The Second New England School and Helen Hopekirk: A Case Study in American Music Historiography
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractIn 1904, Amy Beach praised a fellow musician in this way: “As a composer, you give us work of remarkable beauty in its themes and their harmonious background, and of solid worth in their development.” Earlier in 1897, George Chadwick wrote to the same musician about a piano position at the New England Conservatory, “I would like to offer you the position first of all.” One might guess Beach and Chadwick were addressing another member of the so-called “Second New England School,” a group of figures often credited as a pioneering force in American Classical music, but it was actually written to Helen Hopekirk, a first-rate musician during that era who is largely ignored today. Perhaps due to an emphasis in American music historiography on American-born composers and particularly on orchestral works in this period, the “Second New England School” has excluded musicians like Hopekirk from its ranks. Through a historiography of the group as well as an examination of correspondence, programs, and reception, this paper reevaluates and expands the “Second New England School” by expanding its ranks beyond considerations of compositional aesthetics. By doing so, this research raises larger questions about how historiographical categories are created and about their implications.
Degree ProgramGraduate College