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Arthur Mendel (Conductor, Music Scholar)

Born: June 6, 1905 - Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Died: October 14, 1979 - Newark, New Jersey, USA

The eminent American music scholar and conductor, Arthur Mendel, studied at Harvard University (B.A., 1925). From 1925 to 1927 he took courses in theory with Nadia Boulanger in Paris.

Returning to America, Arthur Mendel was literary editor of G. Schirmer, Inc. from 1930 to 1938. He also wrote music criticism in The Nation from 1930 to 1933. He was editor of the American Musicological Society's journal from 1940 to 1943), and editor for Associated Music Publishers from 1941 to 1947). He was also an active translator.

From 1936 to 1953 Arthur Mendel conducted in New York a chorus, the Cantata Singers, one of the first groups in the USA to give authentic performances of Baroque music. He taught at the Dalcroze School of Music and the Diller - Quaile School in New York from 1938 to 1950), serving also as president of the former from 1947 to 1950. In the late 1940s Mendel gained recognition as a musicologist. He lectured at Columbia University in 1949 and the University of California, Berkeley in 1951. In 1952 he was appointed professor of music at Princeton University, where he was departmental chairman from 1952 to 1967, and held the Henry Putnam University Professorship from 1969 until his retirement in 1973. He was a member of the editorial boards of the Neue Bach - Ausgabe and the new Josquin edition.

Arthur Mendel published numerous important articles and studies on the history of musical pitch and the rhythmic structure of Renaissance and Baroque music, many of them reprinted in Studies in the History of Musical Pitch (Amsterdam, 1969). His editions and studies of Bach's life and works, most notably the valuable documentary biography The Bach Reader (New York, 1945, 2nd edition, revised, 1966, with Hans Theodor David), and his practical and critical editions of the St. John Passion (1951, 1974), brought him recognition as the foremost American Bach scholar of his generation. He also edited Schütz's Christmas Story (1949) and Musicalische Exequien (1957), and other works of the Baroque period. In his later years he investigated the music of Josquin and promoted possible applications of computer technology to musicological problems, published in Computers and the Humanities (1969-1970). A Festschrift in his honor, Studies in Renaissance and Baroque Music, was published in 1974 (edited by Robert L. Marshall).

Source: Bakerís Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997); Princeton Univesity Website (2001)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (October 2005)

Arthur Mendel: Short Biography | Recordings of Vocal Works | Book: The Bach Reader / The New Bach Reader

Links to other Sites

Arthur Mendel Papers (Princeton University)


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