Autumn 2008

NEWSLETTER Vol. 4, No. 2

The winner of the 2008 Temperley Prize, NABMSA at AMS-SMT, reviews and more


Table of Contents


The annual NABMSA business meeting will take place at AMS-SMT in Nashville on Saturday, November 8, 2008, from 12:15-1:15 p.m. Check your AMS-SMT program for location details.


Send your news, review requests, and article suggestions to Kendra Leonard, Newsletter Editor, at

The 2008 Temperley Prize

by Christina Fuhrmann

I am delighted to announce the winner of this year's Temperley Prize, awarded for the best student paper delivered at the biennial NABMSA conference.

This year the award goes to Ciara Burnell, of Queen's University, Belfast, for her paper "Dances of Death and Nostalgic Waltzes: the Connotations of Dance Idioms in the Late Orchestral Works of Frank Bridge."  All committee members (myself, Jenny Doctor, and Charles McGuire) unanimously agreed upon Ms. Burnell's paper as the type of important, polished, and interesting work that the prize was meant to encourage.  Congratulations!

Thank you to all students who submitted and presented papers in Toronto.  It was wonderful to see so many promising young scholars joining our field.  The next prize will be awarded in 2010 at our Des Moines conference, and we encourage another healthy slate of student submissions.


NABMSA Member Papers at AMS-SMT 2008

(and other papers of interest to NABMSA members)

Thursday afternoon sessions

Mode and Scale: Ian Bates (Yale University), “Modal Harmonic Cycle Direction and
Vaughan Williams’ Harmonic Practice”

Saturday morning sessions

Music and Commodity Culture: Bryan White (University of Leeds), “Henry Purcell and the Letter Book of Rowland Sherman” and Alyson McLamore (California Polytechnic State University), “‘No Person admitted without a Ticket’: Conflicts in an Early English Concert Series”

Prima Donnas at Work: Roberta Montemorra Marvin (University of Iowa), “Idealizing the Prima
Donna in Mid-Victorian London”

Resistance, Propaganda, and Music in Uniform: Claire Launchbury (Royal Holloway, University of London), “Francis Poulenc in Paris and London: The Politics of Music Presentation during World War II”

Saturday afternoon sessions

Changing the Score: Christina Fuhrmann (Ashland University), “Sir Henry Rowley Bishop
(1786–1855): Perverse or Prophetic?”

Sunday morning sessions

Women and Keyboards: Strategies of Subversion and Resistance: Yael Sela (Oxford University), “The Keyboard and the Construction of Female Domesticity in Seventeenth-Century England” and Judith Barger (Little Rock, Arkansas), “Performers Fit for a King of Instruments:
Female Organists in Nineteenth-Century England”





Malcolm Arnold - A Composer of Real Music: Symphonic Writing, Style, and Aesthetics by Raphael D. Thöne. Entercom Saurus Records KG: Edition Wissenschaft, 2007

Reviewed by Ryan Ross

While Sir Malcolm Arnold’s distinguished status as a film composer appears to be secure, his symphonic output has sharply divided the opinions of listeners and commentators for decades. Nowhere is this clearer than in the numerous editorials that appeared upon the composer’s death in September of 2006. One such example, a memoriam written by J.P.E. Harper-Scott in The Musical Times (Winter 2006), acknowledges the mastery of Arnold the film composer while it outright discredits the effectiveness of Arnold the symphonist. In contrast, Raphael Thöne’s new book presents a spirited defense of Arnold’s symphonic music. The author’s expressed goal, as the title partially implies, is to “ideally revise or complement the present image of Arnold” as “more than simply another representative of British ‘light classical music’” (19). Far from being a collection of hollow rhetoric, however, the volume’s eight chapters offer an array of new analyses and insights that successfully re-evaluates this controversial body of music.

Among the many merits of the book, two broad threads stand out as especially effective. First, Thöne repositions Arnold’s symphonic music through discussions of his compositional process. One of the frequent criticisms leveled at Arnold’s large-scale works is the notion that the composer sacrificed structural cohesion for facile repetition, among other devices. Thöne very boldly selects for one of his analyses the symphony that often receives this charge: the Fourth. In his discussion on the Fourth, Thöne acknowledges Arnold’s repetitious use of the main thematic idea in the second movement. However, he argues persuasively that the positioning of the theme in the middle of the movement, and amidst subtle changes in texture and instrumentation, reveals the tool of repetition itself to be a valid component for Arnold’s symphonic language and a major determinant in his unique style.

In a particularly valuable assessment of the Sixth Symphony, Thöne effectively dispels the notion that the first movement is formless and messy. He calls sonata form “misleading” as a means for analyzing the first movement (156) and instead suggests the coexistence and interplay of three main “subjects”. The balance between these subjects, in addition to the layers of bitonal pitch collections, contrasting rhythms, and instrumentation, provides the dynamic of the whole according to Thöne’s analysis. (Thöne posits the idea of “layers” as another key facet of Arnold’s compositional language.) Heard along these lines, the first movement of the difficult Sixth certainly seems more tractable.

The second broad thread in the book treats Arnold’s position as a 20th century symphonist at large. There is a tendency, in light of the criticisms against Arnold already mentioned, to see his symphonic work as an aside to the genre in the 20th century rather than a valuable contribution to it. While stressing that Arnold was “more than an imitator” (52), Thöne draws some interesting parallels between Arnold’s music and that of Mahler and Sibelius.  For example, he sees the use of a kind of “developing repetition” in Sibelius’s Fourth as a precursor to how Arnold treats the technique in his own Fourth Symphony. In response to the criticism that Arnold’s symphonic music is cheapened by reference to popular idioms, Thöne rightly points out that Mahler’s symphonies frequently display a similar whimsy in their striking clashes between the popular and the “serious” (for lack of a better term) without losing their substance. The author argues further that Arnold’s drawing upon these and other traditions was well in keeping with the 20th century British tradition that emphasized building upon the past as a means of developing new styles.

I read with the most satisfaction Thöne’s confrontation of Arnold typesetting. In Harper-Scott’s critique of Arnold’s symphonies, mentioned earlier, the reader comes away with the impression that Arnold fell short of a certain “manner” in which it was acceptable to compose symphonies in his time and place. More than once Thöne makes a welcome call for fresh criteria in considering Arnold’s music. One statement stands out as particularly pithy: “he…develops a personal style that does not measure compositional quality purely as progress in aesthetic categories, but represents a style in which the choice and means…is truly free.” (102). Thöne’s book challenges us to reassess not only Arnold’s symphonies, but also long-accepted 20th century music values at large.

My reservations concerning this volume are small. First, I found the chapter layouts a bit cloying at times. Titles are long, epigraphs tend to sprawl a bit, and the frequent changes in font size can prove slightly cumbersome. A second minor issue is Thöne’s use of intermittent and sometimes humorous asides both in the text and footnotes. I didn’t mind them, but some readers might find their inclusion inconvenient in a text already brimming with information on several levels. But these are mere quibbles in comparison to the wealth of new ideas that the volume offers. This is among the most important writings on Malcolm Arnold’s music that exists. On a broad level, all those except the most trenchant non-admirers of Arnold’s symphonic works will find something in Thöne’s new book that will prompt a second look (listen) at this wonderful music.


‘Decline, Renewal and the City in Popular Music Culture:  Beyond the Beatles by Sara Cohen. Aldershot:  Ashgate, 2007.

Reviewed by Donna Parsons

Last July as I was exploring the various locales related to Beatles history and lore in Liverpool, I came across The Beat Goes On exhibition at the World Museum Liverpool.  Showcasing the city’s rich popular music history, the exhibition featured a fascinating array of live footage, music, artifacts and even clothing worn by various musicians during significant moments of their careers.  Disappointment came when I flipped through the small exhibition catalog that I found in the museum shop for it did not adequately detail or offer any critical analysis on what I had seen or heard.  Fortunately, this did not matter as I had Sara Cohen’s book to read.

In critiquing the musical life of Liverpool in the 1980s and 1990s, Cohen sets out “to examine the impact of urban de-industrialization and economic restructuring on popular music culture” (3) and “to consider how the specificity or distinctiveness of popular music might have an impact on the city.”  (4)  Her discussion is divided into seven chapters with the first providing a brief history of popular music in Liverpool.  The remaining chapters focus on the ways in which the city can be identified by its sound, how music can be heard and viewed as part of its heritage, business, industry, tourism, and even on a micro level how it can be mapped to a specific street or location in the city.

Besides being meticulously researched, the strength of Cohen’s narrative lies in the stories told about the importance of music and music-making in the lives of professional and amateur musicians.  In many ways these lives are intertwined with the economic stability of the city.  Cohen examines the various ways city leaders sought to promote the city and its music heritage, and the extent to which established and up-and-coming musicians and music-makers had their livelihoods hampered or even cut off in the name of revitalization.

Chapter one focuses on the importance of the port to the multicultural nature of the city’s musical life.  As the “Gateway to Empire,” (35) a diverse musical heritage was created by sailors who brought back American rock’n’roll and r&b records, “touring musicians”, (12) and immigrants of Irish, Jewish, Chinese and African descent.  Cohen claims the “new hybrid local sounds and styles” were forged by the exchange of these “musical influences.” (15)

Since the Beatles gained nationwide fame in 1963, music critics, scholars, and fans have tried to define the Merseybeat sound.  In chapter two Cohen examines local radio broadcaster Roger Hall’s descriptions of the Liverpool sound.  Hall claims two sounds are prominent and labels them as “trainish” and “riverine” music.  The former is described as escapist and commercially viable while the latter “expressed a reflection upon or yearning for home.” (56)  However, these descriptions are not unique to Liverpool as I think they can also be applied to many American blues and folk songs. Cohen acknowledges the problems with Hall’s definitions as she claims they may have unwittingly incorporated “familiar local narratives and stereotypes…[and] reduced the diversity of rock sounds within the city to one single sound…”  (66)
Chapter three examines the mostly forgotten country music scene in Liverpool.  While country music thrived in the 1950s, it was on the edge of extinction in the 1990s.  Cohen notes the interaction between the rock’n’roll and country bands in the early 60s as well as the “long-standing friendships, collaboration and kinship connections between the [country] musicians, and between them and their followers” 40 years later. (76)

Chapter four examines the difficulties local music companies encountered in running a successful business while retaining full creative control of the talent they were nurturing.  The obstacles companies such as Liverpool Music House and Cream faced become even more apparent in chapter 5 where the focus turns to music as an industry. In her discussion of the various policy initiatives that were undertaken, Cohen observes that local musicians and music-makers who understood the musical scene were oftentimes “excluded and marginalized” during discussions with consultants. (142) 

Liverpool has long been associated for many popular music fans as the home of the Beatles, and the band’s relationship to the city as Cohen shows has been fraught with a mixture of pride and acerbity. Probably the most iconic Beatles’ site in the city centre is the Cavern Club.  Yet, the club was demolished in 1973 and replaced by a car park.  Today, all Beatles’ fans have is the replica built a couple yards further down the street.  In talking with fans, Cohen explains their understanding of the mythology that is undoubtedly intertwined in their exploration of Beatles’ sights, but also their expectation to see and hear the truth. (176-77)  In her discussion on the Cavern Quarter in chapter 7, Cohen makes clear how much of the true Beatles’ experience was lost in the name of redevelopment.  Hessy’s (a musical instrument store) was “bought out” by a “fashion retailer” and Rushworth’s Music House “closed down following financial difficulties.”  (194) Both stores were prominent not only to the Beatles’ story, but to that of countless musicians.  What is even more devastating was the “forced” relocation of Probe record shop and label “after being based [in Mathew Street] for almost 20 years.”  (194)

Chapter six focuses on the fragile relationship between promoting Beatles tourism and showcasing Liverpool’s current musical talent.  On top of the geographical difficulties musicians faced in earning their livelihood in Merseyside, they also had to battle the ghost of the Beatles.  How does any group get “beyond the Beatles” as the title of Cohen’s book suggests?  British groups have constantly been compared to the Beatles, but it is one thing for a band from Sheffield (Arctic Monkeys) or Manchester (Oasis) and quite another for one who calls Liverpool home.  As Cohen notes local musicians complain about the constant comparisons and the inability of the city to get past its past. (197)

Decline, Renewal and the City in Popular Music Culture:  Beyond the Beatles sets the standard for case studies on the interaction between popular music and the city and also leads a charge for similar studies to be undertaken in Birmingham, Manchester and Sheffield.


Edmund Rubbra: Symphonist by Leo Black. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2008.

Reviewed by Aaron Keebaugh

In the past few decades, a number of new recordings have rejuvenated interest in the music of Edmund Rubbra, an important, if underrated, composer, and, as Vaughan  Williams noted, his natural successor as a symphonist.  In this book, Leo Black, a student of Rubbra at Oxford University during the 1950s, provides a fresh introduction and critical interpretation of the composer and his eleven symphonies. 

Black arranges his examination of Rubbra’s symphonies chronologically in a fairly traditional period–study approach, with four of the ten chapters each concentrating on a single symphonic work.  Chapter 3, enititled “The First Four Symphonies,” and chapter 10, “The Last Three Symphonies,” comprise examinations of early and late works respectively. The remaining chapters involve an overview of Rubbra’s musical style (Chapter 1), a short biographical sketch (Chapter 2), and the issue of religious mysticism (Chapters 5 and 7).  Black also includes two appendices: the first is a reproduction of the composer’s spoken introduction given before the BBC Home Service broadcast of his Fourth Symphony, given on 14 August 1942; the other a reprint of Black’s article on Rubbra’s Sixth Symphony, originally published in Isis in February 1955. Black closes the study with a succinct and selective bibliography, which includes a few theoretical tomes on music, religion, and mysticism, and a discography of the composer’s symphonic, chamber, and choral works.

From the opening paragraphs of the preface, Black is up front about his approach in this study.  This is not a technical analysis of Rubbra’s oeuvre, but a thoughtful and engaging introduction to the man and his music for the more general audience.  In doing so, the author aims “to make new friends for a deeply rewarding composer” (ix).  Overall, Black roots his discussion of the symphonies within a contextual framework, examining the significant biographical, historical, and cultural details that gave birth to the works covered throughout the book.  In doing so, the author draws primarily from Ralph Scott Grover’s 1963 study of the composer, The Music of Edmund Rubbra, Lewis Foreman’s edited sympsium Edmund Rubbra: Composer of 1977 and Murray Schafer’s 1963 edition British Composer’s in Interview, as well as personal recollections.  Throughout the book, Black serves as an effective story teller, relating salient details about the composer’s education and development and his views on religion and pacifism within the context of twentieth–century Britain, a sort of miniature “Rubbra and his World,” to borrow from recent musicological approaches to composer biography.  There are, though, just a few areas where the author could have provided more detail. For example, the exact nature of Rubbra’s studies with Holst is left unexplored here. Some attention as to exactly what Holst taught the younger composer could easily fit into a study for the general music lover.

Black’s encyclopedic knowledge of music literature treated in this study stands as the book’s greatest strength.  Although he refers to his analysis of Rubbra’s symphonies as “program notes,” the author’s discussion of the music in the narrative is equally helpful for the scholar as well as the general music lover.  He provides short musical examples for the main themes for most of the symphonies, and offers additional commentary on the composer’s chamber and choral works, such as the Cello Sonata and several of the masses, among others.  Readers unfamiliar with Rubbra’s work, then, will appreciate how Black builds momentum in the narrative, filling the decade–and–a–half gap between the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, for example.  And readers with little knowledge of musical terms and concepts will further welcome the author’s explanation of theoretical terms, like dominant–seventh chords and enharmonic key relationships, in the text and endnotes. 

Admirable too are the numerous comparisons that Black draws between Rubbra’s works and repertoire of past and contemporary composers.  Black draws several comparisons to Schubert, noting the similarities in the use of the “shuddering tremolo” in Rubbra’s early symphonies and the Viennese composer’s Death and the Maiden Quartet.  The author further suggests that the two composers share similarities in their harmonic writing.  This isn’t a stretch of the imagination, given that Rubbra knew and studied Schubert’s work (Black is also a noted scholar on Schubert).  But perhaps the biggest surprise in the author’s analysis are the comparisons drawn between Rubbra, Schoenberg, and Webern.  On the surface, such an approach appears odd, yet Rubbra states that these composers share the same character traits. Their ideas about composition –– the organic growth of all–pervading intervals –– are the essence of these composers’ oeuvre.  Black does not provide musical examples to support these comparisons due to his desire not to overcrowd the book with too much technical information. 

Central to Black’s study are the ideas of mysticism, religion, and “essence” in Rubbra’s music. The introduction, entitled “Rubbra in the Third Millennium?,” provides the central thrust that the importance of Rubbra’s symphonies not only lies in the brilliance of their composition, but in the “essence” of the music itself.  And two chapters in particular (as noted above) examine these concepts closely.  Building upon his comparisons between Rubbra, Schoenberg, and Webern, as noted above, Black weaves theoretical writings of Webern, Elsie Payne, W. H. Auden, Robert Musil, Hans Keller, and Schopenhauer into the discussion, mostly to contextualize Rubbra’s increasing attention to religion during the 1940s, heralded, as Black notes, by the composer’s conversion to High–Church Roman Catholicism.  Stating that mysticism “signifies direct contact with divinity (infinity, eternity and very often a Creator) not mediated by any institution or other person” (p. 102), the author offers some interesting analytical remarks concerning Rubbra’s intuitive compositional style, building from the composer’s famous remark that he felt his way through music.  Black mentions, to give two examples, the teleological nature of the First and Sixth Symphonies, compounded by the fact that the finales of both works were composed first.

Through the lenses of the composer’s music, Black sheds light onto the inner workings of Edmund Rubbra.


Representing Non-Western Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain, by Bennett Zon. Eastman Studies in Music (University of Rochester Press, 2007)

Reviewed by Eric Saylor

Ethnomusicologists have largely taken for granted that Jaap Kunst’s Musicologica: a Study of the Nature of Ethno-musicology (1950) marked a bright line in the history of the discipline. It heralded a new era of modern, enlightened methods of research and writing, distinct from the bad old days of “comparative musicology,” when the taints of ethnocentrism, racism, and assumptions of western musical and cultural superiority hung over the field. The truth, of course, is much more complex than the conventional wisdom suggests, and Bennett Zon has shouldered the task of presenting a more nuanced picture of ethnomusicology’s (very) early development in Representing Non-Western Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain.

Zon’s enormously ambitious aim is to situate “the representation of non-Western music within the expansive intellectual culture of nineteenth-century Britain,” primarily by conducting a wide-ranging historiographical survey of relevant works within the fields of “academic anthropology, travel literature, musicology, psychology, and practical theories of musical transcription” (xiii). The book is divided into four large sections, each encompassing several chapters dedicated to the exploration of a single topic. The first section (“Early Anthropological Influences”) describes the major pre-Darwinian anthropological theories of monogenesis and polygenesis, along with the ramifications that they had for anthropologists’ conception of race. This brief overview allows Zon to explore some of the methodological issues that anthropologists faced in the early nineteenth century when trying to classify non-western music; in particular, whether they should take a comparative method (i.e., judging the quality of non-western instruments against familiar western models) or represent the “native” instruments and music in their own right. Some authors, such as William Dauney, adopted attitudes that are surprisingly progressive, as in his “Observations with a View to an Inquiry into the Music of the East” (1841) in which he states that “many excellent practical musicians are apt to suppose (although there cannot be a greater mistake) that where a foreign melody will not yield to the application of modern European harmony, it must be defective” (64)—one of the first significant rejections of western hegemony by an writer on non-western music.

The second section (“Musicology in Transition to Evolution”) opens with a brief and useful précis on the implications that Darwin’s theory of natural selection had for anthropology. While it shattered then-dominant teleological theories about “predetermined and universal laws of human progress” that governed cultural development from savagery to barbarism to civilization, it unintentionally gave rise to evolutionarily justified theories of scientific racism (of which Herbert Spencer served as the foremost proponent). This sets up an exploration of the myriad styles of writing and research that began emerging as a result: ethnocentric travel writings on the quaint customs of colorful natives, broadly positivistic studies focusing on organology or paleontology, and Darwinian, non-teleological approaches that attempted to judge the music of non-western cultures by standards other than those of the western art tradition. Zon effectively balances all of these perspectives, though the sheer number of figures involved can lead to some confusion as to how the various personalities and writings under discussion are linked.

The final two sections focus on the contributions of two seminal figures in post-Victorian comparative musicology: psychologist and ethnographer Charles Samuel Myers, whose contributions to the field had until now been largely forgotten, and the eminent writer and critic A. H. Fox Strangways, whose The Music of Hindostan (1914) stands as a classic in the discipline. Zon’s research into and revival of Myers’s accomplishments is surely one of the most valuable aspects of this book, in no small part because Myers was among the first British writers on non-western music “to combat scientific racism and the depersonalization of non-Western peoples” (159) by acknowledging his subjects (primarily natives of the Torres Straits and Borneo) as individuals of varying skill and knowledge who could not necessarily be taken as representative of the culture as a whole. In short, he concluded that “all musical cultures can attain musical meaning” but “meaning is dependent upon individual cultural and personal difference” (222), not on western-based notions of goal-oriented musical development and progress. Myers’s use of scholarship related to psychology complemented Fox Strangways’s methods. Like Myers, Fox Strangways believed that it was the individual’s interpretation of the text-music relationship that imparted meaning, and sought new ways of making non-western music more accessible. His efforts led him to turn away from prescriptive transcription practices in favor of descriptive ones, analogous to the methodology of linguistic translation that attempts to preserve the aesthetic effect of the source material, even if at the expense of textual fidelity. Overall, however, Zon paints a highly favorable picture of these two scholars’ contributions to the field, and compellingly demonstrates how the practices of the previous century made their work possible.

Zon has produced a comprehensive and meticulously researched piece of scholarship that is all the more impressive for its vast scope, providing as it does a history of British anthropological attitudes about race, a study of competing methodologies for comparative musicology in Britain, and a wide-ranging historiographical survey of literature on non-western music during the long nineteenth century (supplemented with an enormous bibliography). The density of the prose and complexity of the subject likely place it beyond most undergraduates or casual readers—the book is difficult to dip in and out of, as Zon develops or refers to material from earlier chapters later in the book quite often, which can make it difficult to follow for the uninitiated, and there are a handful of linguistic eccentricities as regards the treatment of names of ethnic groups and period monograph titles. As a whole, however, it is an admirable accomplishment that is sure to engage scholars interested in the history of the British Empire, British perceptions of music and race, and the role of the social sciences in articulating both.


The Early Tudor Court and International Musical Relations by Theodor Dumitrescu. Aldershot and Burlington VT: Ashgate, 2007

Reviewed by John Milsom

The story of Tudor music as told by English-born musicologists has sometimes steered perilously close to the condition of being a celebration of national identity, heritage and achievement. By and large it has been non-British researchers – outsiders looking in, as it were – who have reminded us that ‘Tudor music’ was in reality an international phenomenon, in which music and musicians from Burgundy, France, Italy and Spain also played a significant part. Following in the wake of distinguished predecessors such as Charles van den Borren, Joseph Kerman and Jane Bernstein, the American musicologist Theodor Dumitrescu now argues this point with regard to the earliest decades of the Tudor dynasty (roughly 1485-1530). In his richly documented account, it is foreigners, not English composers and musicians, who take centre stage. More specifically, he reveals London in general and the Tudor court in particular to be places where musical life had a distinctly cosmopolitan flavor.

Dumitrescu perhaps exaggerates the extent to which his interpretation is new and revisionist, but nonetheless the evidence he brings to the table is certainly impressive in terms of both quantity and diversity. One chapter looks at the many foreign-born instrumentalists who were employed by the Tudor court. Another closely examines the books of foreign music – mainly manuscripts – that were acquired by the early Tudors, principally as diplomatic gifts. A third considers the ways in which English music theory drew upon and responded to foreign models. All this is prefaced by two more broadly-based chapters that consider cultural exchange in general, viewing music as part of a broader currency through which the English either became watchful of other nations, or were simply exposed to potential models through political events or the conventions of gift-giving. At every turn, Dumitrescu documents his case copiously and meticulously, and he argues it authoritatively, sometimes penetrating much further than anyone before him in the discussion of specific evidence.

What the book doesn’t attempt, however, is any discussion of the other side of the coin – which is to say, the issue of English national identity as expressed either through patronage and employment, or by the music written by early Tudor composers themselves. Every book needs its boundaries, of course, and Dumitrescu makes it plain from the start where his own particular boundaries have been drawn. Nonetheless, arguably he considerably lessens the interest and importance of his study by sidelining the issues of reception and influence. Admittedly those readers who already know their Tudor musical history will be able to read between the lines, and sense how Dumitrescu’s findings fit into the broader picture. But readers new to the subject-area could well leave this book with little sense of the major counter-currents that have deliberately been excluded from view; and that might leave them with a seriously skewed sense of the complex realities of early Tudor musical culture.

A few words should be said here about those ‘complex realities’. Clearly throughout the Tudor era some English patrons and composers had easy access to foreign musicians and repertories, and that faced them with issues of choice. Often we can observe them excersising that choice, either one way or another. Two examples serve to demonstrate the point; both are drawn from the end of Dumitrescu’s chosen time-period.

In the 1520s, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, England’s premier magnate after King Henry VIII himself, founded a new Oxford college (the one now called Christ Church). Architecturally it could have followed Italianate or French Renaissance models, but instead it remained loyal to English late Gothic traditions. Its vast chapel, which was never built, was planned to surpass even the chapel of King’s College, Cambridge. A choir was recruited to sing in this chapel, and as an interim measure it used the old abbey church that stood (and still stands) on the site. Foreign singers and organists could have been headhunted, and an international musical repertory built up. Instead, Hugh Aston and John Taverner were approached to head the chapel choir, and it would be hard to name two musicians more staunchly English in their musical outlook. No list survives of the music-books used by the choir, but we do possess the so-called ‘Forrest-Heather partbooks’ which seem to be linked to the college, and these contain only Mass-settings by English composers; there is no trace of works by Josquin, Obrecht or Isaac. These decisions were reached notwithstanding the fact that Wolsey, during his political and diplomatic career, had had plenty of exposure to alternative models. Wolsey’s choices for his new Oxford college would therefore have been fascinating to ponder in a book about the early Tudor court and international musical relations; but the subject lies beyond Dumitrescu’s self-imposed limits.

A second example. In 1530, a mysterious printed collection of twenty English songs was published in London – mysterious because it survives only as a fragment, without a proper titlepage or prefatory material that might have explained why it was published and who issued it. English as a language was barely spoken beyond Britain’s shores, so the book cannot have been intended principally for export; its target market must have been English. The songs were issued in partbook format, and only the bassus volume survives, so it is impossible to make full sense of the collection. Nonetheless, all the contents are by Englishmen, and they all have a rude exuberance, quite different from the contemporary repertories of the Franco-Burgundian chanson or the Italian frottola. Some of the composers who wrote these English songs, including Robert Fayrfax and William Cornysh, are known to have been exposed to foreign models, and to have worked alongside the internationally-recruited instrumentalists employed by the Tudor court; but their own songs as represented by this collection show little if any evidence of that exposure. The book is finely printed, and it must have been a luxury item. In this respect, as in the choice of contents, its publisher must have borne in mind the tastes and needs of the likely market. Again, it is fascinating to see how carefully this book positions itself in relation to its indisputably foreign models. As a material object it emulates and perhaps even competes with them; but in terms of contents, it firmly proclaims England’s own musical and literary identity.

Even from these two examples, it should be clear how much more could be said on the subject of early Tudor England and its international musical relations than appears in Dumitrescu’s book. Those aspects that he chooses to survey are covered comprehensively and authoritatively, and his findings will serve as an excellent resource for anyone who wants to write a more broadly-based study. All we need now is a recruit to take on that much larger and more complex task.



Member News

Ilias Chrissochoidis has published "English Oratorio in London: The 1765 Season" in Händel-Jahrbuch 54 (2008). His essay "Handel Recovering: Fresh Light on his Affairs in 1737," will appear in Eighteenth-Century Music 5/2 (2008).

Nicholas Temperley is editing, jointly with Stephen Banfield, a book called Music and the Wesleys which is partly based on papers given at a conference at the University of Bristol in July 2007.  During the fall Stainer & Bell will publish, under the title Christmas is Coming, a collection of 37 of his carol arrangements and compositions, started in 1951 and accumulated gradually over the years. And, with the help of Sally Drage and Ryan Ross, he is in the process of extending the Hymn Tune index bibliography (for Britain and Europe) from 1820 to 1840.

Raphael Thöne will present a paper at the 8th Congress of the Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie (GMTH), University of Graz, Music Theory and Interdisciplinarity, October 9-12, 2008, "No Adornian Godfather? – An Aesthetic Search for a Comparable British Figure;" and a lecture for the Deutsche Britische Gesellschaft (German-British Society), on October 16, 2008 at the Goethe-Museum Düsseldorf, on "Pigeonholes and 20th century British classical music: how modern must a composer be?"

Ardal Powell, an independent scholar, has received an award from the Music & Letters Trust for travel to a Study Day of the Institute of Historical Research Seminar on British Music, School of Advanced Study, University of London, on 12 May 2008. He contributed a paper entitled,  "Performing English taste: Regency flute mania and the 'Gothick' style" to a special extended session headlined "So, what do you play?'  Instruments, Consumers and Repertory outside the British Concert Hall, 1800-1950".



Upcoming Events

Music in Purcell's London: Only Purcell e're shall equal Blow, The British Library Conference Centre, London, Saturday 4 October 2008
This study day, organized by the British Library and the Purcell Society, marks three anniversaries: the birth of Henry Purcell, in 1658 or 1659, and the deaths of John Blow and Giovanni Battista Draghi in 1708.  It will feature papers on and music of all three composers. Further details will be posted in due course on the Purcell Society website,

This year's North American Victorian Studies Association conference will feature several panels related to music as a primary subject, including "The Economics of Productivity in the Arts" (chaired by Lawrence Poston and Nicholas Temperly), "Lyric Culture," chaired by Phyllis Weliver, and "Music and Nostalgia Victorian Britain," chaired by Charles McGuire. Other panels at the conference also invite abstracts from music historians and music theorists. The Conference will be held at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut from Nov. 14-16, 2008.

Ph.D.-DMA Programs in Music & Barry S. Brook Center for Musical Research and Documentation, The Graduate Center,  The City University of New York, North American British Music Studies Association, and The Ralph Vaughan Williams Society present: Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958): Fifty Years On
November 14, 2008, Elebash Recital Hall, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York (Fifth Avenue and 34th Street)
Papers: Session I at 9:30 A.M. and Session II at 2:30 P.M., Concert at 7:30 P.M. Admission is free; For further information, please e-mail:



Calls for Papers

U2: The Hype and The Feedback, New York Marriott Marquis, Times Square, May 13-15, 2009 This is the first conference to examine U2’s considerable catalog of music as well as their influence in the areas of the music and entertainment industry, popular culture, humanitarian relief and the global politics of peace and social justice. We invite proposals for papers, presentations or panels on any topic relating to the music, work or influence of U2 that would appeal to an audience of scholars, students, journalists, musicians and intellectually curious U2 fans. Please visit for proposal guidelines and conference details. CFP deadline is November 1, 2008.

Sixth Biennial International Conference on Music Since 1900, Keele University, July 2-5, 2009 The conference’s theme is music since 1900 and the conference’s programming policy is best described as whole-heartedly pluralist. Proposals are therefore invited on ANY topic and/or repertoire (popular, art, jazz, folk, world, commercial, political, religious, ‘everyday’, film, TV, games, online, etc.) relating to the musics of the 20th and 21st centuries, and utilizing any scholarly approach from within the fields of musicology or other relevant intellectual disciplines. Proposal guidelines are available at The proposal deadline is December 1, 2008.

International Medieval Congress, Leeds University, July 13-16, 2009 Session sponsored by the International Center of Medieval Art: Shaping Reception of Medieval Sites: What are we doing? This session would ideally be composed of papers about sites that have been reevaluated or which have been recently “rediscovered,” their reception and commemoration, as well as how their role in the past and towards the future continues to be shaped. Please email paper proposals of no more than 300 words to by September 15, 2008 and indicate whether you would require a digital data or traditional slide projector. 

Purcell, Handel & Literature, Senate House, University of London, November 20-21, 2009 This conference will be one of the concluding events in the year marking the anniversaries of Henry Purcell's birth (1658 or 1659) and Handel's death (1759). Proposals for papers are now invited. Papers should be of 20 minutes duration, and the proposal should be presented as an abstract of not more than 250words. Proposals for thematic round-table sessions will also be considered. Proposals should be submitted by October 30, 2008, and should be sent to Please include your name, contact details and (if applicable) your affiliation within your proposal.



Recent Publications

Books and Articles

Barger, Judith. Elizabeth Stirling and the Musical Life of Female Organists in Nineteenth-Century England. Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2007.

Bevin, Elway. A Briefe and Short Instruction of the Art of Musicke. Ed. by Denis Collins. Music Theory in Britain, 1500-1700: Critical Editions. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2007.

Brett, Philip. William Byrd and His Contemporaries: Essays and A Monograph. Edited by Joseph Kerman and Davitt Moroney. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.

Chrissochoidis, Ilias. “A Chubby Orpheus: Handel’s Corpulence as a Prerogative of Genius.” In Consuming Culture in the Long Nineteenth Century: Narratives of Consumption, 1700-1900, ed. Tamara S. Wagner and Narin Hassan, 193-204. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2007.

Chrissochoidis, Ilias. “A ‘fam’d Oratorio ... in old English ... sung: Esther on 16 May 1732.” The Handel Institute Newsletter 18/1 (Spring 2007): [4-7].

Chrissochoidis, Ilias. “A Handel Relative in Britain? (also Cutting through the 1759 Fence in Handel Studies).” Musical Times 148/1898 (Spring 2007): 49-58.

Chrissochoidis, Ilias. “His Majesty’s Choice: Esther in May 1732.” Newsletter of The American Handel Society 22/2 (Summer 2007): 4-6.

Clayton, Martin and Bennett Zon, eds. Music and Orientalism in the British Empire, 1780s-1940s. Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2007.

Cloonan, Martin. Popular Music and the State in the UK: Culture, Trade or Industry? Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2007.

Cohen, Sara. Decline, Renewal and the City in Popular Music Culture: Beyond the Beatles. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2007.

Cragg, Stewart R., compiler. Alan Bush: A Sourcebook. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2007.

Dibble, Jeremy. John Stainer: A Life in Music. Music in Britain 1600-1900. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2007.

Ditchfield, Christin. Bono. Ann Arbor, MI: Cherry Lake Pub., 2008.

Dumitrescu, Theodor. The Early Tudor Court and International Musical Relations. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2007.

Edward Elgar and His World. Edited by Byron Adams. Bard Music Festival. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007.

Henry Fielding, Plays, Volume II: 1731-1734. Thomas Lockwood (ed.). JoAnn Taricani (music ed.) The Wesleyan Edition of the Works of Henry Fielding. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007.

Foreman, Lewis. Bax: A Composer and His Time. 3rd rev. ed. Woodbridge; Rochester: Boydell Press, 2007.

Frontani, Michael R. The Beatles: Image and the Media. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2007.

Gregory, Peter. Queen. Broomall, PA: Mason Crest Publishers, 2008.

Hall-Witt, Jennifer. Fashionable Acts: Opera and Elite Culture in London, 1780-1880. Durham: University of New Hampshire Press; Hanover: Published by the University Press of New England, 2007.

Harper, Sally. Music in Welsh Culture Before 1650: A Study of Principal Sources. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2007.

Hill, Sarah. Blerwytirhwng?: The Place of Welsh Pop Music. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2007.

Marsh, Dave. The Beatles' Second Album. New York: Rodale, 2007.

McFlicker, Todd. All You Need is Love to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb: How the Beatles and U2 Changes the World. New York: Continuum, 2007.

Montgomery, Robert and Robert Threlfall. Music and Copyright: The Case of Delius and His Publishers. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2007.

Schlesinger, Ethan. The Rolling Stones. Broomall, PA: Mason Crest, 2008.

Schwensen, Dave. The Beatles in Cleveland: Memories, Facts & Photos About the Notorious 1964 & 1966 Concerts. Vermilion, OH: North Shore Pub., 2007.

Vaughan Williams on Music. Edited by David Manning. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.


Coleridge-Taylor, Samuel. Symphonic Variations on an African Air, op. 63. Ed. by John L. Snyder. Recent Researches in the Music of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries, 43. Madison, WI: A-R Editions, 2007.

Elgar, Edward. Variations on an Original Theme, "Enigma" Variations, op. 36. Edited by Christopher Hogwood. Kassel: Barenreiter, 2007.

Grainger, Percy. Organ Album, volume 1. Schott, 2007.

The Gyffard Partbooks, I. Transcribed and ed. by Davie Maetter. Early English Church Music, 48. London: Stainer, 2007.

Händel, Georg Friedrich. Riccardo Primo, re d'Inghilterra: Opera in tre atti, HWV 23. Piano-vocal score. Edited by Andraes Köhs. Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2007.

Händel, Georg Friedrich. Rodrigo. Ed. by Rainer Heyink. Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2007.

Purcell, Henry. Symphony Songs.Purcell Works, 37. London: Stainer, 2007.

The Winchester Troper. Facsimile and Introduction by Susan Rankin. Early English Church Music, 50. London: Stainer, 2007.


England, My England: The Story of Henry Purcell. DVD directed by Tony Palmer. West Long Branch, NJ: Distributed by Kultur International Films, 2007.