The predecessor of Music in Gotham is Vera Brodsky Lawrence’s three volume study, Strong on Music (1836-1862). Lawrence’s remarkable contribution was to present musical life in the theater, the concert hall, and the opera house year by year in all its diversity. She built the volumes around the hither-to unpublished comments on music in the diaries of George Templeton Strong (1820-1875), a member of New York’s elite, a lawyer, and an eloquent music enthusiast. Lawrence planned to bring her study to 1875, but her own death occurred when she was completing work on 1862. Working alone, the three volumes had taken her twenty-five years. The result of her work is an indispensable resource for scholars, which has opened up New York’s musical life for further study. Music in Gotham was designed by its Co-Directors, the well-known musicologists and specialists in American music, Adrienne Fried Block and John Graziano, as a continuation and expansion of Lawrence’s work. The progress in technology and our ability to employ Research Assistants through federal, institutional, and foundation support has allowed us to construct a new comprehensive and systematic presentation of the important data generated by our research.
Seeds of the current project were planted in 1999 when Graziano and Block co-taught a doctoral seminar entitled, “Music in New York City, 1860-1880.” Each student created a chronology of musical events for one year from a single newspaper and then wrote a narrative analyzing the events. The following semester, one of the seminar’s students added additional years to our chronology as an Independent Study project. In 2001 Block was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship to begin work on our current project; the Ph. D. Programs in Music provided the project with an office, which she organized, and she began the inputting and preliminary analysis of data on orchestral music. Block, together with Graziano, planned the research, chose the sources, and began the collection of photocopies from newspapers. She also began the excerpting of entries from the Strong diary, and identified three other diaries at the New-York Historical Society, all four of which were transcribed by staff members.
At the same time, with support from the Baisley Powell Elebash Endowment, Music in Gotham began the labor intensive work of building our library of data on musical performances from selected contemporary newspapers and journals, and adding this new information to the chronologies begun by the seminar participants. An expanding staff of doctoral students both collected and entered the data into our chronologies. These additions required developing criteria for inclusion of data starting with four newspapers, which gradually were increased to the current fourteen. Queries of all this material have been standardized to provide consistent entries of the data. Upon completion of the first phase of the project, we will initiate a data collection of the years 1869-1875.
We are grateful to the efforts of our past staff:
and of our volunteers: