America has, until recently, held a rather insignificant position in the field of music as compared with the European countries; but during the past forty years, the efforts of noted patrons of music and the influence of such musical geniuses as McDowell and Farwell have done much to arouse people to a rapidly increasing interest in this branch of the arts.
In connection with this development in the nation, it is of interest to note the growth of the Department of Music at Harvard and its successful attempt to establish in Cambridge a musical centre. Harvard was the first of our large universities to offer a course in music as a part of its curriculum, and from that one small course there has been a steady growth, made possible by the interest of a considerable number of students, until now the Department offers twelve different courses. These enable the musician to do a good deal of practical and theoretical study, but their great value to most men lies in cultivating in the individual, by a study of the compositions of the great masters, an intellectual appreciation of music.
Moreover, through the efforts of the Musical Department regular series of concerts and recitals are each year given in Cambridge by well known musicians. In Mr. Arthur Whiting's pianoforte recitals and those of Dr. A. T. Davison on the organ, and the chamber concerts of the Kneisel and the Flonzaley Quartets Harvard men have ample opportunity to hear really good music. Besides these there are always special concerts given by noted musicians or singers during the year. The work of the Opera Association which numbered over 1000 undergraduates the first year, in obtaining reduced rates to the Opera for its members, shows the eagerness of Harvard men to benefit by the opportunities for musical education which Boston affords. There has been some talk of making a similar arrangement with the managers of the Symphonies, which would serve to make it easier for college men to attend these concerts regularly. The Harvard Musical Review, which appeared for the first time last October, a paper without precedent in the annuals of American colleges, is another auspicious sign of the flourishing state of the study and appreciation of music in the University.
Although the number of men who through their own effort are benefitting by the musical instruction which Harvard offers is steadily increasing, the majority of undergraduates are still inclined to view the achievements of the Musical Department with indifference. To cultivate a taste for good music, one must begin when comparatively young; and for most of us there will be no such opportunity, after leaving college as Harvard now affords.