Surette, Thomas Whitney

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Surette, Thomas Whitney

Surette, Thomas Whitney, American music educator; b. Concord, Mass., Sept. 7, 1861; d. there, May 19, 1941. He studied piano with Arthur Foote and composition with J.K. Paine at Harvard Univ. (1889-92), but failed to obtain a degree. Deeply interested in making musical education accessible and effective in the U.S., he founded the Concord Summer School of Music in 1915, which continued to operate until 1938; with A.T. Davison, he ed. The Concord Series of educational music, which found a tremendously favorable acceptance on the part of many schools, particularly in New England; the series provided an excellent selection of good music which could be understood by most music teachers and performed by pupils. He was also largely responsible for the vogue of music appreciation courses that swept the country and spilled over into the British Isles. He publ. The Appreciation of Music (with D.G. Mason; 5 vols., of which vols. 2 and 5 were by Mason alone; N.Y., 1907; innumerable subsequent printings), and, on a more elevated plane, Course of Study on the Development of Symphonic Music (Chicago, 1915) and Music and Life (Boston, 1917); he also publ. popular articles on music and musicians, notable for their lack of discrimination and absence of verification of data. He was also a composer of sorts; wrote 2 light operas, Priscilla, or The Pilgrim’s Proxy, after Longfellow (Concord, March 6, 1889; had more than 1,000 subsequent perfs. in the U.S.), and The Eve of Saint Agnes (1897), and a romantic opera, Cascabel, or The Broken Tryst (Pittsburgh, May 15, 1899).


C. Heffernan, T.W. S.: Musician and Teacher (diss., Univ. of Mich., 1962).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire