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The Completion of a Great Musical Work

The appearance of the fifth volume of the revision of the Grove Dictionary is an event of much importance in the musical world. The combined labors of many of the most distinguished musicians of our time have contributed to make this scholarly, yet popular collection of reference books more valuable than ever. The improvements in the revised work are noteworthy, the Tschaikowsky article being one of the most obvious, although the later contributions of Sir Hubert Parry, Granville Bantock and others are equally si nificant. (sic)
 
In 1878 Sir George Grove, an English engineer with a love for music, whose biography will be found in this issue of The Etude, in the Gallery of Musical Celebrities, issued the first volume of what has since become the most important book upon music in the English language. The ability of the editor was so noteworthy that many professional writers upon music were obliged to acknowledge his remarkable gifts. A work of this kind, however, needs constant revision, and the dimensions of the work, together with the amount of detail required, make completeness, and absolute accuracy impossible. It is a work which no serious musician can afford to be without. It should be one of the first books the teacher should install in his musical library. He will need it Hundreds of times, and the value of having such a comprehensive work at hand cannot be over-estimated. In fact, the next purchase after the piano should be the new complete Grove.
 
REGRETABLE OMISSIONS.
Monumental as is the Grove Dictionary, it is unfortunately not a monument without nicks and chi s (sic). It seems deplorable that the restoration of the book, which occupied an able corps of editors over five years, could not have been attended with better results. Perhaps this was due to a division of responsibility. We are very familiar with the injunction against people who live in glass houses, but we feel that we are doing our readers an injustice if we fail to call their attention to several glaring omissions in this great work. In the first place, it was the intention of Grove to make the book of such a nature that it would appeal to the "general reader." Naturally, the "general reader" has a desire to know about the foremost musicians, teachers, performers and singers of his time. He may also have a desire to know something of the writers upon musical subjects.
 
In some ways the work is thoroughly up-to-date, but the neglect to record the latest achievements of Granville Bantock and the omission of the eminent English critic, Ernest Newman, whose writings have filled columns of English newspapers for many years, can only point to the fact that someone had a very defective memory.
 
It was evidently the intention of the publishers to make this work include full mention of the chief factors in American musical development. While many notable additions have been made, our American readers will be extremely disappointed to find that there are so many annoying omissions that one becomes fatigued in investigating the matter. This work has been performed with a lack of judgment which is amazing. For instance, it is surprising to find that no mention whatever is made of the following singers who have attracted thousands and thousands, of auditors to their performances in America during the last ten years: Farrar, Garden, Louise Homer, Gadski and some others equally famous. This would not be so irritating did we not know that these singers have equally great reputations in some European countries. It also seems somewhat surprising to find that the name of so noted a teacher as Alberto Jonas, whose services demand a very large fee in Berlin, and who trained the marvelous child, Pepita Arriola, should be omitted, as well as that of Ossip Gabrilowitsch, one of the most successful pianists who has ever toured America.
 
It is not our desire to pick needless faults in this important work. We have found it too useful in our own editorial labors to do that. However, there are some things which point either to deliberate neglect or unforgivable carelessness. We are, for instance, surprised to find that the name of Dr. A. Madeley Richardson, formerly organist of Southwark Cathedral, and the author of what is admittedly one of the very best books upon organ accompaniment in existence, is not mentioned at all. We can name at least a score of musicians who have been included and who occupy space which might well have been devoted to Dr. Richardson's excellent work. This points to a lack of judgment and balance which is, to say the least, irritating. It was also somewhat of a surprise for the present writer to learn that Max Bruch died in 1907. Last spring it was the writer's privilege to translate the text of Bruch's latest choral work, and he had a message from the publisher that Bruch was much pleased with the work. Moreover, the Klavier-Lehrer of August 10 reports that Bruch has just determined to retire from his active teaching work at the Royal High School in Berlin. No doubt the composer of "Fair Ellen" will employ the retort of the late Mark Twain, who contradicted an obituary notice by telegraphing, "Reports of my death greatly exaggerated."
 
We also note that among the names of American composers which have been omitted is that of Mr. James H. Rogers, surely one of the most gifted and best schooled of American musicians.
 
In addition to this, Mr. Rogers' compositions have had an enormous scale, and are played by hundreds who will doubtless desire to possess the Grove Dictionary. Mr. William H. Sherwood, admittedly the most distinguished of American virtuoso pianists and teachers, has not even been considered biographically.
 
Mr. R. Huntington Woodman, one of the most dignified and at the same time most scholarly of American composers, has been forgotten, as has H. R. Shelley, E. R. Kroeger and many others who surely deserve more representation than composers of obsolete anthems who entered the gates of oblivion before these men were born. Dr. Dunstan's Dictionary indicates a far better proportion and a keener degree of the essential power of weighing the comparative worth of those deserving recognition in musical history.
 
This review must not be thought a biased criticism, since English writers have of late assailed the new volumes of Grove for leaving out much important data.
 
Grave as these errors are, we are hardly willing to go to the length of Sir J. Frederick Bridge, who has made the following statement:
 
"We who refer to this work can have no confidence that any statement is correct."
 
Sir Frederick has obviously been influenced by a previous discussion with the editor of the dictionary and his criticism has been warped by the heat of an argument.
 
It is, however, in the mention of musical critics that the book is notoriously weak. For instance that spectacular and intensely interesting writer, George Bernard Shaw, who was for many years a noted London music critic, and who has published works upon musical matters which have a very large circle of admirers, is left out entirely. In this respect, and in many others, the much smaller, but wonderfully complete and valuable one-volume English dictionary of Dr. Dunstan is superior to the great Grove. One cannot help feeling that if space which has been devoted by the pageful to obscure parish organistscould have been given to such eminent and successful musicians as those we have noted, the work would have been nearer the "general reader" whom the founder of this famous undertaking had in mind.
 
AMERICAN CRITICS SLIGHTED.
From the present Grove it would appear that America could boast of but one critic, and that one Mr. H. E. Krehbiel, who was much concerned in the American additions to the book. Mr. Krehbiel's biographical nest is feathered with 300 words. We cannot believe that Mr. Krehbiel is personally responsible for these annoying and damaging omissions. But surely the editor of the work cannot plead ignorance of the existence of these important writers who have good reason to consider their neglect as veiled insults. Not one word is said of the splendid work of Mr. H. T. Finck, one of the ablest of living musical critics, whose books have met with such wide success that translations into many other tongues have been made; Mr. Louis C. Elson, the distinguished Boston critic and musical historian, and author of some of the most valuable musical books in print, is missing; Mr. James Huneker, one of the most brilliant writers up in musical subjects the world has known, has been entirely forgotten; Mr. W. E. Henderson, an extremely popular and interesting writer upon musical subjects, was also not considered worthy of notice. The list may be extended to include
 
Hughes, Aldrich, Upton, Phillip Hale, Dr. Hanchett, Arthur Elson, Daniel Gregory Mason, and many, many others. Every one of. these men is as important, as able and as widely known as Mr. Krehbiel. Their books are for the most part educational, and may be found in every library in the United States, and they are read by millions of music lovers. In fact, several of these works are published by prominent English firms. Indeed, works by Elson, Hanchett and D. G. Mason are published by the publishers of the Grove Dictionary. The work on the American section is also not without flaws in some details, the date of the birth of Mr. Sousa, for instance, being wrong.
 
Indeed, even to the most devoted admirers of the indispensable Grove Dictionary the treatment of American critics and composers reeks of partisanship and violates that trait of Britons which Americans most admire—fair play. The publishers, who doubtless would not have had these omissions occur for a great deal, can only review them with contempt and disgust.
 
Deplorable and lamentable as are these omissions, the work still remains indispensable. Perfection in such a vast enterprise could not be expected, and we advise our readers one and all to secure a Grove Dictionary as soon as their means permit.
 
After every possible fault has been counted there still remains a gold mine for all earnest students who possess the new "Grove."
 

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