140 · Representative Documents: Finding Aids and Guides
American Musicological Society records
American Musicological Society records, 1934-1992
http://dla.library.upenn.edu/dla/ead/ead.html?q=american%20musicological%20society&id=EAD_upenn_rbml_MsColl221&%23ref8[6/23/15, 2:33:45 PM]
unanimously decided: 1) that a broadening of scope to include all
subjects of musicological interest is imperative 2) that to accomplish
this it will be necessary to reorganize on a national scale.
The group approached Otto Kinkeldey to serve as their first president, and named
the organization the American Musicological Society (it was briefly an Association
rather than a Society). By the spring of 1935 the AMS comprised three chapters:
Greater New York, Western New York, and Washington Baltimore. The AMS held
their first annual meeting that year in Philadelphia, in cooperation with the Music
Teacher’s National Association.
International Congress, 1939
As the second World War sapped the European intellectual sphere of its financial
resources and intellectual energies, and as some of the finest European scholars fled
to the United States the time was ripe for American musicologists to step into a
leadership role worldwide. As German-born Alfred Einstein wrote of German
scholarship in 1939, “since [1933] there has not been any more unhampered
research in the field of musical science.”[4] Unlike European nations, “America ha[d]
the liberty to be creative in the field of musicology and to select her methods from
Europe.” As Einstein pointed out, no European country was at liberty to organize a
gathering in that year, and European scholars looked to America for the sustainance
of free scholarship. Indeed, the American group took up the banner with grace. Mere
weeks after Hitler’s invasion of Poland, the AMS played host to some of the world’s
finest music scholars at the International Congress held in New York City. The first
such gathering of international scholars of music in America, this congress defined
the central role the AMS would play in the decades ahead for musicology worldwide.
By all accounts, the congress was a tremendous success, and in fact drew more
attention in the national press than musicology conferences today. Among the
speakers were such eminent scholars as Dragan Plamenac (Yugoslavia), Manfred
Bukofzer, Knud Jeppesen (Denmark), Otto Gombosi, (Hungary), Fernando Liuzzi
(Italy), Alfred Einstein and Curt Sachs. George Herzog’s presentation on the Anglo-
American folk origins of Negro spirituals created a stir among the press. Not only did
the congress provide the AMS with international recognition as a leading
organization in the field of music scholarship, it also established the validity of the
study of New World musical traditions. As Arthur Mendel wrote in the Musical Times
(November 1939), “The keynote of the Congress was undoubtedly the aim to
demonstrate that America has ...a musical past, as well as a present and a future.”
American musicology had come into its own.
Growth and Recognition
Over the next decade the Society grew steadily. During the war years, this growth
was in part due to the stream of European musicologists who made the United
States their home and established themselves in American universities. This wave of
immigrations invigorated the scholarly community in the United States and
broadened the scope of American resources and scholarship. Some of these
immigrants were among the most prominent members of the AMS, both in their
personal scholarship and in the scope of their vision for the future of musicology as a
profession. Edward Lowinsky involved himself with almost every aspect of the
society, most significantly the Josquin Festival, but also including the establishment
of various awards and the planning of the Kennedy Center Conferences. Manfred
Bukofzer was a longtime board member, and his legacy lives on in AMS publications
which continue to be funded by his bequest. Dragan Plamenac was also a board
member and spent many years working on an AMS publication project, the
Ockeghem Volumes.
Despite the rapid influx of immigrants, the growth of the Society was limited by the
careful restriction of the membership and hence the lack of substantial income from
dues. The founders of the AMS had initially imagined themselves as a very select
group of scholars who had proven themselves through their publications and their
reputation in the field. The rather rigorous membership process required perspective
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