Thursday, July 17, 2008

History of Music in San Francisco by the WPA

Sisters Yasuko and Akiko Takakuwa from Fifty Local Prodigies (vol. 5)

One of the Works Progress Administration’s significant contributions to San Francisco was the seven volume History of Music in San Francisco. This work, edited by Cornel Adam Lengyel and sponsored by the City and County of San Francisco, is the first and only sizable work describing the early musical life of our City. The following are the contents of this series:

Vol. 1 Music of the Gold Rush era [1939] – a sketch of early San Francisco music history starting from the Mission and Alta California days and the Gold Rush and Barbary Coast era through the City’s earliest choral, orchestral and operatic groups. This book also includes chapters about instrument makers and minstrelsy in the City.

Vol. 2 A San Francisco Songster, 1849-1939
[1939] – a collection of song lyrics on California topics to well-known songs from the time. Includes songs about the ‘49ers, songs relating to early City life as well as songs of working people.

Vol. 3 The Letters of Miska Hauser, 1853 [1939] – Hauser was an Austrian violinist and composer who during an American tour spent time performing in Gold Rush era San Francisco. This volume excerpts and translates letters he regularly sent to a German newpaper describing his impressions of San Francisco’s musical life.

Vol. 4 Celebrities in El Dorado : 1850-1906 [1939] – details notable musicians who performed in San Francisco between 1850-1906. Appendices include a chronological record and alphabetical listing of visiting musicians as well a listing of visiting chamber ensembles, orchestras, bands, and operatic companies.

Vol. 5 Fifty Local Prodigies [1940] – an innovative study of San Francisco musical child prodigies active between the years 1900-1940. This volume includes over 40 biographical sketches including famed musicians like Leon Fleischer, brother and sister Yehudi and Hephzibah Menuhin, Ruggiero Ricci, Ruth Slenczynski, and Isaac Stern.

Vol. 6 Early Master Teachers [1940] – includes biographical sketches of Ernst von Hartmann, Henry Heyman, Hugo Mansfeldt, Henry Bickford Pasmore, Oscar Weil, Eugenio Bianchi, Gustav Hinrichs, Louis Lisser, John P. Morgan, John Haradan Pratt, Julian Rehn Waybur, Margaret Alverson, Emil Barth, John B. Beutler, Giovana Bianchi, Inez Fabbri, and Louisa Marriner-Campbell.

Vol. 7 An Anthology of Music Criticism [1942] – collects examples of music criticism from San Francisco newspapers and magazines from 1850 to 1940 to trace the history, development, and scope of music in the City. This volume also includes a Calendar of Musical Events (1849-1940), as well as short biographies of prominent music critics.

A woodcut from Music of the Gold Rush Era (vol. 1)

The exhibit, WPA Years A New Deal Explosion of Art, Public Works and Labor on the Main Library's 4th floor has been extended through August 10, 2008

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