Beck, Jean-Baptiste, Alsatian-American musicologist; b. Gebweiler, Aug. 14, 1881; d. Philadelphia, June 23, 1943. He studied organ before obtaining his Ph.D. at the Univ. of Strasbourg with the diss. Die Melodien der Troubadours und Trouvères (1908). He later publ. a somewhat popularized ed. of it in French, La Musique des troubadours (Paris, 1910). Beck taught at the Univ. of 111. from 1911 to 1914; then at Bryn Mawr Coll. from 1914 to 1920. He settled in Philadelphia, where he taught at the Univ. of Pa., and from 1920 at the Curtis Inst. of Music. In 1927 he initiated a project to publ. a Corpus Cantilenarum Medü Aevi, in 52 vols., but was able to bring out only four vols., under the subtitle Les Chansonniers des troubadours et des trouvères (all in French), containing phototype reproductions of medieval MSS, transcriptions in modern notation, and commentary: Le Chansonnier congé (2 vols., Philadelphia, 1927) and Le Manuscrit du roi (2 vols., Philadelphia, 1938). Beck was an outstanding scholar of medieval vocal music; his application of the modal rhythms of the polyphony of that time to troubadour melodies was an important contribution to the problem of proper transcription into modern notation.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire