H. Wiley Hitchcock's memorial service was last Saturday in St. Peter's Church. Wiley was a remarkable man. He was a WASP aristocrat, a true scholar, an expert leader of instititions and a warm friend to several generations of musicologists, critics and musicians.

Wiley won his reputation -- "earned his union card," as he put it -- in sometmes stodgy musicological circles as an expert in the properly old music of Caccini and, especially, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, as the author of the catalogue of Charpentier's works (they go now by "H" numbers), the editor of a myriad scores and the author of the basic biography.

But I knew him, as most people did, as an Americanist. He ran the Institute for Studies in American Music at Brooklyn College, which spawned a generation or two of Americanist musicologists and helped make the scholarly study of all kinds of American music academically repsectable. Ives was another specialty, and another composer now with "H" numbers in his catalogue.

Wiley was the author of "Music in the United States," a standard text laudable for its openness to all kinds of music, cultivated and vernacular (to use his terms).

He carried that openness into his editing of the New Grove Dicitionary of American Music, which swelled to four volumes largely through his insistence on the inclusion of all manner of pop and avant-garde weirdness. I was the area editor for those two fields, and I deeply appreciated his friendship and support.

Not everyone can make as many marks on their fields and their times as Wiley did. I know that everyone in St. Peter's Church was grateful to him.


March 13, 2008 3:31 PM | | Comments (0)

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