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Mead, Rita H. Henry Cowell's New Music, 1925-1936, Copyright 1981, 1978, Rita Mead, Produced and distributed by UMI Research Press, Ann Arbor Michigan 48106. A revision of the author's thesis, City University of New York, 1978. Copyright, 1981, 1978, Rita Mead. Typed by Barbara Golden, November 1994. 618w

Chapter V

The First Season, 1927-1928

Another difficulty Cowell faced was the paradoxical reactions of the California critics. Unlike the New York critics (whom Mueser has shown to be so unprepared that they heartily disliked everything new put before them,) the San Francisco critics were eager for excitement. They may not have understood the new music but, after a certain amount of cajoling by Cowell, they actually enjoyed it__in fact, the wilder, the better__and were thrilled by the sensationalism of it. As a result, they turned against the new Music Society's more traditional concerts. Fried's admonishment after the October concert__that the Society had to continue its daring policies in order to succeed __anticipated just such a critical faulting that took place after a concert such as Winifred Hookd's. Once Cowell had whetted their appetites for new music, the critics wanted more, not less. p.85

With this issue (April 1928 New Music) he expanded the endorsement board of honorary members (listed on the inside of the purple cover) to include Ernest Bloch (in 1928, director of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music), Richard Buhlig (who was to perform at a New Music concert the next season). p.90

During the summer of 1928, Cowell apparently decided that something had to be done to shore up support for New Music , so he planned two special affairs in San Francisco. It is unclear whether these were concerts or simply social occasions, but they were specifically intended for New Music Society members and local New Music Quarterly subscribers. The smaller event was planned for "Schaeffer's on the 23rd" (undoubtedly a reference to the Rudolph Schaeffer Studios where Society concerts were held during the 1928-29 season), and the larger one at the home of Cowell's contributor Mrs. Casserly on Edgehill Road in San Mateo. Cowell typed a letter to his stepmother with suggestions for the people to be invited. Obviously written in a hurry, the letter is full of misspellings. The list of twenty-two names to be invited to Schaeffer's included those of Hardcastle and Buhlig; Ida Scott, sponsor of the Fortnightly series; Ernest Bloch of the San Francisco Conservatory; New Music Society members; and five music critics__Ada Hanifin of the Examiner , Marie Hicks Davidson of the Call , Edward Harris of the Bulletin , Alexander Fried of the Chronicle , and Homer Henley of the Argonaut . The list is followed by the suggestion "any others of the artist or literary bunch."

The Casserly affair was to be more of an extravaganza. In addition to all the New Music Society members and local New Music subscribers, Cowell listed many other important San Franciscans: "Hanifin and all the critics"; Dorothy Pasmore, Mary and Mr. Pasmore"; Ernest Bloch; Michel Piastro; "the first Cellist of the Symphony (cannot think of name) [to which Olive Cowell inserted "Michel Penha"]; "mons. Koechlin, (find name) summer session, U. of C."; Dominico [sic] Brescia; "Mayor Rolph"; and all the city supervisors." At the end of the letter Cowell gave the following instructions: Phone Henley for the names of the Musician's club members, and invite them. Perhaps he can inform them in a blanket.

any other distinguished musicians in town, or well known PEOPLE who are visiting here. Lay on the dog.

how successful these events were has not been recorded; and not even Olive Cowell remembers them. It is possible, of course, that they never took place. p.95-96


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