Talk:Ruth Crawford Seeger

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Place names[edit]

I see no indication in WP:DATE that birth/death dates be disentangled from place names. Where is it? Hyacinth (talk) 21:52, 26 May 2008 (UTC)


The newspaper article linked at the bottom ("Composer Chose 'Life'...") is a dead link. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:16, 10 December 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for calling attention to this. The more usual technique is to place a {{Deadlink}} template on the item in question. Editors may then attempt to find a new address, or an archived copy through the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. In this case, the Star Bulletin appears to have taken down their archive and blocked access to it, so I have de-linked the article.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 22:52, 10 December 2010 (UTC)

How is her name indexed?[edit]

My understanding is that when she married Charles Seeger, that became her surname. Like many American women, her maiden surname Crawford became for all intents and purposes her new middle name. That means that, while we usually call her "Ruth Crawford Seeger", she is indexed as:

  • Seeger, Ruth Crawford,

and NOT as

  • Crawford Seeger, Ruth,

and most definitely NOT as

  • Crawford-Seeger, Ruth.

If we referred to her by surname alone, it would be "Seeger is renowned for ...", not "Crawford(-)Seeger is renowned for ...". This is just like Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, who is indexed under Z and referred to as "Zwilich" and not as "Taaffe Zwilich", except when we give her full name, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich.

Comments? -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 08:48, 26 November 2012 (UTC)

New Grove disagrees. Her article there is "Crawford (Seeger), Ruth (Porter)", and she is referred to as "Crawford" throughout that article. However, you will also find "Seeger": American family of musicians, under which there are six names, including "Ruth (Porter) Crawford Seeger". However, the article on (for example) "Michael Seeger" states he was "son of (1) Charles Louis Seeger and RUTH CRAWFORD". On the other hand, my university library catalog (following the practice of the Library of Congress) has "Seeger, Ruth Crawford", with a cross-reference from the hyphenated form, "Crawford-Seeger, Ruth". The reliable source to follow would appear to be a matter of choice. (Hasn't this already been discussed to death once before?)—Jerome Kohl (talk) 20:15, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
Where discussed before? Isn't each case unique?
Where does the hyphenated form come from? Did she ever use it herself?
I raised this because the sole article we have on one of her compositions is String Quartet (Crawford-Seeger). That seems wrong to me. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 20:40, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
Apparently not discussed on this talk page, but I dimly recall such a discussion raging for weeks. Maybe it wasn't on Wikipedia at all. As far as your other questions are concerned, I'm afraid I don't have any answers. Admittedly, the hyphenated form appears to be a poor third choice, to judge from the resources I checked. Thinking about your parallel example, I have seen Ellen Taafe Zwillich referred to simply as Ellen Zwillich, but I cannot imagine anyone ever saying "Ruth Seeger". (As you said, the former is never referred to as "Taafe Zwillich", without the first name.) The hyphen could well come from always hearing the two names spoken together, just as people sometimes mistakenly hyphenate Lloyd George, Vaughan Williams, Smith Brindle, or Kennedy Martin (not to mention Maxwell Davies).—Jerome Kohl (talk) 21:42, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
I never suggested that anyone does, or we should, refer to her as "Ruth Seeger". The fact that "Crawford" is always mentioned does not mean that it is part of her surname. Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's 1st symphony is called Symphony No. 1 (Zwilich) and she is defaultsorted as Zwillich, Ellen Taaffe.
I'm suggesting we take exactly the same approach with Ruth Crawford Seeger. Her works should be disambiguated as [[<title> (Seeger)]] where necessary, and she should be defaultsorted as Seeger, Ruth Crawford. We would still generally refer to her in text as "Ruth Crawford Seeger". -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 22:13, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
While I understand your position, and agree with it to the extent that the hyphenated form of the name is not a viable option, I can foresee one potential problem with your solution, and that is that there are at least two composers named Seeger: Ruth Crawford, and her husband Charles. (Their daughter Peggy Seeger is a songwriter, though this is not likely to create any conflict for the purpose under discussion.) Given that Ruth Crawford Seeger is the better-known of the two composers, I suppose it might be reasonable to use [[<title> (Charles Seeger)]] as the disambiguator. On the other hand, since Ruth is almost universally referred to as "Crawford Seeger" (or, indeed, as just "Crawford"), there might be an argument against using just "Seeger" to identify her. It would be nice to have some other editors' opinions on this. Perhaps we should take this discussion to the Classical Music Project's talk page?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 00:09, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
PS: I just noticed that the DEFAULTSORT is "Crawford-Seeger, Ruth". Of course, this does not mean that the name is meant to be displayed in this manner, any more than "Kennedymartin, Troy" is so meant for Troy Kennedy Martin.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 00:17, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

early and middle periods[edit]

When you introduce the idea of different periods of composition, the difference should be explained... I really don't see the point of dividing her modernist output (1924-1932) into two periods, 1924-1929 and 1930-1932 (!?). If there is a boundary and not only a continuous change, it should be clearcut, and it should be supported by a reasonable argument.

In Mrs Crawford-Seeger's own statements about her work, I find no boundary at all : she writes about the teachings of Charles Seeger in dissonant counterpoint (in 1930) and about her (solitary) stay in Berlin - but she already knew and used Schoenberg's music before and, to my knowledge, she never refers to these two events as a new turning point.

Moreover, listening to the music of those two alledged periods, I just hear a deeper exploration of musical possibilities when going from the first to the second : - comparing the Suite N.2 for string quartet (1929) and the string quartet (1931), I hear a complexification of rythm and counterpoint, but those were already complex in the Suite ; - comparing Five Songs (1929) and Three Songs(1930-1932), except for the fact that the very original instrumentation of the Three Songs makes them more strinkingly modern than the piano part in Five Songs, I would do the same remark (complexication).

Complexification of something that was already complex before (but not as complex...) is not a qualititative but a quantitative change !

On the contrary, a division between a modernist and a "progressive traditionalist" periods is quite audible and totally relevant according to Mrs Crawford-Seeger's strong personal statements : [From ca. 1935 and] " until [ca. 1947]… I had felt so at home among this (to me) new found music [American folk music] that I thought maybe this was what I wanted most. I listened to nothing else, and felt somewhat like a ghost when my compositions were spoken of. I answered no letters pertaining to them; requests for scores and biographical data were stuck in drawers…. But for years the only instrument in the house was a guitar, a modern dulcimer, and a special slow-speed phonograph for transcription of folk recordings. (1948) " (see

Do you have a similar statement to support the division between 1929 and 1930 ? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:37, 28 December 2012 (UTC)

I'm not sure if the above discussion is in regards to the list of compositions on this page. But if so, it seems to me a better categorization of works might be the one used in Grove: "chamber works," "other works" (including piano, choir, etc.), and "folksong arrangements and transcriptions." It might also make sense to include a category for the early works listed here that Crawford Seeger did not include in her catalog but are listed here, e.g. Theme and Variations, for piano, 1923. Thoughts, anyone? Kellyhiser (talk) 19:43, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
I think I agree. The existing division into "early", "middle" and "late" seems a little arbitrary. Categories such as "orchestral", "chamber", "piano", "vocal", "choral" would seem more usual. --Deskford (talk) 23:10, 5 April 2014 (UTC)


Hey, I noticed there isn't anything written on Crawford Seeger's death. czar  19:22, 25 April 2014 (UTC)