Historical Musicology, by Lincoln Bunce Spiess

October 1, 1963

Historical Musicology: A Reference Manual for Research in Music ("Musicological Studies," No. 4), by Lincoln Bunce Spiess, with articles by Ernst C. Krohn, Lloyd Hibberd, Luther A. Dittmer, Tsang-Houei Shu, Tatsuo Minagawa, and Zdenek Novacek. Brooklyn, New York: The Institute of Medieval Music, 1963. [xiii, 294 p., 8vo; $6.00]

As suggested by the subtitle, the present volume is intended as a guide to students and teachers rather than as, in the words of the preface, "a self-contained repository of complete information." The book is divided into two parts, of which the first is devoted to research problems, while the second and more extensive part is given to bibliography. The appendices, containing articles by Krohn, Hibberd, and Dittmer, together with the addenda and indices, account for nearly one half the size of the volume.

In his first chapter the author stresses the importance of bibliography for the historical musicologist and suggests that an understanding of the use of bibliographical materials can best be achieved by actually doing research. After indicating a few basic principles regarding bibliography, namely that the student should consult dictionaries and encyclopedias, histories of music, the periodical literature and, finally, the editions of the music itself, Spiess gives three lists of topics as introductory research problems. The first list is intended to aid the student in becoming acquainted with the relative merits of and the type of information available in different reference works. The second list leads to the exploration of large collections of music and editions of theoretical sources. The third list is designed to lead the student to the periodical literature for the desired information. In a similar manner the succeeding chapters follow the various chronological epochs of western musical culture and, after an introductory essay in each, the author introduces a large assortment of topics as suggestions for term papers or seminar reports.

In the bibliography approximately half the space is devoted to a general bibliography in musicology. The second portion of the bibliography is organized chronologically in sections corresponding to the chapters of Part One. In the preface the author states that "the second part presents a selective bibliography of studies directly related to the topics at hand; entries have been chosen with consideration of comprehensiveness, availability, and language." This statement may account, at least in part, for the apparent unevenness among the several sections. Nevertheless, it does seem odd to find listed among the fourteen items included under the heading "General Reference Publications" three style manuals for the writing of term papers alongside four great multivolume encyclopedias: The Catholic Encyclopedia (15 vols.), Enciclopedia italiana . . . (36 vols.), La Grande encyclopédie (31 vols.), and Der grosse Brockhaus (21 vols.). The bibliography as a whole, however, should prove extremely valuable, especially to beginning graduate students in musicology. Librarians should also find sections of the bibliography particularly helpful as checklists.

Ernst C. Krohn, in his article "The Development of Modern Musicology" surveys the growth of musicology from Johann Nicolaus Forkel in the 18th century to the present, with particular emphasis on musicological publications and the classification of the musicological disciplines. One important aspect of the topic which is not touched upon is the development of musicology in American and European universities. The article closes with an extensive chronological list of books and studies that deal largely with the scope and function of musicology. The following essay on "The Doctoral Dissertation in Music" by Lloyd Hibberd contains many helpful suggestions for the prospective doctoral candidate looking for a suitable topic for his dissertation in musicology.

The third appendix contains Dittmer's long article (nearly 50 pages) entitled "Language and the Musicologist." After stating that an acquaintance with English, French, German, Italian, and Latin is essential for serious work in musical research, the author sets up as a minimum standard of efficiency the ability to read scientific prose with complete understanding, to pronounce excerpts with an acceptable accent, and to follow a lecture with comprehension. The study concerns itself "mainly with phonology, in the hope that the student will quickly learn to recognize cognates and their semantic and constructional differences from language to language." The author then adds, somewhat cryptically as it seems to me after reading the whole article, "the student should provide himself with adequate dictionaries." The article is obviously expertly written and contains much interesting linguistic information, and yet one can hardly help wondering what it would mean to a student who did not already have a rather thorough working knowledge of the languages involved.

The two short "addenda" on Chinese and Japanese musicological terminology are followed by a brief statement concerning musicological research in Slavic countries, accompanied by short bibliographies. An extensive list of publishers (some 20 pages) concludes the volume except for the index of proper names.

Perhaps I may be forgiven if I call attention to one minor matter which struck me as I read through the chapter on the Classic and Romantic periods. Speaking of the lack of definitive studies of various musical forms, the author states (p. 25): "The sonata is probably the most distinctive form-principle of the era, yet not even an introductory study of significance is in print." This is a strange slip, indeed, especially in view of the fact that William S. Newman's The Sonata in the Baroque Era is listed in the general bibliography (p. 62) with the express note that this is the first volume in a projected series of four concerned with the "History of the Sonata." At any rate, Newman's monumental second volume is now in print, so that one may safely say that the definitive study of this particular subject is now readily available.1

1The Sonata in the Classic Era, Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1963.

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