Notes and Editorial Reviews
The vibrant and inventive music in this compilation was written by composers who once made their livings as music critics. How could composers of music as eccentric as this have been entrusted with reviewing classical music, from medieval times to the present, for a major metropolitan daily? Yet, for a brief period from 1940-1954 The New York Herald Tribune maintained a staff of music reviewers who were hired for their ability to comment on music from the inside out, not for an abstruse musical journal, but in clear and plain language for a general audience. Paul Bowles, Lou Harrison, Peggy Glanville-Hicks and John Cage were not mainstream academic figures, but rebellious “other minds,” gathered to his side by the paper’s brilliant and worldly chief critic, composer Virgil Thomson. They were selected for their intellectual curiosity, originality of insight, and powers of articulation to comment upon the daily musical life of their nation’s artistic capital. All of this traits are just as evident in their writing of music as their writing of columns.