Oral Histories

Interview of Charles Seeger

Musicologist, composer, and folklorist. Research professor at the UCLA Institute of Ethnomusicology and founding member of the American Society for Comparative Musicology.
Subtitle:
Reminiscences of an American Musicologist
Topic:
Music
Interviewer:
Tusler, Adelaide G. and Briegleb, Ann M.
Interviewee:
Seeger, Charles
Persons Present:
Tapes I to VII: Seeger and Tusler; Tapes VIII to IX: Seeger and Briegleb.
Place Conducted:
Tapes I to VII: Seeger's home in Pacific Palisades, California; Tapes: VIII to IX: Ann M. Briegleb's office at the Institute of Ethnomusicology in Schoenberg Hall, UCLA.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Adelaide Tusler, Interviewer-Editor, UCLA Oral History Program; B.A., music, UCLA; M.L.S., UCLA. The interview was conducted by Ann M. Briegleb, Ethnomusicology Librarian and Archivist, UCLA; B.A., music, UCLA; M.L.S. UCLA.
Processing of Interview:
After completion of the Tusler series, the tapes were transcribed, and the transcript was edited and submitted to the respondent for review. Since a number of significant developments had occurred in the career of the respondent after the conclusion of the first series, two additional sessions were scheduled. As Ms. Tusler had left the Program, Ms. Briegleb agreed to conduct the supplementary interviews. After reviewing the transcript of the Tusler sessions, Ms. Briegleb picked up certain themes where the Tusler series left off, including the respondent's activities connected with the UCLA Institute of Ethnomusicology, his experiences in developing his invention, the Melo-graph, and his participation in the Society for Ethnomusicology.
Length:
17 hrs.
Language:
English
Copyright:
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Audio:
Family background--Father's business--Mexico City--Staten Island--Family life--Music influences--Reading matter--New York City--Return to Mexico City--The Mexican countryside--Boarding school--Entering Harvard--Harvard Music Department--Mother's background--Seeger snobbery
Harvard--Brother, Alan Seeger [Second Part] (September 22, 1966) Close friends--Stylus club--Music courses--Interest in modern music--Composition--Concerts--Debussy--Elected to Signet Society--Decision to go abroad--Honors in music--Childhood recollections--Religion
Arriving in Europe--Munich--Berlin--Apprenticeship with Cologne Municipal Opera--Travels with Foote and Wheelock--Paris with Ned Sheldon--Return to New York--First songs sold--Meeting first wife, Constance Edson--Her family background--Invitation to teach at the University of California--Full professorship--Birth of first son
Department of Music at Berkeley--Planning the summer session, 1913--History of Music course--Folksong session--University Recitals--Student Henry Cowell--Lessons and compositions--First musicology course--Dissonance as discipline in counterpoint--Building a music library--Visiting migratory workers- -Humanism replaces laissez-faire snobbery
World War I--The Radical Club--IWW marches--Conflict with Professor William D. Armes--Faculty friends--House on La Loma Avenue--Ostracism by university colleagues--Traveling in California--Trip East--Lectures at Harvard--Relation of music to society--Building a trailer--Traveling musicians
Conscientious objector--Circumstances of leaving Berkeley--Interest in musicology--Wintering in Pinehurst, North Carolina--Macdonald clan--Institute of Musical Art, New York--Ashram in Nyack--Scarsdale gatheringsat Blanche Walton's--Carl Ruggles--Ruth Crawford--Teaching at the institute--Mrs. Walton's parties
Institute of Musical Art--The Damrosches--The Depression and student reaction--New School for Social Research--Starting a musicological society--American attitudes towards musicians--Nyack yogi colony--Dr. Pierre Bernard--Growth of musical ideas--Divorce, and marriage to Ruth Crawford—Financial problems at New School--Painter Thomas Benton
Henry Cowell at the Institute--Composers' Collective--Marxism in the Depression--Workers' Song Book--"Aunt" Molly Jackson--May Day song competition--Aaron Copland--New York Musicological Society—American Musicological Society--American Library of Musicology--Erich von Hornbostel arrives in America--Forming the American Society for Comparative Musicology
Berlin Gesellschaft collapses [Second Part] (November 17, 1966) Phonogramm-Archiv--Resettlement Administration--John and Alan Lomax--Collecting folksongs--Sidney Robertson Cowell--Margaret Valiant in Cherrylake--Idealism and intrusion of politics--Marc Blitzstein--WPA Music Project
Folk music at the White House--Problems in the WPA music program--Folk Arts Committee--Flrst International Congress of Musicology--Army Song Book [Second Part] (December 1, 1966) Merging of emergency agencies--Decline of the Music Project--Department of Agriculture--WPA and Resettlement Administration contrasted--Importance of folklore and mores--Attacks on New Deal programs
Pan-American Union--Music Division setup--Vanett Lawler--Contracting Latin-American composers for publication--Latin-American tours for North American musicians--Creating interest in Latin-American music--Vanett Lawler's trip to South America--Economics and Pan-American relations--UNESCO changes picture at Pan-American Union
Ms. Lawler's cleverness--UNESCO--Julian Huxley's music program--International Music Council--Conflicts and personalities--French dominance of Council--Decline of the Pan-American Union program--Resignation--Problems of the International Music Council--Establishment of the Inter-American Music Council
American Musicological Society--Presidency, constitution, and journal--Committee on Musicology, American Council of Learned Societies--Encyclopedia of music project--Library of Congress lecture--Papers, articles, and projects--Journal of Ethnomusicology--Society for Ethnomusicology--Term as president
Seeger-Dickinson-Haydon triumvirate--American Musicological Society--"The Colleagues"--Society for Ethnomusicology--Anthropology and music--Field of ethnomusicology--Approaches to ethnomusicology--Western and non-Western music--UCLA Institute of Ethnomusicology--Theory and performance in ethnomusicology--American Folklore Society
Thoughts on oral history--Communication and philosophy--Connecting music with society--Mantle Hood and ethnomusicology--Appointment to UCLA--The Melograph--Klaus Wachsmann--Seminars and reading lists--Alan Merriam
The Melograph--Victor C. Anderson--Melograph Models A, B, C--Problems of the Model C--Plans for Model D--Preparation of Systematic Musicology--Theoretical and practical approaches at Institute--Epochs of history of ethnomusicology--Importance of musical knowledge