WALTER JOHANNES DAMROSCH (January 30, 1862 – December 22, 1950) was
a German-born American conductor and composer . He is best remembered
today as long-time director of the
New York Symphony Orchestra and for
conducting the world premiere performances of
* 1 Life and career * 2 Criticism by Adorno * 3 Importation of French musicians * 4 Works * 5 Notes * 6 References * 7 External links
LIFE AND CAREER
Damrosch was born in
During the great music festival given by his father in May 1881, he
first acted as conductor in drilling several sections of the large
chorus, one in
New York City
In 1884, when his father initiated a run of all-German opera at the
On May 17, 1890, he married Margaret Blaine (1867–1949), the daughter of American politician and presidential candidate James G. Blaine . They had four daughters.
Damrosch was best known in his day as a conductor of the music of
One of his principal achievements was the successful performance of
Although now remembered almost exclusively as a conductor, before his radio broadcasts Damrosch was equally well known as a composer. He composed operas based on stories such as The Scarlet Letter (1896), Cyrano (1913), and The Man Without a Country (1937). Those operas are very seldom performed now. His Wagner recordings are still widely available. He also composed songs such as the intensely dramatic Danny Deever .
Damrosch was the National Broadcasting Company 's music director
Although Damrosch took an interest in music technologies, he recorded
sporadically. His first recording, the prelude to Bizet 's
CRITICISM BY ADORNO
Damrosch is often remembered today as the target of Theodore Wiesengrund Adorno\'s criticism. Adorno, without always naming Damrosch, wrote during his rather unhappy tenure at the "Princeton Radio Research Project", funded by Sarnoff's RCA, that the Damrosch approach towards popularizing classical music was infantilizing and authoritarian, and part of a broader, if not centrally planned, system of domination.
Adorno showed ways of teaching both children and adults about classical music that would describe its form simply, whereas Damrosch focused on being able to identify pictures of composers, instruments, and the bare bones of symphonic themes. Adorno's criticism, regarded by some of his colleagues as ground-breaking and by others as pedantic (and by some as both) resulted in his being eased out of the Radio Research Project. Adorno contrasted what he considered a dead end (being able to whistle the theme of the Fifth Symphony) with the child who hears a string quartet in the next room and cannot sleep because the music holds his attention.
Today, despite Adorno's popularity in literary studies, his criticism of Damrosch is regarded by musicians and musicologists as a historical curio.
Adorno felt that Damrosch's musical pedagogy was a justification of class oppression, in which the conductor, without actually "working" at least in the sense that the musicians "work", is shown as "above" the mere musicians, none of whom can be said to play other than a part. Without claiming that the symphony orchestra was completely a product of capitalism (while pointing out that to be economically viable it had to find a place in exchange), Adorno saw the Radio Research Project and Damrosch as introducing, to children and working class adults, a justification of alienation and oppression.
If Adorno was right, this may have caused the rejection by the public of classical music that began in the Depression (with its images of well-fed opera goers passing starving men) and gathered steam in the "big band" era of the 1940s, in which the "jazz" fan defined himself in part as too "hip" to like the music of "squares", negatively, without in fact any special love or understanding for what Adorno overbroadly called "jazz".
According to Hullot-Kentor, most music on radio in the 1920s was European and classical. Of course, it has rapidly and continuously declined, which shows that the "Damrosch" approach to musical pedagogy was a dead end, since it was so widely adopted in schools.
Perhaps the funniest, if untargeted, comment on the whole situation was made by New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra, famous for gnomic aphorisms: "I would like to go back to college and study. But I would not study music appreciation. I already like music".
IMPORTATION OF FRENCH MUSICIANS
In April 1905 Damrosch went to
Laila Storch wrote, "During the thirty years during which Tabuteau
taught at the Curtis Institute of Music, he came to exercise a
decisive influence on the standards of oboe playing in the whole
United States, as well as raising the level of woodwind achievement in
general. Nor was the impact of his teaching confined to winds alone,
as the many string players and pianists who attended his classes will
testify." Barrère was well known as conductor of his own ensembles
and as an influential teacher as well as for being the long-time
principal flute player (1905–1928) in the New York Symphony
Orchestra. Although perhaps less known, the other three Damrosch
imports were important additions to the pool of New York musicians.
Mesnard (from 1913 to 1928) and Leroy (from 1911 to 1914) were
principal players in the
New York Philharmonic
* The Scarlet Letter (1894) - opera in three acts based on Hawthorne\'s romance of that name ; published by Breitkopf and Härtel
* The Manila Te Deum - for solos, chorus, and orchestra, written in honor of Dewey\'s victory at Manila Bay; published by the John Church Company * Three songs, published by the John Church Company * Sonata for violin and piano * At Fox Meadow, published by the John Church Company * Cyrano (1913) - a grand opera in four acts, libretto by W. J. Henderson , adapted from Rostand\'s play; published by G. Schirmer * The Dove of Peace (1912) - comic opera /musical - composer and co-librettist with Wallace Irwin ; published by G. Schirmer * Electra (1918 revival ) - play - incidental music composer * The Man Without a Country (1937)
* ^ "Alexander Street Press Authorization Walter Damrosch: North
American Theatre Online". asp6new.alexanderstreet.com. Retrieved
* ^ Martin, G.W. (1983). The Damrosch Dynasty: America\'s First
Family of Music. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 9780395344088 . Retrieved
* ^ Damrosch, L.; Agócs, K. (2005). Symphony in A major. 54. A-R
Editions. ISBN 9780895795823 . Retrieved 2014-12-15.
* ^ James, E.T.; James, J.W.; Boyer, P.S.; Radcliffe College
(1971). Notable American Women, 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary.
1. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. pp. 1–490. ISBN
9780674627345 . Retrieved 2014-12-15.
* ^ "Vincent Fanelli, 82, A Harpist, Is Dead". The New York Times.
March 3, 1966. Retrieved 2012-01-03. Vincent Fanelli, solo harpist of
New York Symphony Orchestra under Dr.
* Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1900). "Damrosch, Leopold". Appletons\' Cyclopædia of American Biography . New York: D. Appleton. * Homans, James E., ed. (1918). "Damrosch, Walter Johannes". The Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: The Press Association Compilers, Inc.