Four Music Anthologies

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Music Scores Omnibus, by William J. Starr and George F. DeVine. Prentice Hall (1964).

Anthology for Musical Analysis, by Charles Burkhart. 

A Workbook for Analysis: Music Literature, by Gordon Hardy and Arnold Fish. Dodd, Mead & Company (1966).

Music for Study: A Source Book of Excerpts, by Howard Murphy and Robert A. Melcher. Prentice-Hall (1965).

Inexpensive anthologies of music for various media and from several periods can be useful tools. The four described here are legibly printed and bound in paper seemingly sturdy enough to survive several years' handling. A two-volume work—William J. Starr and George F. DeVine's Music Scores Omnibus. Part 1: Earliest Music Through the Works of Beethoven. Part 2: Romantic and Impressionistic Music. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1964. [Part 1: viii, 389 p., obl.; $6.00. Part 2: xii, 365 p., obl.; $6.00])—has its Parts respectively held together by an uncomfortable wire spiral that is dangerous to fingernails, furniture, and clothes. But it contains more music and music of greater diversity than its stitched and pasted competitors. After a piece of Greek music in both modern and ancient notations, the Omnibus offers some pages of Chant in square notation on four-line staves. Examples of medieval monophony precede others of early polyphony, the latter beginning policies of printing maintained throughout the work: open scores (no condensations, no transcriptions), original texts, and no translations. These policies pander in no way to illiteracy. The failure to number bars, however, is less praiseworthy; numbers could have saved all users of the Omnibus much time. Starr and DeVine "deliberately"—their prefatory word—chose familiar titles for inclusion in their collection; teachers will probably see few of the pieces for the first time here, but the anthological purpose is not that of an original modern edition. Although the preface promises "the old clefs . . . retained in several examples," no old clefs appear between the Gregorian music and Carissimi, a curiously late composer with whom to introduce them. Achronologically, Domenico Scarlatti follows Alessandro and is followed by Schütz. Such minor flaws cannot much damage the major virtue of the abundant music in Part 1: vocal music, organ and other keyboard pieces, and scores for small groups and for full orchestra. Since Beethoven ends Part 1, Schubert begins Part 2 and shares it with Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, Berlioz, Liszt, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Franck, Wolf, Verdi, Richard Strauss, Debussy, Ravel, and Stravinsky. (Handel's air for Brahms's variations also appears.) The composers are much fewer and the represented time much shorter than in Part 1. The pieces are usually much longer, however, than those written prior to the eighteenth century. In Part 2 complete scores of Till Eulenspiegel and Ravel's Quartet, for instance, occupy many pages. Almost every piece in the Omnibus is a complete work; there are only rare excerpts, and each is in itself one or more self-sufficient numbers or movements. Thanks to the editors and to Prentice-Hall can be wholehearted; but significant omissions (What happened to folk music?) and an inexcusable slighting of modern music (Is an excerpt from The Rite of Spring sufficient to show that "the panorama of Western music history" is continuing since Ravel wrote his Quartet?) must temper the gratitude. Let royalties be paid to living composers and to estates of recently dead ones, and let a Part 3 of the Music Scores Omnibus put some contemporary music into the hands of students. A Part 4 might contain folk, primitive, and exotic musics. Here—if in no other volume of the Omnibus—an American or two might sing. "The Red River Valley" is a marvelously effective tune, and academies worth attending understand the values of George Gershwin and Duke Ellington. Holding a nose too high turns ears away from the earth; the spheres are making less music than they used to.

In approximately half as many pages as the Omnibus, Charles Burkhart has made another useful collection—Anthology for Musical Analysis. (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1964. [xviii, 382 p., 4to; $7.00]). Burkhart numbers the bar beginning each system except the first of each piece, and he reproduces fifteen pieces by eight twentieth-century composers working since Debussy died. He provides four or five sentences of prose before each musical entry and includes translations of texts to follow. Here favorable comparison with the Music Scores Omnibus must end. The Anthology opens with works by Henry Purcell, a catch in open score and a recitative and aria from Dido and Aeneas in condensed score (an excerpt reprinted from the Dent edition). And thus the policies are set: no earlier music than baroque, and more condensation or reduction than is healthy for music students. The more luxuriously and more correctly made Omnibus offered the Purcell recitative with unrealized figured bass, "When I Am Laid in Earth" in open score, and the final chorus of the opera. The Anthology is poorer in full scores, includes piano arrangements of orchestral works by Wagner, Debussy, and Stravinsky, and reduces Pergolesi as well as Purcell. Nevertheless, a movement of Brahms's Violin Concerto is scored in full, as are a movement of a concerto grosso by Handel and a movement of Haydn's Symphony No. 101. Most of the Anthology is devoted to keyboard music or solo voice accompanied by keyboard (or a reduction for keyboard), so it is less catholic than the Omnibus.

Still less satisfactory as an anthology is a Julliard entry—Gordon Hardy and Arnold Fish's A Workbook for Analysis: Music Literature. (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1963. [x, 212 p., 4to; $3.75]). Melodic analysis is of course worthwhile, but printing without accompaniment short sections of melody lifted from sonatas, symphonies, concertos, and piano works is much less valuable than presenting entire works and allowing students to examine each melody in its full context. Most of the Workbook goes to short piano pieces, chorales, and songs. A few examples of figured bass, some piano-sonata movements, one string-quartet movement (in a Unit called "The Larger Forms"), and three orchestral excerpts in score complete the collection. Except for the lifting of melodies from context and a lack of bar numbers, nothing is especially "wrong" with the Workbook; it simply appears impoverished beside the Anthology and destitute beside the Omnibus.

The last and least of the anthologies hardly merits mention—Howard Murphy and Robert A. Melcher's Music for Study: A Source Book of Excerpts. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1960. [x, 182 p., 4to; $3.95]). A serious and apparently high-minded introduction discusses—among other things—the necessity for exposing students to real music rather than exercises, the value of illustrations meaningfully long, and the purpose of score reading. Excerpt 1 is seven bars of Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony neatly reduced to one treble and one bass clef, instruments unspecified. The editors' introduction is thereby made pretentious. Many "meaningful" lengths are four to eight bars; few are more than sixteen. An excerpt from The Creation has no accompaniment; Purcell's accompaniment and continuo for Dido are omitted; symphony fragments on two staves abound in the book—in short, as an anthology Music for Study is worthless. Greatly outdistanced by its more recent competition, the work was meant only to illustrate various chords, progressions, modulations, and forms in context. Still, "context" ought to mean whole pieces of music in score. The excerpts contained in Music for Study come exclusively from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century music.

Whatever is responsible for the best of the cheap anthologies—New Criticism, existentialism, pedantry at last bored with itself—the study of music may easily be richer since the books' appearance. They can help focus the student on music, his proper object of study.

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Last modified on Thursday, 15/11/2018

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