Mathews, W(illiam) S(mythe) B(abcock)

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Mathews, W(illiam) S(mythe) B(abcock)

Mathews, W(illiam) S(mythe) B(abcock) American organist, editor, and writer on music; b. London, N.H., May 8, 1837; d. Denver, April 1, 1912. Following music training in N.H., he studied piano with Lucien Southard in Boston; later he took lessons with William Mason in Binghamton, N.Y. (summers 1871–73). He began to teach music at the Appleton Academy in Mount Vernon, N.H., when he was only 15. After teaching in various states, he settled in Chicago in 1867 and served as organist of the Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church until 1893. He was also busily engaged as a teacher in various schools, including the Chicago Musical Coll. (1886–94) and the American Cons. (1889–97). He likewise was active as a music critic, contributor to various journals, including Dwight’s Journal of Music (1859–80) and The Etude (1884–1911), and as ed. of the Musical Independent (1868–71), Music (1892–1902), and the Journal of School Music (1908–09).


An Outline of Musical Form (Boston, 1868); How to Understand Music (Philadelphia, 1888); ed. A Hundred Years of Music in America (Chicago, 1889); Studies in Phrasing (Philadelphia, 1889–90); Primer of Musical Forms (Boston and N.Y., 1890); A Popular History of the Art of Music (Philadelphia, 1891); Standard Graded Course of Studies for the Pianoforte (Philadelphia, 1892–94); with W. Mason, A Primer of Music (Cincinnati, 1894); ed. Mathew’s Graded Materials (Cincinnati, c. 1894); with E. Liebling, Pronouncing and Defining Dictionary of Music (Cincinnati, 1896); Music, its Ideals and Methods (Philadelphia, 1897); The Masters and Their Music (Philadelphia, 1898); The Great in Music (Chicago, 1900–02); Teacher’s Manual of Mason’s Pianoforte Technics (Chicago, 1901).


R. Groves, The Life and Works of W.S.B. M. (diss., Univ. of Iowa, 1981); J. Clarke, Prof. W.S.B. M. (1837–1912): Self-made Musician of the Gilded Age (III.) (diss., Univ. of Minnesota, 1983).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire