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Huneker, James Gibbons

Huneker, James Gibbons

Huneker, James Gibbons, brilliant American writer on music; b. Philadelphia, Jan. 31, 1857; d. N.Y., Feb. 9, 1921. He studied piano with Michael Cross in Philadelphia, and in 1878 in Paris with Theodore Ritter; later with Joseffy at the National Cons, in N.Y., where he then taught piano (1888–98). He was music and drama critic of the N.Y. Recorder (1891–95) and the Morning Advertiser (1895–97), and music, drama, and art critic for the N.Y. Sun (1900–1912). In 1917-18 he was music critic of the Philadelphia Press.After a single season (1918–19) with the N.Y. Times he became music critic for the N.Y. World, a position he held until his death; also wrote for various journals in N.Y, London, Paris, Berlin, and Vienna. He publ, a novel dealing with artistic life in N.Y, Painted Veils (1921), but devoted most of his uncommon gifts to musical journalism. He was capable of rising to true poetic style when writing about Chopin and other composers whom he loved, but he also possessed a talent for caustic invective; his attacks on Debussy were particularly sharp. In addition to his literary publications, Huneker furnished introductory essays for Joseffy’s ed. of Chopin’s works.

Writings

Mezzotints in Modern Music (1899); Chopin: The Man and His Music (1900; Ger. tr., 1914); Melomaniacs (1902); Overtones, A Book of Temperaments (1904); Iconoclasts: A Book for Dramatists (1905); Visionaries: Fantasies and Fiction (1905); Egoists: A Book of Supermen (1909); Promenades of an Impressionist: Studies in Art (1910); Franz Liszt: A Study (1911; Ger. tr., 1922); The Pathos of Distance (1913); Old Fogy, His Musical Opinions and Grotesques (1913); New Cosmopolis (1915); Ivory Apes and Peacocks (1915); Unicorns (1917); The Philharmonic Society of New York and Its 75th Anniversary (1917); Bedouins (1920); Steeplejack (his memoirs; 1920); Variations (1921).

Bibliography

B. De Casseres, J.G. H. (N.Y., 1925); A. Schwab, J.G. H: Critic of the Seven Arts (Stanford, Calif., 1963); idem, ed., Americans in the Arts, 1890-1920: Critiques by J.G. H. (N.Y., 1985).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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