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Society for American Music

Awards presented at the 2004 Annual Conference
(click on the award to view the citation read at the conference)

 

Lowens Book Award (2002) Presented to Walter van de Leur for Something to Live For: The Music of Billy Strayhorn

Lowens Article Award (2002) Presented to J. Peter Burkholder for "The Organist in Ives," Journal of the American Musicological Society Volume 55, No. 2 (2002)

Lifetime Achievement Award (2004) Presented to Adrienne Fried Block

Distinguished Service Award (2004) Presented to John Graziano

Wiley Housewright Dissertation Award (2002) Presented to Mark Clague for "Chicago Counterpoint: The Auditorium Theater Building and the Civic Imagination" (University of Chicago)

Mark Tucker Award for an Outstanding Student Paper given at the conference presented to Larry Hamberlin for "Caruso and His Cousins: Portraits of Italian Americans in the Operatic
Novelty Songs of Edwards and Madden."

 

 



Lowens Book Award (2002) Presented to Walter van de Leur for Somthing to Live For: The Music of Billy Strayhorn
(citation by John Spitzer)

Each year the Irving Lowens Book Award honors authors of works that make outstanding contributions to American music studies. The Lowens Book Award Committee for 2002 considered 37 titles from 13 publishers before arriving at its choice for the best book about American music in 2002 - Something to Live for: the Music of Billy Strayhorn by Walter van de Leur, published by Oxford University Press.

Van de Leur surveys Billy Strayhorn's music, from the early songs of the Pittsburgh years, through over 25 years as composer-arranger for Duke Ellington's band, as well as works that Strayhorn created outside the Ellington organization. Something to Live For dispels the commonly held view of Strayhorn as Ellington's "alter ego" and the misleading notion that Ellington and Strayhorn composed and arranged jointly and that one man's work cannot be disentangled from that of the other.

Through comprehensive and meticulous analysis of Strayhorn's manuscript scores, plus scores and parts from the Ellington archives, van de Leur shows that Ellington's and Strayhorn's compositions and arrangements can be distinguished consistently and categorically from one another. Pieces in the Ellington band's repertory were either by Duke Ellington or by Billy Strayhorn, not by both men. Van de Leur then moves from diplomatic to stylistic analysis, showing that where Ellington's compositions tend to be episodic, Strayhorn's tend to develop over their entire span; where Ellington preferred close voicings, Strayhorn liked to spread the instruments out through several registers, and so on. Strayhorn, like Ellington, had a distinct and recognizable style as a composer and arranger.

Thanks to Walter van de Leur, Billy Strayhorn is no longer just a name on the record labels of "Lush Life" and "Take the A Train." Strayhorn emerges as a major American composer with a distinctive and powerful voice of his own.

Members of the 2002 Irving Lowens Book Award Committee were Marva Carter, Jeff Magee, Howard Pollack, John Spitzer, and Wilma Reid Cipolla (chair).

 



Lowens Article Award (2002) Presented to J. Peter Burkholder for "The Organist in Ives," Journal of the American Musicological Society Volume 55, No. 2 (2002)
(Citation by Paul Laird)

The recipient of the Society for American Music Irving Lowens Award for the best article on American music published in 2002 is J. Peter Burkholder for his "The Organist in Ives," published in the Summer 2002 issue, volume 55, number 2, of the Journal of the American Musicological Society. After consideration of many fine entries, the committee agreed that Professor Burkholder's exceptionally clear and detailed presentation essentially alters our understanding of Charles Ives and his music.

Although few American composers have received as much scholarly attention as Ives, Professor Burkholder forces his reader to see the composer in an entirely new light. We have all known that Ives was a church organist in his youth, but missing was our understanding of the fundamental importance that Ives's experience with the instrument had on many aspects of his compositional style. Professor Burkholder cuts a wide bibiographic swath and drew upon his more than two decades of study of the life and music of Charles Ives in producing an article that takes a fresh look at this iconic figure in American music.

Professor Burkholder first reviews Ives work as an organist, demonstrating from period sources that Ives, by age fifteen, was most accomplished on the instrument. He then surveys Ives's use of the organ in his compositions and how Mendelssohn's organ music appears to have been one of his decisive influences. Burkholder posits that the tradition of improvisation among organists carries special importance in Ives's compositional style and that his own virtuosity on the instrument was a factor in his choice to write exceptionally difficult music for other performers. Burkholder finds that the composer's experience as an organist influenced him to bring to his music for other instruments a number of stylistic choices: the types of effects made possible through multiple keyboards; "sonic exuviation," or stopping of one mass of sound and exposing a different, softer sound; and the sounds and harmonies of organ mixtures and mutations expressed in Ives's music in terms of parallel dissonant chords and use of simultaneous loud and soft layers of sound. Burkholder also describes Ives's use of fugue, quotation and elaboration of hymns, and pedal points as possible effects of his experience as an organist. Burkholder considers many compositions by Ives in a variety of genres, demonstrating an encyclopedic understanding of the composer's output and style. One notion that cannot stand after full appreciation of Burkholder's article is that Charles Ives was a musical amateur; this was a professional musician who wrote music based upon the sounds that he wanted to hear, informed broadly by his own experience as a professional church organist for thirteen years.

As Burkholder notes in his conclusion, the organ and its music is a somewhat separate tradition. Organ music usually has been written by organists and often studied primarily by organists. As Professor Burkholder has demonstrated persuasively, we must come to a better understanding of nineteenth-century organ music known and performed by Ives in order to understand more fully his music. We congratulate J. Peter Burkholder on his achievement.

 



Lifetime Achievement Award (2004) Presented to Adrienne Fried Block
(Citation by Dale Cockrell)

Idealist and realist, you have pioneered the fields of women's history and American music at their emergent moments, never faltering in your commitment to intellectual rigor, acting as a force for cultural equity in our academic community. Your College Music Society Report on "The Status of Women in College Music, 1976-77" (1980) issued a strong call for change, articulated with the most potent argument of all-statistics. Your visionary leadership in producing foundational materials, such as Women in American Music: A Bibliography of Music and Literature (1979), where about 1700 annotated articles accompanied an unmatched catalogue of compositions, justified the size of an unprecedented NEH grant; it helped others follow your path in challenging stale orthodoxies about the canon. The double-outsider nature of its topic only spurred you on. In 1988 your CMS report on "The Status of Women in College Music. In 1998, the publication of your captivating biography of a once-scorned "lady composer"---"Mrs. H. H. A. Beach," as she had been exclusively known ---capstoned many years of advocacy through articles, editions, program notes, and lectures, informal and formal, across the country. You, who called Amy Beach, a "Passionate Victorian," channeled your own passionate mind into enfranchising her music and her story. The awards it gathered -an Irving Lowens award from SAM, an ASCAP Deems Taylor award, and that most elusive prize, a sparkling New York Times review--proved even academics can change their collective minds. Now embarking on a new collaborative project, Music in Gotham, 1863-1875, to document and reassess urban musical culture in early New York, you have found a new mission, still served by your feminist risk-taking spirit. Writing brilliantly of Dvorak's "long American reach," as you did in an influential article of 1993, you have provided a fitting motto for your own career. Through your "long reach" we have benefited from the many ways you, as leader and mentor, have expanded the boundaries of possibility for American music studies. With this award we honor your exemplary intellectual integrity and scholarship




2004 Distinguished Service Award Presented to John Graziano
(Citation by Raoul Camus)

The Distinguished Service Citation for 2004 is awarded, finally, to a person who should have received it years ago. The delay in the award is not really surprising, since he always worked quietly and modestly behind the scenes, and was seldom given the recognition he deserved for his excellent accomplishments. A Sonnecker from the very beginning, we sat next to each other at the Iron Gate in 1974 when Irving Lowens proposed the formation of the Sonneck Society. He became active right away, enthusiastically supporting all the proposals that were then being made for this new adventure in support of American music. Newer members of our Society must be reminded that at that time Americanists were anathema in the American Musicological Society, and younger scholars working in American music were warned not to stress their interests in such a "minor and unimportant" field. That our honoree undertook not only to support the new society but also to work assiduously to solidify its foundation is an indication of his devotion and dedication to the society. He and his equally dedicated wife even hosted a two-day Board meeting at their home in the early days, including meals and lodging.

But a society does not begin with a simple suggestion. It needs By-laws, and as a two-term Member at Large (1977-81), our honoree was chair of the committee that developed them, and again, when the need arose as a result of the society's growth and expansion, served on the committee that revised them in 1987. He was an important member of the committee that planned and organized the first meeting of the new society, helping to establish traditions that are still part of our meetings. Held in Bayside, New York, that first meeting of the Sonneck Society became a traumatic yet bonding time for all when the city shut down its university and we were forced to find alternate spaces on short notice.

Having survived that emergency, our honoree went on to serve as chair of the nominating committee in 1977 and later as a member of the committee for 1981 through1983 and as a member of the Conference Site Selection committee for 1978. With his experience, he was often asked over the years to serve informally on many program and local arrangements committees. In 1986 he followed Allen Britton as editor of American Music. The four volumes under his stewardship not only featured a new format, but a wide variety of articles on all areas of American music, including a special issue devoted to the very successful Keele conference. In 1989 and again in 1992 he served as chair of the committee searching for new editors. He was elected Vice President in 1995, and served in that capacity for four years. He has at various times served as chair or member of the Lowens Book Award and the Development committees. It seems that any time the president needed something done, he would be called upon to lend his expertise and managerial skills. Serving in myriad ways over these almost thirty years of the society's existence, he set a standard for others to emulate in furthering the goals of the Society.

It is therefore with great personal pleasure that I announce the recipient of the 2004 Sonneck Society Distinguished Service Citation, Dr. John Graziano!

 




The 2002 Wiley Housewright Dissertation Award Presented to Mark Clague for
"Chicago Counterpoint: The Auditorium Theater Building and the Civic Imagination"
(University of Chicago)

The Wiley Housewright Dissertation Award competition for the year 2002 brought forth seventeen interesting and weighty tomes. Every one was a compelling challenge to the reader and to this chairperson's life-long habit of working in bed. The indubitable Virgil Thomson agreed that it's the best place to work but gave no instructions on how to take a ten-pounder to bed with you. Upon receiving one eight-hundred-page, two-volume dissertation, one committee member suggested initiating a "Dissertation on Wheels" service. All agreed that the most striking characteristic of the dissertations was not just size, but their overall excellence and a refreshing diversity of subject matter; the committee read on such popular culture topics as rock, hip-hop, and on regional eye-openers like Mark Clague's work on Chicago's Auditorium Theater. It was difficult to narrow the seventeen dissertations to four finalists and even harder to arrive at single winner from so imposing a field.

Many Americans don't tend to pay much attention to the Midwest, especially those of us who live on one or the other coast. East coast, West coast, and the hole in the middle of the bagel-the Midwest. Mark Clague's "Chicago Counterpoint: The Auditorium Theater Building and the Civic Imagination" (University of Chicago) focuses on a Chicago theatre building that opened in 1889 and on the music heard there. Yet as one of the members of the Housewright committee points out, ". . .those fortunate enough to read it will find themselves gracefully led from a study of a single musical institution, to a portrait of a larger metropolitan community, and, ultimately, toward a greater understanding of American cultural life." The depth and scope of Mark Clague's research is evident throughout; an outstanding piece of historical and interpretive scholarship, it is moreover a delight to read. Mark Clague leaves us believing that Chicago is, after all, a "helluva town," and has been for a long time. His exceptional dissertation is highly recommended to members of the Society as a model of approach, scholarly research, and elegant prose. As an expression of our regard, the committee has chosen "Chicago Counterpoint" as the finest dissertation on an American music topic in 2002. We are delighted to confer the Wiley Housewright Dissertation Award upon it and its worthy author, Mark Clague.