Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Longhair Outgrosses Baseball - a headline from the Variety Golden Jubilee issue

Longhair Outgrosses Baseball 
Classics, Now a $50,000,000 Boxoffice Bonanza As Against
The National Pastime's $40,000,000 Per Annum -- Symph,
Opera and Ballet Big Middlebrow Draw

This a headline for a Arthur Bronson article on page 467 in the January 4, 1956 special 50th anniversary issue of Variety Magazine.  

The Variety Anniversary Issue was an annual love letter between the entertainment press embodied by Variety Magazine, the primary trade journal for the entertainment industry, and all the people in the entertainment industry who benefited from the magazine's knowledge and reach.  The opening pages of the Golden Jubilee issue are filled with individual full page advertisements taken out by all of the top Hollywood studio executives congratulating the magazine on its longevity.  There are hundreds of other sponsored notes of congratulations from entertainers and corporations throughout this 512 page issue.

The entertainment industry for Variety comprises every sort of performing art, with an emphasis on those that make lots of money.  But the fine arts did have a place within its pages where it was (one hopes affectionately) known as "longhair."  The article below the headline above notes that in 1956 the "boxoffice" for classical music, ballet, opera put together exceeded that of baseball - that certainly gets the reader to stand up and notice.  It goes on to note the importance of the arts in cultural diplomacy, the amount of money spent on classical long playing records and role of film, radio and television in popularizing the arts.  Variety articles are often full of statistics -- this one notes that in 1940, 1,000 American towns offered concert series.  By 1956 the number had risen to 2,600, certainly suggesting a growing interest in classical music.

The Anniversary Issue is full of lists and sidebars.  One includes a list of "actors who have played actors."  There is another list of "remakes of feature films" (by 1956 there had been 3 major releases of both Anna Karenina and Moby Dick).  Gone With The Wind was at the top of the "all-time top money films," but who would have guessed The Robe would come in at number two?  (Adjusted for inflation, Gone With The Wind is still the top grosser).

There is also a chronological chart "50 years of U.S. musical comedy and operetta" listing all the major shows that opened between 1905 and 1956.   Later in the issue there is a table of "Broadway production statistics." This shows the Broadway peaked in 1927-28 with 264 productions throughout the season. It was only natural that the number of productions would taper off owing to the introduction of sound motion pictures and the Great Depression.

Just a year and a half after the Army-McCarthy hearings, this issue has an article entitled "Were You Ever Blacklisted?" subtitled "Variety was - many times, but found friends and special issues kept it going."  This article has a table listing a "chronology of special issues" in Variety magazine over the years.

KRON-TV (the NBC and San Francisco Chronicle affiliate) is among the advertisers, touting a potential 4 million viewer audience and $5,158,223,000 in sales in 1954 (that figure must be for the entire Bay Area).  An advertisement for "The Seven Ashtons," an acrobatic act from Australia notes that they were then performing at Bimbos in San Francisco.

Then there is this provocative headline:

Burlesque -- Its Rise and Demise
Offshoot of Minstrelsy and Extravaganza, Cradle
Of Comedians, Once a Family Amusement, Burlesque
Succumbed to Smut and Strippers

 While today there is a resurgence of interest, in 1956 Burlesque was thought to be on its deathbed.  The article is written by the then 86 year old Barney Gerard, a long time practitioner of the art.  (I cannot find a good biography of Gerard, but he has a number of credits in the Internet Movie Database and a Google Books search brings up myriad articles that show his deep involvement in vaudeville and burlesque).  His article traces the "rise and demise in 60 years" of burlesque.  He many stories including an explanation of the origin of the "hook" used to pull performers who were bombing off the stage.  He even devotes a couple paragraphs to the scene in San Francisco with the Bella Union concert hall in the late 1800s and the Belvedere on O'Farrell Street around the time of the 1906 earthquake.  In the end he laments that burlesque was "strip-teased into oblivion."

As far as I can tell these annual issues have not yet been indexed or scanned online, so they remain a little-known but fascinating on entertainment in all of its forms.  The Library own issues of this annual from 1956 through 1989. 

Variety. Anniversary Edition (Variety, Inc., [1956]-1983).

 Variety. Show Business Annual (Variety, Inc., c1984-1989).

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Feminist Film Theory

I recently checked out Feminist Film Theory and Cleo from 5 to 7 written by Hilary Neroni and enjoyed it thoroughly. Being a fan of the French New Wave cinema movement and movies by directors involved indirectly with the Wave, I had never managed to watch a film by Agnes Varda, who was a part of the Rive Gauche (Left Bank) movement along with Alain Resnais and Chris Marker. Reading the book became the impetus to watch Cleo from 5 to 7 directed by Agnes Varda in 1962. In a refreshing approach and a jargon free language Neroni walks the reader through the arc of feminist film criticism and theory, and then having done so, employs Varda’s classic film examining how a (feminist) female oriented movie operates.

The book informs the reader that feminist film criticism was initially inspired by the second wave of feminism and postcolonial theory. Neroni talks about the influence of Freud and Lacan and conditions under which Laura Mulvey wrote her seminal essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” in 1973 analyzing the “male gaze” and objectification of the female body in classic Hollywood cinema. Later theoreticians criticized Mulvey for only relying on a Eurocentric and heterosexual lens(es). For example, bell hooks, the African American academic, pointed out that black women viewed those films with an “oppositional gaze” instead of identifying with the white male gaze. Other theoreticians asserted, also, that viewers were capable of a “dialectical gaze” and may assert bisexual desires. Lesbian desire and gaze, too, complicate male/female power paradigm. Issues of race, class, and sexual preference have also been layered upon Laura Mulvey’s initial thesis. 

San Francisco Public Library has a very good collection of books on film criticism and feminist film criticism. Interested patrons can also do a Subject search under: Homosexuality in motion picture. In recent times, Queer theory has also gained prominence when understanding the issue of “male gaze”.

For basic reading, we recommend the following titles:

Feminist film theory and Cléo from 5 to 7 / Hilary Neroni

Feminist film theorists : Laura Mulvey, Kaja Silverman, Teresa de Lauretis, Barbara Creed / Shohini Chaudhuri

Chick flicks : theories and memories of the feminist film movement / B. Ruby Rich

Theory of the image : capitalism, contemporary film, and women / Ann Kibbey

The Routledge encyclopedia of film theory / edited by Edward Branigan and Warren Buckland

Paris is burning : a queer film classic / Lucas Hilderbrand

Framed : lesbians, feminists, and media culture / Judith Mayne

Postcolonial theory and Avatar / Gautam Basu Thakur

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Aurora Mandolin Orchestra: Their Annual Performance

The Main Library will be hosting the ever-enchanting, Aurora Mandolin Orchestra on Saturday, December 3, 2016, from 2-4pm, in the Koret Auditorium. 2008 was the first year that the Library hosted the Orchestra, and they've been coming back every year, ever since.Their sound derives from the string-heavy combination of mandolin, mandolla, mandocello, guitar, string bass, accordion, flute and percussion,. They will play a mixture of semi-classical, folk and show tunes - something for everybody! In addition, Susanna Uher Jimenez will sing several songs.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Dorothy Starr interviewed

It has been more than 26 years since Dorothy Starr passed away and more than 25 years since the San Francisco Public Library acquired the stock of her store The Music Stand.

A small amount of personal ephemera came along with the hundreds of thousands of scores and pieces of sheet music. This included a cassette tape of an interview with Dorothy Starr made in November 1986.  The interview covers many bases -- her experiences as a musician, her reminiscences about musicians she had known, her approach to selling music, her musical preferences, etc...  Unfortunately, we have no record of who conducted the interview (If you are out there let us know!)

Please enjoy the words and the wisdom of San Francisco's First Lady of Sheet Music, Dorothy Starr.

The Dorothy Starr Collection database now contains nearly 40,000 entries. Many other scores from Dorothy Starr's stock of scores and sheet music have also been added the Library's circulating and reference collections.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Shock and Awe - Performance by Ethan Rafal, San Francisco Artist and Book Maker

A twelve-year, autobiographical project examining the relationship between protracted war and homeland decay, Shock and Awe is a meticulously crafted image, text, and found object journal that blurs the line between author and subject, and personal and authoritative histories. Completed over countless years traveling the United States, the project pulls from the traditions of documentary photography and writing set on the American road.

The Shock and Awe Book Tour returns the journal to the people and places depicted, bringing author, subject, and viewer into an exploration of the total meaning of the work. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the project, the performance of Shock and Awe is equal parts story-telling, show-and-tell, and group discussion. Books will be sold at this event.

More info about the project: http://ethanrafal.com/

About Ethan Rafal:
Ethan Rafal is an artist and photographer based in San Francisco. His work deals with the individual and collective experience of violence, and the ways in which subsequent representations of violence inform personal and national mythologies. Photography is an essential ingredient in his practice, due to the unique relationship between image and violence, but his work employs performance, installation, video, new-media, and social-practice methodologies. He teaches, mentors, helps run an art space, and collaborates with Art For a Democratic Society in the Bay Area, where he has been based since 2007.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016, 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Main Library - Latino/Hispanic Room, lower level

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Pre-History of the San Francisco Community Music Center

On November 20, 2016, the San Francisco Community Music Center will hold a "Field Day" to celebrate its 95th Anniversary.  This event features an afternoon full of musical performance by Community Music School students and faculty. 

This anniversary commemorates the arrival of the San Francisco Community Music School (the Community Music Center's name until the 1950s) at its present location at 544 Capp Street.  The Community Music Center, however, has earlier roots that originated in a larger movement that sought to provide free or low cost music instruction as a way to ameliorate social conditions in American cities.

The settlement movement was a social reform movement in the late 19th century aiming to provide cultural and educational uplift to the urban poor.  According to Boyer, the goal of the settlement movement was "consciousness raising" to make the urban poor, often immigrants, aware of a "larger world beyond the tenement or factory, the richness of their cultural heritage, and the possibilities of community organization and cooperative effort."

In San Francisco this movement was set in motion in 1894 when Chicago-based activist and social worker Jane Addams came to lecture.  Motivated by her example, local social reformers soon set to work in the immigrant communities in the South of Market neighborhood establishing the South Park Settlement.

The South Park Settlement at 15 South Park (source: The Commons June 1897)

The South Park Settlement, which eventually became the San Francisco Boys' Club, did not focus on girls leaving an opening for the efforts of the Rachael and Eva Wolfsohn who started the Girls' Club of San Francisco in a small flat on Clara Street, also in South of Market, in 1900.  Devoting their energies on young women who came from modest means, Rachael Wolfsohn wrote that "the club had a "...two-fold purpose at that time ... to assist girls in delinquency prevention and to prepare these young ladies for the responsibility of womanhood."  The club became an important part of their social life with its activities directed toward education and recreation.

A few years later the Girls' Club moved to 262 Seventh Street, a site that was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. A 1904 article in the San Francisco Chronicle mentioned music instruction and music instruction as part of the club's wider offerings which also included "domestic economy," cooking, and various crafts. The workers at the club were described as "university people" (faculty and students from institutions like the University of California and Stanford University).

The club's members at that time were between the ages of 8 and 14 who lived in the surrounding neighborhood. In an oral history, a club member for the Girls' Club's earliest days recalled that the teachers and many of the students were Jewish, but that religion was never discussed at the club.

Girls' Club at 362 Capp from 1911, W.E. Dassonville, photographer
Source: The Girls' Club of San Francisco: Its Music School at 362 Capp Street (San Francisco History Center collection)

With financial support from Jewish businessmen and philanthropists like the Hellman, Fleishacker, Sloss, Lilienthal and Stern families, a new building was constructed for the Girls' Club in 1911, designed by the architectural firm Ward and Blohme.

At the outset, it was apparent that music would play an important part of the club's activities. This new emphasis is demonstrated in the brochure The Girls' Club of San Francisco: Its Music School at 362 Capp Street.  Below are photographs of a chorus and an orchestra from that 1912 publication.

 Friday Night Choral directed by Wallace Sabin (source: same as above)
Senior Orchestra directed by Hother Wismer (source: same as above)

The pamphlet lists prices for instruction:
Individual half hour lessons with a student teacher ... 25 cents
Individual full hour lessons with a student teacher ... 50 cents
Individual half hour lessons with an experienced teacher ... 50 cents
Individual full hour lessons with an experienced teacher ... $1.00
Orchestra classes, with weekly rehearsals ... 50 cents a month
Class lessons in chorus, theory, ear-training and sight-reading open free of charge to all members of the Girls' Club and music school students.
Twenty-five cents would be equivalent to six dollars today.  They also provided scholarships for which they depended upon sponsorship from donors within the community.

The pamphlet also names a very accomplished faculty:
Department heads:

Singing (vocal music) - Mrs. M. E. Blanchard
Voice and ear training - Miss Elizabeth Putnam
Choral classes - Mr. Wallace Sabin
Orchestral classes - Mr. Hother Wismer
Pianoforte - Mr. Julius Rehn Weber
Violin - Mr. Hother Wismer
Violoncello - Mr. Arthur Weiss
Theory of music and harmony - Mr. E. G. Stricklen
Mrs. Blanchard was a voice teacher a Mills College. Wallace Sabin was a composer and organist at Temple Emanu-El and St. Luke's Episcopal Church. At that time Arthur Weiss was the principal 'cellist of the San Francisco Symphony.  Hother Wismer, a Danish-American was a concert violinist who was later a member of the San Francisco Symphony.  Julius Rehn Weber, who later changed his last name to Waybur, was a pianist who became a major benefactor of the Music Department of the San Francisco Public Library.

At that time San Francisco had many music schools and private music instructors.  In the brochure, the Girls' Club emphasized that they did not want their efforts to undercut the livings of professional music teachers:
It is to be distinctly understood that the school does not wish to encroach upon the domain of the professional teacher. Its aim is to start modestly and to accept only such pupils who, after the strictest investigation, are found to be unable to pay the regular professional prices. To accomplish this object many loyal, devoted teachers of good standing have volunteered their services.
The San Francisco Community Music School of the Girls' Club of San Francisco was part of a wider groundswell to provide wholesome recreation within the City. One organization spearheading this was the Recreation League of San Francisco of San Francisco which advocated building parks and playgrounds, and also supported amateur athletics, theater and music for all ages. It was led by Jesse W. Lilienthal, then the president of the United Railways and the San Francisco Bar Association.  He and his wife were donors to the Girls' Club of San Francisco and later to the Community Music School.  She was also the organization's president during that time.

The Recreation League encouraged community singing to draw them away from listening to ragtime music by converting to become "patrons of [musical] art in its exalted expression."  A San Francisco Examiner article mentions the Girls' Club as one of the organizations where the Recreation League planned to teach "singing based on systematic study and practice under teachers who are masters of their craft."

The popularity of the music classes is evidenced by the fact that by 1918 the Girls' Club spun off a separate Community Music School at 914 Dolores Street (the site of the present-day Edison Elementary School).

The Community Music School at 914 Dolores Street (from Musical America November 15, 1919).

Harriet Selma Rosenthal, a violin student of Leopold Auer, came from New York in 1918 to direct the school's activities, at the behest of Mrs. Jesse Lilienthal, the president of the Girls' Club of San Francisco at that time. There she already had 8 years experience at the New York Music School Settlement.

Mrs Jesse Lilienthal in 1937 (image source: San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection)

She evidently was a tireless worker.  An article in Musical America reported on Harriet Rosenthal and the school:
The institution is composed of a board of far-seeing and large-hearted women; a building at 914 Dolores Street, reconstructed and completely equipped for the purpose at considerable expense; instruments--not only pianos, but violins, celli, wood-wind and brass, lent by the leading music houses of the city;--a faculty of thirty from among the many splendid instructors of San Francisco; pupils from department stores, irons works, factories and the like, to the number of 176 receiving private instruction besides class work and orchestral or choral experience; and--Miss Rosenthal.
Community Music School of The Girls' Club letterhead 
(source: Alfred Hertz Papers, Art, Music and Recreation Center, San Francisco Public Library)

In October 1919 Harriet Rosenthal wrote to Alfred Hertz, the conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, asking whether he would agree to be the Honorary Director of the school.  "We know of your interest in the school and would appreciate it we could look to you for your advice and guidance."  Hertz replied that he would "be very happy indeed to accept this position" and that he was "looking forward with pleasure to see you Monday evening at the school." 

In 1920 the school had 250 students taught by 30 faculty members which included such luminaries as Alfred Hertz, the San Francisco Symphony's concert master, Louis Persinger, and Elias Hecht, a flutist and organizer of the San Francisco Chamber Music Society.  Students also benefited from donations of tickets that enabled them to attend concert and stage performances.

Alfred Metzger, the editor of the Pacific Coast Musical Review, extolled the work of Harriet Selma Rosenthal and the Community Music School.  He posited that:
If it is possible to inculcate the idea in a child's mind that music exercises a certain beneficial influence upon everyone, even outside actual artistic performance, a most important step toward future realization of what constitutes fine citizenship has been taken.
By the time the Community Music School opened its doors at 544 Capp Street in 1921, its mission had been shaped by more than 25 years of community activism. The efforts at reform by the settlement movement, the Girls' Club of San Francisco and the Recreation League all shared the belief that participating in music and receiving music instruction by accomplished musicians were a means of ameliorating social problems and of providing social and cultural uplift.  It is impressive to see how some of San Francisco's most esteemed community leaders and musicians supported the provision of musical instruction to all.  These early ideals have continued and remain expressed in the Community Music Center's mission statement - "to make high quality music accessible to all people, regardless of their financial means."


Alfred Hertz Papers, Art, Music and Recreation Center, San Francisco Public Library.

Amy Steinhart Braden: Child Welfare and Community Service / an interview conducted by Edna Tartaul Daniel (Regional Cultural History Project, The Bancroft Library,1965).

Beals, Elena M., "Sumptuous Musical Feast to Regale San Franciscans," Musical America vol. 3, no. 3 (November 15, 1919), 185-187.

Boyer, Paul, Urban Masses and Moral Order in America 1820-1920 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978).

"'Bright Eyes' Will Sparkle in Aid of New Girls' Club," San Francisco Chronicle (October 29, 1911), 37.

Brown, Ray C., "Music Claims Obeisance Due in New World," San Francisco Chronicle (October 19, 1919), 29.

Character Building Resources; A Study of the Recreational Opportunities and Facilities Provided by Agencies Affiliated with the Community Chest of San Francisco: Made for the Special Committee on Recreation of the Council of Social and Health Agencies of San Francisco, November, 1924-March,1925 by Josephine D. Randall, E. P. Von Allmen, Esther De Turbeville (San Francisco: Press of the Margaret Mary Morgan Co., 1926.

Edwards, George Boosinger, "A Music School and the Community Spirit," Pacific Coast Musical Review vol. 36 no. 7 (May 17, 1919), 6.

Ethington, Philip J., The Public City: The Political Construction of Urban Life in San Francisco 1850-1900 (University of California Press, 2001).

"Girls' Club Has Housewarming," San Francisco Chronicle (February 28, 1904), 41.

"Girls' Club One of City's Monuments," San Francisco Chronicle (December 20, 1929), 9.

"Girls' Club To Dedicate New Home; Gift Marks 20th Anniversary," San Francisco Chronicle (February 22, 1920), 23.

The Girls' Club of San Francisco: Its Music School at 362 Capp Street ([San Francisco]: [Girls' Club of San Francisco], 1912). 

The Girls' Club, San Francisco [oral history transcript]: Recollections of Members and Associates / interviews conducted by Leah Selix and Adrienne Bonn in 1972-73 (Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, 2005).

Metzger, Alfred, "Re-organization of Girls Club to Result in a Community School," Pacific Coast Musical Review vol. 34, no. 23 (September 7, 1918), 1.

M'Lean, Fannie W., "South Park Settlement," The Commons (June 1897), 1.

Mason, Redfern, "List of Songs Selected for Community Singing," San Francisco Examiner (June 25, 1914), ??.  In San Francisco programs. Music (San Francisco Public Library, 1915-196.

"National Register of Historic Places Inventory -- Nomination Form: Girls Club." National Park Service [website].

"Nobody Lives There Now; South Park Settlement Deserted," San Francisco Chronicle (August 5, 1895), 12.

"Planning Concert in Aid of the Girls' Club Settlement," San Francisco Chronicle (January 28, 1910), 3.

Rackle, Karl E., "Community Singing in San Francisco," Musician vol. 22 (January 1917), 22-23.

Rosenbaum, Fred, Cosmopolitans: A Social and Cultural History of the Jews of the San Francisco Bay Area (University of California Press, 2009).

"Teacher in Girls' Club Gets Leave," San Francisco Chronicle (November 1, 1919), 11.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Nature and Its Applications - an illustration index

With the wealth of information and data available through the World Wide Web, often the dilemma for the researcher is navigating this over-whelming quantity of information and data. The job of the librarian is to understand how to both evaluate and supplement this wealth of information.

A well-made and well-conceived reference book can often open up an unknown world of possibilities. These books that we still depend upon are the product of the work of creative and assiduous librarians of years past.

Jessie Croft Ellis is the creator of four such references in the Art, Music and Recreation Center.  Ms. Ellis received a Bachelors degree from the University of Michigan in 1923.  She conducted her original work at the School of Architecture but later became a librarian in the school of Business Administration at the University.

There are many ways to search for images -- a Google image search, an online database like the New York Public Library Picture Collection or specialized files organized by subject like the Etching and Engraving Picture file that we maintain at the San Francisco Public Library.  The indexes created by Jessie Croft Ellis are also organized by subject and provide references to images in books and periodicals.

Her first work was the Nature Index of 1930 which was expanded, in 1949, to become Nature and Its Applications.  The former indexed 5,000 references and the latter indexed 200,000 references. The earlier work retains value because it is not as vast and because a larger percentage of the images are in the public domain.

These two indexes are dominated by plants and animals.  Nature-scapes like "field," "forest," "garden," "pond" or "waterfall" are also included.  There are broader categories like "feather," "dog," "wildcat," "rocks," or "seed."  But most of the categories are very specific.

Using redwood as an example there are categories for Redwood Forest, Redwood Forest Road, Redwood Tree, Redwood Tree Cone, Redwood Tree Roots, Redwood Tree Twig and Redwood Wood.

The majority of images are from popular magazines from the time like American Forestry, American Museum Journal (the predecessor of Natural History), Better Homes and Gardens, California Arts and Architecture, Country Life, House Beautiful, National Geographic Magazine, Nature Magazine, etc... Selected books, dictionaries and encyclopedias are also indexed.

One entry under Redwood Tree is the citation "Count life 35:67 Mar '19" refering to Country Life vol. 35 (March 1919), 67.  The image above (located in Google books using Ms. Ellis's index) accompanies an advertisement for the California Redwood Association.  This association existed not to conserve the redwood, but to exploit it.  They extol the conifer's "soft ... (yet firm) texture [that] makes it especially suitable for sand-blasting, hand-carving and other unusual treatments."

It's nonetheless a striking image with the primitive truck bathed in sunbeams showing the scale of the forest's grandeur and wonder.

The citation for the above image is "Fortune 3: 3 My '31" meaning Fortune vol. 3 (May 1931), 3. It is also part of an advertisement, this one by "Californians Inc." promoting our City of San Francisco "where life is better."
San Francisco is the center of the world's most varied outdoorland [sic]... Almost in an instant, whenever you choose, the stir of the city may be left behind as you drive along the ocean or through fragrant valleys.
This artistic photograph truly gives a sense of the redwood's scale.  The presence of the lone car projects a dual sense of escape and accessibility (fundamentals of advertising to this day).  But even without knowing the wider context, the photograph works on its own as a work of art.

By consulting Nature and Its Applications, the user can get more than just a beautiful or striking image but also an understanding of how nature was viewed -- as an area of study, wonder, beauty or exploitation.

Here is a bibliography of Jessie Croft Ellis' works at the Library.

General Index to Illustrations; 22000 Selected References In all fields Exclusive of Nature, compiled by Jessie Croft Ellis (The F.W. Faxon Company, 1931).

Index to Illustrations, by Jessie Croft Ellis (Boston : F. W. Faxon Co., 1966).

Nature and Its Applications; Over 200,000 Selected References to Nature Forms and Illustrations of Nature as Used in Every Way, compiled by Jessie Croft Ellis (F.W. Faxon Co., 1949).

Nature Index; 5000 Selected References to Nature Forms and Illustrations of Nature in Design, Painting and Sculpture, compiled by Jessie Croft Ellis (The F.W. Faxon Company, 1930).

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ladies' Knight: women's chess club

The Art, Music and Recreation Center of the San Francisco Public Library presents

Ladies' Knight: women's chess club

Chess has traditionally been a male dominated game. Renowned chess master Lauren Goodkind will teach women of all levels in a supportive, fun environment. Join us on the fourth Wednesday of every month for instruction and free play.

First Meeting: Wednesday, October 26th, 2016
6pm - 7:30pm
Main Library, Sycip Room (4th floor)

Teach yourself or brush up on your chess skills by checking out these books:

Women in chess: players of the modern age by John Graham; with a foreword by George Koltanowski

The queen of Katwe: a story of life, chess, and one extraordinary girl's dream of becoming a grandmaster by Tim Crothers

Chess and The art of war: ancient wisdom to make you a better player by Al Lawrence, International Grandmaster Elshan Moradiabadi  

100 chess master trade secrets: from sacrifices to endgames by Andrew Soltis 

Tactics time: 1001 chess tactics from the games of everyday chess players by Tim Brennan and Anthea Carson 

Chess for dummies by James Eade 

Lessons with a Grandmaster: enhance your chess strategy and psychology with Boris Gulko by Boris Gulko & Joel R. Sneed 

How to reassess your chess: chess mastery through chess imbalances by Jeremy Silman 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Music & Politics in San Francisco

Leta E. Miller, a professor of music at the University of California, Santa Cruz, published Music and Politics in San Francisco in 2012. As the subtitle notes this book covers our City's musical history from the early part of the twentieth century into the 1940s.

This period of time is very important because it was time when three of our most important cultural institutions - The San Francisco Conservatory, The San Francisco Symphony and The San Francisco Opera - were established. These organization experienced financial difficulties and sometimes created political controversy during their formation and development which Miller documents in great detail.

Miller also devotes considerable space to music at the two large twentieth century fairs held in San Francisco during the first half of the twentieth century, the Panama Pacific International Exposition (1915) and Golden Gate International Exposition (1939 and 1940). She shows how the former did a great deal to bolster the Symphony while the latter largely omitted it.

The Golden Gate International Exposition also overlapped with another important discussion in her book - the Federal Music Project that was a component of the New Deal. The Federal Music Project was deeply mired in politics and was never had a unified vision about its music.  Was it supposed to provide relief or make great music?

Some of the musicians in the 70-piece WPA Federal Music Project Symphony orchestra leaving for Stockton to give the first of a series of concerts in Northern California towns, 1936. From the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection.

But the book is not only about these more elite organizations. She discusses African American jazz bands on the Barbary Coast and their struggles against the mainly white musicians union. She also traces the history of Chinese opera and the impression it made upon western musicians. Finally there is a section about the contemporary music concerts and publications of Henry Cowell's New Music Society.

Music and Politics in San Francisco, while packed with detail, is very entertaining and readable.

Exterior of the War Memorial Opera House, 1934, from the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection.

Music and Politics in San Francisco: From the 1906 Quake to the Second World War by Leta E. Miller (University of California Press, 2012).

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Facts Behind The Songs

Facts Behind the Songs by Marvin E. Paymer is an idiosyncratic reference book for popular music. Its scope is the music from the 1890s (the earliest days of Tin Pan Alley) to the early 1990s.  The books consists of alphabetical succession of articles by 11 contributors that are classified into 8 categories: 1) origin; 2) foreign influence; 3) domestic influence; 4) dissemination; 5) historical survey; 6) genre; 7) song subject; and 8) style of music and lyrics.

"Origin" brings together articles relating to the creators and the production of music. Some articles are about locales, others are about venues for creation.

"Foreign Influence" looks at the contribution of other cultures in American popular music.  Domestic Influence likewise considers how American genres (ranging from Bebop to Zydeco) entered the musical mainstream.

"Dissemination" looks at technology and the institutions that offer music.  The "Historical Survey" devotes a chapters to a variety of time periods; genre lists articles on a variety of styles of music.

Perhaps the most useful category is "Song Subject." There are articles about more than 100 categories ranging from "age" ("Forever Young," "My Generation") to "writing" ("Take a Letter, Maria," "Paperback Writer"). I have found this book to be helpful for the article "Classics" which includes a table called "The Classics and Popular Song." This provides a convenient listing of classical melodies that have become popular songs.

The book closes with a "Catalogue of Songs" that lists every song mentioned in the book giving the year it was written and the names of the songwriters. It also indexes every article where each song is mentioned.

The information in Facts Behind The Songs is mostly covered in other reference sources. The value of the book is the unique organization of this information.

Facts Behind the Songs: A Handbook of American Popular Music From the Nineties to the '90s, Marvin E. Paymer, general editor (Garland Pub., 1993).

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Sfiato Wind Quintet performs . . .

Sfiato means to breathe or exhale in Italian. The Sfiato Wind Quintet was formed in 2014 in San Francisco. Currently, the quintet consists of Catherine Jennings on flute, Audrey Gore on oboe, Leah di Tullio on clarinet, Jeremiah Broom on bassoon, and Ryan Timmons on French horn. They will play a broad range of chamber music composed by musicians as varied as Haydn, Francaix, Hindemith, Piazzola, Ravel, Uhl, Jacob, Gershwin.
     Leah di Tullio was previously in a music group called The Bernal Hill Players and together they presented two world premieres by  Mexican composers Guillermo Galindo and Eduardo Gamboa inspired by neighborhoods of Mexico City. Sfiato Wind Quintet’s last performance at the Koret auditorium of Main Branch of San Francisco Public Library was very well attended and much appreciated by the audience who after the performance engaged the musicians in a lengthy Q&A session. 
    On Sunday, August 21st, the quintet will play pieces by Barber, Gershwin, Ibert, Danzi, Arrieu, Arnold and more. This promises to be an exciting afternoon. Don’t miss it!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

San Francisco Neon: Survivors and Lost Icons

The Art, Music & Recreation Center is currently hosting an exhibit of images from the book San Francisco Neon: Survivors and Lost Icons through October 30, 2016.  These images taken by Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan were taken over a nearly 40 years period and document signage past and present.

Tom Downs' introduction provides an appreciation of what neon light does for a cityscape.  He recalls that fifty or more years ago, when neon was at its peak, the "collage effect" that it created within the night-scape.  Neon is especially effective in the fog-socked city like San Francisco where it creates a film noir-ish atmosphere.  In the book's "Neon Notes," Eric Lynxwiler writes that neon began to wane in the City in the 1970s as many locally owned shops shut down.

The endnotes of San Francisco Neon, written by Barna, Homan, Downs and Lynxwiler, provide addresses and background information for every image in the book.  The images in the exhibit also provide this background.  There is also a very helpful "Photo Index by Neighborhood."  The entries in this index are color coded to indicate whether a sign exists and continues to be illuminated, exists but the neon tubes are damaged or gone, or has been removed.

For a wider, historical context, Architecture of the Night: The Illuminated Building, by Dietrich Neumann, traces the evolution of light as a feature used to enhance a structure and as signage.  This became a feature beginning with the various World's Fairs beginning with Chicago in 1893. The first Neon sign appeared at the Grand Palais in Paris in 1910.  The first American Neon signage appeared in 1923 with the brand "Packard" illuminated at a Los Angeles Car dealership

Companies started advertising in San Francisco newspapers to install neon lights around 1929.  A search of the San Francisco Chronicle Historical database shows evidence of the growth in neon lighting in the City.

Advertisement from the San Francisco Chronicle April 5, 1929 

The rise of neon lighting also result in the jobs for those who created and fabricated oneon light, as well as the profession of neon light salesmen.

Want ad from the San Francisco Chronicle March 27, 1931

By the early 1930s, San Francisco's Chinatown must have been bathed in neon light.  A review of the 1933 film The Son Daughter, set in Chinatown, remarks that the of the film "The scene is not Grant Avenue today, but the Dupont street of the pre-Neon light era..." (San Francisco Chronicle (January 23, 1933)).  Downs, in his forward to San Francisco Neon, notes how many remnants of Chinatown's neon light era remain in signs that no longer work that are still attached to building above street level.

The images and the book San Francisco Neon perform the excellent of service of documenting elements of our City's past and present.  They also give us cause to notice our surroundings more carefully and appreciate these beautiful illuminations.


Architecture of the Night: The Illuminated Building by Dietrich Neumann with essays by Kermit Swiler Champa, et al. (Prestel, c2002).

San Francisco Neon: Survivors and Lost Icons: Photographs 1976-2014 by Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan; foreword by Tom Downs ; neon notes by Erick Lynxwiler (Giant Orange Press, 2014).

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Handbook of Instrumentation

 Orchestration and instrumentation are two inter-related musical skills.  Orchestration is the art of combining and balancing instruments and voices in ensembles large and small.  Instrumentation concerns the capabilities of the individual music components that make up these ensembles.

Andrew Stiller's Handbook of Instrumentation is an outstanding reference book on this subject.  In this handbook he covers all the instruments employed today in the major instrumental families (woodwinds, brass, percussion, strings and keyboards).  He also devotes space to the voice, electronics and to early music instruments.

His introduction as well as passages throughout the book are devoted to the physics and acoustics of these musical forces.  He often explains how sound is generated by each instrumentalist.  One particularly enlightening passage is his discussion of the voice, where he addresses the various registers and timbres and the acoustic properties of vowels. 

A discussion of a given instrument will typically detail the entire instrument family.  For instance, he provides illustrations and explanation for seven members of the clarinet family (the Ab, Eb, Bb, alto, bass, contra-alto and contrabass clarinets).  For each member he provides its written range, an understanding of how loudly and softly it can be played, an explanation of its transposition.  He also gives a sense of the instruments availability - the Bb clarinet is ubiquitous, the bass clarinet is common and the Ab clarinet is rare.

The section on percussion contains a very wide array from instruments -- from those of a classical orchestra, to the trap set, Latin percussion and mallet percussion.  He also describes the effect of the various sticks and mallets used on these instruments.

Every section has gives the instrument's "performance characteristics," fingering and trill charts and related tools, techniques or specialized notation.  At the end of the discussion of every instrument there are also musical examples that highlight the instrument.

The information in this book is aimed primarily at the student or professional composer or arranger.  It also serves as a handy reference for instrumentalists (and librarians) because of the fingering and trill charts included for every instrument.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Little about Logos

The Dewey numbers 740 – 749 are classified in Dewey-speak as “Drawing and decorative arts.” The drawing section spans 740 to 743.99. Hidden within the section, 741.6 are "graphic design, illustration and commercial art." This is one section for information about logos, but as with this title, Logo Life, one can also find the subject farther down the shelf in books with a call number of 741.67 (or 658, or 745.2...)

Logo life: life histories of 100 famous logos concentrates on the histories of 100 well known logos, showing the logo at its inception, and then depicting each new look. The contents page lists companies which will be familiar to most people.

 One of the more interesting histories is that of the Apple logo. In its first incarnation, the apple takes much less space. The intricate drawing shows an apple tree, with an apple illuminated, and a man sitting underneath. A quote from Wordsworth was used: “Newton…a mind forever voyaging through strange seas of thought…alone.” Besides being difficult to reproduce, the logo hardly looked “forward thinking.” For the second incarnation, Steve Jobs' only instruction was that it should not be “too cute." Robert Janoff created an apple and placed rainbow colors within it. The bite was taken out of the fruit to distinguish it from a cherry. The typeface used was Motter Tektura, considered very stylish at the time. The lower case “a” fit very snugly in the bite space. Contrary to popular folklore, the bite did not represent a “byte,” nor was it a biblical reference.

 One of the most famous brand logos - Coca Cola - was created by the founder’s bookkeeper, Frank Mason Robinson. The Spencerian typeface, was the most popular script during the late 1800s. Robinson thought that the double “C’s” would work well for advertising purposes. The logo was first registered in 1887, with black script, but was updated with red type meant to attract younger customers. The logo of the 1940’s has stayed unchanged over the years, though additional copy or graphics may be added for specific purposes.

The concept of shipping, figures prominently in the choice of imagery for Starbucks, since coffee is is always shipped to the US from faraway places. The founders were looking through shipping books from the 16th century when they found a woodblock of a two-tailed mermaid. They liked the image and hoped that their product would be as seductive as the siren.  The founders borrowed the name “Starbuck,” from a character in Moby Dick. When Il Giornale merged with Starbucks, the stars in the ring, and the dark green were taken from that logo.  The mermaid's breasts which had been exposed in the first logo, were covered with hair, though you could still see the belly button. Another change came in 1992, when the mermaid was given more of a close-up where the two tails were partially out of the picture. To celebrate the 40th anniversary, the name was removed, and the brand recognition became dependent on the (now green) image.

Other books about logo design can be found here:

Designing B2B brands : lessons from Deloitte and 195,000 brand managers / Carlos Martinez Onaindia  and Brian Resnick.

How to design logos, symbols, and icons : 23 internationally renowned studios reveal how they develop trademarks for print and new media / Gregory Thomas

Logo Design Love : A Guide To Creating Iconic Brand Identities / from David Airey.

Logobook / by Ludovic Houplain ; Ed., Julius Wiedemann.

Masters of design : logos & identity : a collective of the world's most inspiring logo designers / Sean Adams.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Five Fabulous Women Artists of the 1800's - a slide lecture by Marlene Aron

On Tuesday, June 28th, local artist Marlene Aron will present slides of the beautiful and inspiring art of five women artists: Mary Cassatt, Berthe Morisot, Marie Bracquemond, Eva Gonzales, and Camille Claudel.

These artists exhibited their work in the Salon and the World Exposition in Paris, three of them showing their paintings alongside Pissarro, Degas, Renoir, and Monet in the very first Impressionist exhibitions in the early 1870's. They painted their family, children, friends, and lovers, along with scenes of gardens, forests, and landscapes. Take a journey through the artistry and lives of some of the movers and shakers of the Impressionist movement.

Tuesday, June 28th
6pm - 7:30pm 
Main Library
Latino/Hispanic Room (lower level)

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Fashion Archives from Proquest

We are very pleased to announce the addition of the Fashion Archives from Proquest to our list of full-text databases! With high-resolution color and article-level indexing, the online archives provide unprecedented historical coverage of leading fashion and women’s magazines.  The Fashion Archives collection includes:

The Harper's Bazaar Archive

A comprehensive, searchable archive of every page, advertisement, and cover of every issue of Harper's Bazaar from its first appearance in 1867 to the current month. Reproduced in high-resolution color page images and supported by fully searchable text and indexing, this resource provides access to a chronicle of 20th century American and international fashion, culture, and society, supporting researchers by offering a cultural lens into the modern era.
Coverage: 1867 - current

The Vogue Archive

A complete searchable archive of American Vogue, from the first issue in 1892 to the current month, reproduced in high-resolution color page images. Every page, advertisement, cover and fold-out has been included, with rich indexing enabling you to find images by garment type, designer and brand names. The Vogue Archive preserves the work of the world's greatest fashion designers, stylists and photographers and is a unique record of American and international fashion, culture and society from the dawn of the modern era to the present day. Coverage 1867 - current.

Women's Magazine Archive

An archival research resource comprising the full backfiles of leading women’s interest consumer magazines. Titles are scanned from cover to cover in high-resolution color and feature detailed article-level indexing. Coverage ranges from the late-19th century through to 2005 and these key primary sources permit the examination of the events, trends, and attitudes of this period. Among the research fields served by this material are gender studies, social history, economics/marketing, media, fashion, politics, and popular culture.  SOme titles included are Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies Home Journal and Redbook.

The Women's Wear Daily Archive

A comprehensive archive of Women’s Wear Daily, from the first issue in 1910 to material from within the last twelve months, reproduced in high-resolution images. Every page, article, advertisement and cover has been included, with searchable text and indexing. The Women’s Wear Daily Archive preserves one of the fashion industry's most influential reads. Key moments in the history of the industry, as well as major designers, brands, retailers and advertisers are all covered in this publication of record.

Also included in this collection is the Design and Applied Arts Index which is not full text.  We do however own many of the journals and books in print.

Design and Applied Arts Index (DAAI)

This database is the premier source of information for all aspects of design and crafts, from textiles and ceramics to vehicle design, advertising and sustainability. Covers journal articles, exhibition reviews and news items from 1973 to the present.
Coverage: 1973 - current

How to search:

Go to sfpl.org and hover over eLibrary then click on "Articles and Databases".  Choose "Topics" then click on "Art & Music".


Each of these databases can be searched individually or concurrently.  By clicking on "Fashion Archive" you are taken to a search screen that limits the search to only the five databases listed above.  There is a basic search screen which is a keyword search and an Advanced Search screen that allows for more focused searching and results.

In the Advanced Search it is possible to limit to document type such as advertisement, catalog, correspondence, fiction, interview and many more.  The advanced search defaults to a keyword search but can be narrowed down to author, title, publication name, document text, etc.

An Advanced Search for "Hemline" and limited to Advertisement reveals this 1928 Lord and Taylor advertisement from Vogue:

Advertisement: Lord & taylor. (1928, Jan 01). Vogue, 71, 34. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.sfpl.org/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/904318506?accountid=35117
Another search limiting to "Article" reveals over 3,000 results including this 1928 article in the "Styles for Smaller Women" section of Women's Wear Daily.

Styles for smaller women: Afternoon frocks retain uneven hemline for spring. (1928, Nov 26). Women’s Wear Daily, 37, 1. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.sfpl.org/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1653748519?accountid=35117

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Giulio Minetti (1866-1958)

Giulio Minetti, image from the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection

Giulio Minetti, a native of Turin, Italy, was born on November 22, 1866.  He emigrated to the United States in 1891, arriving in New York en route to San Francisco aboard the vessel La Normandie on January 12, 1891 (the ship's passenger list can be found at Ancestry.com).  It's not clear what brought him to San Francisco, but after a short time he became an active part of the City's music life.and quickly made an impression on San Francisco's musical life.

While in Europe he was reputed to have been a music school class-mate and a fellow member of the La Scala orchestra with Arturo Toscanini.  His earliest mention in the San Francisco Chronicle is as a participant in a April 1893 concert supporting the prima donna soprano Signora Virginia Ferrari (his aunt).  He made a positive impression at a September 22nd performance of Vieuxtemps' Fourth Violin Concerto at the Tivoli Theatre conducted by Adolph Bauer.  In October of that year he performed the same work on a Symphony Concert led by Adolph Bauer.  The Chronicle's unnamed critic noted the audience's appreciation:
The violinist, Giulio Minetti, went through [the Concerto's] endless difficulties in admirable style, and displayed a virtuoso quality that won him several enthusiastic recalls.
He continued to be a successful soloist in the City's concert halls which made inroads for him with the City's elite arts patrons.  At a November solo recital at Golden Gate Hall, he performed for a "distinctly fashionable [audience], San Francisco's leading society people being conspicuously numerous."

That is not to say that his ascendance in the music scene did not arouse some envy.  The Chronicle reported that Minetti got into a fracas with a fellow Italian-American, the pianist and composer Riccordo Lucchesi.  Lucchesi was also the San Francisco correspondent for the Gazzetta musicale di Milano, monthly musical magazine based in Milan, Italy.  The Chronicle reported him denigrating Minetti's skills as a classical musician, noting Lucchesi's assertion that "Minetti was a fourth-rate musician who had previously played in a beer saloon in Los Angeles."

Lucchesi actually wrote the following (using the pseudonym R.A. Look):
Ai matinées orchestrali dati al Tivoli (specie di café-chantant) prese parte un nostro connazionale, il signor Giulio Minetti di Torino. Egli suonò il IV Concerto di Vieuxtemps, mostrando buona scuola e in qualche punto anche un certo grado di finitezza, poco riposo, non troppa sicura intonazione nelle note acute e non abbastanza robusta la cavata per sovrastare in un Tutti d’orchestra; parmi anche che la scelta del pezzo non fosse adeguata alle sue forze; infatti io non lasciai di lodare il Minetti in altra occasione appunto dopo averlo udito in pezzi di minor mole. In ogni modo quando si è costretti du suonare seralmente in orchestra facendo quel goffo tirocinio che il repertorio volgare dei vaudevilles e operette comiche richiede, non è possibile potere raggiungere le alte vette dell’arte.
[An orchestral matinee at the Tivoli (a sort of singing cafe) featured the participation of our countryman, Mr. Giulio Minetti of Turin. He played the Vieuxtemps Fourth Concerto, showing good training and in some passages even a certain degree of finish, repose, a not too sure intonation in the high notes, and not enough strength to prevail above the tutti orchestra. It also seems to me that the choice of the piece does not play to his strengths. In fact, I have not failed to praise Minetti on other occasions when I heard him playing pieces on a smaller scale. In any case when you are forced nightly to play in an orchestra making an awkward apprenticeship requiring the vulgar repertoire of vaudeville and comic operettas, you cannot reach the highest peaks of art.]
Nothing about any beer saloons, but Lucchesi does plenty of damning with faint praise.

Neither this criticism or the fisticuffs did anything to slow Minetti's ascent within San Francisco's classical music world.  Within a couple of years he became concert master of the old Tivoli Opera and of the San Francisco Symphony (a predecessor unrelated to the present day San Francisco Symphony active between 1896 and 1903).

Minetti was also active as a teacher.  He taught violin at Mills College from the late 1890s and maintained studios in San Francisco and Berkeley where he taught violin, voice and ensemble.  He also later taught at the California Conservatory of Music founded by Hermann Genss in 1907.

From 1906 he began directing orchestral concerts at the University of California in Berkeley.  He was the director of the San Francisco Orchestral Society.  He also formed a Società Filarmonica Orchestrale within San Francisco's Italian-American community.

source: Berkeley Daily Gazette (November 18, 1914), 7.

A 1907 newspaper column announcing of a 1907 performance of his work entitled "La caprice" also noted that Minetti had composed around 30 short pieces during the previous 15 years, and that music that he composed in Europe was familiar to audiences in Italy, France, Germany and Spain.  He said that he wrote "La caprice" during the ferry commute from his San Rafael home to San Francisco.  He was said to have lost many of his compositions during the 1906 Earthquake and Fire as well as a number of valuable violins.

One of his most important contributions to San Francisco's musical life was the formation of the Minetti String Quartet in 1896. At its onset, the quartet consisted of Minetti, 1st violin, Hans Koenig, 2nd violin, Andre Verdier, viola, and Arthur Weiss, 'cello.  This ensemble presented approximately a half dozen concerts a year for more that twenty years.

During the 1917 season, the Minetti String Quartet, Paul Whiteman (later famous as a big band leader) played viola along Minetti on 1st violin, William Laraia, 2nd violin and Arthur Weiss 'cello.  (11/6/1917).   Don Rayno's biography Paul Whiteman includes a publicity photograph of this iteration of the quartet.  This book also details the quartet's performances in 1917 and 1918.

Minetti is seated at the left; Paul Whiteman is standing behind him - image source: Center for Jazz Arts

Minetti was the second concert master (Theodore Thomas was the first) for the orchestra assembled for the Beethoven Festival of Music in August 1915.  Concurrent with the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, these programs also featured the unveiling of the Beethoven Statue in Golden Gate Park and marked the arrival of Alfred Hertz in San Francisco before taking over as the San Francisco Symphony's second conductor.

Hertz's choice as musical director was initially very controversial.  His predecessor, Henry Hadley, still had many supporters.  Additionally, because Hertz was a native of Germany, soon to be an opponent of the United States in the First World War, there was also innuendo about his loyalties.  Opponents of Hertz's appointment promoted a rival organization, The San Francisco People's Philharmonic, that competed with the San Francisco Symphony for musicians.  In 1916, Minetti, with the support of Hertz and the San Francisco Symphony Association, formed another rival ensemble, San Francisco People's Orchestra.  This organization was allowed to employ San Francisco Symphony musicians and was even given use of the Symphony library of orchestral parts (both of which were denied to the People's Philharmonic).

Winthrop Sergeant, future author and musical writer for the New Yorker, Time and Life magazines, recalled being able to study violin with Minetti at this time by assisting "with odd jobs around the studio, copying and marking sheet music..."  Minetti discovered that the 10 year old Sargeant had composed a work for orchestra and programmed it with the young composer conducting the San Francisco People's Orchestra.

Giulio Minetti, image from the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection

In the fall of 1916, Minetti began a short stint as the principal 2nd violinist and orchestra manager for the San Francisco Symphony, holding both these roles from 1916 to 1918 (while Paul Whiteman performed in the viola section).  He returned as principal 2nd violinist only for the years 1918 to 1920.  As orchestra manager he was involved in negotiating contracts with the musicians of the orchestra.

His personal life went through a few twists and turns.  In 1902, his aunt Virginia Ferrari had to explain to the San Francisco Chronicle how her nephew had fallen "under the influence" of a Mrs. Adelaide Lloyd-Smith. He had formed an attachment to her as a vocal student and used his quartet to accompany her performances.  Minetti aided Mrs. Lloyd-Smith in evading an order to testify in a trial and gave her money.  She ultimately was arrested, trial and acquitted of "obtaining money under false pretenses" in Seattle.

In the coming years he settled down.  He married Eleanor de Fremery in Oakland, June 9, 1912.  Her ancestors came to California in 1849 and her father was the founder of the San Francisco Savings Union.  They lived at on 2615 California Street and had a country home in San Anselmo.

After his marriage he remained active.  He had a School of Violin and Ensemble at his house.  He also formed the Minetti Student orchestra that rehearsed at the California Club at 1750 Clay Street.  When the Commonwealth Club formed an orchestra in 1931, they selected Minetti to conduct.  He was also a member of the Bohemian Club for 47 years.

In the 1930s he formed the San Francisco Sinfonietta Orchestra (ca. 1933) employing twenty musicians from the San Francisco Symphony.  This organization presented a few San Francisco premieres of contemporary music such as On Wenlock Edge and The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Jacques Ibert's Divertissement for small orchestra, and, notably, Edgard Varèse's Offrandes.

According to sculptor Raimondo Puccinelli, a group of San Francisco's "most noted citizens" unsuccessfully petitioned Pierre Monteux, conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, to perform Varèse's music.  Puccinelli recalled:
However the petition did do a service: Varèse met, at this time, an elderly Italian director, Giulio Minetti, who was acquainted with the petition. He became very interested. Minetti, a modest, hard working musician, had really never gone beyond the “usual” repertoire. However, he decided to place an important Varèse work on his next programme. And so on February 15th, 1938 his Sinfonietta performed “Offrandes” at the San Francisco Community Playhouse.

Varèse and Minetti worked hard together as Minetti was not a “modern”…However, with Varèse’s guidance during the rehearsals he managed to do a marvelous job. Result: sensational. The theatre was sold out. the whole audience stood up and clapped and clapped: a real standing ovation. “Encore” and “Bis” were shouted until Minetti finally gave in and gave a repetition of a large section of the work. And thus San Francisco was spared the shame of having completely turned down Varèse.
Minetti also remained active in the Italian community.  He led concerts for San Francisco's Leonardo Da Vinci Society.  He often participated in benefit concerts for the Italian-American community.  He was a charter member of the Il Cenacolo Club.  

Though unsung in music histories, Giulio Minetti was a central figure in San Francisco's Music Life for more than sixty years.  He was continuously active as soloist, orchestral musician, chamber musician, conductor and educator.  Minetti died on March 31, 1958 at the age of 91.

He also contributed to the score collection of the San Francisco Public Library.  We have works of music signed by him as well as orchestral parts stamped with the name of his ensemble.


[Note: The San Francisco Chronicle articles can be found in the San Francisco Chronicle Historical database available to San Francisco Public Library card holders]

"About," The Leonardo Da Vinci Society [webpage].

Armsby, Leonora Wood, "The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra: First Decade," California Historical Society Quarterly Vol. 25, No. 3 (Sep., 1946), pp. 229-254. [available in JStor]

California Composers: Biographical Notes, compiled by Jessica M. Fredricks (California Federation of Music Clubs, 1934).

Catalog of Mills College and Seminary (Carruth & Carruth Printers, 1899).

"Eleanor Minetti Services," San Francisco Examiner (May 27, 1967).

First Performances (Music Department, San Francisco Public Library, n.d.).

"Footlight Flashes," San Francisco Chronicle (April 16, 1893), 3.

Frankenstein, Alfred, "Sinfonietta Honors Varese Songs," San Francisco Chronicle (February 16, 1938), 7.

Fried, Alexander, "Minetti Conducts Little Symphony in Novel Numbers," San Francisco Examiner (December 2, 1937).

Henderson, Victor, "A Musical Pilgrimage," Sunset (April 1907), 561-565.

Gibbs, Jason, "'The Best Music at the Lowest Price': People's Music in San Francisco," MLA/NCC Newsletter 17/1 (Fall 2002), 5-10.

"Gossip about Musical People," Pacific Coast Musical Review vol. 40, no. 20 (August 13, 1921), p. 8.

"Hurt His Whiskers: A Lively Mill Between Two Musicians," San Francisco Chronicle (December 6, 1893).

"A Listing of All the Musicians of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra from its Founding in 1911," The Stokowski Legacy [webpage].

Look, R.A., “San Francisco, 23 Settembre 1893,” Gazzetta Musicale di Milano 48/42 (15 Ottobre 1893), 698.

"Maestro Giulio Minetti Dies at 91," San Francisco Chronicle (April 1, 1958), 17.

Mason, Redfern, "Commonwealth Club's Members form Orchestra," San Francisco Examiner (May 18, 1931).

"The Minetti Concert," San Francisco Chronicle (November 26, 1893), 3.

"Minetti Concert Next Friday," Oakland Tribune (April 2, 1911), 5

"The Minetti Quartet," Town Talk (January 25, 1908), 25.

"A Modern Experiment," Center for Jazz Arts (February 2005).

"Music Lovers to have Treat: Compositions written by Minetti will be Heard in Berkeley," Oakland Tribune (April 16, 1907), 8.

"Musical Treat Assured: Series of Musical Concerts are to be Given in Berkeley," Oakland Tribune (January 29, 1906), 8.

"Mysterious Woman of San Rafael is Identified as Mrs. Adelaide Lloyd Smith," San Francisco Chronicle (December 26, 1902), 10.

Thomas Nunan, "New San Francisco People's Orchestra Helped by Hertz," Musical America (May 6, 1916), 58.

Thomas Nunan, "San Francisco Philharmonic to Continue Its Campaign," Musical America (August 19, 1916), 27.

Thomas Nunan, "San Francisco's Social Set Takes Interest in People's Philharmonic," Musical America (July 27, 1916), 37.

"Pacific Coast Musical Notes," Christian Science Monitor (February 26, 1916), 17.

Rayno, Don, Paul Whiteman: Pioneer in American Music, volume 1 1890-1930 (The Scarecrow Press, 2003).

Puccinelli, Raimondo, "Raimondo Puccinelli's recollections of Edgar Varèse in San Francisco," SK Stiftung Kultur [webpage]

"San Francisco (California), 7 marzo," Gazzetta musicale di Milano (27 marzo 1902), 193.

Sargeant, Winthrop, In Spite of Myself (New York: Doubleday & Company, 1970).

"Sinfonietta Launches New Enterprise," San Francisco Chronicle (September 11, 1932), D3.

"Singer Who will be Heard Here Soon is Greet by Throngs on Tour," Oakland Tribune (October 28, 1917), 10.

"The Symphony Concert: Bauer's Last Programme of the Summer Season," San Francisco Chronicle (September 23, 1893), 7.

"Young Native Will Lead Orchestra: Ten-Year-Old Boy Writes Symphony," San Francisco Chronicle (May 11, 1916), p. 1.