The Ins and Outs of Groves
by Rose Eide-Altman
If you read to the last page of the Summer, 2001, issue
of the International Piano Quarterly you found an article about
the shortcomings of the latest "Groves" dictionary, formally known as the
New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edition, 2001.
Shortly before I read the article I had looked for two women who had been
listed in the 1980 edition and found them missing in the 2001. That was
a discouraging turn-off of this latest "comprehensive" source, so I had
dismissed it as inept and looked no further. But then the author of the
IPQ article, Donald Manildi, showed me the index of
pianists and it sparked my curiosity as to how many women had been slighted.
Later I received the IPQ and read the article and decided this
web site needs to find out how their women are being represented!
The second paragraph of the IPQ article begins:
It would be pleasant to report that the New Grove
second edition represents what we have been waiting for. Unfortunately
a thorough examination of its biographies of 20th-century pianists reveals
numerous problems, too many to be tolerable in a work of Grove's
reputation and pretensions.
It goes on to give examples of omissions and inaccuracies, and ends by
citing a need for an up-to-date dictionary of pianists.
The two names I originally found missing were Pnina Salzman
(b. 1924) and Edith Farnadi (1921-1973). Both were in the 1980 edition.
When I set out to research missing names I limited it to historic women,
no longer living. (The present day additions and omission of women are
probably much greater.) As Manildi mentioned in his article, it was very
surprising to see Olga Samaroffís name dropped, but there were two other
women who were listed along with Samaroff in the 1986 Groveís edition
of American musicians and not included in the 2001 general edition: Natalie
Hinderas (1927-1987) (also listed in the 1980 edition) and Hilde Somer (1930-1979).
I am happy to tell you, though, that the 2001 edition of Bakers Biographical
Dictionary of Musicians still includes Farnadi, Hinderas and Somer,
(but has also dropped Samaroff!!). Other historic women pianists Bakers
includes, that the New Grove never has, are: Adele aus der Ohe,
Ruth Deyo, Ania Dorfmann, Katherine Heyman, Erika Lie-Nissen, Anna Mehlig,
Marie Pachler-Koschak and Antoinette Szumowska. (It helps that Bakers
has an index for "Women Composers and Musicians".) And then there are
women pianists who you have to go to Thompsonís International Cyclopedia
of Music and Musicians, 11th edition, 1985, to read about, such as
Winifred Christie, Wilhelmine Clauss-Szarvady, Augusta Cottlow, Fanny
Frickenhaus, Cecile Genhart, Yolanda Mero-Irion, Caroline Montigny-Remaury,
Olga Samaroff, Vera Timanova, and the Verne sisters.
I strongly agree with Manildi that there needs to be a
current dictionary of pianists; almost all of these names listed above
are in George Kehlerís The Piano in Concert, 1982, but that has been
out of print for years, and are mentioned in David Dubalís The Art of
the Piano, 2nd edition, 1995 (which also is currently out of print).
That need for current information, and dissatisfaction with available resources
(before the newest Baker and Groves were out), was the driving
force behind the development of this web site.
Even though none of the historic women entries that I looked
at in Groves 2001 had been updated, I was very encouraged to see
the addition of the new entries by Charles Timbrell, notably women like
Annie díArco and Marcelle Meyer (who, by the way, was missing from the
index of pianists). This brings up an interesting conclusion: maybe
the only way to get new entries, of historic people, is to have a recent
biography written about them. It seems obvious that the new French
entries by Charles Timbrell are a direct result of his seminal book on French
pianism. Itís not like these people werenít important before, the book
is just too significant to ignore.
What led me to this conclusion wasnít the French additions
but the African-American ones. It was surprising that Natalie Hinderas
was omitted in the 2001 Groves after being in 1980 and 1986 (American),
but what was even more surprising was the inclusion of two other, lesser
known, black women pianists for the first time in 2001. Hazel Harrison
(1883-1969) and Philippa Schuyler (1932-1967) both had biographies written
about them since 1980, Harrison in 1983 (Born to Play: The Life and Career
of Hazel Harrison by Jean Cazort and Constance Hobson) and Schuyler
in 1995 ( Composition in Black and White: The Life of Philippa Schuyler
by Kathryn Talalay). These women arenít new on the scene: both were in
Donald Hixonís Women in Music (1993) and Eileen Southernís
Dictionary of Afro-American Music and Musicians, as
well as other sources. But I think that their published biographies make
them too difficult to ignore, too "alive". It canít be that the New
Grove was trying to be politically correct or they wouldnít have dropped
Hinderas. Whatever the reason, I applaud Manildi ís demand for a current,
accurate, dictionary of pianists. Meanwhile, I hope that this website,
with its monthly updates and contributions by readers, can help fill that
need in some small way.
published September 2, 2001
copyright 2001 PianoWomen.com