Edmunds, John, 1913-1986

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John Edmunds, 1913-1986, composer, educated at the University of California, Berkeley where he also taught briefly, from 1957 to 1961 was in charge of the Americana Collection at the New York Public Library. After working for a time in England, he returned to San Francisco, where he was born. His major life-long work is the unpublished 12-volume set of over 300 arrangements for voice and piano of 17th century English songs and poetry titled The major epoch of English song (1940-1976)

From the description of John Edmunds papers, [ca. 1930-ongoing] (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 78597243

Edmunds (1913-1986), a composer, was noted for his hymns and arrangements for solo voice. He wrote over 500 pieces and edited and arranged hundreds of others, many of them little known older pieces.

From the description of Papers, 1934-1987. (University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center). WorldCat record id: 31488734

John Edmunds, an American composer and librarian, was born in San Francisco in 1913 and died in Berkeley in 1986. At the time of the present collection, he was curator of the Americana Collection of the research Music Division of the New York Public Library, and was also active in Composers' Forum, Eva Gauthier Society, Institute of International Education, Committee on American Recordings Project, and American Music Center. Although he is better known as a composer of songs and editor of Elizabethan and Italian songs for which he realized the basso continuo, the present correspondence barely touches on these activities. In 1960, he traveled in Europe to talk about American music. The year also saw the publication of the second volume of Some Twentieth Century American Composers, a bibliography edited by Edmunds and Gordon Boelzner with an introduction by Nicholas Slonimsky (Peter Yates having written the introduction to volume one).

Peter Yates, who wrote some 35 of the letters, was a poet and music critic whose radio program, Evenings on the Roof, included "talk-tapes" of modern composers explaining their music. During the years of the correspondence, he wrote the books Twentieth Century Music and An Amateur at the Keyboard.

From the description of John Edmunds correspondence and other papers, 1957-1961. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122378800

Biography

Edmunds [St. Edmunds], John (b San Francisco, CA, 10 June 1913). Composer. He was educated at the University of California, at the Curtis Institute under Scalero, at Columbia University, and at Harvard (MA 1941); subsequently he studied privately in England with Arnold Goldsbrough and Thurston Dart. Among his awards are Joseph H. Bearns Prize (1937), a Fulbright scholarship (1951), a grant form the Italian government (1954-6), a Folger Shakespeare Library grant (1967), a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies (1968), and a Guggenheim Fellowship (1969). He taught briefly at Syracuse University and at the University of California, Berkeley. From 1957 to 1961 he was in charge of the Americana collection in the New York Public Library. From 1968 to 1976 he worked in England, returning to San Francisco in 1977. He has concentrated on arranging and transcribing English song and poetry of the 17th century. The Major Epoch of English Song (1940-76) is an unpublished collection in 12 volumes of over 300 song arrangements for voice and piano, realized from the lute tablatures and figured basses, which seeks "to reassert the greatness of English song in that one great century -not as a mass of musicological data but as living music."

Edmunds is himself a songwriter of the first rank: Varhse noted his "happy combination of sensibility and technique," and other composers to have valued his work include Cowell, Rorem, Flanagan, and Bacon. English and Irish poetry have inspired most of his songs, especially Middle English poetry and the work of W. B. Yeats. His awareness of the past gives to many of his own works a special, otherworldly quality. Eight of the songs from Hesperides (1935-60) are built on ground basses as are his Psalms of David (1960), which includes "The Lord is my Shepherd" set to a 16th-century pavan rhythm (3/2+2/2+3/2).

His accompaniments seldom give way to swift flights of imagery, as do those of Bacon or Rorem, but they are nonetheless evocative. Edmunds's intensely lyrical songs dating from the 1930s such as "O love, how strangely sweet", "Weep you no more, sad fountains," "Why canst thou not," and "Take, o take" have become favorites of the repertory.

"The Isle of Portland" (1935, A. E. Housman), revised in 1978 as "The Star-filled Seas," is especially notable as representing Edmunds's sensitive declamation, as is "Instinctively, unwittingly" (Lewis) for its perfect polyphony; surpassing all others of Edmunds's songs is perhaps "The Drummer" (Hardy), a requiem for a young soldier.

After 1960 Edmunds wrote mainly choral works and ballets. In the early 1980s his attention centered on language, in a revision of Housman (unpublished), based on the poet's notebooks in the Library of Congress, and a study of Heinrich Heine ( The Firedrake, MS 1982). In 1946, with his wife Beatrice Quickenden and a colleague, Leonard Ralston, Edmunds founded the Campion Society in San Francisco. Its main purpose was the presentation of songs in English. Until is disbanded in 1953 its annual Festival of Unfamiliar Music at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and in recital halls throughout the Bay Area presented songs by Ives, Bacon, Diamond, Bowles, Nordoff, Chanler, Rorem, Thomson, Bernstein, and Pinkham.

WORKS

STAGE The Pastoral Kingdom (The Shepherd's Maze) (masque, Middle Eng.) nar, boys'/ female chorus, fl, va, kbd, perc, 1963, rev. 1974; Dance Requiem (Choric Requiem) (ballet on Renaissance and Baroque dance forms), 4 solo vv, chorus, org, perc, 1968; Jehovah and the Ark (children's ballet), nar, 2 pf, solo dancers, 1968, rev. 1973 as The Voyage to Ararat, collab. E. Bacon, rev. 1979 The Book named the Governor (7 dances, after T. Elyot), nar, 2 pf, 1974; The Parliament of Fowls (children's ballet), 1974, rev. 1976 as Rookmaster, collab. Bacon; The Council of Rooks (ballet), actors, dancers, pf/small orch, 1983-

CHORAL The Sandison Hymnal, 1957-62; The Urban Muse [after tunes of 1400-1700] (J. M. Neale, I. Watts, J. Ruskin, others), Bar, chorus, org, perc, 1965, rev. 1975 as The Cities of Heaven and Earth, speaker, chorus, org; The Adams Book of Carols, 1957-72; Hymns Sacred and Profane (Vaughan, J. Clare, Melville, others) [after tunes of 1400-1700], nar, Mez, chorus, org, perc, 1966, rev. 1975 as The Praise of the Created World 12 Choral Hymns and Carols, 1966; A Son is Born (Middle Eng.), 1967; Carols at a Feast, speaker, mixed chorus, kbd (1978); Towards the Western Hills (W. Wordsworth, D. Wordsworth, R. Bridges, I. Watts), male nar, female nar, mixed chorus, org, perc, 1984-

SONG SETS The Curlew (Yeats), 1935-6; The Fortunate Isles (Lydgate, Shakespeare, Dryden, others), 1935-60; Greenbuds (Housman), 1935-7; Hesperides (Herrick, Shakespeare, others), 50 songs, 1935-60 (1975), rev. 1983, incl. Oh love, how strangely sweet (Marston), Instinctively, unwittingly (Lewis), The Starfilled Seas (The Isle of Portland) (Housman), Take, o take those lips away (Shakespeare), Weep you no more, sad fountains (anon.), Why canst thou not (Danyel); The Phases of the Moon (Yeats), 1935-52 The Faucon (Middle Eng., Blake, Housman, Yeats, others), 24 songs, 1939-44 (1978), rev. 1983 [songs from previous collections]; The Rising of the Sun (Middle Eng.), 1939-60; Coventry (various), 1945-6; The Tower (Yeats), 1945-6; Byzantium (Yeats), 1948; The Fair City (Middle Eng.), 1958; 7 Psalms of David, Mez/Bar, pf, 1960, incl. The Lord is my Shepherd; Boreas, 32 songs, 1983, incl. The Drummer (Hardy) Folksong arrs.: Fleur-de-lis, 12 French songs, lv, pf, 1959-63; A Williamsburg Songbook, 18th century Virginian songs, 1964; The Williamsburg Cycle, 10 18th-century Virginian songs, S, Bar, B, obbl vv, insts, 1964; The Parson's Farewell, 12 American songs, lv, pf, 1936-65; Die friesche Welt, 24 German songs, lv, pf, 1958-65; The Flowers of the Field (American, Eng., Irish, Fr., Ger.), 64 songs, lv, pf, 1978 Principal publishers: Concordia, C. Fischer, Lawson-Gould, R. D. Row, World Library of Sacred Music.

EDITIONS Venetian Operatic Arias in the mid-17th Century, 1956-76, Uk The Major Epoch of English Song: the 17th Century from Dowland to Purcell , 1940-76, Uk The Garden of the Muses( New York, 1985) Many arias, cantatas, and songs by J. S. Bach, A. Scarlatti, Vivaldi, and others; many other unpubd edns

WRITINGS with A. Mann: Steps to Parnassus (New York, 1943, rev. 2/1965 was The Study of Counterpoint) [part trans. of J. J. Fux: Gradus ad Parnassum, Vienna, 1725] with G. Boelzner: Some Twentieth Century American Composers: a Selective Bibliography (New York, 1959-60) A General Report on the New York Public Library's Americana Music Collection and its Proposed Development in Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts( New York, 1961)

JEANNE BEHREND

[Mr. Edmunds died in Berkeley, December 9, 1986].

From the guide to the John Edmunds Papers, [ca. 1930-ongoing], (The Music Library)

John Edmunds, an American composer and librarian, was born in San Francisco in 1913 and died in Berkeley in 1986. At the time of the present collection, he was curator of the Americana Collection of the research Music Division of the New York Public Library, and was also active in Composers' Forum, Eva Gauthier Society, Institute of International Education, Committee on American Recordings Project, and American Music Center. Although he is better known as a composer of songs and editor of Elizabethan and Italian songs for which he realized the basso continuo, the present correspondence barely touches on these activities. In 1960, he traveled in Europe to talk about American music. The year also saw the publication of the second volume of Some Twentieth Century American Composers, a bibliography edited by Edmunds and Gordon Boelzner with an introduction by Nicholas Slonimsky (Peter Yates having written the introduction to volume one).

Peter Yates, who wrote some 35 of the letters, was a poet and music critic whose radio program, Evenings on the Roof, included "talk-tapes" of modern composers explaining their music. During the years of the correspondence, he wrote the books Twentieth Century Music and An Amateur at the Keyboard.

From the guide to the John Edmunds correspondence and other papers, 1957-1961, (The New York Public Library. Music Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Edmunds, John, 1913-1986. Papers, 1934-1987. University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center
creatorOf Moore, Marianne, 1887-1975. Marianne Moore collection of papers, 1887-1975 bulk (1921-1969). New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf John Edmunds correspondence and other papers, 1957-1961 The New York Public Library. Music Division.
referencedIn Quincy Porter Papers, 1897-1975 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University
creatorOf John Edmunds Papers, [ca. 1930-ongoing] The Music Library
creatorOf Edmunds, John, 1913-1986. Seal up her eyes, o sleep / [words by] Wm. Cartwright ; [music by] John Edmunds. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Bacon, Ernst, 1898-1990. Ernst Bacon papers, 1926-1987. California Digital Library
referencedIn Ives, Charles, 1874-1954. The Charles Ives papers, 1874-1983 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
referencedIn Ruggles, Carl, 1876-1971. Carl Ruggles Papers, 1894-1981 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
creatorOf Davison, Berlinda. Correspondence with Marian Anderson, 1945. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Edmunds, John, 1913-1986. The faucon / fifteenth cent. anon. English ; John Edmunds. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Porter, Quincy, 1897-1966. The Quincy Porter papers, 1897-1975 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
creatorOf Edmunds, John, 1913-1986. And wilt thou leave me thus? / Wyat ; John Edmunds. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Packard, Emmy Lou, 1914-. Emmy Lou Packard papers, 1900-1990. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Nardi, Marcia. Marcia Nardi collection, 1949-1983. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Edmunds, John, 1913-1986. John Edmunds correspondence and other papers, 1957-1961. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Edmunds, John, 1913-1986. [Three songs on texts of A.E. Housman] / John Edmunds. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Gauthier, Eva, 1885-1958. Letters to John Edmunds and other papers, 1936-1953. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Kirkpatrick, John, 1905-1991. The John Kirkpatrick papers, 1836-1993 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
creatorOf Edmunds, John, 1913-1986. Thine elder that I am / [words by] Michael Field ; [music by] John Edmunds. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Hocking, William Ernest. William Ernest Hocking Papers. 1860-1979. Harvard University, Houghton Library
referencedIn Carl Ruggles Papers, 1894-1981 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University
referencedIn The John Kirkpatrick Papers, 1836-1993 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University
referencedIn Letters to John Edmunds and other papers, 1936-1953 The New York Public Library. Music Division.
creatorOf Marcello, Benedetto, 1686-1739. [Arias from cantatas / Benedetto Marcello ; realization by John Edmunds]. The Juilliard School, Lila Acheson Wallace Library
referencedIn Ernst Bacon papers, 1962-1976 (inclusive, 1972-1976 The New York Public Library. Music Division.
creatorOf Porpora, Nicola, 1686-1768. Parte con l'ombre è ver / Porpora ; realization by John Edmunds. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Bacon, Ernst, 1898-1990. Papers, 1962-1976 (inclusive), 1972-1976 (bulk). New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Marianne Moore collection of papers, 1887-1975, 1921-1969 The New York Public Library. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.
referencedIn Gustave Reese papers, 1855-1978, 1930-1977 The New York Public Library. Music Division.
referencedIn The Charles Ives Papers, 1874-1983 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University
creatorOf Edmunds, John, 1913-1986. Hilariter / setting by John Edmunds. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Campion, Thomas, 1567-1620. Come, you pretty, false-eyed wanton / Thomas Campion ; realized and edited by John Edmunds. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Edmunds, John, 1913-1986. Nowell / setting by John Edmunds. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Emmy Lou Packard papers, 1900-1990 Archives of American Art
creatorOf Emerson, Ashley. The 1988 commencement concert [sound recording] University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Semans Library
creatorOf Edmunds, John, 1913-1986. On the nature of truth / [words by] Coventry Patmore ; [music by] John Edmunds. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Edmunds, John, 1913-1986. John Edmunds papers, [ca. 1930-ongoing] California Digital Library
referencedIn Porter, Quincy, 1897-1966. The Quincy Porter papers, 1897-1975 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
referencedIn Ruggles, Carl, 1876-1971. Carl Ruggles Papers, 1894-1981 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
creatorOf Porpora, Nicola, 1686-1768. Nel mio sonno almen / Porpora ; realization by John Edmunds. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Edmunds, John, 1913-1986. The manger / [words by] Janet Lewis ; [music by] John Edmunds. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Marcia Nardi collection, 1949-1983 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Edmunds, John, 1913-1986. O death, rock me asleep ; The keeper / John Edmunds. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Edmunds, John, 1913-1986. O death, rock me asleep ; The keeper / John Edmunds. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Edmunds, John, 1913-1986. [Three songs on texts of A.E. Housman] / John Edmunds. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Bacon, Ernst, 1898-1990. Jehovah and the ark : a ballet for eleven adults and eight child dancers (soloists) and a corps de ballet of not less than twenty-four children : with Jehovah as narrator / by Ernst Bacon and John Edmunds. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Reese, Gustave, 1899-1977. The Gustave Reese collection, 1855-1978 (bulk 1930-1977). New York Public Library System, NYPL
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Music Collection corporateBody
associatedWith Anne Boleyn, Queen, consort of Henry VIII, King of England, 1507-1536. person
associatedWith Bacon, Ernst, 1898-1990. person
associatedWith Campion, Thomas, 1567-1620. person
associatedWith Cartwright, William, 1611-1643 person
associatedWith Composers' Forum (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Dahl, Ingolf, 1912-1970. person
associatedWith Davison, Berlinda. person
associatedWith Edmunds, John, 1913- person
associatedWith Field, Michael person
associatedWith Gauthier, Eva, 1885-1958. person
associatedWith Handel, George Frideric, 1685-1759. person
associatedWith Harris, Roy, 1898-1979. person
correspondedWith Hocking, William Ernest, 1873-1966 person
associatedWith Housman, A. E. (Alfred Edward), 1859-1936 person
associatedWith Institute of International Education (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Ives, Charles, 1874-1954. person
associatedWith Kirkpatrick, John, 1905-1991. person
associatedWith Lewis, Janet, 1899-1998 person
associatedWith Marcello, Benedetto, 1686-1739. person
associatedWith Moore, Marianne, 1887-1972 person
associatedWith Moore, Marianne, 1887-1975. person
associatedWith Nardi, Marcia. person
associatedWith Online Archive of California. corporateBody
associatedWith Packard, Emmy Lou, 1914- person
associatedWith Patmore, Coventry, 1823-1896 person
associatedWith Porpora, Nicola, 1686-1768. person
associatedWith Porter, Quincy, 1897-1966. person
associatedWith Purcell, Henry, 1659-1695. person
associatedWith Reese, Gustave, 1899-1977. person
associatedWith Reynolds, Roger, 1934- person
associatedWith Ruggles, Carl, 1876-1971. person
associatedWith Scarlatti, Alessandro, 1660-1725. person
associatedWith Wyatt, Thomas, Sir, 1503?-1542. person
associatedWith Yates, Peter, 1909-1976. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
California--San Francisco Bay Area
Subject
Ballets--Scores
Folk songs
Vocal music
Composers
Hymns
Music--Editing
Composers--United States
Carols, English
Songs with piano
Music--15th century
Christmas music
Hymns, English
Music--19th century
Music--Manuscripts--Facsimiles
Vocal music, Arranged
Songs, English--17th century
Easter music
Piano music
Music--18th century
Masques with music--Scores
Composition (Music)
Music--20th century
Songs (medium voice) with piano
Carols
Music--17th century
Arrangement (music)
Music--500-1400
Music--16th century
Occupation
Composers
Function

Person

Birth 1913-06-10

Death 1986-12-09

Americans

English

Information

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SNAC ID: 5758596