"As far as I know, there has been little or no attention paid in University music departments to the problem of training the young musical critic. Unequipped to cope with the delicate task of passing judgment upon musical artists, he has been obliged to learn in the rough school of experience", said Professor Edward B. Hill, of the Department of Music, when asked recently by a CRIMSON reporter to comment on the inauguration of a new course entitled "The Introduction to Musical Criticism."
"Hitherto the Division of Music has arranged its courses in two distinct categories", stated Professor Hill; "one to promote a better understanding of musical art among music-loving students, the other to prepare men of professional aims for their future work.
Will Furnish Basis for Critical Career
"Enough requests from students desiring to enter musical criticism have been received, however, to make clear the obligation of the Department to furnish the fundamentals essential for such a career. Accordingly the entire staff of the division is to cooperate in presenting a summary of standards of performance necessary in the concert and operatic fields. Each member of the division will assume responsibility for a survey of a special field.
"Necessarily this preparation will include the reading and discussion of selections of representative critical writings on music. An important feature of the course will be the opportunity given to criticise concerts throughout the year. Reports of this kind will be read and discussed in class.
"In the forty years of its existence the Division of Music in the University may be said to have done its share in furnishing composers, teachers of theory, conductors, performers, and critics of music. It is the hope of the Department that this experiment will add to the quota of distinguished personalities who have received their first serious musical training in Cambridge."
Gives Course on Russian Composers
Another innovation in the Division of Music is a course on the modern Russian composers, "The Russian Nationalists from Glinka through Stravinsky". Professor Hill will conduct this course.
When asked to comment upon Russian nationalistic music and the aims of the course, Professor Hill said: "This new course deals with one of the most important manifestations of nationalism in the growth of certain Russian composers beginning with Glinka, including the famous group, `the invincible band', touching upon the music of Tschaikowski, Scriabine, and others of his contemporaries, and concluding with Stravinsky, a thoroughly characteristic product of 20th century musical art.
Russia is Rich in Folksong
"The fact that Russia is unusually rich in folksong and in picturesque and fantastic literature", Professor Hill explained, "has given abundant material for these composers to develop a strictly national art without resorting to foreign sources.
"In this course the biographies of the separate composers will be treated in relation to the musical and literary influences of the epoch, but the primary material for discussion will be afforded by the works of the composers themselves. It is futile to study the music of any period from books, except in so far as they corroborate the internal evidence of the music itself.
"A feature which led to including this course in the curriculum for the present year was the fact that for the first time in its history the Boston Symphony Orchestra was to be led by the internationally famous conductor, Serge Koussevitsky, whose forthcoming concerts are awaited with an extraordinary degree of interest."