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Recent Researches in American Music

John Graziano, general editor

Recent Researches in American Music encompasses a wide variety of genres, styles, and epochs that define the music of our country from its earliest days through the twentieth century. Each volume in the series provides a historical introduction, advice about historical performance practices relevant to the works in question, and a critical report. Performance parts are also available.

Some of the earliest volumes in the series present music of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries; these include the Anthology of Early American Keyboard Music, 1787–1830, the previously unpublished sonatas by the important Philadelphia composer Alexander Reinagle, and sonatas for keyboard and string instruments by Raynor Taylor. Early musical theater is an important part of the history of American music. Pelissier's Columbian Melodies: Music for the New York and Philadelphia Theaters brings together many of the songs, dances, and incidental music to the operas, plays, and pantomime of Victor Pelissier. Another volume is devoted to the earliest known American opera, Andrew Barton’s The Disappointment: or, The Force of Credulity.

Several volumes are devoted to sacred music of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The Core Repertory of Early American Psalmody offers the 101 British and American pieces most frequently printed between 1698 and 1810. Early American Anthems presents fifty-two anthems and anthem-like works by forty-five American composers. Another volume presents the complete works of New England composer Stephen Jenks. Several volumes are devoted to the music of Daniel Read, which provide an overview of his oeuvre (MU04/A024, and A048–50). The music of the well-known American-Moravian composer, David Moritz Michael is published in two volumes: his complete wind chamber music and Der 103te Psalm. There is also an anthology of shape-note folk hymns from before the Civil War.

The repertoire of nineteenth-century music in America can be gleaned from the variety of music is the series. Band Music from the Benjamin H. Grierson Collection traces the evolution of the American brass band, its music, and its instrumentation before the Civil War, and the edition of six marches by John Philip Sousa shows the continued development of band music. A volume of antebellum chamber music offers previously unpublished string quartets and a string quintet by the virtually unknown Philadelphia composer Charles Hommann. Harvard professor John Knowles Paine is represented by instrumental and vocal chamber works, Symphony No. 2 in A Major (Spring), and The Nativity. Chamber, vocal, and symphonic music by other New England composers includes Otto Dresel’s collected vocal music and chamber music, Clara Kathleen Rogers chamber music, vocal and organ music by Dudley Buck, and George Whitefield Chadwick’s five string quartets and two overtures. There are also editions of orchestral works by Hommann, Florence Price, George Frederick Bristow, and Leopold Damrosch.

For music from the turn of the twentieth century, the series includes Selected Songs with Chamber Accompaniment by Charles Martin Loeffler. Loeffler's highly individual songs, many never before published, are settings of the French symbolists. Amy Beach's The Sea-Fairies, op. 59, composed and orchestrated in 1904, exhibits Beach's great craftsmanship in scoring for women’s voices and in setting poetry. Beach’s colorful orchestration and melodious vocal writing portrays the lure of the sirens from Homer’s Odyssey. A later work by Beach is The Canticle of the Sun; while rooted in the Romantic tonal tradition, this twentieth-century work marks a new direction in Beach's style, with expressionistic treatment of melody and harmony. Other vocal works from the mid-twentieth century include Charles Sanford Skilton’s The Sun Bride, 129 songs by Charles Ives, Virgil Thompson’s Four Saints in Three Acts, and Miriam Gideon’s only opera, Fortunato. There is also chamber music by Ruth Crawford, Lou Harrison, and Leo Ornstein.

The history of popular music in America can be traced in the early songs of Irving Berlin and The Ingalls Wilder Family Songbook. Jazz is the focus in editions of the music of Thomas “Fats” Waller, Earl “Fatha” Hines, Sam Morgan’s Jazz Band, and Mary Lou Williams. Native American music is featured in two volumes (MU11/A044 and MU20/A067).

The series Music of the United States of America (MUSA) is a co-publication between A-R Editions and the American Musicological Society (AMS), and MUSA volumes are cross-listed in the Recent Researches in American Music series.


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