Back To School Musicology Blog Reading

September 14, 2010 at 3:05 pm 6 comments

In an effort to read more widely, I’ve been exploring my way through scholarly music blogs beyond my previous working definition.  Here are a few that I’ve been reading/just recently found.  Also, be sure and check out the many others found in our blogroll.

Unsung Symphonies:  Musicologist (and Amusicology guest blogger) Matthew Mugmon and theorist (and Amusicology guest blogger) Frank Lehman join forces to battle the canonical dominance of the so-called “big guys”: Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Dvorak, Brahms, Mahler, etc.  Each week they offer a new post on a symphony that neither they nor their readers know that well–if at all.  So far they’ve offered up insightful and witty entries on no less than seven (and a half) symphonies or what they call symphonies-in-all-but-name (SIABN).  Among those unsung on their blog you will find Walter Piston’s Pulizer Prize winning Symphony #3,  the “infinite series” based Second Symphony by Per Nørgård, the seascape inspired third symphony by Kurt Atterberg, titled Vastkunstbilder” (West Coast Pictures),  and Lee Johson’s Ode to the Grateful Dead.  Each eloquently authored post offers up a digestible balance of history and analysis.  Through a combination of highly descriptive language and a thorough integration of audio, they revive and re-approach these otherwise forgotten symphonies.  And,  indicative of their late 20th-century upbringing, pop-culture references abound (and abide).  Bravo!

Bibliolore — The Official Blog of RILM:  When I encountered this blog my first thought was: “Is there an unofficial blog of RILM?” [Answer: Not that I’ve found.]  What I like about this blog is its ability to locate and promote seemingly random items of interest to those interested in music reference and research.  Their About Page claims that every post relates to at least one or two entries in the RILM catalog.  As one might expect of such a concise database, the posts are short and to the point, prompting the interested reader to click through to the source for further reading.  Click on their “Curiosities” Category, for example, and you will find music-related posts about Bees, Sharks, and Bananas.  Their “New Periodicals” Category is also a great resource, calling attention to publications from around the world.

Harvard’s Loeb Music Library Blog:  While it could use a catchier name, I’m always happy to read what the staff (arguably the best of any library I’ve been in) have to share about my home away from home.  It has been quiet for a while, but I hope that the arrival of the new school year will bring more posts about digitization projects, recent acquisitions, and recordings.  The music library may be one of the things I miss most about Harvard when I graduate this spring.  With this blog, however, we can all keep up on their new and exciting additions.

New blogs and bloggers pop up all the time.  If you’ve got a blog you think we should know about, add it to the comments section below.

Entry filed under: musicology, Ryan Raul Bañagale. Tags: , , .

Brian Wilson Reimagines Rhapsody in Blue Guest Post by Alexander Rehding: Happy Birthday, Tonality!


  • 1. Ralph Locke  |  September 14, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    These look wonderful! Good point about how the name of a blog may or may not reveal the kinds of riches it offers….

    Some of your readers might like to know about From Beyond the Stave. It’s a blog put out by the publishers Boydell and Brewer (in the UK) and University of Rochester Press. It focuses on new books about music, and the postings are often essays by the books’ authors: how they came to write the book, what problems they encountered, and so on.

    Recent books profiled include Peter Dickinson’s collection of interviews he (and a few other people) did with Samuel Barber and friends of Barber (including Menotti and Leontyne Price–and musicologist H. Wiley Hitchcock).

    The word play in the blog’s title is clearer if you pronounce “stave” with a long “a.”

  • 2. Matt Mugmon  |  September 14, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Thanks, Ryan, for the nice write-up on Unsung Symphonies! We would like to invite everyone to do things: comment on the posts that are already there, and give us ideas for symphonies to talk about. We’re always looking for exciting music we haven’t heard so we can share it with all the curious listeners out there.

  • 3. Liza Vick  |  September 14, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Thanks very much Ryan – we are so glad you enjoy the Loeb Music Library blog and we’ll get new postings up soon. It is collaborative, but Kerry does most of the maintenance and writing/chasing down articles. Do you or your readers have suggestions for a catchier name?

  • 4. Ryan Raul Bañagale  |  September 14, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    @ Ralph – This is a great blog with consistently interesting updates. Thanks for the reminder to our readers!

    @ Matt – I’d really like to see you and Frank’s thoughts on Tan Dun’s “Internet Symphony, Eroica.” This is the piece that was part of a perfromance by an orchestra assembled via YouTube auditions: Here is the piece: Internet Symphony, Eroica.

    @ Liza – On second thought, I’m not sure it needs a catchier name, but a google search of “Harvard Music Library” should return your (Kerry’s) fantastic blog, making it easier to find. Right now this isn’t the case.

    If you know of any other blogs out there we should be aware of, please leave a comment!

  • 5. D.A.  |  September 16, 2010 at 7:26 am

    I enjoy the RILM blog.. thanks for introducing me to Unsung symphonies! 🙂

  • 6. RILM  |  October 6, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks very much for letting people know about our blog! It’s great to know about yours, too–we have added it to our blogroll.


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