Musical America

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Musical America
Categories music magazine
Frequency Annual (directory)
Founder John Christian Freund
First issue October 8, 1898 (magazine)
1960 (directory)
Final issue January–February 1992 (magazine)[1]
Company UBM Global Trade
Country United States
Language English
ISSN 0735-7788

Musical America is the oldest American magazine on classical music.[2] It is now a website ( with a weekly online magazine. It is currently published by UBM Global Trade.


Musical America's first issue was on October 8, 1898. Its founder was John Christian Freund (1848–1924), who with Milton Weil, also founded The Music Trades magazine in 1893.[3][4] Thirty-six issues appeared until June 24, 1899, covering music, drama, and the arts. In 1899 the publication was discontinued for six years due to a lack of financial resources. It reappeared as a weekly from November 18, 1905 until 1929, solely focusing on classical music. In 1921 Musical America published the first "Guide," which later evolved into the International Directory of the Performing Arts, now the Musical America Directory.

After John Freund died in 1924, Milton Well who had been Freund's business partner continued the publication. In June 1927, Musical America consolidated with five other prominent trade publications to form a new company named Trade Publications, Inc., headed by Walter Howey and Verne Hardin Porter (1888–1942). Included were its sister publication, The Music Trades, and The American Architect, The Barbers' Journal, Beauty Culture, and Perfumers' Journal.[5] Shields & Company was the investment banking firm that handled the consolidation. Musical America subsequently began diversifying with articles about jazz, dance, radio, and records.

Trade Publications, Inc., filed for bankruptcy in 1929; and, in a bankruptcy sale on July 19, 1929, John Majeski, Weil's former assistant, purchased four of the six magazines for $45,200: (i) Musical America, (ii) The Music Trades, (iii) The Barbers' Journal, and (iv) Beauty Culture.[6]

After some 30 years of relative stability, effective January 1, 1960, John Majeski retired and sold Musical America and The Music Trades to Music Publications, Ltd., a newly formed corporation headed by two editors from Musical America, Theodate Johnson (1907–2002) and Ronald Eyer. Johnson, sister of the architect, Philip Johnson, continued as director of artists relations and Eyer continued as editor-in-chief.[7] In 1964, Music Publications, Ltd. sold the publication to High Fidelity. Other subsequent owners were Billboard and Capital Cities/ABC,[2] Gerry M. Ritterman,[2][8] Primedia Information, and Commonwealth Business Media. During these years it was published in various formats. Shirley Fleming served as the magazine's editor from 1967-1991.[2] was launched in December 1998. It publishes some 30 news stories per week. Since April 2004, it also has a weekly newsletter.

Musical America's impact on American composers[edit]

Freund and Weil were exponents of American music and used Musical America to promote it. After Freund's death, Weil took over Musical America as editor. On December 11, 1925, Weil, on behalf of Musical America, announced a $3,000 prize for the best symphonic work, with a contest closing date, initially December 31, 1926,[9] but extended to April 1, 1927. The contest was open to American citizens, native or naturalized. The contest elevated its winner, Ernest Bloch, a Swiss-born American, into the international spotlight and raised international acclaim for American music and its composers. Bloch's work, America, an Epic Rhapsody, was premiered simultaneously on December 20, 1928, in six American cities: San Francisco, Ann Arbor, Providence, New York, Cincinnati, and Los Angeles. Bloch's composition was selected among nine-two anonymous submissions. The judges were conductors of five major orchestras: Walter Damrosch of the New York Symphony, Serge Koussevitzky of the Boston Symphony, Leopold Stokowski of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Frederick Stock of the Chicago Symphony, and Alfred Hertz of the San Francisco Symphony.[10] On July 29, 1929, seven months after the spectacular success of the premier, Musical America was sold in a bankruptcy sale to John Majeski.


  • 1898–1924: John Christian Freund (Milton Weil, asst editor)
  • 1924–1927: Milton Weil[11]
  • 1927–1929: Deems Taylor[11]

1929: Metronome Corporation acquired Musical America

  • 1929–1936: Arthur Walter Kramer (1890–1969)
  • 1936–1943: Oscar Thompson (1887–1945), executive editor
  • 1943–1947: Ronald F. Eyer
  • 1947: John F. Majeski, Jr.
  • 1948–1952: Cecil Michener Smith (1906–1956)
  • 1952–1960: Ronald F. Eyer

Music Publications, Ltd.

  • 1960–1962: Robert Sabin 1912–1969)
  • 1962–1963: Everett Helm
  • 1963–1964: Jay S. Harrison[12]

High Fidelity Magazine

  • 1965–1967: Roland Gelatt

Under other publishers

February 1991: Gerry M. Ritterman acquired Musical America from Capital Cities/ABC

  • March 1991–January 1992: Charles I. Passy (born 1964)

1998: launch of

  • 2012–2014: Susan Elliott

Notable covers[edit]

External links[edit]

See also[edit]


General references

Inline citations

  1. ^ "Musical America Ceases Publication,", New York Time, January 15, 1992
  2. ^ a b c d "Musical America Magazine Announces Reorganization," by Allan Kozinn, New York Times, April 3, 1991
  3. ^ Pianos and Their Makers, by Alfred Dolge, Dover Publications (1972 reprint of the original 1911 edition), pg. 416–417; OCLC 1631260
  4. ^ "John C. Freund; Founder and Editor of Musical America Dies After Long Illness," New York Times, June 4, 1924
  5. ^ "Large New Security Offerings Announced," Philadelphia Enquirer, June 27, 1927
  6. ^ "Six Magazines Auctioned," New York Times, July 20, 1929
  7. ^ "Deaths: Severns, Theodate Johnson," New York Times, March 15, 2002
  8. ^ "Cap Cities/ABC Titles Are Music to Millionaire's Ears," by Tony Silber (né Anthony Craig Silber; born 1969), Folio, Access Intelligence LLC, Rockville, Maryland, March 1, 1991
  9. ^ "$3000 Prize for An American Symphony," Buffalo Evening News, December 11, 1925
  10. ^ "The Birth of a Nation and the Limits of the Human Universal in Ernest Bloch's America," by Klára Móricz, American Music, Vol. 29, No. 2, Summer 2011, pps. 168–202
  11. ^ a b "Mirror To An Age: Musical America, 1918–39," by Mary Herron DuPree (born 1944), Journal of the Royal Musical Association, No. 23 (1990), pps. 137–147; ISSN 1471-6933
  12. ^ International Music Journals, by Linda Michele Fidler, PhD (1950–2003) & Richard Schmidt James, PhD (1950–1993), Greenwood Press (1990), pps. 269–271; OCLC 19888058