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How Santa Claus Became a Slave Driver: The Work of Print Culture in a Nineteenth-Century Musical Controversy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2014

Abstract

The transnational character of the literate musical community in the United States created an environment in which language barriers, ideological biases, and other potential sources of misunderstanding caused print items to change shape quickly as they were transferred from one reader to the next. The aesthetic controversy between William Henry Fry and Richard Storrs Willis surrounding the 1853 premiere of Fry's Santa Claus: Christmas Symphony provides a rich case in point. The controversy at times seemed to draw from a parallel debate in Europe, often called “The War of the Romantics,” which concerned the future of symphonic composition and music's capacity for representation. At others, the controversy seemed to diverge from its European counterpart as central concepts were articulated in new intellectual contexts. The vagaries of print culture help explain these discrepancies. This article outlines the central arguments of the debate, situates them within their transatlantic contexts, and examines how print culture played a significant role in the controversy's unfolding as early as 1839, fifteen years before it took place. More broadly, it constructs a new framework for examining the function and meaning of nineteenth-century music periodicals by illustrating how an antislavery newspaper became an unlikely voice in a debate over program music.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Society for American Music 2014 

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References

References

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William Henry Fry Collection, Library Company of PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
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Anti-Slavery Bugle (Salem, OH)Google Scholar
Dwight's Journal of Music (Boston)Google Scholar
Harper's Weekly (New York)Google Scholar
The Knickerbocker (New York)Google Scholar
The Musical Magazine (Boston)Google Scholar
Musical World (London)Google Scholar
Musical World and Times (New York)Google Scholar
The National Era (Washington, D.C.)Google Scholar
New-York Daily TribuneGoogle Scholar
New-York Evening PostGoogle Scholar
New-York Musical Review and Choral AdvocateGoogle Scholar
New-York TimesGoogle Scholar
Watson's Art JournalGoogle Scholar
The Boston Slave Riot, and Trial of Anthony Burns. Boston: William V. Spencer, 1854.Google Scholar
Bowen, Eli. The United States Post-Office Guide. New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1851.Google Scholar
Brendel, Franz. “Einige Worte über Malerei in der Tonkunst,” Neue Zeitschrift für Musik 32 (1850): 241–44 and 249–50.Google Scholar
Brendel, Franz. “Fragen der Zeit. II: Die Ereignisse der Gegenwart in ihrem Einfluß auf die Gestaltung der Kunst,” Neue Zeitschrift für Musik 28 (1848): 193–96.Google Scholar
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Berger, Jonah. Contagious: Why Things Catch On. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2013.Google Scholar
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Cazden, Robert. A Social History of the German Book Trade in America to the Civil War. Columbia, SC: Camden House, 1984.Google Scholar
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Davison, Mary Veronica. “American Music Periodicals, 1853–1899.” Ph.D. diss., University of Minnesota, 1973.Google Scholar
Dahlhaus, Carl. Nineteenth-Century Music. Trans. Robinson, J. Bradford. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989.Google Scholar
Deaville, James A. “The Controversy Surrounding Liszt's Conception of Program Music.” In Nineteenth-Century Music: Selected Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference, ed. Samson, Jim and Zon, Bennett, 98124. Aldershot, Hants, UK: Ashgate, 2002.Google Scholar
Dennison, Sam and Schleifer, Martha Furman, eds. Three Centuries of American Music: A Collection of Sacred and Secular Music. Vol. 9, American Orchestral Music 1800 through 1879. Ed. Dennison, Sam. Boston: G.K. Hall and Co., 1992.Google Scholar
Dooley, Brendan, ed. The Dissemination of the News and the Emergence of Contemporaneity. Surrey, UK: Ashgate, 2010.Google Scholar
Ellis, Katharine. Music Criticism in Nineteenth-Century France: La Revue Gazette et Musicale. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.Google Scholar
Fleche, Andre M.The Revolution of 1861: The American Civil War in the Age of Nationalist Conflict. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012.Google Scholar
Frank, Albert J. von.The Trials of Anthony Burns: Freedom and Slavery in Emerson's Boston. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998.Google Scholar
Frisch, Walter. Brahms: The Four Symphonies. New York: Schirmer, 1996.Google Scholar
Garratt, James. Music, Culture, and Social Reform in the Age of Wagner. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.Google Scholar
Gladwell, Malcolm. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. New York: Back Bay Books, 2002.Google Scholar
Goodman, Glenda. “Musical Sleuthing in Early America: ‘Derry Down’ and the XYZ Affair.” Common-place 13 (Winter 2013). http://www.common-place.org/vol-13/no-02/goodman/.Google Scholar
Grey, Thomas S.Wagner's Musical Prose: Texts and Contexts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.Google Scholar
Gur, Golan. “Music and ‘Weltanschauung’: Franz Brendel and the Claims of Universal History.” Music & Letters 93 (2012): 350–73.Google Scholar
Habermas, Jürgen. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. Trans. Burger, Thomas and Lawrence, Frederick. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989.Google Scholar
Henkin, David M.City Reading: Written Words and Public Spaces in New York. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.Google Scholar
Henkin, David M.. The Postal Age: The Emergence of Modern Communications in Nineteenth-Century America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.Google Scholar
Hepokoski, James. “Beethoven Reception: The Symphonic Tradition.” In The Cambridge History of Nineteenth-Century Music, ed. Samson, Jim, 424–59. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.Google Scholar
Honeck, Mischa. We Are the Revolutionists: German-Speaking Immigrants and American Abolitionists After 1848. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011.Google Scholar
Hruschka, John. How Books Came to America: The Rise of the American Book Trade. Penn State Series in the History of the Book. University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 2012.Google Scholar
Kallberg, Jeffrey. “The Rhetoric of Genre: Chopin's Nocturne in G Minor.” 19th-Century Music 11 (1988): 238–61.Google Scholar
Lawrence, Vera Brodky. Strong on Music: The New York Music Scene in the Days of George Templeton Strong. 3 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995–99 [1988].Google Scholar
Lawrence, Vera Brodky. “William Henry Fry's Messianic Yearnings: The Eleven Lectures, 1852–53.” American Music 7 (1989): 382411.Google Scholar
Leypoldt, Günter. Cultural Authority in the Age of Whitman: A Transatlantic Perspective. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009.Google Scholar
Liley, Thomas. “Invention and Development.” In The Cambridge Companion to the Saxophone, ed. Ingham, Richard, 119. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.Google Scholar
Maltz, Earl M.Fugitive Slave on Trial: The Anthony Burns Case and Abolitionist Outrage. Landmark Law Cases and American Society. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2010.Google Scholar
McKnight, Mark. “Wagner and the New York Press, 1855–1876.” American Music 5 (1987): 145–55.Google Scholar
Mueller, Rena Charmin. “Liszt (and Wagner) in New York, 1840–1890.” In European Music and Musicians in New York City, 1840–1900, ed. Graziano, John, 5070. Eastman Studies in Music. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2006.Google Scholar
Newcomb, Anthony. “Once More ‘Between Absolute and Program Music’: Schumann's Second Symphony,” 19th-Century Music 7 (1984): 233–50.Google Scholar
Newman, Nancy. Good Music for a Free People: The Germania Musical Society in Nineteenth-Century America. Eastman Studies in Music. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2010.Google Scholar
Nicholson, Bob. “‘You Kick the Bucket; We do the Rest!’: Jokes and the Culture of Reprinting in theTransatlantic Press.” Journal of Victorian Culture 17 (2012): 273–86.Google Scholar
Pederson, Sanna. “Defining the Term ‘Absolute Music’ Historically,” Music & Letters 90 (2009): 240–62.Google Scholar
Pratt, Mary Louise. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation. 2nd ed.New York: Routledge, 2008.Google Scholar
Preston, Katherine K.American Orchestral Music at the Middle of the Nineteenth Century: Louis Antoine Jullien and George Bristow's Jullien Symphony.” In Symphony No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 24 (“Jullien”), by Bristow, George Frederick, xv–cvi. Ed. Katherine K. Preston. Recent Researches in American Music 72. Music of the United States of America 23. Middleton, WI: A-R Editions, 2011.Google Scholar
Preston, Katherine K.. “‘A Concentration of Talent on Our Musical Horizon’: The 1853–54 Tour by Jullien's Extraordinary Orchestra.” In American Orchestras in the Nineteenth Century, ed. Spitzer, John, 319–47. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.Google Scholar
Ritterman, Janet. “Schumann and the English Critics: A Study in Nineteenth-Century Musical Reception.” In Musical Dimensions: A Festschrift for Doreen Bridges, ed. Comte, Martin, 192211. North Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2009.Google Scholar
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