Brook, Barry S. | University of North Texas Special Collections

Name: Brook, Barry S.

Historical Note:

Barry Brook received a B.S.S. from the City College of New York (1939) and an M.A. from Columbia University (1942), where he studied with Paul Henry Lang, Erich Hertzmann, Hugh Ross, and Roger Sessions. He continued his studies at the Université de Paris, and, in 1959, he was promoted there to the Docteur de l’Université after defending his dissertation on “La Symphonie française dans la seconde moitié du XVIIIe siècle.” In 1974, he received a honorary doctorate ad eundum gradum from the University of Adelaide. He was decorated for his service as a U.S. Air Force captain in the European theater of operations during World War II. His lifelong affiliation with the City University of New York began as a fellow at City College (1940-42) and continued at Queens College (1945-89). In 1967 he founded CUNY’s graduate program in music and was its Executive Officer until his retirement in 1989. In 1986 he became a Distinguished Professor at CUNY.

Brook was also on the faculty of the Juilliard School and the head of its DMA program (1977-87). In 1984, on the initiative of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, he designed and established a doctoral program in musicology at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. As a visiting professor Brook taught at nine other universities in the U.S., Australia, and France. He received many awards, including the Dent Medal of the Royal Musical Association (1965), the French government named him a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters (1972), the Royal Swedish Academy of Music elected him to be among its fellows (1988), and the American Musicological Society recognized his contribution to musicology with an Honorary Membership (1997). He served as the vice-president (1974-77) and president (1977-80) of the International Association of Music Libraries (IAML), and the vice-president (1980-82) and president (1982-84) of the International Music Council (IMC).

Brook’s interests were immense and in many areas pioneering, ranging from music iconography, the history of thematic catalogues, the sociology and aesthetics of music, and the application of computers in musicology, to the 18th-century French symphony and the music of Haydn and Pergolesi. His dissertation is a groundbreaking study on the 18th-century French symphony, which provides extensive documentation, a thematic catalogue of over 1200 works, and an edition of eight works. He initiated fundamental research on the history of the thematic catalogue, publishing a facsimile of the Breitkopf thematic catalogue and two editions of the annotated inventory of thematic catalogues (with Richard J. Viano). In source studies Brook developed a technique of analyzing composers’ handwriting, demonstrating this by identifying Pergolesi’s authentic opus and the body of Haydn’s string trios. While initiating the publication of Pergolesi’s collected works, of which he was the general editor, he also founded the Pergolesi Research Center at the CUNY Graduate School, which owns an extensive microfilm collection of Pergolesi sources. Under his editorship a sixty-volume series of symphonies 1720-1840 and a dozen volumes in the series of French opera in the 17th and 18th centuries were published. In 1979 Brook initiated, under the auspices of the International Music Council of UNESCO, a global project called The Universe of Music: A History intended to provide a comprehensive history of music cultures throughout the world. After his death in 1997, Malena Kuss assumed the Executive Directorship of the Universe of Music project and published two volumes on Latin America (Performing Beliefs: Indigenous Peoples of South America, Central America, and Mexico [2004] and Performing the Caribbean Experience [2007]).

It is to Brook’s credit that he understood the enormous possibilities of computer applications in musicology, and in the early 1960s he had already advocated their use in the control of music sources. In 1964 he made a proposal for the Plaine and Easie Code, a system of notating music using ordinary typewriter or keypunch characters. The following year he founded Répertoire International de Literature Musicale (RILM), the international annotated bibliography of music scholarship, and in 1967 the first volume of RILM Abstracts was issued under his editorship. At the 1971 St. Gall meeting of IAML, he initiated the Répertoire International d’Iconographie Musicale (RIdIM), an international project aiming to develop the methods, means, classification, cataloguing, and research of iconographic sources relevant to music, and, in 1972, he organized the Research Center for Music Iconography at the CUNY Graduate School, where he developed a vast archive and designed a computer-operated information retrieval system. He was also a member of the RISM Commission Internationale Mixte (1986-97).

Brook’s interests and projects are embodied in the extensive documentation and archival sources housed at the Center for Research and Music Documentation which he founded in 1989 at CUNY. The Center has since been renamed in his honor.

Note Author: Malena Kuss

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