a

reflection of the people of that time and place. About what are they interested in

reading? Are they interested in musical compositions, or how the ensemble or

soloist sounded, or how the performers) were attired, or who else was at the

performance and what they wore and how they behaved?

The role of a music critic, then, is not a simple one, nor can it be described

simply. Oscar Thompson's statement that "criticism is opinion and opinion is

criticism" does little to clarify the issue.2 Nevertheless, it is a valid statement, and

2 Oscar Thompson, Practical Musical Criticism (New York: M. Witmark & Sons,
1934), 5.

it was written in all candor. The task is never-ending, and the reason for this endless

discussion deals more with the audience--the readers--than with musicians and music.

To Joseph Kerman, "Criticism deals with pieces of music and men listening, with fact

and feeling, with the life of the past in the present, with the composer's private

image in the public mirror of an audience."3

Each generation formulates its own perspective on current events, even in the

arts, based on what has preceded it and on where it hopes to go from there. There

is no aspect of a culture that is not redefined in this manner, and music is no

exception. As demonstrated in the La Serva Pedrona example, the music did not

change. What did change was the manner in which a new generation perceived that

music. As historical events unfold, ideas and values are re-examined in light of the

new present. There comes a time when a society contemplates the past, reconsiders

it, and honors it or casts it aside. It has to move on from there, however, with its

own sense of ethics and values. Thompson's observation on criticism and opinion,

then, begins to ring true.

The role of a music critic, as seen in its practice throughout the ages, is to

offer insight and opinion with regard to musical tastes and standards. One

qualification of a music critic, then, is keen perception of the components of music,

or what is considered compositional craftsmanship, and, more important, of the

affective impact of music. Call it cultivated musical taste. More than any other art

form, music has the capacity to affect human feelings and emotions. What is

3 Joseph Kerman, "A Profile for American Musicology," Journal of the American
Musicological Society 18 (Spring 1965): 63.

emotionally stimulating and pleasing to one society, however, probably will not have

the same effect on another. Witness La Serva Pedrona. The emotional impact of

the music, therefore, needs to be reconsidered.

There is more to music criticism than musical knowledge and taste. The critic

must also possess journalistic skill, the ability to convey ideas in a manner that is

comprehensible to the audience. Oscar Thompson states the case plainly: "The

ability to write is second to no other qualification.... Criticism is literature ....

Vital among the critic's qualifications is the literary gift .. The critic .must

possess and cultivate a love of words."4

It is clear, then, that a critic who is not read is not contributing to his society.

Indeed, the critic who is widely read by his constituents may be taken as a faithful

representative of the values of his society.

A third qualification of a music critic is fair, practical assessment of what is

heard. The public will tolerate a writer so long as the content is accurate.

Sentimental attachments aside, if a concert were poorly done, the critic is not out

of bounds in saying so. If, however, the critic seems to engage in personal vendettas,

needlessly attacking the musicians, then the public will soon lose respect for the

writer, and the effect will be lost.

Music educators traditionally study the music of the past. It is also important,

however, to go beyond the music itself and to study, at least to some degree, how

the people felt about music in their day. Music critics play a key role in this

extended study of the history of music, and music educators need to be

4 Thompson, Practical Musical Criticism, 26f.

knowledgeable of critics' views of music in order to develop curricula and

instructional techniques at higher levels of education that will present a more-

comprehensive impression of music in society throughout its history.

The Problem

The purpose of this study is to investigate the musical criticisms and other

written works of William Foster Apthorp (1848-1913). There have been studies

completed on his immediate predecessor and successor in Boston--John Sullivan

Dwight and Philip Hale, respectively. No research has been published on Apthorp,

however, and this study is intended to fill that gap.

It was John Sullivan Dwight (1813-93) who became the first significant voice

in musical matters in America. Dwight's Journal of Music, which graced the

American scene from 1852 until 1881, was the first organ of musical thought and

opinion that succeeded in interesting the musically literate, the musically untrained,

and even the musically indifferent reader.

Because his Journal is such a rich source of information about music in

America during the latter half of the nineteenth century, much study has focused on

Dwight and the precedents of music criticism that he established. There have been

four dissertations in the past thirty-five years devoted to John Sullivan Dwight:

Walter L. Fertig, "John Sullivan Dwight: Transcendentalist and Literary Amateur of

Music"; Marcia Wilson Lebow, "A Systematic Examination of the 'Journal of Music

and Art,' Edited by John Sullivan Dwight: 1852-1881, Boston, Massachusetts";

William Joseph Beasley, "The Organ in America, As Portrayed in Dwight's 'Journal

of Music,'"; and William Anson Call, "A Study of the Transcendental Aesthetic

Theories of John S. Dwight and Charles E. Ives and the Relationship of Those

Theories to their Respective Work as Music Critic and Composer." In addition,

George Willis Cooke has written a biography on Dwight: John Sullivan Dwight: Brook

Farmer, Editor, and Critic of Music. There has been sufficient research, then, into

Dwight and the mark he has made on the history of music in the United States.

It may seem extraordinary, but in spite of his esteemed reputation as a writer

of music in Boston, Dwight never undertook any formal study of music. His degree,

which he took from Harvard University in 1836, was from the Divinity School. He

was always an enthusiastic supporter, however, of music as an art. To him, the aim

of art music, as well as the other art forms, was "to remedy the effects of

materialistic society by familiarizing men with the beautiful and the infinite."5

Indeed, even in his Harvard dissertation, "The Proper Character of Poetry and Music

for Public Worship," he expressed a need to view music on its own terms and as a

means of genuine culture.

The views Dwight expressed, however, were of a man who experienced music

more than studied it. His mother had a keen sense of aesthetic value and beauty

which had a lasting impact on him. It was this affinity for the beautiful in music,

coupled with his intense desire to write his thoughts and his ability to do so in a

popular manner, that made possible his reputation as an authority on music.

In Introduction to Musicology Glen Haydon addressed the issue of the

shortcoming of the appreciation of aesthetic values by itself in music criticism:

5 H. Wiley Hitchcock, Music in the United States: A Historical Introduction
(Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1969), 47.

Criticism implies evaluation. It is based upon evaluation but is not
identical to it. The critical evaluation of a work of art implies more
than a mere appreciation of aesthetic values; it requires a justification
of the evaluative judgment through pointing out potential aesthetic
values. Hence, criticism is not mere evaluation, but justification
through intelligent description and comparison.6

This statement would explain Dwight's dogmatic approach to music criticism.

His sense of aesthetic value, gifted as it was, nevertheless lacked a rigorous

involvement of the intellect. He relied on feeling, not thought; on imagination, not

understanding.7 His opinions could never be explained; they could only be felt.

Fertig also noted Dwight's disdain for education; he always had trouble coping in the

real world, and he lamented that his education did him little good in finding a

secure vocation.8 Aside from Dwight's chapter "The History of Music in Boston" in

Justin Winsor's The Memorial History of Boston and Dwight's continuation of Charles

C. Perkins's History of the Handel and Haydn Society, Fertig concluded that "Dwight

had little taste for research or antiquarianism."9 It would seem inevitable, then, that

some change had to take place to further music criticism in the United States.

SGlen Haydon, Introduction to Musicology: A Survey of the Fields, Systematic and
Historical of Musical Knowledge and Research (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1941), 151.

7 Walter Fertig, "John Sullivan Dwight: Transcendentalist and Literary Amateur
of Music" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Maryland, 1952), 65f.

8 Ibid., 180f.

9 Ibid., 256. The references are to Justin Winsor, The Memorial History of Boston
4 (Boston: James R. Osgood, 1881): 415-64, and Charles C. Perkins and John S.
Dwight, History of the Handel and Haydn Society, of Boston, Massachusetts (New
York: Da Capo Press, 1977). Perkins completed only the first three chapters, and
Dwight wrote chapters four through fifteen.

The next Boston critic who receives attention is Philip Hale (1854-1934),

although less research has been completed into his life and work than Dwight's. At

least one dissertation has been cited: Jean Ann Boyd, "Philip Hale, American Music

Critic, Boston, 1889-1933." Hale wrote for several Boston dailies during his

illustrious career. Standard music biographical dictionaries have made glowing

pronouncements regarding his writing of the program notes for the Boston

Symphony Orchestra, which he recorded from 1901 to 1933.

There is even an entry for Hale in the monumental Die Musik in Geschichte

und Gegenwart.10 What is curious about this fact is the absence of an entry for John

Sullivan Dwight, who was perhaps better known in Europe than Hale. It is no

surprise that Apthorp is not included. Finally, although Henry W. Levinger does

mention Apthorp in "The Critic's Eye View," he further asserts that "the greatest

critic of this time was his successor in writing the program notes [of the Boston

Symphony Orchestra] up to 1933, Philip Hale."" Warren Storey Smith wrote on

"Four Distinguished American Music Critics--A Centennial Note," and his discussion

includes Hale and three New Yorkers: Henry Krehbiel, William Henderson, and

Henry Finck.12 The slighting of Apthorp in both of these writings is only further

indication of the need to complete the story of music criticism in America.

10 Article "Philip Hale," in Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 5:1341.

1 Henry W. Levinger, "The Critic's Eye View," Musical Courier 151 (1 Feb.
1955): 58.
12 Warren Storey Smith, "Four Distinguished American Music Critics--A
Centennial Note," Musical America 74 (15 Feb. 1954): 6, 130, 134.

One might assume from the literature that Philip Hale was direct heir to

Dwight's legacy, since his career blossomed in Boston soon after. That is not the

case, however. Another voice was heard after John S. Dwight's but before Hale's,

one that reflected greater musical training, one that changed the direction of musical

criticism in the United States from the somewhat dogmatic, authoritative approach

of Dwight toward the French style of personal criticism. That voice was of William

Foster Apthorp.

The opinions he expressed were not only personal, as were Dwight's, but were

educated as well. He studied harmony and counterpoint with John Knowles Paine

at Harvard University and took a degree from there in 1869. He was an

accomplished pianist, and he even composed a song; Dwight was neither an

accomplished pianist nor a composer. So sufficient was Apthorp's reputation as a

music scholar that he joined the faculties at the National College of Music, the New

England Conservatory of Music, and the College of Music of Boston University.

During these tenures he taught piano, general theory, harmony, counterpoint, fugue,

aesthetics, and musical history. In addition, he presented a series of lectures at the

prestigious Lowell Institute, a series which he repeated in New York and at the

Peabody Institute in Baltimore.

His music criticism career began in 1872 with the Atlantic Monthly and

mushroomed into assignments with dailies and journals. In his criticisms he

preferred not to make pronouncements; rather, his aim was to set people thinking.

Of his programs for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, no less than the New Grove

Dictionary of Music and Musicians, a preeminent resource in English, says he gave

them "a value and an individual character that were afterwards maintained by Philip

Hale."13 It was this style of writing that influenced and became the standard for the

next generation of music critics, beginning with Philip Hale and even extending to

his peers in New York.

Time seems to have forgotten the significant work of Apthorp. Like Hale,

he contributed articles and writings to numerous dailies and journals in the Boston

area. His work on the program notes for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, from

1892 to 1903, has already been cited. In addition, Apthorp busied himself with

translating writings from French and German into English and with editing songs

of Robert Franz and Adolf Jensen. He coedited a single-volume encyclopedia about

music, and one of the first histories of opera came from his pen. In spite of his

numerous contributions to music in America, his name is surprisingly missing from

musical studies and journals. There is discussion of Dwight, Hale, and the New

York critics, but Apthorp is barely mentioned. There have been no theses or

dissertations about him. Since he was such an important and pivotal figure in music

criticism, he deserves serious scrutiny. It is the purpose of this study, then, to

investigate and discuss the contributions to music journalism of William Foster


Research Ouestions

It has been generally accepted that the musical commentaries of John S.

Dwight were somewhat dogmatic and authoritative and that music critics who

13 Richard Aldrich, "William Foster Apthorp," in New Grove Dictionary of Music
and Musicians, 1:511.

followed him were more tempered in their writings. Since William Foster Apthorp

immediately followed Dwight in music criticism in Boston, it would be appropriate

to begin to trace the development of modern music criticism with Apthorp. There

are two major research questions concerning him that this study will attempt to

answer in an effort to clarify this aspect of music history, especially as it relates to

the inclusion of Apthorp in curricula in higher education.

1. What were the contributions made by Apthorp to music criticism,

especially when compared to his predecessors?

2. Were his contributions to music criticism recognized and adopted by his


Focus of the Study

There are natural points of division for this study. The first delimitation is

time, which ran from 1872, when Apthorp began to write for the Atlantic Monthly,

to 1903, when he left the United States to retire in Switzerland. Although the major

focus was on Apthorp, it was necessary to deal with immediate predecessors,

especially John Sullivan Dwight, to emphasize the contributions made by Apthorp.

In addition, it has already been noted that his work was ably continued, especially

by Philip Hale. Looking at his immediate successors validated his work, i.e., were

his changes accepted, or did further improvements need to be made?

The second area of concern is place. Here again the choice was easily

defined: Boston. There was no need to investigate beyond this important New

England city.

The third area of concern is writings. There are two categories here:

criticisms and commentaries. Criticisms were regarded as reviews that appeared in

any of several daily newspapers. The pertinent issues were what these critics wrote

about and what kind of language they used. Commentaries include other writings,

such as program notes, entr'actes (editorial columns within the program bulletins),

journal and newspaper articles, books, etc.


One important matter that prevailed throughout this study was the matter of

personal opinion. The views expressed by Apthorp and the other critics are their

own. There never has been, nor will there ever be, any set standards of music

criticism. Any reservations or weaknesses, then, are simply human.

Significance of the Study

The names of Dwight, Hale, and the New Yorkers--Richard Aldrich, Henry

T. Finck, William J. Henderson, James G. Huneker, and Henry E. Krehbiel--are

commonplace in sources and literature, but Apthorp is seldom mentioned, if at all.

This will become evident in the "Review of the Literature." Because there is a

definitive gap in our knowledge of the development of music criticism in the United

States during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, a study focusing on this area

will serve to advance recognition of the true state of the practice. In so doing,

general knowledge, as purported in most music textbooks, will necessarily be

redefined or re-evaluated in light of new information and/or relationships that will

be discovered.

Music educators today are becoming increasingly aware of the relationships

of the various disciplines under the general rubric of music. It is becoming more

difficult to view any one area of music without acknowledging its dependence on and

relationship to other areas. This recognized need for an integrated approach to

music education is clearly shown by the Contemporary Music Project [CMP].

Conceived by Norman Dello Joio and funded by the Ford Foundation, this project,

which began in 1959, was designed to teach students the relationships between music

theory, music history, and performance. This is a fundamental shift from the norm

in music teaching, particularly in public schools, where education is performance

oriented. The goal of the CMP was to emphasize musical literacy and musical


As a result of this renewed awareness of the integration of music disciplines,

such fields as performance practices, aesthetics, and music criticism have made

progress. Because the in-depth study of music criticism is still relatively new, it is

no surprise that there are some gaps in our understanding of specific critics.

Apthorp is one of those critics.

With regard to curriculum and instruction, the implications are important.

Despite a growing interest in music criticism in America, most standard textbooks

do not sufficiently address the topic. To cite only three examples here, Donald J.

Grout's A History of Western Music, a popular text for undergraduate students,

contains no references to music criticism in the table of contents or in the index in

spite of the fact that a Library of Congress subject heading for this book is Music--

History and Criticism.14 The Schirmer History of Music contains two brief sections

on music criticism, but they are limited to Europe and do not go beyond the middle

of the nineteenth century.15 Finally, the article on music criticism in the New Grove

Dictionary of Music and Musicians includes its discussion of music criticism in the

United States during the last quarter of the nineteenth century under "Early 20th

Century," which is obviously misrepresentative.16 It is apparent, then, that little

attention is paid to music criticism in standard sources and texts, and what attention

there is is sometimes inaccurate. In addition, courses in music criticism are not

included in many curricular programs, even at the graduate level. For these reasons

succeeding generations of music students have been uninformed or, worse,

misinformed on the value of music criticism in our culture.


Because most, if not all, of this research study will focus on primary sources,

i.e., newspapers and similar published works, and the purposes of printing these

works are, in effect, to make a profit for the publisher, one would expect some

subjectivity in what information is printed. This is a matter of external criticism,

since the source itself may come under question at times. There may also very well

be a personal slant or bias on the part of the writers, which is a matter of internal

14 Donald J. Grout, A History of Western Music (rev. ed., New York: W. W.
Norton, 1973).

15 Leonie Rosentiel, ed., Schirmer History of Music (New York: Schirmer Books,
1982). See "The Rise of Music Criticism," 463, and "The Rise of Music Criticism,"

'6 Winston Dean, "Criticism," in New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians,

criticism. In general, however, since most of these sources will be newspapers,

journals, and publishers of high standards and esteemed reputations, there should

be little doubt as to their integrity. With regard to the authors themselves, it has

been stated that what they have written for print is simply personal opinion. They

are subjective impressions, but that is precisely what this study proposes to


Review of the Literature

In his address "A Profile of American Musicology" Joseph Kerman has stated

a case for criticism as being the top rung of a musicological ladder whose steps are

comprised of specialized studies, such as biography, bibliography, performance

practice, theory, etc.17 With this in mind, one would expect to find references to

music criticism, and perhaps even notable music critics, in standard musicological

works. In general, however, that is not the case. Glen Haydon's comments on

criticism as evaluation in Introduction to Musicology has already been cited under

"The Problem."18 The essays in Musicology by Frank Ll. Harrison, Mantle Hood,

and Claude Palisca contain no mention of music criticism. Research Guide to

Musicology by James W. Pruett and Thomas Slavens includes analytical and style

criticism as research, but not as a journalistic endeavor for the enlightenment of the

public. Denis Stevens also recognizes analytical criticism, but he does note that the

analysis of music is heavily technical and not humanistic, since "it is incomparably

easier to write plausible analysis than to give the impression that musical criticism

17 Joseph Kerman, "A Profile For American Musicology," 61-69.

18 See pp. 7-8 above.

should belong to the sphere of humane letters."19 Noting that criticism has played

a vital role in art and in English literature, Kerman laments that "theory and

analysis are still being treated as ends rather than as steps on the ladder of

criticism."2 Henry Levinger states the case well: "Music, to really come alive, needs

four helpers: the composer, the re-creative artist, the audience, and (last but not

least), the critic. For, it is the latter who, pleading its case sine ira et studio, puts it

in its proper place and perspective and makes it the commonplace property of all."21

Hosts of musicologists seem to have forgotten the beauty of live music and

the important role of the critic to make that music come alive to those who were not

fortunate enough to have been present at the performance. There is no

acknowledgment of criticism of musical performances in any of these sources. It

seems, therefore, that while noting its eminent position, musicology texts are slight

in their coverage of journalistic music criticism.

A search of the Music Index and RILM, two major preliminary sources of

articles and writings about music, has turned up no references to Apthorp

whatsoever, save reprints of his books. Looking further into more general articles,

only one has been found that includes any mention of Apthorp, "The Critic's Eye

View," and it is only a mention. There are five sentences that are merely a

19 Denis Stevens, Musicology: A Practical Guide (New York: Schirmer Books,
1980), 46.

20 Kerman, "A Profile for American Musicology," 65.
21 Levinger, "The Critic's Eye View," 60.

distillation of Max Graf's brief discussion in Composer and Critic.22 Interestingly,

there are more substantial writings on Philip Hale and especially the New York

"Mighty Five," but that is beyond the scope of this discussion. As regards

dissertations, Rita H. Mead's Doctoral Dissertations in American Music has likewise

turned up no references to Apthorp.

The information on this subject in major reference books presents quite an

interesting picture. One standard music reference, Harvard Dictionary of Music, does

not even list Apthorp's name in its article on music criticism in America, although

Dwight's name is prominent, and Hale is also mentioned.23 In most standard music

references, however, citations of Apthorp are at least present, but they are

exceedingly brief. The first major work to cite a biography of him was the third

edition of Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, which came out in 1935.24

The article was written by Richard Aldrich, who was one of the next generation of

American music critics working in New York. Actually, the articles on Apthorp are

nearly identical in this, in the International Cyclopedia of Music and Musicians, in the

New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, in Baker's Biographical Dictionary of

22 Levinger, "The Critic's Eye View," loc. cit.; Max Graf, Composer and Critic
(New York: W. W. Norton, 1946), 307ff.
23 Hugo Leichtentritt, "Music Criticism," in Harvard Dictionary of Music (2nd ed.,
ed. by Willi Apel, 1970), 553ff. Article revised by John Reeves White.

24 Richard Aldrich, "William Foster Apthorp," in Grove's Dictionary of Music and
Musicians (3rd ed., ed. by Henry C. Colles), 1:104.

Musicians, and in the New Grove Dictionary of American Music.25 It is obvious that

they have not been updated at any time during the past fifty years.

As previously mentioned, New Grove proclaims that Apthorp gave the

program notes for the Boston Symphony Orchestra "a value and individual character

that were afterwards maintained by Philip Hale."2 It is interesting to note, however,

that the article on Hale gives no credit to Apthorp for beginning this momentous

work. Here, too, this important standard reference fails to give Apthorp due honor

or credit.

It is strange that the editors of both Grove's Dictionary and the New Grove

Dictionary seemingly paid no attention to the entry on Apthorp in the American

Supplement to Grove's Dictionary, which also came out in 1935. Apthorp is treated

in more detail here by the editor, Waldo Seldon Pratt.27 By far the most substantial

article on Apthorp, however, was published over forty-five years earlier in A

Hundred Years of Music in America, edited by G. L Howe and published in 1889.28

Apthorp's career was well underway but by no means over when this was printed,

25 Article "William Foster Apthorp," in International Encyclopedia of Music and
Musicians (9th ed., ed. by Robert Sabin, 1964), 78; Richard Aldrich, "William Foster
Apthorp," in New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 1:511; article "William
Foster Apthorp," in Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (7th ed., ed. by
Nicolas Slonimsky, 1984), 68; Richard Aldrich, "William Foster Apthorp," in New
Grove Dictionary of American Music, 1:62.

26 Aldrich, "William Foster Apthorp," in New Grove Dictionary ofMusic, loc. cit.

27 American Supplement to Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians (Waldo
Seldon Pratt, ed., 1935), 116f.

28 Granville L Howe, ed., A Hundred Years of Music in America (Chicago: G.
L. Howe, 1889), 370f.

for Apthorp did not retire until 1903. It is uncertain why, then, Aldrich's article on

his near contemporary was relatively sparse, for not only did he certainly know

Apthorp personally but he must also have been familiar with Howe's A Hundred


Still another curiosity is found in Friedrich Blume's German monument Die

Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, as previously cited. This would be an unlikely

reference to search, and it is mentioned only because it highlights the inconsistency

that is present in American sources. If one were to expect any entry at all, it would

be one on Dwight, to whose Journal Europeans did indeed contribute articles. His

name is absent, as is Apthorp's. There is, however, an article on Philip Hale!29 No

possible explanations for this anomaly come to mind.

Finally, standard textbooks are worthy to note, since few undergraduate

students go beyond what is contained in such references, and their sense of what

constitutes musical studies is usually limited to them. Certainly the most common

music text is Donald J. Grout's A History of Western Music. Here, there are

references to the rise of music criticism in Europe in the early 1800s, including

quotes from E. T. A. Hoffmann (1776-1822) and from Robert Schumann (1810-56),

whose founding of the Neue Zeitschrift fr Musik was an important event in music

history. There are, however, no citations beyond these.30 References to the

29 Article "Philip Hale," in Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 5:1341.

30 Grout, A History of Western Music. The E. T. A. Hoffmann quote, p. 536,
concerns Beethoven's romanticism. Of Schumann's Neue Zeitschrift Grout states,
"His essays and reviews were an important progressive force in the Romantic
movement," p. 563.

illustrious writings of Hector Berlioz (1803-69) and Richard Wagner (1813-83) are

missing. Likewise, Cannon, Johnson, and Waite's The Art of Music mentions

Schumann's newspaper--in parentheses--but there is no discussion of any other music

critics.31 It is no surprise, then, that music criticism in America is omitted. In

another popular text, the Schirmer History of Music, there is a section, "The Rise of

Music Criticism," devoted to the topic, but there is little here that is not in Grout,

and there is still nothing on music criticism in America.32

The most glaring deficiency is in Paul Henry Lang's Music in Western

Civilization. His discussion of music criticism in Europe is more detailed than most

texts and includes more writers. Of particular interest is a remark on John S.

Dwight: "After his journal ceased publication, he joined the staff of the Boston

Transcript as its first music critic."33 This contrary to the facts. From 1874 to 1881

an assistant editor, Edward H. Clement, took care of dramatic and musical subjects,

but William Foster Apthorp was added to the staff of the Boston Evening Transcript

in 1881, as was Francis H. Jenks, to "devote their whole attention to the subject."

Apthorp concentrated on music and theater, while Jenks spent more of his time on

administrative matters, as well as "everything that Mr. Apthorp did not choose to

31 Beekman Cannon, Alvin Johnson, and William Waite, The Art of Music: A
Short History of Musical Styles and Ideas (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company,
1960), 357.
32 Rosentiel, Schirmer History of Music, 592f.

33 Paul Henry Lang, Music in Western Civilization (New York: W. W. Norton,
1941), 983. The last issue of Dwight's Journal appeared 3 Sept. 1881.

take in hand."3 In his biography of Dwight, Cooke noted that while Apthorp was

away in Europe Dwight did indeed fill his post with the Transcript. So although

Dwight may have served as an interim, he never actually joined the staff full time,

and he certainly was not the first music critic for the Transcript. Lang's assertion is

simply incorrect. Whereas most textbooks are noneducational by not including any

discussion of music criticism in America, Lang's Music in Western Civilization is

miseducational by this erroneous statement. It is of utmost importance that

American music criticism in general, and William Foster Apthorp in particular,

receive their rightful places in music curricula and textbooks. This study is intended

to begin this process.

Because the dissertation is in essence a study of what Apthorp has written,

it was appropriate to include a list of works by Apthorp, some of which will be

scrutinized in this study. This list in included as Appendix B. These writings have

been compared with contemporary documents in order to determine more precisely

what contributions Apthorp made with regard to content and style. All of these

writings, taken together, present a clear picture of the activities and contributions of

Apthorp. Noteworthy features are discussed and compared and/or contrasted with

writings of Apthorp's peers.

Method of Analysis

Preliminary sources such as RILM and the Music Index have been searched

to discover primary and secondary sources. Also, music biographical dictionaries

34 Joseph Edgar Chamberlin, The Boston Transcript: A History of its First Hundred
Years (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1930), 206.

such as Baker's Biographical Dictionay of Musicians have revealed additional primary

sources, including newspapers and journals to which Apthorp contributed.

Most of the sources pertinent to this study are available in one form or

another. Books by Apthorp are in the holdings of the University of Florida library,

as are some of the journals. Other periodicals, as well as newspapers, can be found

in the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, and the Boston Public

Library. Still other sources are available through Interlibrary Loan.

Although the quantity of material to be investigated was voluminous, the

method of analysis was relatively simple. There are two primary matters here: what

was said, and how it was said. Topics of discussion were compared, as was the

language used to describe those topics.

The procedure was to compare the subject matter with which Apthorp dealt

with the writings of his immediate predecessors) and successor(s). Topics of

discussion were various, including analyses of musical compositions, background

information on composers and their works, how the performance sounded, what the

performers were wearing, who was at the performance, etc. This phase of analysis

shed light on the reading tastes of the audience, since critics endeavor to write what

the audience will read.

The second area of analysis was Apthorp's exposition of subject matter as

compared to his predecessors) and successor(s). Writing styles ranged from

stinging, caustic language to flowery praises, from popular to erudite. The critics'

personal style of scholarship ranged from cursory to substantive.

From this analysis, conclusions have been drawn concerning the importance

of Apthorp in the history of music criticism, particularly the changes that became

evident when examining writings before and after Apthorp. The conclusions were

divided between actual criticisms and commentaries, since the purposes of each were

very different. Other contributions were duly noted as they became evident.

Finally, a place for the study of Apthorp and his criticisms has been related directly

to the study of music in higher education.

There are three other concerns that are worthy to observe. First, the matter

of presentism, or the viewing of past events with contemporary perspectives, was

lessened by a near emersion in the times, the late 1800s. In addition to the primary

sources described, additional secondary sources provided insight into the scope and

vitality of the musical scene in the last decades of the nineteenth century in the

Northeast. Second, the purpose here was not necessarily to show causal inference

with regard to the influence of Apthorp on his peers in New York and on his

successors in Boston. Third, there was no intention to generalize the results of this

study to other times and places; the focus here was narrow.


However useful it would be to examine the criticisms and commentaries of

William Foster Apthorp, their significance would be mitigated it they were not

placed in the context of his time. To give them still greater import it would be

illustrative to describe the constitution of music criticism from which his writings

sprang. There was but a single luminary on music in America immediately prior to

Apthorp: John Sullivan Dwight. This chapter is a discussion of Dwight's style of

music criticism.

Numerous appellations have been bestowed on Dwight, all of which reflect

the highest respect and admiration for his contributions to music in Boston. The

most common is "the father of music criticism" in the United States. High praise,

indeed. As Franz J. Haydn is considered the father of the symphony and W. A.

Mozart the father of the concerto, so Dwight is the one most recognized as the

person who brought music criticism into full flower in America. Apthorp himself

described Dwight as "a born critic in the highest sense." Of his professional life,

Apthorp said, "It is exceedingly seldom that one finds such a man pass a long life in

intimate, almost daily, communion with literature and the fine arts, and preserve

intact all the native spontaneity and naivete of his feelings."' Of course, the organ

William Foster Apthorp, Musicians and Music-Lovers, and Other Essays (New
York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1894), 284, 277.

of preservation to which Apthorp was referring is Dwight's Journal of Music: "In it

Dwight's fineness of artistic instinct and his unflinching intellectual honesty found

adequate expression."2 It is obligatory to examine and understand Dwight's style of

music criticism in order to discern Apthorp's approach to the task. Dwight truly

passed the torch to Apthorp, but what was the nature of that torch? That is, what

was the status of writing about music that Apthorp inherited from Dwight?

John Sullivan Dwight was born 13 May 1813. He was the eldest of four

children--two younger sisters and a younger brother. Being the first-born, he was

given his father's name, a practice that had been in the Dwight family for

generations. His father prepared for the ministry, but, finding Calvinism too severe

for his personal taste, he undertook the study of medicine, a profession in which he

was moderately successful. He was a free thinker in religion, a background which

would become a strong force in young John's life. His mother "was a handsome

woman, sweet, amiable, and sensible, of exquisite taste, and of superior character."3

It was her natural inclination toward the aesthetic, the artistic, and appreciation of

beauty that played a major role in the life of Dwight.

Dwight's early musical experiences were practically nonexistent. Music classes

did not exist at the grammar school and Latin school where he attended. He was

impressed by brass bands and street music, but, according to Walter Fertig, he

2 Ibid., 283.

3 George Willis Cooke, John Sullivan Dwight: Brook Farmer, Editor, and Critic of
Music (Hartford: Transcendental Books, 1973), 6a. Hereafter Brook Farmer.

played no instrument until he entered Harvard College.4 It was in the summer of

1829 when he enrolled at Harvard, and while there was no course of study in music

there at that time, there was a club of students who were interested in the study and

practice of music called the Pierian Sodality. Dwight was "captivated and converted

to the gospel of the college flute, as the transcendent and most eloquent of

instruments."5 Since the club was amply endowed with flutists, however, Dwight took

up the clarinet. Not being a respectable performer--Fertig claims he could not play

a note on any instrument--he was interdicted from playing with the Pierian Sodality.

Instead, as Dwight himself put it, he was ushered into the Arionic Society, "the

purgatory which half-fledged musicians of [my] own ilk had to pass through before

they could be candidates for the Pierian paradise."6 It was during and especially

after his days at Harvard that he spent time learning how to play the flute and


Dwight graduated from Harvard in 1832, whereupon he entered the Divinity

School of Harvard College. But music was never far from his thoughts. His thesis,

"On the Proper Character of Poetry and Music for Public Worship," dealt specifically

4 Walter Fertig, "John Sullivan Dwight: Transcendentalist and Literary Amateur
of Music" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Maryland, 1952), 8. Hereafter
"Transcendentalist." Cooke asserts that Dwight "devoted much time to the piano and
flute" (Brook Farmer, 6a). Whether or not he did so prior to his Harvard years is
flummery, since if he did, he did not achieve a level of performance corresponding
to that of his peers.

5 Cooke, Brook Farmer, 7a.

6 Fertig, "Transcendentalist," 9; Cooke, Brook Farmer, 7a.

with church music.7 His position on music in the church reveals a great deal of how

he viewed both music and the church. In an article in the 18 May 1872 issue of his

Journal he outlined six "Hints on Musical Worship." First, music "must be dealt with

as principal, and not as mere subordinate and handmaidd' to some other language,

... but as a thing sacred in itself." Good music does not depend on a text, which

may be rather ambiguous. "True music is a direct, transparent medium of the living

Word." He felt that "a few genuine tunes, with the divine spark in them," wedded

to "few spontaneous, short, sweet poems, may answer the real needs of worship

better than the thousands of new psalm tunes manufactured every year to sell."8

Second, since "all tunes grow commonplace and stale by frequent

repetition," they should rather be set in harmony, in polyphony, so that "they are

rescued from decay and clothed with a perennial freshness." He cited various

combinations of congregation, choir, and organ. Third, Dwight did not appreciate

popular tunes, such as "snatches of Verdi and Donizetti," finding their way into the

worship service: "Better silence than such mockery of music."9

Fourth, pure music deepens feeling and musical experience. Specifically, he

cited Beethoven's Third Symphony (the Funeral March), the Fifth Symphony (the

Andante), and the Ninth Symphony (the Adagio). "They that know the experience

of being completely transported under a Beethoven Symphony, can well believe

that Music has but very feebly yet fulfilled its mission as an element in public

7 The work was published in the Christian Examiner 21 (Nov. 1836): 254-63.

8 Dwight's Journal of Music, 18 May 1872, 238b, 238c.

9 Ibid., 238c, 239a.

worship." Fifth, he urged quality over quantity: "All bravura and mere music of

effect, is false in Art and ministers to no religious feeling." It is the practice of

engaging huge choruses and the like that he was addressing here. "The miracle

resides, after all, in the composition itself, and not in any magnifying glass of

countless armies of executants."10

Finally, since true art "seeks perfection" and "aspires forever," it is religious,

and "to think of having true religious music by shutting Art out, in the idle interest

of what we call 'simple,' 'unsophisticated,' 'popular,' is the sure way to run into all

sorts of affection and of shallow sentimentalism." He concluded that worshipers

have not believed in great music, which is why "music has not done its great work

in the churches.""

Dwight completed his course of study in 1836 and undertook his first real

position, that of preacher. At the same time he remained passionately devoted to

music. He contributed articles to the Christian Examiner and played piano whenever

he got close to one. His success as a preacher, however, was marginal, and less than

one year later he confided to Theodore Parker, "I am almost afraid that I cannot

succeed as a preacher." Parker responded kindly and honestly, pointing out his

merits as well as his shortcomings. In essence, Dwight had strong likings, a keen

love for the beautiful, and creative imagination, but his discernment of the truth fell

short and remained cloudy and vague, and he was directed by impulse and not will.

"Duty, not dreaming, is for men. You must get a place in the real world before you

10 Ibid., 239a.

Ibid., 239b.

can walk into the ideal like a gentleman."12 Finding that place in the real world

eluded him for most of his life.

Perhaps his ineffectual pastorate is directly related to his view of music in

worship, especially the fourth item discussed above. "We want to avail ourselves, in

worship, of the religion which is in all high and real music; that interior religion,

though it be untaught, unformulated, out of which all great, inspired, enduring music,

of whatever form, originally sprang."13 In "The Catholicity of Music" he spoke of the

Catholic Church: "Where it could not teach the Bible, where its own formal

interpretations thereof were perhaps little better than stones for bread, it could

breathe the spirit of the Bible and of all love and sanctity into the most ignorant and

thoughtless worshipper, through its sublime Masses."14 He was not interested in

teaching his parishioners about the gospel, in leading them to a greater understanding

of their Lord, or in instructing them on the specifics of music. He merely

endeavored to stir their souls and transport them to higher planes, even if they had

no understanding of what was going on.

It is uncertain precisely when Dwight's career in the ministry ended.

Convinced that he was unable to bring his ideals to the church and the profession,

he ventured forth, unknowing where the winds of fate would lead him. While his

work as a minister waned, he took up with the Transcendentalism movement. In the

thinking of George Ripley and Ralph Waldo Emerson, principals in the Brook Farm

12 Cooke, Brook Farmer, 8a, 8b.
13 "Hints on Musical Worship," Dwight's Journal, 18 May 1872, 238c.

14 Ibid., 18 July 1868, 278c.

experiment, Dwight found the rich, fertile soil suitable for his sensitive ideals. The

major purpose of the Brook Farm experiment was to develop individual talent and

character, including individual expression. It was a noble shibboleth in freedom of

thought and expression wherein members encouraged others, even if they did not

necessarily agree. Emerson plainly stated that the Transcendentalists were "lovers

and worshippers of Beauty. In the eternal trinity of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty,

each in its own perfection including the three, they prefer to make Beauty the sign

and the head."15 Dwight would have appreciated and was perhaps aware of the

resemblance between this "trinity" and Paul's message in I Corinthians 13:13: "But

now abide faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

Dwight's ideas of music as a religion in itself fit right into place at Brook

Farm. In fact, he was expressing the Transcendental attitude toward music even

before the group was formed, indeed even before he finished his ministry degree.

Simply, if words were regarded as the language of thought, then music must be the

language of feeling--especially religious feeling or devotion. One did not have to

understand the particulars of music to plumb the depths of truth and life. Although

Emerson himself "was totally unacquainted with musical technique,"16 being a true

Transcendentalist he was transported by music beyond reality: "[Music] takes us out

15 Irving Lowens, Music and Musicians in Early America (New York: W. W.
Norton, 1964), 249. The quote is from Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Transcendentalist.

16 Vivian C. Hopkins, Spires of Form: A Study of Emerson's Aesthetic Theory
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1951), 190.

of the actual and whispers to us dim secrets that startle our wonder as to who we


The role of music in this society was extremely important. These men were

seeking a better world, if only in their minds. Money and power had become the

idol of society, due largely to the Industrial Revolution, and "it was the holy mission

of music to remedy the defect by 'familiarizing men with the beautiful and the

infinite.'"18 Just as music in worship brought the people closer to God by the its

sheer beauty, so music would improve the aesthetic, moral, and spiritual values of


But not any music--only great music. Pure music--since greatness was in the

music itself and not in any association with words--and the works of Bach, Handel,

Mozart, and especially Beethoven withstood this trial by fire. Perhaps it would be

more illustrative to describe music that was not great than to discern the infinity of

"great" music.

Dwight scorned virtuosity. "All vain musical display and sounding

advertisement, all bravura and mere music of effect, is false in Art."19 Too, "When

perfect execution becomes so indispensable to true enjoyment of great music, we

begin to have our doubts about the quality, the depth of the enjoyment."2 Indeed,

17 Lowens, Music and Musicians, 262. Lowens cites Hopkins, ibid. The quote
is from The Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1838).

18 Ibid., 256; Fertig, "Transcendentalist," 35.

19 Dwight's Journal, 18 May 1873, 239a.

2 Ibid., 26 June 1875, 47b.

it was the spirit of a performance that appealed to Dwight more than the technical

execution of the music. In addition to virtuosity, Dwight railed against brass bands,

"those brazen lungs of the Sax family," and the sentimentalism of brass music, which

he felt was "of a positively rancid quality";21 Patrick Gilmore's jubilee concerts,

although he did acknowledge a certain positive, patriotic effect; and Italian opera,

not to mention Richard Wagner's opera dramas and New Music.

On the other hand, Dwight's affinity for "great" music came about because he

saw a direct relationship between music of the masters and the yearning for spiritual

freedom, for the dignity of human nature that was largely responsible for the settling

of America in the first place. These ideas are plainly outlined in "Music a Means

of Culture." The culture they sought was freer and more open--and superior--than

"the barren routine of a narrow, utilitarian, provincial, and timid education."22

Dwight was speaking here of an "atmospheric" education necessary in a democracy

to luxuriate a beautiful, lovely culture devoid of the crudities of everyday life. To

be sure, understanding was not at all important, since great paintings, poems, and

cathedrals are enjoyed by many who have absolutely no understanding. They simply

feel the presence of and are thus influenced by something great.

21 Ibid., 1 Aug. 1868, 287a, 286c.

22 Atlantic Monthly, Sept. 1870, 321-31, 322a. Dwight had presented "Music in
Relation to Culture and the Religious Sentiment" on the Horticulture Hall Sunday
Afternoon Lectures series on 26 March 1870. Publication of the homily, which came
about at the impulse of a leader of musical interests in Boston, was printed in two
parts: this, and "The Intellectual Influence of Music," Atlantic Monthly, Nov. 1870,

Dwight pondered what such a culture would be without art, and what form

of art better meets the needs of the people and is more available than music? "The

great music came in then because it was in full affinity with the best thoughts stirring

in fresh, earnest souls." The music of Beethoven, Handel, and Mozart was eagerly

accepted by "these believing ones, who would not have belief imposed upon them,

who cared more for life than doctrine, and to whom it was a prime necessity of heart

and soul to make life genial." Still, a precise definition of "great" is remiss. Dwight's

point, simply, was that "the great music has been so much followed and admired

here, not by reason of any great musical knowledge in the said followers, not

because we have any technical musicianship or proper musicality, but purely because

the music was great, deep, true, making itself felt as such; we love the music for the

great life that is in it."23

Whether he knew it or not, Dwight was completely absorbed in the general

philosophic tone of the nineteenth century, that of neo-Platoists such as Immanuel

Kant (1724-1804) and Georg W. F. Hegel (1770-1831). Kant espoused that we can

know only our reality, which we experience through our senses. We are certain of

existence beyond our experience, so using what we do know we can reason the rest,

this world of idea. There is, then, a higher truth than human intelligence. Moral

integrity is achieved, since we believe in the existence of such ideals--God and

freedom, for instance--when we are impelled to behave as if they were real. That

is, we create our own existence, as opposed to existential thought. Furthermore,

since our minds basically think in the same manner, knowledge is universal. These

2 Ibid., 323b, 323-24, 325a.

ideas are apparent in Dwight's article "Music a Means of Culture," wherein he

envisioned a democratic society whose members found pleasure in great music.

Hegel took the idea of moral integrity a step further. Such universal reason

is reached only in a society of free individuals, where each member is focused on

this universal truth and not their own ideas. An individual who exercises his own

caprice is not free. True freedom is attained by blending with the group so the will

of the whole is his own will. Hegel's idea is clearly the basic ideology of the

members of Brook Farm.

Marcia Lebow interprets these concepts in the following manner. Scientific

knowledge is sought by industrious people, but only truly inspired people may attain

artistry and prophecy. Since human knowledge and reason are firmly rooted in the

scientific realm, it is only natural that the supernatural realm, wherein lie aesthetic

and religious truths, would be of a higher order. Further, since music is the art form

most removed from materialism, it must be the most spiritual. "Music, accordingly,

may no longer be regarded as mere entertainment and pleasure ... but as a pure

art with a social mission."24 Again, Dwight conceived a culture that loved great

music--even though the people did not necessarily understand it. Finally, since these

ideals were grounded in nineteenth-century German philosophy, it is no surprise that

music of German composers--details of precise dates and locale aside--was most

venerated, namely, that of J. S. Bach, Handel, Mozart, and Beethoven.

24 Marcia Wilson Lebow, "A Systematic Examination of the 'Journal of Music
and Art,' Edited by John Sullivan Dwight: 1852-1881, Boston, Massachusetts" (Ph.D.
dissertation, University of California at Los Angeles, 1969), 22.

Dwight's ideals were harmonious in toto with those of the Transcendentalists

and were expounded in the Dial, a journal which came slightly before the Brook

Farm experiment, and in the Harbinger, the organ devoted to the interests of Brook

Farm which soon became the distinct voice of the American Union of

Associationalists. In short time Dwight became co-editor of the journal, and he

contributed editorials on the association, literature, book reviews, and poems. More

important, he deliberately set aside a portion of each issue to musical interests. In

the very first issue he reviewed the musical defects with present society and heralded

the new social spirit which would cling to the highest ideals of music.25

After that, Dwight turned to more practical musical matters: he endeavored

to convey "(1) the criticism of music as an art; (2) the interpretation of it as an

expression of the life of the age; and (3) the development of its correspondence as

a science with the other sciences."2 Indeed, in its four years of existence in Boston,

from 1844 to 1847, Dwight contributed over one hundred articles on the musical

scene, and he continued to contribute even after the paper was removed to New

York.27 Because of his straight-forward approach to musical interests, the Harbinger

soon became one of the best musical journals the country has ever seen. The

criticisms were strong and effective, the literary style inspiring, and artistic insight

25 Dwight's prospectus to the Harbinger, quoted in Cooke, Brook Farmer, 33.

26 Ibid.

27 A list of Boston articles--183 of them--is included in Lowens, Music and
Musicians, Appendix C, 311-21.

keen.28 Because of his significant work with the Harbinger, Irving Lowens christened

Dwight "the Transcendental pope of music."29

Already experiencing financial difficulties, the Brook Farmers suffered a

disastrous fire in 1846. In spite of a vigorous effort to keep alive an interest in the

association, Dwight and his fellow prophets of a new society were unable to restore

their noble experiment, and Brook Farm breathed its last the following year, leaving

Dwight to face yet another turning point in his diverse career.

As it happened, several of the residents of Brook Farm attempted to continue

their concept of social living in a boarding house in Boston. The Religious Union

of Associationists was formed, and Dwight, ever the harbinger of great music, led the

music at their meetings. He continued to write for a number of tabloids, including

the Boston Commonwealth, the Daily Chronotype, the Daily Advertiser, Sartain's

Magazine in Philadelphia, and the Messenger Bird in New York. In addition, he was

in demand as a speaker on music.

During this same time period, around 1850, efforts were made on behalf of

Dwight by George Ripley (leader of Brook Farm), Charles Dana (member of Brook

Farm), and Parke Godwin to lure him to New York City to continue his career as

a music journalist. He was well known in New York, having contributed articles for

several periodicals and given a series of lectures on music during the Brook Farm

8 Cooke, Brook Farmer, 33f. See also Lowens, Music and Musicians, 253.

29 Lowens, Music and Musicians, 250. Lowens's discussion of the Harbinger,
Transcendentalism, and music, 249-54, is enlightening. See also Fertig,
"Transcendentalist," Chapter 4, "Association and the Harbinger: 1845-1847," 104-74.

days. Dwight did not find New York to his liking, however, and he hastened his

return to Boston.

While Dwight's spirit was suffering--with no real work and no real income--

good fortune did waft his way, for it was in 1851 that he married Mary Bullard. A

frequent visitor to Brook Farm, she "was a beautiful, winning, unselfish woman, a

fine singer, and a person of many attractions of body and mind."30 Actually, the

wedding was postponed while he endeavored to secure rewarding pursuits. It was

during this time that he seriously considered editing and publishing his own music

journal. Perhaps he felt sufficiently confident in his plan that he felt it safe to take

on the added responsibility of a wife.

To gain support for his journal project, Dwight took the idea to the Harvard

Musical Association [HMA], an organization from which he was never far removed.

The HMA offered its undivided endorsement. Dwight suggested that the endeavor

would be successful if each member secured ten subscribers to the journal, a plan

to which they agreed. Naming the periodical was another major concern. Dwight,

"not liking to hear persons say that 'Harper's has come,' decidedly objected

to 'Dwight's has come.'"31 A New York friend, George William Curtis, took the

problem to the staff at the New York Tribune, and their suggestion was decided upon:

Dwight's Journal of Music, with the subtitle "A Paper of Art and Literature."

Just as Dwight has been dubbed numerous superlatives, his Journal is similarly

praised and esteemed. It is a comprehensive digest of musical events especially in

30 Cooke, Brook Farmer, 43a.

31 Ibid., 44b.

Boston, but also around the United States and, indeed, the world. Composers,

performers, works, concerts, philosophy, and other musical matters were extensively

reported. As a primary source of the music scene in America it is without peer.

In the "Prospectus" in the first issue of the Journal Dwight outlined the

purposes of his work.32 The journal would include critical reviews and "timely

analyses" of notable works of major genres performed, notices of new music

published in America and overseas, a summary of musical news around the country

and Europe, correspondence, essays on a wide assortment of musical topics, and

translations "from the best German and French writers upon Music and Art." Since

it was a paper of art and literature, Dwight also wished to include occasional notices

of other art forms, as well as poems and "short tales."

The relevance of a deliberation of Dwight's Journal to a study of Apthorp is

apropos. Apthorp was a mere four years old when publication of the Journal began.

Since it is such a significant chronicle of the music scene in America, it would

naturally reflect musical tastes of society, especially in Boston, during Apthorp's

formative years. These tastes and convictions would become a permanent ingredient

of Apthorp's personality and musical sense which, in turn, would be reflected in his

own criticisms and commentaries. Hence, understanding the musical setting in which

Apthorp developed and matured is paramount to understanding his views. We shall

see if he was conservative, looking back to past ideals--as expressed in Dwight's

Joumal--or if he was progressive. With this in mind, it is important to take a close

look at Dwight's views of how old music reflected the ideals of the past and new

32 Dwight's Journal, 10 April 1852, 1.

music of the present. Since American music was still relatively young during

Dwight's most productive years, it would also be enlightening to see how he, and

later Apthorp, viewed American music.

When there is a reference to "old" music, naturally there follows the question,

"How old?" Indeed, how old does a composition have to be before it is regarded as

"old"? In the case of Dwight, there is no clear delineation. He was more interested

in the spirit of the music than when it was composed. The music that he most

revered was that of L. van Beethoven, W. A. Mozart, G. F. Handel, and J. S. Bach.

That the works of these masters span over a hundred years is inconsequential.

Clearly there was no single musical ideal, but that is no surprise, considering

Dwight's concept of "great music" as discussed earlier.

In Dwight's time the spirit of romanticism was fresh, and he was absorbed in

the ideas of free thinking and free spirits. While he was yet a preacher he

envisioned a church where the pulpit was in the center; the preacher and

congregation could thence engage in a free exchange of ideas. He was always

earnestly opposed to any prescribed doctrine. He simply felt that each person could

find truth and beauty in the high ideals of "great thoughts," and music was certainly

included in his Elysian world. He never strayed from his ideals. Later, Dwight was

one of those cultural leaders, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth

Longfellow, Oliver Wendel Holmes, George Ripley, and others, who met in

intellectual fellowships like the Saturday Club for "social recreation" and "mental


Against this background, Dwight's veneration of Beethoven is to be expected.

He greatly praised Beethoven in his earlier Harbinger articles, and his opinion never

changed; indeed, some of the articles were reprinted without revision in his Journal.

Beginning with Brook Farm, it was true that "music, and of the best kind, the

Beethoven Sonatas, the Masses of Mozart and Haydn ... was one of the chief

interests and refreshments of those halcyon days." The reason was simple: "The

music was quite innocent of 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."35 These "disciples of

newness" pursued only the finest in life, believing that the rest of society, witnessing

the profundity of their example, would themselves come to worship this great music.

As late as 1877 Dwight confessed, "For some time I have begun my day's work with

delightful matins:--I read every day a Quartet by Haydn,--to the most pious Christian

a chapter from the Bible can do no more good."3 The music of Bach was certainly

included, since it "testifies to the profound religious nature of man; it is the daily,

hourly offering of a sincere, a rich, all-absorbing, manly, cheerful, childlike piety; an

33 For more on the Saturday Club, see Cooke, Brook Farmer, Chapter 10, "The
Saturday Club," 67-75.

SFertig, "Transcendentalist," 292. Fertig's study encompasses Dwight's writings
in both the Harbinger and his Journal.

5 "Music a Means of Culture," Atlantic Monthly, Sept. 1870, 322b.

36 Dwight's Journal, 4 Aug. 1877, 70c.

offering in which all his faculties gathered themselves up for a complete, ideal art,

to realize the beauty of holiness."37 Man instinctively knows what is good and right,

and great music resounded with that goodness.

Perhaps one of the most obvious of Dwight's shortcomings as a true music

critic was his ability to keep up with the times. Even Apthorp recognized this

peccancy in Dwight's vestment. By the 1870s, new music--that of Berlioz, Liszt, and

Wagner--had taken root. Dwight tried to fight off its adverse effects, but to no avail.

It is all over with the old art of Music which as ministered so sweetly
and so deeply to our souls. That is the divine Art no longer. Bach
and Handel, Mozart and Beethoven, and all that sit upon high thrones,
are superceded, hurled like Saturn down into endless night to make
way for this terrible Jupiter, this Nibelungen cloud-compelling Wagner.
Yet we dare believe that musical humanity will still hail with more
delight than ever "the large utterance of the elder gods."38

Dwight was not at all opposed to "new music" in the early days of the Joural.

Not wanting to commit to new music as the wave of the future, he nevertheless

hoped to receive it without prejudice and prayed for "a long life on this earth ..

that we may hear and hail the MUSIC OF THE FUTURE!"3 He hailed Wagner's

opera of the future as a "creative act of genius." But near the end of the 1860s his

views turned. What was it about new music that offended his sensitive soul? By

1877 he was possessed to enumerate nine reasons why Wagner's music would not

37 Ibid., 18 May 1861, 53b.

8 Lebow, "Systematic Examination," 217. The quote is referenced to Dwight's
Journal, 14 April 1877, but the page number is omitted, and a search through the
entire issue has not revealed the citation. As before, however, this is a just
representation of Dwight's attitude toward the classics and new music.

39 Dwight's Journal, 30 July 1853, 133a.

endure, including the elevation of words over the music, endless melody, leitmotifs

("Exasperating bores, the pack of them!"), lack of real beauty, and, most important,

a wont of quiescence." Dwight acknowledged that although Beethoven was restless

and driven by passion he never "violated that principle of repose, which critics

celebrate in all the perfect models of all Arts, but toward which Wagner is the

Macbeth that murders sleep."41 Finally, while great music ministered to his aesthetic

instincts, the "new in music fails to stir us to the same depths of soul and feeling that

the old masters did and doubtless always will."42

Although Dwight was born and raised in the United States, he was not an

advocate of the music of American composers, except for music that reflected

German influence: "Native composers are treated on a par with their European

contemporaries, criticized with the same severity, and expected to conform to

technical and genre standards of the 'best' German school."43 John Knowles Paine

clearly fit the mold (need we be reminded that Paine's musical training was

primarily German), and his work was esteemed in Dwight's Journal. Of his Mass in

D, which was premiered in Berlin in 1867, Dwight printed, "A genuine German

musical spirit breathes through the work, which, built up in the school of Bach and

40 Ibid., 28 Apr. 1877, 15.

41 Ibid., 15a.

42 Ibid., 3 Sept. 1881, "Valedictory," 123b.

3 Lebow, "Systematic Examination," 320.

Handel, yet reveals throughout the writer's own creative power."44 Dwight found

Paine's "New Symphony" (Symphony No. 1 in c) "beautiful," "earnest," "learned"; "[it]

flows naturally as from a full deep source." More important, "The work is free from

modern extravaganza and mere straining for effect, and yet it is original."45 A

portion in the middle of Paine's "Domine, fac salvum Praesidem nostrum" reminded

Dwight of Mozart's Requiem.4 A "chaste and learned composition," it provided

welcome relief for Dwight from the raucous brass bands which usually provided

music for Harvard ceremonies. Finally, Dwight felt that Paine's Spring Symphony

(Symphony No. 2 in A) marked "the highest point yet reached in the early stages of

American creative art in music. It is worthy to hold a place among the works of

masters."47 Dwight's veneration of Paine was as great as for the past German

masters simply because Paine poured old wine into new skins. He did not adopt the

compositional techniques of the new school, but rather chose to utilize established,

if not exhausted, practices. Perhaps that is why the music of Paine is relatively

obscure to today's audiences. Why should we listen to a portion of Paine's "Domine"

when Mozart's Requiem is so much more popular?

Dwight's Journal, 24 Nov. 1866, 352b. The quote is from a leading Berlin
critic, Flodoard Geyer, and appeared in the Spenische Zeitung.

45 Ibid., 5 Feb. 1876, 175a-b.

46 Ibid., 7 Mar. 1863, 391b. The work was performed by a choir of some thirty
men at inauguration exercises for Harvard University President Thomas Hill (1862-

47 Ibid., 27 Mar. 1880, 54a. For more on this symphony, see also Chapter 4,
"Boston Evening Transcript," 142.

Dwight spent a good deal of effort in exalting Paine, not only as a composer,

but also with regard to the ultimate establishment of the first professorship of music

in the United States. Dwight made certain to include articles in his Journal pressing

for the need for the scholarly study of music. Indeed, the conferring of a Doctor of

Music on Lowell Mason, the appointment of Levi P. Homer as the first instructor

of music at Harvard University, and finally the engagement of John Knowles Paine

as the first professor of music in America (also at Harvard University) can all be

attributed to Dwight's influential pen. He also made his position known on such

academics as coursework and the need for ensembles so students may receive

practical experience in the performance of music.

Dwight was far less genial with popular American music, as might be

expected. Little attention is given to folk, popular, or ethnic music. Of Patrick

Gilmore's National Peace Jubilee of 1869, and the World Peace Jubilee three years

later, Dwight had little good to say. His principal objection was that there was "no

genuine recognition to music as an expression of the deeper sentiments of mankind,

and that the whole spirit of it was dominated by show and self-gratulation."48 Even

so, he did recognize the success of Gilmore's endeavor, praising the execution of the

music and, in particular, of the chorus.

With Dwight's objections to these jubilee concerts in mind, it is no surprise,

then, that he shunned virtuosity. For this reason, and others, he defamed America's

own Louis Moreau Gottschalk. He was contracted to perform two recitals in

Boston, the first being primarily of his own works, and the second being more

48 Cooke, Brook Farmer, 56a.

traditional fare--classical music--although he did add a few of his own compositions

there, as well. Dwight said little of the first, remarking that he played "like a merely

executive virtuoso."49 That Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven were acknowledged virtuosi

in their respective times seems irrelevant. Dwight also noted that the few pieces of

his own (on the first concert) could not be compared to the "little mazourkas [sic]

or notturnos [sic] of Chopin and much more that we might name."50 Finally,

Dwight missed the fire and earnestness of Beethoven in the Adagio of the Kreutzer

Sonata (Mr. Suck, violinist). Of the second concert, Dwight said Gottschalk played

"with clearness, delicacy, and feeling." Some of the passion may have been missing

due to the fact that just prior to the second concert Gottschalk received word of his

father's death. Dwight mentioned this parenthetically and added that it had perhaps

actually enhanced his playing: "There was a touch of genuine feeling added to his

grace of execution."51

As a music critic, John Sullivan Dwight happened to be the right person at

the right place at the right point in time. In Apthorp's words, Dwight was drawn to

music because it was "the art which could be enjoyed most intensely, immediately,

and with the least effort."52 Even by his own admission, Dwight was not "in any

sense a thoroughly educated musician, either in theory or practice." Nevertheless,

this "most hacknied [sic] player ... seemed invested with a certain halo, and saving

49 Dwight's Journal, 29 Oct. 1853, 30b.

50 Ibid., 20 Oct. 1853, 30.

51 Ibid., 30b-c.

52 Apthorp, Musicians and Music-Lovers, 279.

grace, as it were, from a higher, purer, and more genial atmosphere than this of our

cold, selfish, humdrum world."5 He possessed a "keen instinct for and appreciation

of the highest and noblest things in life, whether in art, literature, or the character

of men and women whom he knew and met." He had a sunny disposition, a sweet

nature, and a love of beauty. Dwight was sensitive, bashful, and diffident in

extreme. He loved flowers and watching fireflies. He had no appreciation for

money, probably because, as Apthorp asserts, he had contempt for greed.5

Dwight had a passion for music and felt called to educate the public on its

finer points. He became the autocrat of musical taste in Boston, and his opinions

were unquestioned. He advised cultured intellectuals and directed amateurs on what

to expect in classical music. Great music was not mere entertainment but had

spiritual meaning which would transport the listener above the trivialities and

fribbles of everyday life.

To Dwight, "one of the most important and useful functions of criticism is

that of measuring acknowledged great men by the highest, even an absolute

standard."" Although he did study musical scores before performances, his primary

modus operandi was intuition. "I have divined, recognized (through the glass

darkly), genius in the works of great composers through the imperfect medium of

53 Dwight's Journal, 10 Apr. 1852, 4a, 4b.

5 Cooke, Brook Farmer, 76b. Cooke devoted an entire chapter, Chapter 10, to
Dwight's personal traits, 75-80.

55 Lebow, "Systematic Examination," 376. The quote is referenced to Dwight's
Journal 13 (n.d.): 21, but the citation cannot be found. Nevertheless, this view is
consistent with Dwight's practice of assessing American composers against the same
high standards as the masters--the Germans. See Note 43 above.

uninspired performers, or through my own poor efforts to study myself into their

meaning by slow and painful transfer of the printed notes to the keys of my piano."5

Although he was not deaf to the quality of a performance, it was the spirit of

the music that made the greater impression on him, hence his disdain for virtuosity

for virtuosity's sake. Too, since he interpreted the music through the mind of a

poet, technical analysis was unimportant to him. In particular, Dwight felt that

explication of Beethoven's music was unnecessary, since understanding Beethoven

was not found in the details but in the depths of the music itself.

Marcia Lebow highlighted three tenets that Dwight followed in his music

criticism: (1) musical expression is of an intellectual sort, (2) its creators use

God-given genius, and (3) their works reflect their spiritual commitment.7 Such

music is fit for society and will improve it. In fulfillment of his purposes as a music

critic, Dwight was candid, appreciative, and faithful to his convictions. Although he

was vibrantly gregarious, he remained at arm's length from artists. Finally, Apthorp

especially praised his writing style as brilliant, although he also noted that that style

did not reach the general public.

While remaining true to personal convictions is a virtue, in Dwight's case it

was also a flaw, simply due to the longevity of his Journal. His ideals were twenty

years behind the times when he started, and he never caught up. Although he

6 Dwight in a letter to Lydia Maria Child, 24 Dec. 1843, quoted in Cooke,
Brook Farmer, 25b.

57 Lebow, "Systematic Examination," 158.

recognized the fashion of giving new music a chance, his vilification of it is

notorious. He never deigned to embrace the music of the future:

Are we, (the learning public, yet a child in music), so thoroughly well
versed in the music of the great masters, those works of highest genius
which are called "classics," simply because they are of no age,--are we
so settled in our taste, that these heaven-stormers, piling Ossa upon
Pelion, can expect us to spend all the precious s are time we can save
for music, in settling their tremendous claims?

Society had changed, and Dwight had not kept pace but rather marched to

his own drummer. Dwight lamented a "serious blunting and demoralization of the

musical sense ... in the young generation born into this strange phase of what its

disciples call musical 'progress.'"N William Foster Apthorp was the preeminent

critic of that next generation.

8 Dwight's Journal, 29 May 1875, 30c.

9 Ibid. 37 (April 14, 1877), 6b.


In 1872 the editor of the Atlantic Monthly, William Dean Howells, at the

suggestion of composer Francis Boott, asked Apthorp to write a music column for

that periodical, which he did until 1877. It was unusual for such a journal to include

a regular column devoted to music, but the Atlantic Monthly was no ordinary

periodical. The Monthly provided its readers with a wide variety of interesting and

informative articles, including columns in art, literature, music, and education.

Apthorp's contribution to the Monthly is without peer, as there were no other

journals published in Boston during the period 1872 to 1877 that were comparable

to the Atlantic Monthly in depth of coverage. Since Apthorp's columns were geared

toward an educated audience, one might assume that his articles would compare to

those found in periodicals that were devoted primarily to the musically literate.

There were three such journals in Boston at that time: John S. Dwight's Journal of

Music, The Folio, and Dexter Smith's Musical Literary, Dramatic, and Art Paper.

Apthorp's columns compare only to those in Dwight's Journal, as we shall see.

The Folio

The first to be discussed is The Folio, which was published monthly in Boston

from 1869 to 1895. White, Smith & Perry, a music publishing firm, issued the

journal, and Dexter Smith served as its first editor, from 1869 through 1871. The

next editor was George Lowell Austin, in 1872, which was the first year that Apthorp

began to write for the Atlantic Monthly. Austin was followed by T. D. Hooker, from

1873 to June 1881, which encompasses the balance of Apthorp's tenure with the

Atlantic Monthly.

The full title of the paper was The Folio, A Monthly Journal of Music, Drama,

Art, and Literature. The paper initially cost ten cents per copy, a dollar for a year's

subscription, and claimed a wide distribution--Boston, New York, Philadelphia,

Chicago, St. Louis, New Orleans, San Francisco, and even London. Part of the

reason for the wide appeal of The Folio was the fact that "presents" and "splendid

gifts" were awarded for subscriptions. In addition to premiums (sheet music or music

books) or cash commissions (forty cents per subscription), patrons ("agents") could

also receive Watham watches, Weed sewing machines, New England parlor organs,

and Henry F. Miller pianos for supplying the publisher with lists of names (along

with a one-year payment) of new subscribers.' Each issue was generally about thirty

pages--approximately five pages of articles, five pages of notes, ten pages of sheet

music, and ten pages of advertisements. Articles about music and musicians were

quite short and general, as were music reviews.

Surprisingly, there was little attention to drama, art, and literature; the paper

was mostly concerned with musical happenings in Boston. Regular features of The

Folio included a story that was usually continued over several issues, foreign

correspondence, Book Table, Drama in Boston, Minor Chords (brief notices of

musicians, musical events, and anecdotes), cards (music teachers), schools

(advertisements), various short articles (usually about one-half column out of three

1 The Folio, Dec. 1876, 204b.

on a page) of some musical interest (including "reviews"), a fashion column, and lots

of ads for music (songbooks, piano music, brass band music, music rolls) and

accessories (pianos, Ole Bull violin strings) available from White, Smith & Perry.

A strong selling point of the paper was the sheet music. There were usually

four or five songs and piano arrangements published in every issue, as might be

expected from a paper issued by a music publisher. Sheet music was of the simple

and popular variety, primarily songs and piano solos. For example, the January 1872

issue included "The Poor Drunkard's Child" (words by G. L Austin, music by C. A.

White, arranged by Wimmial Gooch), the "Fairy Dream Waltz" (piano solo by J. W.

Turner, Op. 311), and "Be Thou Faithful" (sacred quartet by C. A. White, arranged

by William Gooch).

Each monthly also featured a fine portrait, usually of a musician, including

soprano Adelina Patti (1843-1919), bandleader Patrick S. Gilmore (1829-92),

composer/educator Lowell Mason (1792-1872), soprano Ilma di Murska (1836-89),

pianist/conductor Hans von Billow (1830-94), French composer Charles Gounod

(1818-93), and German violinist Joseph Joachim (1831-1907). Other celebrity

portraits that appeared in the journal included Phineas Taylor (P. T.) Barnum and

"Buffalo" Bill Cody.2

White, Smith & Perry's selection of Dexter Smith as the first editor must have

quite deliberate. They published a great deal of "popular" music, and Smith

2 Ibid., Mar. 1872, 80b (Patti); Apr. 1872, 112b (Gilmore); May 1874, 157
(Mason); Nov. 1874, 166 (Murska); Nov. 1875, 182a (Bilow); July 1876, 17a
(Gounod); Sept. 1877, 324a (Joachim); Aug. 1873, 91b (Barnum); Aug. 1874, 51

admirably set the tone of light entertainment and easy, fun reading. He quickly

became disfranchised, however, with editing a paper that was issued by a music

publisher. Feeling that he was constantly catering to their vested interests, Smith

struck out on his own. His Paper will be discussed later.

The Folio was continued under the hand of George Lowell Austin, and then

under T. D. Hooker. The format remained essentially the same. Hooker's

"Salutatory" stated that

To be truly valuable, a magazine should be, not the exponent of any
particular hobby, but a repository of all things worth knowing, so far
as that may be possible, in its own particular domain. Our best
energies shall be devoted to rendering the FOLIO both interesting and
instructive, and, in doing this, we have the promise of assistance from
some of the best talent in the country.3

Indeed, the list of contributors is extensive. The Folio was entertaining, to be

sure. The paper was in line with the thinking of Joseph W. Turner, a composer and

arranger of piano music: "There is a grandeur in simplicity, and it is this simplicity,

this pure melody, God's sweetest gift to mortals, that this world at large delights in

as music and literature." As Turner composed, so the Folio was compiled and

edited for the immediate pleasure of its readers. Articles were short, the writing

was personable, and the topics were current and amusing, seldom controversial. The

Folio was just plain fun to read.

For all its trifles, The Folio did make attempts to be instructive. Articles

concerning topics of music that would be enlightening or informative were few, but

3 Ibid., Jan. 1873, 8.

4 Ibid., Nov. 1873, 132.

interesting. Generally, there was no discussion of facts or views, only plain

statements that were probably intended to foment discussion among readers. For

example, an article in the March 1873 issue, "Wanted; An American School of

Opera," commented on the fact that many talented American singers had to go to

Europe to learn the art of operatic singing and argued that opera in America was

developed to the point that we should be able to support our own training schools.6

Beginning in the October 1872 issue (p. 102) and concluding in November (p.

133) were three questions that were--and are--frequently posed by people that know

a little about music, and the answers, presumably by the editor (many comments and

reviews were taken from other sources) were simple, direct, and succinct. The first

question was why is C called 1, Do, and Tonic? The answer: C, the note name, is

Absolute; 1, the degree of the scale, is Relative; Tonic is Technical; and Do, a

solfege syllable, is Auxiliary. That is a good answer to a question that vexes

nonmusicians but does not bother musicians, who simply accept them as different

names for the same thing, as if distinguishing one term from the other is pointless.

Question two was why are so many teachers dissatisfied with the antiquated method

of teaching? The answer assumed the question was in reference to solmization and

basically said that teachers were not disillusioned with the method. Finally, why do

students of figured bass theory progress slowly? Answer: students do not progress

when working with figured bass because it does not call on their powers of

invention. Why this question/answer rapport between editor and readers was not

5 Ibid., Mar. 1873, 72.

continued is puzzling, since these are sincere, fitting queries for the readers of a

music journal.

Another instructive yet interesting article was "How Pianos are Injured,"

which dealt primarily with improper tuning. The same issue recounted the story of

how the text for the hymn "From Greenland's Icy Mountains" came to be.6 This

article made an unfortunate use of the pronoun he, however, thereby confusing who

actually wrote the text: Bishop [Reginald] Heber or Dean Shirley, Vicar of

Wrexham, with whom Heber was staying. A true example of the perfunctory style

of the Folio, however, the article failed to mention that Lowell Mason composed the

tune that appears in most hymnals today.7 That such an article was published

nevertheless shows some interest, albeit scant, in such matters.

A series of brief, two-line "Musical Biographies in Miniature" were published

in March and May of 1876. These were taken from the Organists Journal. In July

1876, in honor of America's centennial, the texts to J. G. Whittier's "Centennial

Hymn" (from the Atlantic Monthly) and the Centennial Cantata (Centennial

Meditation of Columbia, text by Sidney Lanier, music by Dudley Buck) were

included. A most interesting feature was the inclusion of the "Centennial Hymn"

6 Ibid., Jan. 1874, 4, 5.

7 Heber wrote the text at the request of Dean Shirley, who happened to be his
father-in-law, for a series of sermons to begin Whitsunday, 1819. Heber used an old
ballad, "'Twas when the seas were roving," for the tune, and the hymn was published
in February 1823 in England and America in The Christian Observer. Mary W.
Howard, of Savannah, Georgia, noticed the hymn and asked Lowell Mason to
compose a new tune for the hymn. "Missionary Hymn" was composed by Mason the
next year and appeared in the ninth edition of the Boston Handel and Haydn Society


that first appeared in Gospel Magazine, March 1776. "The hymn," said Hooker, "is

appropriate from its merits as well as the accident of its age for centennial


James M. Tracy, a professor of music at the Boston Conservatory of Music,

provided several notable articles to the Folio. In April 1873 he wrote on "The

Importance of Systematic Studies in Music." In January 1876 he wrote on the

"Education of Pianists."9 Most ambitious, however, was his "Theory and Rudimental

Harmony." Published in ten parts, from February to November 1877, each issue of

the Folio printed four pages of the theory manual (reduced to the size of one

journal page), which explained notes, rests, intervals, scales, the circle of fifths,

syncopation, graces and embellishments, time signatures, phrases, arpeggios,

fermatas, and musical shorthand for repeated notes. There were a total of

forty-seven pages published in all. The December 1877 issue began a similar series

on harmony.

Not all articles were for the edification of the readers. In fact, most were of

the "interesting notes" variety. The paper was full of columns--"Official Bulletin" and

"Minor Chords" in particular--of one- and two-line anecdotes and remarks

concerning who was where doing what. Such briefs served more to entertain the

audience and provide them with humorous material that would be appropriate in the

parlance of light social settings. For example, the April 1872 issue included these

"Minor Chord" items:

8 The Folio, July 1876, 7.

9 Ibid., Apr. 1873, 102; Jan. 1876, 6, concluded June 1876, 205.


(1) --The height of impudence--Taking shelter from the rain in an
umbrella shop. (2) --A clean shirt is one of woman's best gifts to man.
(3) --Schoolmistress:--"Johnny, I'm ashamed of you! When I was your
age I could read as well as I do now." Johnny-- "Aw! but yow'd a
different taycher to wot we'm got!" (4) --"You there Jenkins! How the
deuce did you find your way out?" "Find my way out? Out of where?
What do you mean?" "Why, the last I saw of you, you were lost--in
slumber." "Oh, ah; well, I rode out on a nightmare."

There were also short articles that delighted the readers. For example, the

February 1872 issue included an article of Gioacchino Rossini's personal comments

on how the deal was struck for him to compose his Stabat Mater. A May 1873

article claimed that Johann Strauss, Jr., conducted with "friskiness," whereas Richard

Wagner hissed, stamped, and used facial expression: "Wagner's men appear to derive

the notes they play from his glances as much as from their books." The September

1872 issue featured an article on "How P. T. Barnum Paid the Trombone Player.""

Barnum expected the musicians to pay him for providing them a place to practice

and an audience, so the story goes.

Finally, the June 1874 issue featured an article to answer the query posed by

a reader "What is the highest note any soprano has sung, and who?" The editor

replied that the Queen of the Night in Mozart's Magic Flute reaches a high F, and

that Carlotta Patti, [Ilma] di Murska, and other sopranos can sing that high. (Note

that the particular aria, "Der Holle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen," is not

mentioned, as Apthorp would have done.) The editor commented that the usual

was a high C, adding that [Maria Felicita] Malibran (1808-36) could sing a C or

10 Ibid., Apr. 1872, 108.

Ibid., Feb. 1872, 42-43; May 1873, 138; Sept. 1872, 71.

C# and that [Kristina] Nilsson (1843-1921) could sing a high D. In a follow-up

entry in July 1874 a reader commented that Mrs. H. M. Smith could sing a G or A

and had a range of three and one-half octaves. The editor then quipped, "If

anything better can be repeated, lets [sic] hear it."12 Such information was not

printed for any serious interest but was primarily intended for conversational


As informative and entertaining as articles in The Folio were, such concern

for the public did not include meaningful reviews of music and performances.

Seldom was complete information cited as regards date, time, place, performing

group/soloist/director, and program. It is possible that most readers were aware of

such information, so the editor saw no need to reiterate known details. Comments

on the music were completely missing, and remarks concerning the performance

were scant. For example, a review of a concert by the Apollo Club stated:

We must specially note the appreciative rendering of Fischer's Spring
Night, and we have never heard the Chorus of Dervishes given with so
much truth, and natural vigor. Mendelssohn's grand overture, Calm
Sea and Prosperous Voyage, was almost faultlessly played, and served
as a fitting prelude to the Soldier's Farewell." Mr. [Benjamin J.]
Lang's playing of Chopin's Scherzo, in Bb minor, was in his usual style,
and of course above criticism.13

Another entry in the Opera and Concert column stated that "Mr. [Whitney]

Eugene Thayer [1838-1889, organist, Boston Music Hall] gave an interesting Organ

Recital March 3d, on the Boston Conservatory organ. He had the assistance of Mr.

[Julius] Eichberg [director of the Conservatory], and Miss Persio Bell, with her

12 Ibid., July 1874, 6.

13 Ibid., Feb. 1872, 40a-b.

violin. Those present were most agreeably entertained [emphasis added]."14 Finally,

again from the Opera and Concert page: "Mr. B. J. Lang's series of concerts at

Mechanic's Hall closed March 26. They have been decided favorites with the lovers

of classical music, every concert being largely attended. With able assistants, Mr.

Lang presented on each occasion good selections, and rendered them in a manner

worthy of his high reputation as a musical artist."15

There were numerous topics that were treated in the Folio, among them

festivals (including those of public school children), Anton Rubinstein, Chopin, Liszt,

Schumann, Wagner, Theodore Thomas, C. A. White (who contributed many of the

songs printed in The Folio), Cherubini, the Fisk Jubilee singers, Anton Stradivarius,

Lowell Mason, classical music, Guido and the staff, church acoustics, and vocal

technique. There were brief obituary notices for such music personalities as Lowell

Mason, Ferdinand David, Sir William Stendale Bennett, and Jule E. Perkins (a

whole page!). Beginning in August 1876 was a column devoted to the Freemasons.

Finally, to accompany the full-page portrait of some musician--usually local--that was

included in every issue, there was often a short article about that artist.

Dexter Smith's Paper

After setting The Folio on its course, Dexter Smith, its first editor, struck off

on his own. The first issue of Dexter Smith's Musical Literary, Dramatic, and Art

Paper, edited and published by Dexter Smith, appeared in January 1872. In the

salutatory Smith proclaimed that his paper was "the only musical monthly in the

14 Ibid., Apr. 1874, 110.

15 Ibid., May 1874, 148.

United States that is not issued by a music-publishing house. We intend to make

our paper the most lively and progressive musical journal in the country."16 The

monthly was to include Reading matter ("Not a line shall be published in these

columns that may not be safely placed before the purest minded lady in the land"),

stories, poems, "spicy paragraphs," "Sparks" (news, gossip, one-liners), jokes, and

foreign correspondence. There were also columns devoted to Masonic activities and

baseball. Like The Folio, Smith's paper contained sheet music: "We shall regard

quality, rather than quantity, and shall prefer to give our subscribers two good pieces

rather than a hundred commonplace ones, which hardly repay the trouble of

learning." Most of the songs and piano pieces were composed or arranged expressly

for the Paper. Smith also included a column by Mme. Demorest of the "newest and

most reliable fashions," as well as illustrations. Finally, like The Folio (again), in

order to entice subscribers Smith offered premiums: "We present every subscriber

with a splendid picture, entitled 'The Catspaw!' which is valued at four dollars." The

picture was from Bufford's engraving house.

When Smith moved to his own monthly, he took with him the list of The

Folio's subscribers in order to bolster his circulation. He also had the advantage of

adding to his list of subscribers the readers of Boston's People's Leader and

Chicago's Musical Independent. Edited by W. S. B. Matthews, the Musical

Independent had folded shortly before. As a result, as of January 1874, Smith

proclaimed, "We are able to claim the largest circulation of any musical journal in

'1 Dexter Smith's Musical Literary, Dramatic, and Art Paper, Jan. 1872, 6.
Hereafter Smith's Paper.

the United States." Smith claimed a readership from Boston, New York,

Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Cincinnati, Chicago, San Francisco, Montreal,

Toronto, Dublin, Glasgow, and London. So Smith's enterprise started off on a

positive note, with a large circulation base. Advertisements appeared for Steinway

pianos, Wm. A. Ponds (publisher), Weber pianos, Haines pianos, Boston Musical

Instrument Manufacturers, etc. As with The Folio, Smith's Paper included some fine

portraits of musicians of local prominence, including soprano Clara Louise Kellogg

(1842-1919), Carlotta Patti, Emma Albani, Pauline Lucca, and Theodore Thomas.

One portrait of particular interest was of "Little Charlie Ross." Apparently

the lad had been abducted from his home in Philadelphia, 1 July 1874, and held for

$20,000 ransom. The portrait was run in the November 1874 issue, along with two

songs written in his support: "Bring Back Our Darling" (words by Dexter Smith,

music by W. H. Brockway) and "Poor Little Lost One" (words by George Cooper,

music by Violetta). Whether Smith was sincere in this effort or promoted the affair

simply for circulation is unknown. But at least it indicates that he was aware of

what was on the minds of his readers and the community.

Smith made it a point to provide his readers with material that they could

digest quickly and easily. His writing style was personable. Anecdotes and

humorous stories were commonplace in Smith's Paper. Direct quotes of a humorous

nature were often used to make composers and musical celebrities more

approachable. For example, in an interview with Julius Eichberg, the director of the

New England Conservatory of Music, he was asked about his forthcoming operetta

Mackerel Catcher. "The absurd rumor about my writing the "Mackerel Catcher" was

a foolish joke, based probably upon the fact that during my summer vacation at the

Isle of Schoals, I amused myself in catching a large number of mackerel."17

Other items of interest to Smith's readers were diverse, but all were intended

for light, easy reading. A series of articles appeared on man/woman relationships:

why men don't marry, why women lose their beauty, what women look for in a man,

why rich men don't marry, marrying for money, "How she got a husband," etc. Like

The Folio, Smith's Paper contained stories, like "Why the Organ Whistled" and

"Choosing a wife, or melting an icicle." For the sports-minded, the Baseball column

kept them abreast of happenings. The February 1873 issue printed a list of scores

for the complete 1872 season of the Boston Club baseball team. For those that love

animals, Smith included stories like the "Canine Chorus," a pack of dogs that barked

during the performance of Wagner's Tannhauser in Vienna; as well as "Snakes that

love music," an item about a boa constrictor that responded to an accordion; and

"Monkeys for opera bouffe."18 Smith made no further comment there. There were

also entries on "Cow Music," "Horse Music," and "Singing Mice." For the lady of the

house, Smith provided a domestic column and a fashion column. Finally, a column

called "Sparks" featured short notices of local interest (?): "Tom Karl is again ill";

"Boston's Pantheon is worth visiting"; "Louis P. Goulland has published a

'Spelling-Match' song, which is having immense popularity" [popular is a word that

appears with regularity in both Smith's Paper and in The Folio]; "J. H. Bartlett is

engaged upon a bust of Oakes Ames"; "'Are hard boiled eggs healthy?' We never

'7 Ibid., Nov. 1874, 132.

'8 Ibid., Feb. 1876, 39; Dec. 1876, 169; Dec. 1876, 176.

heard one complain"; "The tenor and soprano in a Boston choir were married

recently. They met by chants, the usual way, and ultimately agreed to duet." No

further comment here, either.

How well received was Smith's Paper? The Boston Times, for one,

complimented it in high fashion. It was issued for the first time in January 1872,

and a letter from the Times was printed in the March issue:

It is not a dry, "classical" paper, filled with uninteresting treatises on
"hobbies," but a lively, spicy journal, running over with good things.
A glance at the list of contributors will show the strength of the
musical and literary talent engaged to furnish articles for its columns.
In addition to its excellent reading-matter, the February number
contains seven complete pieces of beautiful vocal and instrumental
music. It is not surprising that such a paper is in great demand. It
deserves its wonderful success.19

The reference to sheet music is particularly interesting. As mentioned, Smith

promised his readers quality sheet music. Songs of Arthur Sullivan were often

"arranged expressly for Dexter Smith's Paper." In general, however, the songs were

extremely simple and, most important, "popular." For example, "Dot Leedle Yawcob

Strauss" first appeared in Smith's Paper in April 1877. The following issue claimed

that over 100,000 copies had been sold. On such was built the popularity of Smith's


The Times made reference to the music in the February issue. Those items

were "Strangers Yet" (music by Claribel), "I'd Choose to be a Daisy" by Frederick

Buckley, "The Lone Fish-Ball" (directions are for all to join on the chorus), "Saw My

19 Ibid., Mar. 1872, 60. The reference could be either to the Boston Evening
Times, which also was simply known as the Boston Times, a paper that was issued
from Monday through Saturday, or to the Boston Times, which was issued on
Sunday and continued the Boston Sunday Times as of 1871.


Leg Off' (the words are "Saw my leg off, saw my leg off, saw my leg off short"; the

entire song is then repeated), "Laurel Schottisch" for piano by E. Mack, "Les Roses

Grand Waltz" for piano arranged by J. S. Knight, and "Come Where My Love lies

Dreaming" for piano by C. Foster. Perhaps the Boston Times had some vested

interest in promoting such ditties as "beautiful vocal and instrumental music." They

are distinctly in the popular vein, a genre that Apthorp chose not to review, as we

shall see.

On the subject of music reviews, it was not Smith's intention to provide his

readers with penetrating, discerning reviews of music or performances. The

superscript to the December 1872 issue quoted W. S. B. Matthews: "There is no such

thing as intelligent and discriminating criticism possible while the music-publisher

pays the editor's salary." Smith's relationship with any music-publisher is consistent

with Matthews's statement, since Smith broke away from White, Smith & Perry's

Folio. The first part of Matthews's dictum, however, is completely absent in Smith's

Paper. At least the Folio featured an Opera and Concert column; Smith's Paper did

not include a regular column devoted to commenting on musical events in and

around Boston. When he did attempt remarks of a performance, his words were

drivel. For example, a review of the "Seventh Symphony Concert" in the March

1872 issue states, in toto,

This concert took place at Music Hall, Feb. 1st. It was not very well
attended, nor did the performance very greatly please those who were
present. Liszt's Symphonic Poem, Haydn's Symphony, No. 3, in E-flat
and Rubenstein's [sic] Piano-forte Concerto No. 3 in G were the new

numbers on the program. Mr. B. J. Lang gave a very effective
rendering of the concerto.2

There is no meaningful comment on either the music or the performance.

To Oscar Thompson, the function of music criticism is to "hold up a mirror to what

has been composed or performed and to the performance."21 Dwight and Apthorp

both held to this concept of musical criticism. Using this definition, then, it is

apparent that Smith was not a music critic.

One of Smith's most detailed reviews can be found in the June 1877 issue,

wherein he commented on a recent Handel and Haydn Society Festival. There was

no mention of where and when the performance took place. He did remark that

such a festival "could not be gotten up in any other city in the country" because

"there is no such chorus anywhere else in the country. And an oratorio needs a

good chorus!" He then named the principal singers and listed some of the works

performed, including Felix Mendelssohn's Elijah and G. F. Handel's Samson and

Israel in Egypt, "all of which were artistically performed." Clara Louise Kellogg was

praised first, but she was also admonished not to devote herself to oratorio but to

remain on the opera stage. Soprano Emma Thursby (1845-93) "gave evidence of

much ability as a bravura singer. But she has not yet a sufficiently massive style for

oratorio." Contralto Annie Louise Cary, as usual, "is a thorough artist." English

2 Ibid., Mar. 1872, 57. The concert was presented by the Harvard Musical
Association, and the program consisted of Beethoven's overture to Coriolanus, Liszt's
symphonic poem Tasso: Lamente e Trionfo, Haydn's symphony, Rubinstein's piano
concerto, and Weber's overture to Oberon. The review in Dwight's Journal, 10 Feb.
1872, 182f, was more substantial. Apthorp did not cover the event.
21 Thompson, Practical Musical Criticism, 28.

contralto Adelaide Phillips's voice was lauded as "rich, sweet and powerful."

Dramatic tenor Charles Adams, who "had scarcely recovered from the effects of

sea-sickness," nevertheless gave a fine performance. Mr. Whitney was praised for

his "dramatic intensity and freedom." William and John F. Winch were mentioned.

Carl Zerrahn conducted in a "masterly fashion, and B. J. Lang as organist and

pianist, won high encomiums."22 Further comment described the audience as large

and from far and near. That the management made mistakes was mentioned, but

no specifics were supplied.

These comments focused on the performance. As regards the music,

"Selections from French opera--although admirable in their place--are hardly in

keeping with the severely classical works called for by high art."2 That remark in

itself causes one to reflect on whether these are in fact the words of the editor,

Dexter Smith. Indeed, there are other examples of satisfactory reviews in Smith's

Paper, but they are credited to other sources, such as Watson's Art Journal (New

York) and the New York Herald. A letter from New York to the editor dated

16 October 1876 offered an opinion "Why Theodore Thomas Failed," stating that it

was the balance between "the classical symphony and the popular waltz" that was

responsible for his fame. He gradually dropped the popular music and became

"intensely classical. Only the cultured few could appreciate his music." Patrick

Gilmore appealed to the public; Thomas did so no longer. "Let Thomas return to

the good old style of program he commenced with, and the people will rally to his

22 Smith's Paper, June 1877, 166a.
23 Ibid.

support."24 It is likely that Smith would have emphasized the "selections from

French opera" and deprecated the "severely classical works."

For all the buffoonery that the Paper contains, an occasional gem can be

harvested. The portraits, as mentioned, are truly fine. The one piano solo that

comes the closest to what may be considered art music is J. W. Turner's Battle of

Bunker Hill, Op. 370. Despite the fact that Ludwig van Beethoven's Wellington's

Victory and Peter Tchaikovsky's (1840-93) 1812 Overture have been criticized for

wont of quality compositional practice, they are nevertheless significant works of

literature. So Turner's Battle is. It is a programmatic work, depicting the battle,

from the opening bugle call, preparation for battle, cannon fire, the advance and

attack of the British (to the tune "Rule Britannia"), the counterattack of the

Americans, the retreat of the British, and victory of the Americans (to the tune

"Yankee Doodle"). The work closes with final Hurrah!s and "Hail! Columbia." To

be sure, Turner's Battle is a fun piece, but it is technically demanding, not for the

household parlor pianist.

Dwight's Journal and the Atlantic Monthly

As mentioned in the introduction, the only journal during 1872 and 1877 that

was published in Boston that could compare with Apthorp's writings for the Atlantic

Monthly was John S. Dwight's Journal of Music. Each issue was divided into two

parts, the first being articles from outside sources (including foreign correspondence,

mostly from Europe), and the second being articles from Dwight's own hand.

24 Ibid., Nov. 1876, 136.

Although there is merit to the outside articles that Dwight chose to print, this

discussion will focus on his own words, since all of Apthorp's writings were his own.

Dwight was part of the inner circle of Boston figures, and even Apthorp

recognized that his Journal was respected as the "official" word on what was proper

in the realm of music. During Apthorp's tenure with the Monthly, Dwight's Journal

included a wide assortment of articles. All were rather lengthy and were clearly

intended for those in the know. The writing style was masterly, and the articles

were detailed. Music of the masters--J. S. Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Felix

Mendelssohn--was treated at length. To his credit, Dwight did include a good deal

of discussion on the music of Wagner, although it was purely for the information of

his readers. He did not condone the new music. Apthorp wrote an entire article

on a new work by Franz Liszt, Die Glocken des Strassburger Minsters (The Bells of

the Strasbourg Cathedral, 1874), that was not mentioned in Dwight's Journal.25 There

was a great deal of attention to what was going on in Europe, as if that were the

model for American music. It should be no surprise, then, that the music of such

Americans as Louis M. Gottschalk was not discussed by Dwight.

Another curious omission on Dwight's part regarding music education in

America was the opening of the National College of Music in Boston, September

1872. The school was established by the Mendelssohn Quintette Club. B. J. Lang

headed the piano department, Vincenzo Cirillo of Naples headed the voice

department, and members of the Quinttete Club served as instructors of string

25 Atlantic Monthly, Sept. 1875, 377-82. The piece is a sacred choral piece for
mezzo, baritone, chorus, and orchestra. Apthorp's article includes several musical

instruments. Apthorp spoke highly of the establishment of the school and expected

a great deal of it.2 Dwight made no mention of the event.

Turning to matters that both Dwight and Apthorp addressed, let us begin

with Patrick S. Gilmore's World Peace Jubilee and International Musical Festival of

1872 (the first was the National Peace Jubilee, 1869). Dwight's entries were

threefold, occupying fifteen columns (each at slightly over ten inches in length) of

print that became very fine at the very end--fourteen lines per inch!--that it is

advisable to use a magnifying glass to read. Apthorp, on the other hand, devoted

only a single issue, September 1872, to the event, totaling just over six columns (each

at slightly over seven inches). In Dwight's first entry he discussed the outer aspects

of the festival, emphasizing that it was primarily a business venture. He questioned

whether it was indeed an art jubilee, a music jubilee, or even a peace jubilee.

Besides, just what is a "peace" jubilee? He also was curious as to whose jubilee it

was--Gilmore's, Boston's, or the nation's. Dwight detailed the numbers of

instruments, voices, bands, and the coliseum audience. Apthorp, too, remarked on

the business end of the festival, noting that "Art in any shape can nowhere live

without money. ... We poor art-lovers and artists should be only too thankful when

men who have the means think it worth their while to invest in art-stock instead of

in railway bonds."27 While Dwight decried the festival as a business venture,

Apthorp, recognizing that artists, too, need money for sustenance, was encouraged

26 Ibid., Mar. 1873, 376.

27 Ibid., 376a-b.

that people with money chose to invest it in art. As to Dwight's other remarks

regarding the dimensions of the jubilee, Apthorp made no comment.

Dwight's second entry focused on the music itself. Gilmore fell into the way

of thinking that if ten--or ten thousand--voices are good, then twenty--or twenty

thousand--are twice as good. Dwight noted that such a large chorus (which boasted

some twenty thousand voices, although he was certain that there were only eighteen

thousand at the beginning, the number tapering off as the festival ensued) could not

possibly have projected a precise sound. The problems of seating far apart and

filling the hall space were simply overwhelming. Apthorp avoided Dwight's wont to

excess verbiage and simply remarked that "there was not and could not be any

clearly defined outline to the singing, but everything was blurred and indistinct."28

Apthorp did add, however, that the large audience contributed enough of its own

clatter as to further interfere with the strains of the voices.

As regards the program, both Dwight and Apthorp commented on the

performances of works as G. F. Handel's Israel in Egypt and the "Anvil Chorus" from

Guiseppi Verdi's II Trovatore as music merely to give the jubilee credibility. Holding

to his traditional view, that of holding up music of the masters, Dwight pled, "But

in all this was Music paramount, or something else? ... Was Art revered? Did

Bach and Beethoven still keep their places on the equal platform?"2 Apthorp was

more perceptive, noting that these two works were "opposite magnetic poles of the

28 Ibid., 378b.

2 Dwight's Journal, 27 July 1872, 278c.

Jubilee. What one attracted the other repelled."3 This is another way of phrasing

what Apthorp saw as a major problem of the jubilee: a want of unity of purpose.

Dwight saw this, too, but not in terms of the program. Dwight's remarks concerned

the festival as a whole, but only after reading Apthorp's column can one clearly

summarize Dwight's words.

The third part of Dwight's trilogy discussed the instrumental music and

soloists, vocal and instrumental. Apthorp did so, also, but, again, he was much more

compact in his remarks. In particular, the European bands received attention.

Gilmore did promise an international festival, and European nations were indeed

represented--by bands. Apthorp and Dwight both commented on the French,

German, and English bands. Dwight was distressed that European culture would be

represented by a band and not a symphony orchestra. Further, he did not consider

the German emperor's cornet quartet "a very significant contribution to the greatest

of all Music Festivals."31 Apthorp made no comment here. As might be expected,

Dwight had high praise for the Prussian (not German) band. Noting the strong

brass, the band nevertheless was "thoroughly musician-like" and "entirely musical."32

Apthorp did note the fine, precise, stirring performance of the German band, but

the strong brass to him were not so musical. "The opening chords of the Egmont

30 Atlantic Monthly, Mar. 1873, 377a.

31 Dwight's Journal, 27 July 1872, 278c.

32 Ibid., 10 Aug. 1872, 287c.

Overture, for instance, sounded as if they were trying to blow down the walls of

Jericho." To him, the overblown low brass sounded "coarse and blaring."33

Dwight commented that he thought the French band was the best, but he had

no specific remarks on the music, namely, works of Wagner. Apthorp's opinion was

the same regarding the French band, but he provided specific comment on the

selections from Richard Wagner's Lohengrin. "This was almost the perfection of

playing, never lacking life or emphasis; yet throughout, even in the ball-music

(which, by the way, was taken in a most furiously rapid tempo), full of delicate lights

and shades, and in fine, full, unforced tones."34 Dwight's remarks included such

generic yet effective words as "fire," "intense," and "passion." Apthorp went a step

further by making specific reference to the music and noting tempo marks,

expressive elements such as crescendo, and the like. Dwight provided an aura of

how the music sounded; reading Apthorp, one can actually hear the music.

Another major event inn the musical life of Boston was the tenth

anniversary--and one hundredth concert--of the Harvard Musical Association [HMA].

Both Apthorp and Dwight provided retrospective on the work of this orchestra.

Dwight's two articles (again, Apthorp was more succinct, with only one) were purely

historical. He highlighted the progress of the Association, including program, the

audience, management, and finances. The bulk of the space was devoted to listing

by composer the works performed by the orchestra. Apthorp, too, provided a

historical sketch, but he went back another two years, to 1863 and the Orchestral

33 Atlantic Monthly, Sept. 1872, 377a, c.

34 Ibid., 377b.

Union. Dwight said nothing of how the HMA sounded, which Apthorp did.

Apthorp found the performances of the Orchestral Union "very rough, but not

without a certain enthusiasm and unity of purpose."3 On the actual founding of

the HMA, Apthorp let Dwight speak for him, quoting from Dwight's Journal of

9 December 1865 (one of the few times that Apthorp did not speak for himself,

although the style is entirely like his own).

Ever the critic, Apthorp commented that "Some of the airs of J. S. Bach's

Passion-Music were given, and very unsatisfactorily given, leaving the most dreary

impression on the public."3 The HMA was too precious to Dwight for him to speak

anything other than praise.

Apthorp took a step that Dwight perhaps found irrelevant: he compared the

HMA concerts with those of the Theodore Thomas Orchestra. Again, Apthorp

included a quote from Dwight's Journal (9 Nov. 1869) that called attention to the

superiority of New York orchestras, including Mr. Thomas's. Apthorp continued the

narrative on the quality of the Thomas Orchestra and how the HMA orchestra

measured up. Boston soon came to expect the precision and attention to detail of

the Thomas Orchestra, and the HMA group soon fell into disfavor because it did

not keep stride. As usual, Apthorp made reference to specific compositions to

illustrate his point. In this case he singled out Robert Schumann's Traumerei as

performed by the Theodore Thomas Orchestra, which made a deep impression for

their pianissimo effect. Apthorp closed his article with some comments from the

3 Ibid., June 1875, 754a.

6 Ibid., 755a.


Boston Daily Advertiser on a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in c minor.

An example of earnest criticism is as follows:

One particular effect was given just as Beethoven had indicated, and
most superbly given too, and that was the perfectly even pianissimo for
forty-two bars at the close of the scherzo before the entrance of the
finale. The crescendo began exactly eight bars before the end of the
scherzo, as it is written. Our orchestra invariably begins the crescendo
too soon.37

The HMA attempted to live up to Thomas's new, higher standard, but could not

maintain that level of performance. The quote is a fine example of Apthorp's high

standard of criticism.

Rather than listing ten years' worth of HMA programs, Apthorp simply listed

the most recent (Winter 1875), as well as Thomas's of the same time period. He

then offered one possible cause of the eventual demise of the HMA: programming.

New music was seldom heard at the HMA concerts. Apthorp noted that Dwight was

persistently antagonistic toward "Music of the Future," which some perhaps had

taken as an assault on Thomas himself. (Ironically, Thomas eventually lost a degree

of popularity because audiences felt he programmed too much new music and not

enough of the favorites.) That Dwight championed the HMA was no secret, since

he played a large role in its establishment and continuation. Indeed, he served as

its librarian for a number of years. After making his point, however, Apthorp

quickly set the record straight: "The all-sufficient cause is, as we have said already,

the great inferiority of the playing of the Harvard orchestra."3

37 Ibid., 757b.

38 Ibid., 757a. Like Dwight, Apthorp also had close ties to the Harvard Musical
Association. He served on its concert and program committee.


Of special interest is an article that appeared in Dwight's Journal (4 October

1873) entitled "What are Symphony Concerts for?" Apthorp made a direct response

two months later. The impetus was the beginning of the ninth season of the

Harvard Musical Association concerts. Dwight opened with a review of the original

purpose of the HMA Orchestra, "namely, to insure [sic], at stated times, year after

year, a hearing to those acknowledged masterworks of Symphony and other forms

of instrumental music, which, otherwise, amid so many money-seeking musical

competitors and caterers, are in much danger of neglect." He then decried concerts

that featured virtuosos, for the public was invariably interested only in their

execution and not in the music itself. While he noted that soloists were needed to

perform concertos of the masters and that singers added variety to programs,

"Beethoven and Mozart lose their place of honor."39

His second point was that it is not the duty of concerts to introduce music of

new composers--"These things they can safely leave to others." Rather, "Their chief

aim is to keep the standard master works from falling into disregard, to make Bach

and Handel, Haydn and Mozart and Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn and

Schumann, and others worthy of such high championship, continually felt as a living

presence and blessed influences among us."40 Musicians may find the new music

interesting, "but it is not the way to educate the public, or establish any standard of

pure taste."41

39 Dwight's Journal, 4 Oct. 1873, 102b-c.
40 Ibid.

4' Ibid., 103a.

Dwight's final point was that orchestral virtuosity should not be the principal

focus, but that "Music is the first point; execution, or interpretation ... is the

second." Perfection of execution is to be esteemed, to be sure, but to Dwight the

music is paramount. Noting that Boston did not have an orchestra as good as

Thomas's, he felt it was worthwhile to "keep Beethoven with us."42 Noble and rich

programs would overshadow any shortcomings of performance.

In his reply, Apthorp remarked that Dwight's conservative point of view did

have an element of truth to it that is worthy of careful attention. He selected a few

choice quotes to recap Dwight's position. The first point that Apthorp took

exception to is whether new compositions could be safely left to others. "We do not

think that the introducing of new composers can as yet be safely left to others, and

it can hardly be doubted that the hearing of their works is now almost an artistic

necessity with many of us, especially the younger ones." Dwight was not raised in

a generation in which the music of Hector Berlioz, Franz Liszt, or Richard Wagner

was readily accepted, but Apthorp was. He specifically named Johannes Brahms,

Max Bruch, Charles Gounod, and Jules Massenet as composers whose works were

unheard in Boston. Without discarding the music of Dwight's masters, Apthorp and

his generation actively sought the new music, "not from mere curiosity, but from a

need to imbue ourselves thoroughly with the musical spirit of our own time."43 He

did not buy the philosophy of "none but the ancients can be classical." Even if a

contemporary composer may not achieve immortality (who of that generation could

42 Ibid.

43 Atlantic Monthly, Dec. 1873, 757a.

know?), at least the music would be fresh in its day, and it should be embraced for

the good in it while it is still fresh. That was Apthorp's philosophy.

Apthorp's reason why new music should not be left to others was if not us,

then who? But his main point was that new music was often treated more as

novelties than as serious compositions. Even the great Theodore Thomas, he

thought, puffed his concert programs with new music--"His chief object seems to be

to present as many novelties as possible." On the other hand, what would the

audience think if a piece by Bach or Handel or Mozart or Beethoven were

performed for the first time? New music should not be scheduled as a novelty but

as music, and "in a programme constructed upon some really artistic principle."44

Then, having heard a new piece, it should be performed once or twice during the

winter to become further acquainted with it. He noted that the concerts of the

Harvard Musical Association were "fitting and congenial" but that they needed to

expand their repertory to include contemporary music.

Concerning Dwight's concern that soloists stole the thunder from the masters,

Apthorp had a contrary viewpoint. He reminded his readers that "one of the prime

objects of a concerto is and ever has been to show off individual virtuosity and

highly developed technique," adding, "We are most of us inclined to take concertos,

especially the older ones, much too religiously."45 He further remarked that

composers of concertos imbued their music with all the "brilliance and astonishing

things" of the day. He explained that Handel wrote out all his vocal roulades to

44 Ibid., 757b.

45 Ibid., 758b.

outwrite [Giovanni] Buonnocini [sic, 1670-1747], and because he wanted to impress

his audience. "The only difference between him [Handel] and the mere

effect-composers is that he wrote good ones. Just so with Mozart!"4 W. A. Mozart,

he recalled, was trying to outdo Muzio Clementi and the Abbe Vogler as a pianist.

He cited Mozart's G major Concerto as an example, noting the "runs and flourishes."

(Dwight seldom referred to specific works in this manner to illustrate a point.) To

summarize how Apthorp differed from Dwight on the subject of concertos, Apthorp

asserted, "That there is in them something much higher and nobler than mere

virtuosity and bravura is most true, or else any Herz or Litolff concerto would be as

fine as they; but the virtuosity and bravura are distinctly there for all that."47

How do Dwight and Apthorp compare in the category of "old" music? The

Handel and Haydn Society performed J. S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion, conducted

by Carl Zerrahn, during Holy Week, 1876, and Dwight reported on the event in the

29 April 1876 issue of his Journal. Apthorp's remarks on the same performance

appeared in the Monthly for September 1876.

Dwight devoted the first half of his article primarily to individual movements

that had not been performed in two previous hearings of the work. To make room

for the additions, some movements were omitted, which he listed. "On the

performance on the whole, considering all the circumstances, we can hardly say too

much in praise."4 He referred to specific arias and choruses and commented on

4 Ibid., 758b-59a.

47 Ibid., 759a.

48 Dwight's Journal, 29 Apr. 1876, 222c.

clarity, tempo, and balance with instrumental soloists. For remarks on a

performance, there was still a good deal of comment on the music itself--he found

it difficult to treat the music and the performance separately. He proceeded to

mention several of the instrumental soloists by name and said that the solos "were

very nicely played." The vocal soloists were "creditable" considering that "hardly any

have been nurtured upon Bach." He did acknowledge that they were indeed "artists

in more modern styles of music."4

As might be expected, Dwight waxed eloquent on Bach's melodies: they are

"too serious, too quiet, too sincere, too devoid of modern effects, and it demands too

entire a self-surrendering of a singer, to make it readily appreciable to all, to any

who have not something in their nature that draws to it any innate affinity."

Henrietta Beebe sang the soprano role well, but neither her voice nor her culture

were "much in sympathy with Bach." Alto Hermine Rudersdorff had been steeped

in the Bach tradition, and she provided a "fine lesson for our singers," despite some

"unpleasant tones." Another alto, Laura Hastings, projected rich and large low

tones, but her delivery was "somewhat constrained and cold." Although bass John

F. Rudolphsen was praised for stepping in on short notice, there were no comments

specifically on his performance. Bass John Winch was in his best voice--"Bach

evidently has begun to gain possession of him." The most difficult part fell to the

tenor, William J. Winch, who sang "admirably with sweet, clear voice," although

49 Ibid., 223a.

50 Ibid.

he did simplify some of the recitatives. Finally, "Mr. [B. J.] Lang presided ably at

the organ."51

Apthorp apologized for postponing his remarks and noted that he had written

an article a few months earlier on how difficult it is to sing Bach.52 Although he did

not completely alter his position, he did remark, "It would seem that a good

performance of a Bach choral work is not so impossible as we had supposed." He

did not feel that the overall performance was resplendent, "but there were some few

isolated points in it that were superb."5 Foregoing the preliminaries that Dwight

highlighted concerning what arias and choruses were and were not sung, Apthorp

moved directly into the performance. (It should be noted that Dwight's article was

two large pages, Apthorp's only one medium page.)

First to be addressed was the singing of Mme. Rudersdorff. "It is safe to say

that nothing finer of the sort has ever been heard here." His praise was higher than

Dwight's here. Apthorp demonstrated his knowledge of music literature when he

said that to sing "Erbarme dich" is to a singer what playing the Adagio of

Beethoven's Piano Sonata, Op. 106, is to a pianist: "As the one touches the highest

point yet attained of tragic instrumental music, so is the other the highest expression

of the tragic element in song."54

51 Ibid., 223b.
52 See Atlantic Monthly, May 1876, 633ff. The comments grew out of a review
of an unsatisfactory performance of Bach's Magnificat by Sharland's Choral Society
and the Theodore Thomas Orchestra.

53 Ibid., Sept. 1876, 379b.


Second to Mme. Rudersdorff, to Apthorp, was the singing of William Winch

as the Evangelist. (Dwight did not identify the role, only the voice range. It is

possible that most of his readers knew that the Evangelist is a role for tenor.)

Apthorp noted that the recitatives are aided by thin accompaniments, thus allowing

the vocalist to sing naturally rather than with great effort. Hence, Winch was more

successful in the recitatives, stated Apthorp, than in the more orchestral airs. Noting

the difference demonstrates Apthorp's musical perception. Dwight made no such

distinction. Apthorp's remarks on John Winch, John F. Rudolphsen, and Miss

Beebe were brief and similar to Dwight's. In conclusion, then, whereas Dwight's

article spanned well over a long page, Apthorp's remarks, which were more

penetrating as regards the performance, occupied less than a single page.

If Apthorp demonstrated a keener sense of detail in "old" music, Dwight's

forte, it would be expected, then, that the difference between the two would be even

more pronounced when commenting on "new" music. To be sure, Dwight made no

remarks on several pieces of new music, notably, Franz Liszt's The Bells of the

Strasbourg Cathedral, to which Apthorp devoted nearly an entire article, including

substantial musical examples.5 In Dwight's defense, however, Apthorp's

commentary was not on a performance but was rather a literature review.56 Another

piece of new music, Wagner's Lohengrin, was performed by the Strakosch opera

5 Ibid., Sept. 1875, 377-82. See Note 25 above.

6 Apthorp's articles often contained reviews of songs, piano works, and other
musical pieces that had been sent from several publishers for that purpose. Dwight
did not make it a practice to review music, even though his Journal was published
by Oliver Ditson.

troupe, and Apthorp reviewed the performance in the March 1875 issue of the

Monthly. Dwight, sad to say, made no comment on this performance.

While the music of Wagner was generally highly regarded in Apthorp's

columns (a performance of his Kaiser Marsch did disappoint Apthorp), Dwight was

not very open to the "new" music. Dwight summarized his thoughts on the music of

Wagner in "Richard Wagner and his Theory of Music." Drawing on an article by

Richard Grant White that had appeared in Galaxy on a Wagner festival that had

taken place in England, including a "brilliant" performance of Lohengrin, Dwight

made reference to the "Wagner fever" that had gripped the people, a fever that

"must have its run, both there and elsewhere, for heaven knows how long, like all

fashions and the fevers which by turns possess and tyrannize the souls and tastes of

fickle, novelty-seeking men and women."5

Dwight then defended his efforts to "form a fair and candid estimate of what

he aimed at," translating from Wagner's writings, etc. After careful study of

Wagner's writings and hearings of his music, "We have arrived at some convictions

on the subject, which, though we cannot speak as a musician [emphasis added], do

spring from a sincere, earnest, lifelong love and loyalty to music."5 Briefly, Dwight

scoffed the idea that music is not valued for itself by Wagner and his followers, a

reference to Wagner's Gesamtkunstwerk. Dwight wondered if a painting would have

to be wed to sculpture to have meaning. He then questioned whether Wagner

treated opera as an "arbitrary product" instead of "a necessary outgrowth from the

7 Dwight's Journal, 27 June 1874, 254b.

58 Ibid.


very nature both of music and the human soul."5 Dwight's argument is questionable

here. Rather than view Wagner's dramas as reform operas, as Wagner did, Dwight

could see only that they were not in sympathy with opera's "best and purest models."

Dwight's next question concerned Wagner's subject matter. It seems that if

historical and human subjects, if the heroes of the Greek dramas were good enough

for Christoph W. Gluck (1714-87), they should be good enough for Wagner. None

of these Odins, Thors, Walkurie maidens, or Nibelungen trilogy. Dwight seemed to

have forgotten that Wagner's Flying Dutchman was indeed based on an age-old

legend and that Die Meistersinger von Nirnberg highlighted an actual figure in

Germany's musical heritage, Hans Sachs. And what of the love of Tristan and

Isolde? What could possibly be more human? "Isolde!--Tristan! geliebter" is one

of the most famous love duets in opera literature. Dwight completed his raking of

Wagner's operas with a broadside against Wagner's concept of endless melody and

his huge orchestration.

Apthorp did not defend Wagner's theories in the Monthly per se. His article

on Wagner's Gesammelte Schriften und Dichtungen summarized Wagner's views in

a manner that did not heap coals upon him but rather presented them in a

forthright, even-tempered style. It is clear that Apthorp was not chastising Wagner

but was agreeing with him. He carefully explained Wagner's concept of music and

poetry, using choice quotations. "He says: 'The mistake in the art-form of the opera

has been, that the means of expression (the music) has been made the end of

expression, and the end of expression (the drama) the means.' According to

59 Ibid., 255a.


Wagner, music in its highest form is the outgrowth and necessary complement of

poetry." Nevertheless, "in spite of his theories, much of his music has a purely

musical, not a dramatic or poetical basis." Apthorp pointed out that no truly

innovative artist of any genre will take off in a new direction unless he has "tried the

old beaten path and found it too narrow."6

As regards subject matter, in The Opera Past and Present Apthorp referred to

Die Meistersinger as "an inspiration, it came right out of the blue; no rummaging

about among musty old myths was needed to make that!6' In that same work he

reminded his readers that in melding text and music Wagner went back to the very

roots of opera, to the Florentine Camerata. Apthorp clearly saw the past and the

future, those two diverging roads, and he chose the one less traveled. Dwight's lot

was to take the path more traveled, and that has made all the difference.

Having addressed both "old" and "new" music, there remains American music.

American composers struggled to gain acceptance within the music world. The high

spirit that impelled society was also evident in many of their works, for which they

were criticized as being too spontaneous and undeveloped. Apthorp included in

many of his articles reviews of new music, including songs by Francis Boott and

Julius Eichberg (as well as numerous Europeans) and piano works by Stephen

Emory, William Mason, and Louis M. Gottschalk.2

60 Atlantic Monthly, Feb. 1874, 253a-b, 254a.

61 William Foster Apthorp, The Opera Past and Present: An Historical Sketch
(New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1901), 163.
62 Apthorp's reviews are included in Appendix C, "Index of Topics, Musicians,
and Music Reviewed in the Atlantic Monthly, 1872-1877."

One of the most prominent American composers of the nineteenth century

was composer/pianist Louis M. Gottschalk (1829-69). Apthorp included several

entries on Gottschalk, but during the same period (1872-77) Dwight paid him no

mind. To Dwight, Gottschalk was perhaps the best example of the American

"spontaneous and underdeveloped" composer, which interested him not in the least.

Apthorp, on the other hand, recognized the talent and energy of Gottschalk. His

Cdlbre Tarantelle de Bravura received a substantial review by Apthorp.63

Two other noteworthy Americans that received significant attention by both

Apthorp and Dwight were Dudley Buck (1839-1909) and John Knowles Paine

(1839-1906). Several works by Buck were reviewed by Apthorp, including his short

Te Deum in Eb; Te Deum in b with Benedictus in E, Op. 58; Te Deum in C, Op. 60;

Forty-sixth Psalm; The Legend of Don Munio, Op. 62; and the Centennial Meditation

of Columbia cantata. There were only two works by Paine that Apthorp discussed:

St. Peter oratorio and Symphony No. 1. Buck's Centennial Meditation and Paine's St.

Peter will be considered here.

In Philadelphia there was a celebration in honor of the first centennial of the

American nation. Richard Wagner composed Centennial March for the event, and

Dudley Buck composed his Centennial Meditation of Columbia, for chorus and

orchestra, for the inaugural ceremonies in Philadelphia, 10 May 1876. Apthorp's

comments on the music appeared in the July 1876 issue of the Monthly." His

opening statement was: "Mr. Dudley Buck's Centennial Cantata is a very favorable

63 Atlantic Monthly, Mar. 1875, 380f.

4 A review of the performance appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Jan. 1877.


example of the composer's style. Anything other than a masterly treatment of easily

melodious and dramatically pertinent themes, coming from his facile pen, would

have surprised us."65 He then launched into a discussion of the text by Sidney

Lanier, which was criticized to such an extent by numerous writers that Lanier wrote

a letter to the editor of the Philadelphia Tribune to defend his work.6

Apthorp began by highlighting the points that Lanier made in his defense and

basically had no argument with him, except on one point. Acknowledging Lanier's

sincerity, Apthorp was opposed to his idea that poetry written for music need no

longer be perfectly clear, smooth, and natural. Lanier felt that music was an

indistinct medium, but Apthorp argued that "the syllables 'zig, zig, zig' cannot

possibly be made impressive in non-musical utterance."67 And even if music did

make the text vague, then all the more reason to make the text as clear as possible.

Apthorp recalled to mind the vocal works of Beethoven (Shiller's "Ode to Joy" in his

Ninth Symphony), Wagner (operas), William Sterndale Bennett (1816-75, Coleridge's

Ancient Mariner), and Hans von Billow (Uhland's "Sangers Fluch" in his ballad for

orchestra Des Sangers Fluch, Op. 16). Again, his knowledge of musical literature

was vast, and he used that knowledge to make clear his point.

Apthorp concluded his remarks with a few observations on the character of

Buck's music, praising it for keeping with the spirit of the text. Because the poem

65 Atlantic Monthly, July 1876, 122f.

6 The letter was addressed New York, 10 May 1876, and was printed in Dwight's
Journal, 10 June 1876, 242f.

67 Atlantic Monthly, July 1876, 123b.

was more dramatic, in the "Liszt-Wagner style," than fitting for the more melodious

style of Buck, there were some instances where the total effect was unconvincing.

For example, Apthorp noted one quatrain, the first three lines of which concluded

with the exclamation "away!" Apthorp noted that the whole chorus shrieked on the

first "away!" but that on the next two lines that effect was lost. Nevertheless,

"musically considered, the cantata is a capital piece of writing."6 Buck's tendency

toward the "trivial and commonplace" were mentioned, but he was not chastised.

Apthorp then selected two examples, a bass solo and a fugal chorus, to highlight

Buck's successful cantata.

Considering that Buck's Centennial Meditation was an important work for its

time and place, Dwight did not use his own words to describe it. In the 8 July 1876

issue of his Journal he printed Apthorp's article from the July Atlantic Monthly.6

Earlier, in the May 27 issue, Dwight printed an article from the Philadelphia Tribune

that highlighted the centennial music, including Buck's cantata. The following

month, June 10, Dwight published Lanier's reply to his critics.70 But he did not

make known his own opinion of the work.

The final work to be discussed is the St. Peter oratorio, for SATB soloists,

chorus, and orchestra, by John Knowles Paine, composed in Boston in 1872. The

premiere performance took place not in any of the musical meccas of the young

68 Ibid., 124b.

69 Apthorp's comments on Buck's Centennial Meditation were copied in toto,
including the footnote reference to the cantata. Dwight made only four innocuous
editorial changes.
70 See Note 66.

nation but in Portland, Maine, 3 June 1873. (Portland was Paine's birthplace.) The

choir was composed of local residents, but the soloists were well known in Boston:

Mrs. Wetherbee (of Portland), Matilda Phillips, George Osgood, and John

Rudolphsen. Apthorp made no specific mention of the orchestra or the director,

although sufficient clues revealed that the orchestra was comprised of Boston

musicians and that the entire ensemble was conducted by Paine.

It seems that there was a flurry of commentaries on the work before it was

even performed. Having only a piano/vocal score to study (as did all the other

critics), Apthorp was reluctant to state an opinion until he heard the work. But an

article in the February 13 issue of The Nation that cast St. Peter in an unfavorable

light finally spurred him to speak out. He chastised critics for commenting on a

work based only on a piano/vocal score, noting that only "exceptional men, gifted

with exceptional musical insight, may find hints of something beyond this [technical

musicianship] in a piano-forte score, and may arrive inductively at very shrewd

conclusions as to the aesthetic value of the work."71 Robert Schumann, he noted,

was such an exception, recalling Schumann's remarks on Franz Liszt's piano

arrangement of Hector Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique.72 All the average critic

could do, he chided, was to discern technical details and compare them with "some

71 Atlantic Monthly, Apr. 1873, 507a. On Apthorp's view on inductive reasoning,
see "Music and Science" (Ch. 6, "Musicians and Music-Lovers"), 234ff.

72 Apthorp did stretch the point here, since a piano/vocal score and a
transcription for piano of a work are quite different. The former is for rehearsal,
the latter for performance. For more of Apthorp's opinion on working from a
piano/vocal score, see the discussion on the court litigation related to the
performance of Charles Gounod's The Redemption in Chapter 4, "Boston Evening
Transcript," 144ff.

ideal standard in his own mind of what an oratorio ought to be."73 The Nation

writer would also have melodies fall into symmetrical phrases, which affords the

singer the greatest passion while offering the average listener complete repose.

Such "sentimentality" in religious music was rebuked by Apthorp.74 Again, Apthorp

defended Paine, because "earnest musicians do not write music for the 'average


The article in The Nation went on to find fault in the text, declaring it want

in emotion. Apthorp cited several lines from the work to illustrate how emotional,

in fact, it was. Criticism of one particular phrase, "Awake, thou that sleepest; arise

from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. The darkness is past, and the true

light now shineth," received this reply from Apthorp: "Unemotional! Has The

Nation's appetite for emotion become so jaded that these things leave it calm and

unmoved?"76 Denial, repentance, and Pentecost--the rushing, mighty wind, the flame

that danced on the disciples' tongues, the speaking in tongues--were specifically

noted: "What better chance for dramatic musical writing could the veriest sensational

effect-seeker desire?"77

Apthorp's final thrust came in response to The Nation's remark that St. Peter

"was too devotional, too monotonous in its emotional range, to serve as an

73 Atlantic Monthly, Apr. 1873, 507a.

74 See his article in the Atlantic Monthly, Jan. 1873, 118f.
75 Ibid., Apr. 1873, 508b.

76 Ibid., 507b.

7 Ibid., 508a.

amusement [emphasis added]." "But whoever thought of an oratorio in the light of

an amusement?" He assured his readers that Paine did not intend St. Peter to be

amusing. Comments in The Nation on oratorios by Mendelssohn, how they are both

melodious and religious, were summarily put to rest, as well. Apthorp saw nothing

distinctly religious in "He watching over Israel" and "Blessed are the men that fear

Him" from Elijah; they were "nothing but the purely sensuous development of a

sensuously beautiful melody."78

Apthorp had high praise for the work and for the premiere performance,

calling it the "great event of the season. .. [It] is the first direct proof we have had

of the existence of creative musical genius in this country."79 The chorus was from

Portland, as was the soprano soloist; the other three soloists and the orchestra were

from Boston. The entire ensemble was conducted by Paine. Calling it "unwise" to

compare St. Peter with established treasures as Handel's Messiah and Mendelssohn's

Elijah and St Paul, he nevertheless placed St. Peter on the pinnacle of American

choral music. He also noted that America had yet to hear Paine's Mass in D, which

was premiered in Berlin, a comment, perhaps on "our best-known choral


Apthorp's analysis of the work was rather technical but was closely tied to the

text. This served two purposes: (1) to be as precise as possible, and (2) to make it

easier to follow. If the reader did not know what a second subject is, for example,

the references to the music would be of great assistance, and the reader may be able

78 Ibid., 508a-b.

79 Ibid., Aug. 1873, 248a.

to discern the meaning of "second subject" from hearing the work and following the

analysis. To illustrate,

After a short melody by the wind instruments, accompanied by a rapid
upward movement of strings, the dominant chord of C major asserts
itself, being repeated, with sundry inversions, through a dozen bars,
and leading directly into the triumphant and majestic chorus, "The
time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of heaven is at hand."8

Apthorp was being informative to both the musically literate and the novice.

His analysis (just over two pages) followed the work step by step. Aware that

some moments were especially moving, Apthorp restrained himself from waxing

poetic, "lest it should be supposed that our enthusiasm has got the better of our

sober judgment."81 He also knew that his readers were knowledgeable of other

great choral works, as by Bach, Handel, and Mendelssohn, and he made occasional

comparisons where they served the purpose. He also noted traditions in such

large-scale choral works and where Paine remained in accordance with these

traditions. Too, there were some usual practices that annoyed him, and he pointed

these out as well. For example, "The cadence prepared by the 6-4 chord, now

become so hackneyed from its perpetual and wearisome repetition in popular church

music, seems to be especially disliked by Mr. Paine, as it occurs but once or twice

in the course of the work."82 He then launched into a brief discussion of various

types of cadences, together with their strengths and weaknesses. Thus, he was

80 Ibid., 248b.

81 Ibid., 249a.
82 Ibid., 250b.


furthering the musical knowledge of musical novices and reviewing known material

for the enlightened. It also clearly demonstrates his attention to detail.

The final page (out of four) of Apthorp's entry was devoted to the

performance itself. He praised the choral society of Portland for its dynamics and

precision: "The Portland singers can easily teach the Handel and Haydn a quarter's

lessons."8 The only fault he found in the chorus was its diminutive size, of one

hundred twenty-five voices, where a chorus of six hundred would have achieved the

effect that Paine intended.

The soloists (named) were admirable, although he felt that Wetherbee, the

soprano, was too enthusiastic. She apparently sang along in the choruses, as well,

robbing her of endurance to finish the work in full voice. Apthorp had the harshest

words for the orchestra: the brass blared, the hautboy [oboe] whined, and the strings

scraped. In the defense of the performance, he noted inaccurately copied parts (his

eyes and ears for detail even went that far), as well as the difficulties of rehearsing

the chorus in Portland and the orchestra in Boston.

As significant an American work as Paine's St. Peter was, Dwight did not

make a first-hand report of the premiere. Rather, he printed entries in his Journal

from other sources. Comments in the 17 May 1873 issue of his Journal were taken

from the New York World of March 31, and remarks on the premiere performance

that appeared in his 14 June 1873 issue were taken from the Portland Press of

June 4. It was not until a year later, when the oratorio was performed for the first

83 Ibid., 251a.

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