Inter-American Music Review (1978–2008) on line: A collaboration between the Faculty of Arts of the University of Chile and the Real Conservatorio Superior de Música de Madrid (2019)
Cold Spring, New York, July 22, 2019
In 1978, Robert Murrell Stevenson (1916–2012) launched a journal that would open a wide range of remarkable topics to his pugnacious pen. With the explicit intention of bypassing editorial interference and eager to communicate the wealth of documentary evidence collected on research trips spanning over a half century, Stevenson, armed with the most sophisticated tools historical musicology had to offer, single-handedly wrote, edited, and bore the cost of producing a vehicle for caustic reviews, homages to friends and foes, and a dazzling network of stepping stones he thought worthy of his polyglot erudition. As such, Inter-American Music Review provides a window into the mind of a very private man.
Whether he is trailing Martín de Montesdoca, Spain’s first publisher of sacred polyphony (1555, Fenlon 1556?) who sails to Honduras in 1562 and ends up as chantre at Guatemala Cathedral in 1570 to expose the omission of Montesdoca in Donald Krummel’s seminal MusicPrintingand Publishing (1990), or whether he is tracing the Caribbean tours of the charismatic Gottschalk, Stevenson is always documenting the tangible building blocks of transmission. Particularly compelling in this biannual periodical is Caribbean Music History: A Selective Annotated Bibliography with Musical Supplement (Inter-American Music Review, 4/1 ), a treasure trove of information on the remains of European rituals on most of the Caribbean islands during the early centuries of colonization, such as the Creole parodies of Le Devin du village (1752) that remained popular in Saint-Domingue (later Haiti) for three decades after 1758, when they first surfaced. Although his name appears as journal editor, his own articles lack attribution. This must have amused Joe Hickerson, who at the time was compiling the section on “Recent publications” for the SEM journal, because he proceeded to list them as anonymous, making Stevenson the most prolific “anonymous” in history.
A relentless cartographer, Stevenson already had made lasting contributions with Music in Mexico: A Historical Survey(1952); The Music of Peru: Aboriginal and ViceroyalEpochs (1959/1960); SpanishMusic in the Age of Columbus (1960); Spanish Cathedral Music in the Golden Age (1961); and Music in Aztec and Inca Territory (1968, 2nd ed. 1976) when he established Inter-American Music Review. In addition to his 29 books and hundreds of scholarly articles, Stevenson was a prolific contributor to most of the major reference works published in the second half of the twentieth century, as well as a composer and virtuoso pianist.
On July 9, 1998, in the presence of the Consul General of Spain in Los Angeles, and witnessed by the prominent Spanish scholars Ismael Fernández de la Cuesta and Emilio Rey, Robert Stevenson declared “his commitment to donating to the Spanish State, through its Ministry of Education and Culture, and for deposit at the Real Conservatorio Superior de Música de Madrid, the bibliographic and research collection he had accumulated in the course of his life.” The donation was formally accepted on June 2, 1999 (see Ismael Fernández de la Cuesta, “Robert Murrell Stevenson” in Diccionario de la música española ehispanoamericana, vol. 10 , 67).
An eminent scholar and revered teacher, Stevenson left us a legacy of passionate commitment to the study of musics in the Iberian Peninsula and the Americas as integral to the web of European music history. With gratitude to the institutions that have made this project possible, we wish to honor Stevenson’s legacy by making available to younger generations of scholars the pathbreaking research he published in Inter-American Music Review.
Professor of Music Emeritus, University of North Texas, Denton (2000)
Vice President, International Musicological Society (2009-2017)
Honorary Member, American Musicological Society (2017)
Corresponding Member, Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes, Argentina (2018)
Recipient of the 2009 Platinum Konex Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musicology, Konex Foundation, Buenos Aires, Argentina