John Kirkpatrick, American Music, and the Printed Page

John Kirkpatrick, American Music, and the Printed Page

Drew Massey
Volume: 98
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 236
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt31njsg
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    John Kirkpatrick, American Music, and the Printed Page
    Book Description:

    For over sixty years, the scholar and pianist John Kirkpatrick tirelessly promoted and championed the music of American composers. In this book, Drew Massey explores how Kirkpatrick's career as an editor of music shaped the music and legacies of American modernists including Aaron Copland, Ross Lee Finney, Roy Harris, Hunter Johnson, Charles Ives, Robert Palmer, and Carl Ruggles. By drawing on oral histories, interviews, and Kirkpatrick's own extensive archives, this book argues that Kirkpatrick's career invites a reconsideration of many of the most important debates in American modernism -- about young composers' self-fashioning during the 1940s; about the cherished myth of Ruggles as a composer in communion with the "timeless"; about Ives's status as a pioneer of modernist techniques. Drew Massey is an assistant professor of music at Binghamton University.

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-797-1
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Musical Examples
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction: Strange Stopping Places
    (pp. 1-7)

    It makes the most sense to begin near the end. In 1985 John Kirkpatrick (1905–91) celebrated his eightieth birthday at the Graduate Club at Yale in New Haven, Connecticut. The scholars Vivian Perlis and H. Wiley Hitchcock organized a gathering of Kirkpatrick’s friends and colleagues from across the country for an event that included dinner and an exhibition of photos, printed music, and ephemera at the Yale Music Library, and unofficially marked Kirkpatrick’s retirement from the position of executive editor of the Charles Ives Society.

    Everything about the event reinforced what the attendees would have already known about the...

  6. Chapter One Beginnings
    (pp. 8-27)

    John Kirkpatrick had two major careers—one as an editor and one as a pianist. Although the two are related, this study will primarily focus on how he helped to shape the music he edited. To do so, however, we have to ricochet back and forth between two ways of thinking about Kirkpatrick, one indicated by a photo of him as a young man, and the other by an anecdote from much later.

    Kirkpatrick is on the periphery of his senior class photo at Lawrenceville School, taken in 1922 (fig. 1.1). The eighteen-year-old Kirkpatrick is in the upper left corner...

  7. Chapter Two Mentorship: Music Publishing
    (pp. 28-49)

    It was a strange group: a destitute Southerner, a spy, and a wunderkind. Yet Hunter Johnson (1906–98), Ross Lee Finney (1906–97), and Robert Palmer (1915–2010) shared a relationship as Kirkpatrick’s main collaborators during the 1940s. The Second World War was raging, and Kirkpatrick was establishing himself in American academe. ¹ It was a decade full of struggle for each of these composers—Johnson trying to gain recognition, Finney trying to return to composition after a harrowing experience in Europe during the war, and Palmer trying to come out from under the wing of his mentor Roy Harris....

  8. Chapter Three Collaboration: Ruggles’s Evocations
    (pp. 50-72)

    For most of the twentieth century, commentators have drawn on tropes of space and timelessness to describe the music of Carl Ruggles (1876–1971). A collective vision, as articulated by Dane Rudhyar, Charles Seeger, Lou Harrison, Virgil Thomson, and others, has emerged that presents Ruggles as a composer in touch with the infinite, able to render the mysteries of the universe in thimble-sized musical spaces. This trend is vividly captured in an anecdote recounted by Henry Cowell in his introduction to Lou Harrison’s monograph on Ruggles from 1946:

    One morning when I arrived at the abandoned school house in Arlington...

  9. Chapter Four Performance: Ives’s Concord Sonata
    (pp. 73-91)

    Whatever fame Kirkpatrick enjoys is due mostly to the January night in 1939 when he gave the New York premiere of Charles Ives’s Second Piano Sonata, the so-called Concord Sonata, at Town Hall in Manhattan. This four-movement work includes musical portraits of American Transcendentalists Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, the Alcott Family, and Henry David Thoreau. That 1939 concert—arguably among the most important of the century for American concert music—precipitated the discovery of Ives and his music by a wider audience, while establishing Kirkpatrick as a major figure in the performance of contemporary American music.¹ His relationship with...

  10. Chapter Five Imagination: Ruggles’s Mood
    (pp. 92-117)

    Discovering an unknown work by a composer is always an exciting event. Finding one from a figure like Carl Ruggles, with only eight published pieces to his name, is doubly so. In the 1960s, Kirkpatrick was sorting through Ruggles’s early manuscripts when he discovered sketches for a work for violin and piano titled Mood. This material was commingled with Ruggles’s voluminous studies for his abandoned opera, The Sunken Bell. Over time, Kirkpatrick prepared an edition of Mood, which he performed with violinist Daniel Stepner. Kirkpatrick was worried that Ruggles would destroy Mood if he were reminded about the work, and...

  11. Plates
    (pp. None)
  12. Chapter Six Voice: The Prose Works
    (pp. 118-128)

    Although this book focuses on Kirkpatrick’s career as an editor of music, his work as an author is an important part of the story of his relationship to the printed page. He was a fine, vivid writer on music, yet disliked placing his own opinions, particularly about Ives, in the foreground.¹ Kirkpatrick’s reluctance to state his opinions should not, however, be interpreted as a lack of them. He wrote numerous shorter essays throughout his life: he was one of the first to write about Aaron Copland, and during the 1940s he contributed several reviews and short essays to Notes, Modern...

  13. Chapter Seven Institution: The Charles Ives Society
    (pp. 129-152)

    By the time of the American bicentennial in 1976, Ives’s reputation as a towering patriarch of American composition seemed solid. Leonard Bernstein called him “our Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson of music,” celebrating Ives’s output as a pinnacle of the first two hundred years of musical achievement in the United States.¹ Ives’s mystique loomed so large that Frank Rossiter, in his 1975 biography of Ives, oriented his discussion of the composer’s reception in terms of an “Ives legend.”² For Rossiter, the legend had eight aspects, leading off with “Ives’s precedence as a musical pioneer and ‘father of the moderns.’”³

    In 1987,...

  14. Conclusion: Kirkpatrick, Compared
    (pp. 153-156)

    I proposed in the introduction that considering an editor’s view of a composer’s historical or cultural significance can help provide a broader coherence to the editor’s motives and methods. In the case of Kirkpatrick, the historiographic dimension of his editorial practice shines through especially clearly in his work on Ives: it would be difficult to conceive of an editorial approach more firmly directed at advancing a particular view of Ives’s position in the music-historical firmament than Kirkpatrick’s stance of overt skepticism toward Ives’s later revisions. Yet Kirkpatrick subtly conveyed his vision of America’s musical history in his collaborations with other...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 157-180)
  16. Works of John Kirkpatrick
    (pp. 181-186)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 187-196)
  18. Index
    (pp. 197-206)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 207-207)