Monday, December 1, 2014

Le Istitutioni Harmoniche by Gioseffo Zarlino, 1558

One of the most important works in the history of music theory, Gioseffo Zarlino’s 1558 treatise Le Istitutioni Harmoniche sought to unite music theory with the craft of composition. In his text, Zarlino teaches composers to study music using both reason and the senses in order to make their compositions more perfect. It was not enough to merely write music with a pleasing sound; Zarlino believed that a composer should also understand the scientific principles determining traits which make music appealing. As part of the The Walter F. and Alice Gorham Collection of Early Music Imprints, Brandeis University’s Special Collections holds a unique copy of this groundbreaking treatise.

Although not an uncommon text to find in university libraries, this particular copy--a second printing--is made uniquely fascinating by the handwritten annotations found throughout the text. The margins of 96 of the volume’s 347 pages contain notes from the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century in at least two different hands. In some places, the writing has been crossed out using the same brown ink. These comments provide early responses to Zarlino’s theories. Unfortunately, the outer edges of these annotations have been lost. This particular copy of Le Istitutioni Harmoniche was originally held in the library of Gualfardo Bercanovich, an Italian composer of the late nineteenth century. Each book in Bercanovich’s library was identically bound. In the case of this Zarlino text, the trimming required for binding removed some of the commentary.

The text of Le Istitutioni Harmoniche is divided into four books. Book One reviews the “philosophical, cosmological, and mathematical basis of music” (1). Aside from summarizing traditional classifications of music, Zarlino’s main focus in this section is the proper handling of mathematical proportions in music. Book Two builds upon this foundation by establishing Zarlino’s preferred tuning system, syntonic diatonic tuning. This method was based on ratios proposed by Ptolemy and allowed for a greater number of in-tune consonances than the Pythagorean system also in use at the time. By dividing the string of a monochord into six parts instead of four, additional perfect consonances could be formed (2).

Arguably the most lasting portion of Zarlino’s treatise, Book Three presents rules for counterpoint that were passed down through generations of composers and are still in use today. In this section, Zarlino adapts existing contrapuntal methods to allow for more modern tuning. He divides the useable intervals into specific groupings based on degrees of perfection, and establishes rules for voice leading and the placement of specific types of intervals. These are not rules invented by Zarlino, but passed down to him from his teacher, Adrian Willaert. However, Zarlino was the first to clearly articulate these rules in writing (3).

In the final section, Book Four, Zarlino discusses his twelve-mode system. Again based on Willaert with significant influences from Glaurean, Zarlino expands the traditional Greek modal system from eight modes to twelve. He also strips the modes of their traditional Greek names, simply identifying them by number. He discusses each mode in detail before ending his treatise with a rare discussion of the finer points of composition, such as text expression and underlay.

Aside from his work as a theorist, Zarlino served as the maestro di capella of St. Marco’s Cathedral in Venice from 1565 until his death in 1590. He composed motets and madrigals and was the teacher of several important theorists, including Artusi, Merulo, and Galilei. Although the majority of Le Istitutioni Harmoniche would eventually become outdated as compositional styles and theories of harmony shifted, Zarlino’s rules for counterpoint are still relevant. His treatise laid the groundwork for the musical development to come.

Click here to read the Spotlight on the entire Walter F. and Alice Gorham collection.
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of the Walter F. and Alice Gorham collection.



Notes:
(1) Claude V. Palisca, “Zarlino, Gioseffo,” Grove Music Online, Oxford University Press, Accessed Nov. 25, 2014. http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/30858.
(2) Claude V. Palisca, introduction to The Art of Counterpoint, by Gioseffo Zarlino, trans. Guy A. Marco and Claude V. Palisca (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968), xiii-xxvi.
(3) Ibid.

Description by Hannah Spencer, graduate student in Musicology and Archives & Special Collections assistant. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Nahum Goldmann collection, 1910-2004

I can hardly say, for instance, when I became a Zionist. Even as a child I was a Zionist without knowing it, inasmuch as I took over my father’s concepts and his positive attitude to everything Jewish as axioms of my heritage (1).


The Nahum Goldmann collection, donated by his son Dr. Guido Goldman, is newly processed and available in Brandeis University’s Special Collections. The collection consists of roughly twenty-two linear feet of Goldmann’s correspondence, manuscripts, audiovisual recordings, scrapbooks, photographs, personal papers, press clippings, awards, and artifacts. Most of the materials relate to his activities as a Zionist and Jewish activist, with a small portion that centers on his personal and family life. The collection ranges in date from 1910 to 2004, although the majority of materials date to Goldmann’s later years, circa 1960-1982. Goldmann's collection of books, which consists mainly of his own publications, was also donated to Special Collections.


Born in the Russian empire in 1895 and raised in Germany, Nahum Goldmann lived most of his life in Europe and the United States. He began publishing articles and making public speeches when he was only fourteen years old and first attended a Zionist congress at age sixteen. His first book, Eretz Israel:Reisebriefe aus Palästina, was published in 1913, when he was just eighteen. Before World War II broke out, Goldmann also established two different publishing projects (Freie Zionistische Blätter and Encyclopaedia Judaica) with his friend Jacob Klatzkin.



Goldmann lived in Geneva from 1933 to 1940, during which time he married and had two sons. During this time as well, he was head of the Comité des Délégation Juives, he represented the Jewish Agency at the League of Nations, and he co-founded the World Jewish Congress. In 1940, Goldmann moved with his family to America, where he continued his work in Zionist politics and his efforts on behalf of the Jewish refugees and victims of World War II. After the war, Goldmann co-founded the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (commonly known as the Claims Conference) and negotiated with West Germany for billions of dollars in reparations payments for the Jewish victims of Nazi war crimes. Goldmann served as president of the World Jewish Congress from 1949-1978, as president of the World Zionist Organization from 1956-1968, and had a hand in founding and leading several other Jewish organizations.


Although he spent much of his adult life working to establish the State of Israel, Nahum Goldmann never took up permanent residence in the very country he helped to establish; neither did he pursue a career in its government. In the preface of his book Nahum Goldmann: Statesman Without a State, Mark A. Raider notes that Goldmann‘s beliefs differed drastically from the established Zionist leadership (2). According to Raider, despite his accomplishments, Goldmann often angered the established Jewish, Zionist, and Israeli leadership by opposing and subverting mainstream policies (3). Goldmann saw Israel as an important cultural center and a much-needed homeland for the Jewish refugees of World War II, but he also believed in cultivating a healthy Diaspora. As well, he argued for a peaceful approach to relations with the Arabs, and even proposed that Israel become an officially neutral state.



The correspondence, writings, and speeches in this collection document Goldmann’s diplomatic work, family life, political beliefs, and more. The myriad letters of condolence sent to his family after his death evince his importance to the Jewish community and international politics, as do the many awards and gifts he received, and the contemporary and posthumous coverage of his work by the international press. The scrapbooks and photo albums documents Goldmann’s many visits to Jewish communities in Europe, Latin America, and Israel, and many of the events he participated in there. Material from the late 1970s and early 1980s shows that even in his later years, Goldmann was still very much engaged in Jewish public life. This collection testifies to the nonconformity of Nahum Goldmann’s political career, and describes his development from a politically aware teenager to an influential diplomat.

For more information please see the Nahum Goldmann collection finding aid.

Description by Emily Lapworth, MS, Project Archivist for the Nahum Goldmann collection.


References
(1) Goldmann, N. (1969). The Autobiography of Nahum Goldmann: Sixty Years of Jewish Life. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, p. 12.
(2) Raider, M.A. (Ed.). (2009). Nahum Goldmann: Statesman Without a State. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, p. vii.
(3) Ibid., p. viii.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Punch's Pocket Book, 1844-1881

An offspring of the famed British satirical magazine Punch, Punch’s Pocket Book was an annual publication containing an almanac, cash account log, daily diary pages, and a variety of useful business information as well as short stories, poetry, and cartoons. Brandeis University’s Special Collections holds an uninterrupted sequence of these books (38 volumes), published between 1844 and 1881. These small books (3.5” x 5”) are housed in their own custom-made bookshelves which divide the collection into four series: 1844-1853, 1854-1863, 1864-1872, and 1873-1881. Each volume is bound with a brightly colored wallet-style closure at the front cover, and begins with a folding illustrated frontispiece.

Punch, the weekly magazine, had its first edition on July 17, 1841. Its creation was inspired by the satirical French paper Le Charivari, leading to the first edition’s subtitle “The London Charivari.” Privately funded by its creators, Punch was founded with a capital of £25. Not surprisingly, the magazine quickly faced financial difficulties until editor Mark Lemon decided to publish a large annual edition, Punch’s Almanack, which sold an unprecedented 90,000 copies. The popularity of Punch’s Almanack, as well as the purchase of Punch by the publishing house Bradbury & Evans, secured the magazine’s future. It was during this period of newfound success that the third addition to the Punch franchise, Punch’s Pocket Book, was created.

Punch’s Pocket Book was designed as a compact version of its predecessors. Significantly smaller in size, it contained a condensed version of the information found in Punch’s Almanack as well as a small selection of stories and cartoons similar to those found in Punch.  This travel-sized addition to the Punch line of publications allowed readers to enjoy the wit of their favorite Punch contributors while having easy access to the most important business information of the day, all within one conveniently sized volume.


The various publications within the Punch franchise contained illustrations by many prominent English illustrators. Punch’s Pocket Books are no exception, with notable contributions from John Leech and John Tenniel. Leech (1817-1864) first became associated with Punch in 1841, but is best known as the illustrator of Charles Dickens’ Christmas books, most famously for his work in A Christmas Carol (1843). From 1844 until his death, Leech was responsible for creating many illustrations throughout Punch’s Pocket Book, most particularly the ones on the frontispiece. These frontispieces are considered to be “among his most charming works” (1).  



John Tenniel (1820-1914) first joined Punch in 1850, and was responsible for drawing initials and titles as well as creating small woodcuts. By 1861 he had risen to the status of junior partner to Leech. Following Leech’s sudden death in 1864, Tenniel stepped into the vacant position and maintained illustrative leadership of the Punch franchise until his retirement in 1900. Aside from his prominent career with Punch, Tenniel is best known as the illustrator of Lewis Carroll’s classic works Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-glass and What Alice Found There (1872) (2). Characteristics of Tenniel’s designs for Wonderland occasionally appear in his illustrations for Punch’s Pocket Book. See, for example, “The Green Satin Parcel.” This mouse-drawn carriage could just have easily been found within the pages of Carroll’s adventures. 

Simultaneously a ledger, diary, almanac, and entertainment, Punch’s Pocket Book was a unique publication with wide appeal. Sir Francis Cowley Burnand, Punch editor from 1880-1906, describes it as “a decidedly welcome Christmas present” (3). The charming publication was short-lived, however, due to the high cost of publication combined with insufficient sales. Too expensive to be competitive with other pocket-sized books containing similar information (but lacking Punch’s characteristic wit), Punch’s Pocket Book was eventually absorbed into Punch’s Almanack. In that larger volume, both the basic useful information as well as the satirical content of Punch’s Pocket Book continued to reach eager readers (4)

Description by Hannah Spencer, graduate student in Musicology and Archives & Special Collections assistant. 

Notes:
(1) Simon Houfe, ‘Leech, John (1817–1864)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2014 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/16322, accessed 15 Sept 2014]
(2) L. Perry Curtis Jr., ‘Tenniel, Sir John (1820–1914)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Sept 2013 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/36458, accessed 15 Sept 2014]
(3) Sir Francis Cowley Burnand, Records and Reminiscences: Personal and General (London: Methuen & Co., 1905), 371.
(4) Ibid., 370-372.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

19th-century playbooks


Brandeis Special Collections is home to a captivating collection of playbooks published in the latter half of the nineteenth century. With over eighty separate plays, the collection covers a full range of genres, from farces and comedies to dramas and tragedies, and includes a popular adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, entitled Katharine and Petruchio. The playbooks were personally acquired by Victor Berch (Brandeis’s former and first Special Collections Librarian), who donated them to Brandeis early in 2013.


Roughly half of the plays in this collection were published by William V. Spencer (May 3, 1821 - May 26, 1870). Spencer opened shop in Boston in 1852, at a time when the legal system surrounding publishing was somewhat more relaxed than it is today. Most importantly—especially for publishers like Spencer, who mainly published British works (only a quarter of Spencer’s publications were written by Americans)—British copyrights were not honored in the United States and British works could be published without any authorization or payment of royalties. Interestingly, even among the American works he published, Spencer copyrighted very few, in order to allow their playwrights to retain production privileges (1). Despite its relatively short life span, Spencer’s business had considerable influence in American play publishing, and a number of these plays are still published—using Spencer’s plates and format—by major publishing houses, such as Samuel French in New York (2).

The Spencer plays in this collection contain an unusual research tool which allows for greater understanding and study of many lesser known plays. They were published under Spencer’s Boston Theater, a series which ran from 1855 to 1862, and had two hundred sixteen titles published under its heading. In addition to standard notes on properties, costume, and set design, each Spencer’s Boston Theater play includes notes on the play’s production history, right up to the point of publication: all the theaters and companies that staged the work, the year in which the production opened, and the actors and actresses who portrayed each role. Spencer’s decision to include this information provides modern readers with access to rare details of theater history.


Several of the Spencer-published plays are translations or adaptations of earlier works, and several were themselves later adapted. Satan in Paris or, The Mysterious Stranger exemplifies popular culture’s omnipresent fascination with Faustian bargains. The play is Charles Selby’s translation and alteration of Clairville and Damarin’s Satan; ou, Le Diable à Paris. Comedian J.M. Weston’s translation of Victor Hugo’s Lucrezia Borgia tells the history of the titular daughter of the influential Renaissance family and Still Water Runs Deep, by Tom Taylor, was later turned into a silent crime film directed by Fred Paul in 1916. 


Among the playwrights represented in this collection is the prolific John Baldwin Buckstone (September 14, 1802 – October 31, 1879). Buckstone, an actor, writer, and comedian, published some one hundred fifty plays by the time of his death, appearing in and producing countless besides. It is said that his ghost haunts the wings of the West End’s Haymarket Theater, appearing when he is particularly pleased with a performance. Sightings of Buckstone’s specter have been reported throughout the decades, including a recent sighting by Sir Patrick Stewart during his 2009 performance in Waiting for Godot (3).


The remaining plays in the collection come from a variety of American publishing houses, including a number from Samuel French. The aforementioned Katharine and Petruchio is a French publication and is a unique take on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Adapted and altered by David Garrick, Katharine and Petruchio cuts Taming to three acts concentrated on the titular characters, and removes any plot surrounding the romance of Hortensio and Bianca. An editor’s note indicates that the play had enjoyed considerable popularity since its initial publication a century prior, and that over the course of the eighteenth century Katharine and Petruchio had been performed more often than Shakespeare’s original Taming.


Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this collection lies in its provenance: these playbooks seemed to have all been originally collected by a single family. A number of the playbooks bear the names of one of three actors or actresses who were using them as performance scripts. The handwritten names of Franklin (Frank) Hardenbergh, Oriana Hardenbergh (née Marshall), and Margaret Marshall all appear regularly. Some cursory research reveals that Frank, his young wife Oriana, and (we think) her sister Margaret, were sometime members of the Boston Theater Company in the 1860s. It was with this company that the three performed in numerous productions, including undoubtedly many represented in this collection. It was also in this company that Frank and Oriana met, engaged, and were married. Sadly the marriage was not long lived, and neither was Oriana. It appears she died at the age of seventeen or eighteen in 1862 (4). One hundred fifty years after her death, her family’s collection of playbooks have found their way to Brandeis University’s Special Collections.


For further reading see The History of the Boston Theatre in our rare book holdings, here. More information about this 4-volume work can be found here. The digitized version can be found on the Internet Archive, here.

Description by Ryan Kacani, undergraduate student in History, Theater, and Medieval & Renaissance Studies and Archives & Special Collections assistant.

Notes:
(1) & (2) Stoddard, Roger E. A Guide to ‘Spencer’s Boston Theater’ 1855-1862, Worcester, MA: The Society, 1969.
(3) Hampson, Nora. “A Visit from John Baldwin Buckstone.”  Finding Shakespeare, posted March 28, 2014 [http://bit.ly/1nu15JR].
(4) Stebbens, Oliver, “The Oldest Theater Now in Boston,” The Bostonian 1 no. 2 (1894), pp. 113-130. [http://bit.ly/1usvoEY]The Boston Morning Journal, Nov 22, 1862. [http://bit.ly/1A1AOZf].