A Tale of Two Critics: Rosenfeld and Haggin

Arthur Berger

in Reflections of an American Composer

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2002 | ISBN: 9780520232518
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520928213 | DOI:
A Tale of Two Critics: Rosenfeld and Haggin

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This chapter gives an account of two famous music critics Paul Rosenfeld and Bernard Haggin. Composers and critics alike were troubled by the distinct psychological approach and Impressionist orientation of Rosenfeld's criticism. He wrote appreciatively of Schoenberg quite close to the beginning of the composer's career though he became apprehensive as early as about 1916 with regard to the direction his music was taking. The trend away from the intense, febrile, post-Romanticism was something that endowed the music with an air he characterized as “mechanical”. Rosenfeld's most important contribution to music—music being only one of the arts about which he wrote—was his explication, appreciation, and promotion of the twentieth-century serious music of the North and South Americas. Haggin's and his critics were pretty nasty in his treatment of most new music except when it was a matter of any period of Stravinsky, whom he came to admire in his capacity of dance critic because of his passionate devotion to anything that George Balanchine choreographed. A unique accomplishment of Haggin's was his grading of a substantial portion of standard music literature from Bach onwards.

Keywords: Paul Rosenfeld; Bernard Haggin; music critics; post-Romanticism; dance critic; American music

Chapter.  3651 words. 

Subjects: American Music

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