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Noah Greenberg and the New York Pro Musica: Medievalism and the Cultural Front

Author(s): Kirsten Yri

Source: American Music, Vol. 24, No. 4 (Winter, 2006), pp. 421-444
Published by: University of Illinois Press
Stable URL: .
Accessed: 28/03/2011 00:01

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Noah Greenberg and the

New York Pro M?sica:
Medievalism and the
Cultural Front

The New York Pro Musica's first performances of the medieval liturgical
drama the Play of Daniel during the 1957-58 Christmas season took New
York concertgoers by storm. With audiences pleading for extensions of
the run, the Play of Daniel was destined to become an annual concert
event, no small feat formusic that had previously been unknown outside
the university Praised in the New York Times as superb, and
pronounced a "rare of imagination, scholarship, and show
the was described in awe as the first complete
manship," production
performance of the play since medieval times. Thereafter, the New York
Pro M?sica and itsmusical director, Noah Greenberg, were credited with
putting "early music" on the map.1 In 1963, under Greenberg's tutelage,
the New York Pro M?sica
reconstructed, performed, and made famous
the Play ofHerod?staging it, too, with colorful pageantry and enchant
ing music.2 These medieval liturgical dramas became institutions inNew
York City, with a of one of the works every season until the
group disbanded in 1974.
At any given performance of the plays, musicians and audiences no
doubt believed they were privy to the sounds of medieval music as it

might originally have been heard. Yet, as Richard Taruskin and Daniel
Leech-Wilkinson have illustrated, early music performances are not nec

essarily "authentic," but respond to and embody values of their time.3

Such performances necessarily implicate the creators and musicians in

Kirsten Yri received a Ph.D. inmusicology from Stony Brook University with
a dissertation titled "Medieval Uncloistered: Uses of Medieval Music in Twen
Culture." Her research centers on medievalism and orientalism
in music, music, and music She is
popular contemporary early performance.
Assistant Professor of Music History atWilfrid Laurier University.
American Music Winter 2006
? 2006 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
422 Yri

decision-making processes that shed light on the complex relationships

among music-making, ideology, and the cultural values that produce
them. The values of the Popular Front in New York City provide a
nificant backdrop for the values constructed in and by Noah Greenberg
and the New York Pro Musica's performances of the Play of Daniel and
the Play ofHerod. I argue that the activities and ideals of Greenberg wed
him towhat Michael Denning identifies as "the cultural front," "a radical
historical bloc uniting industrial unionists, Communists, independent
socialists, community activities, and ?migr? anti-fascists around laborist
social democracy, anti-fascism, and anti-lynching."4 Greenberg's early
Trotskyist activities and the Utopian position the Middle Ages held for
him and his contemporaries, combined with the ideals of Gebrauchs
musik, led him to construct the plays as accessible works rooted in folk
and community traditions.5 Ultimately, Greenberg's privileging of "the
people" over "the establishment" constructed fresh associations of me
dieval music with
"roots," "folk," and "popular" musics that resonated
with the trends toward socialism and Marxism that informed so much
of the cultural front.
The usual approach to the performances of these plays is to portray
them as isolated events that began the early music revival in New York.
But reconstructing the values embodied in the plays' productions and
them within the context of the cultural front establishes a
world of connections to other creative and musical endeavors from the
period and immediately prior. Greenberg's activities with the New York
Pro M?sica emerge as embedded in the cultural politics of the Old Left's
Popular Front, redefined for a postwar McCarthyite climate. The fact that
the plays were performed after the period of the Popular Front does not
preclude its values and ideals from entering the cultural equation. As
Denning argues, the cultural ideals of the Popular Front lived on into
the 1950s, well past its demise in the late 1940s.6
The subject matter and performance modes of the two plays have
more in common with the other musical of the cultural front
than one might think. The texts of can be inter
initially the plays, which
as of fascism and resonate with the numerous
preted critiques capitalism,
communist, socialist, and left-leaning critiques popular in intellectual
circles at the time, and thus resemble Marc Blitzstein's successful 1937
theater piece, The Cradle Will Rock, with its story of a corrupt industri
alist, humble and hardworking laborers in an overtly anticapitalistic
critique.7 As Elizabeth Crist has recently argued, cultural front critiques
of industrial capitalism and left-wing populism feature prominently in
Aaron Copland's music written between 1932 and 1946. Copland had
even taken up the workers' cause, writing an article for the communist

publication The New Masses, and setting Alfred Hayes's poem "Into the
Street May First."8 Not unlike Copland, who wished to reach a mass
Noah Greenberg and the New York Pro M?sica 423

audience through the borrowing of folk tunes, cowboy songs, and other
vernacular musics in his compositions of this period, Greenberg wished
tomake the two plays accessible, and did so by making particular edito
rial and performance decisions. Greenberg and his advisers linked the
plays' music to medieval folksong and other popular music in much
the same way as Popular Front composers borrowed folk tunes or art
songs with proletarian texts to instill their audiences with the ideals of
"community" and social conscience. The "community" ideals inherent in
the Marxist and socialist thought that informed so much of the aesthetic
ideology of the period were also reproduced by Greenberg and the New
York Pro M?sica in the choice and descriptions of repertoire. To be sure,
the climate that produced Blitzstein's and Copland's work is changed
in the postwar period, such that the cultural values of the Popular Front
lived on in a covert form.
the New York Pro Musica's as
Approaching performances engaged
with the ideologies of the cultural front also explains the attraction these
two liturgical dramas and, indeed, the Middle Ages in general had for
a spectrum of listeners whose musical passions were outside the realm
of medieval music. Early music appealed to the various subcultures of
folk and new music from the period as journalist Mike Collins' anecdotal
remark reveals: "When Iwas in college, there was a hardcore under
ground of real folk music enthusiasts. Among their other enthusiasms
were things ... equally obscure: serious music composed prior to Bach
or after Schoenberg."9 An illustration of these shared interests is that the
New York Pro M?sica was featured in a 1963 article published in Sing
Out! that recommended the LP Play of Daniel (along with The Holly and
the Ivy by Alfred D?lier); the Play of Daniel was described as an example
of "a flourishing musical culture which combined church liturgy, the
rustic vigor of peasant dances, the courtly art of the troubadours, and the
scholars' frank comments on love and wine."10 Wfhile there is
no evidence Greenberg attended any folk-music gatherings, Folkways,
a center in New York for folk music that sold both sheet music and re
cordings, carried several Greenberg recordings and his edition of An
Elizabethan Song Book}1 The record label Folkways also demonstrated
this intriguing crossover, producing albums such as German Folk Songs,
German Student Songs, and English Folk Songs alongside medieval topics
such as Robin Hood Ballads, collections of Renaissance songs performed
by Alfred D?lier, and LPs that taught Latin.12
Indeed, a position for medieval music as culture"?to bor
row a term current from the Popular Front?can be seen in the unusu
ally high number of articles focusing on medieval culture and repertoire
in Sing Out!, especially in the journal's first ten years, 1950 to 1960. In
his discussion of a song called "The Cutty Wren," A. L. Lloyd suggests
that the wren symbolizes "baronial property," expressing the peasants'
424 Yri

dissatisfaction with the system that enslaved them and thus highlight
ing the of the common people against social abuses and the
church.13 As inmany left-wing venues of the time, the opposition was one
between elite, "high art," and the popular, "low art" of those typically
the state or
marginalized by church, factory. Sing Out! also published
Paul Henry Lang's article on the pagan elements of Christmas (such
as people dancing in animal skins) censured by the medieval Church
in favor of Christian ones. The influence of the "popular" or "pagan"
on learned traditions is also a feature of his discussion. In describing
medieval music in France, Germany, and England, he avers, "The line
of development was the same everywhere: a folk genre was
into a art form, into musician's
gradually changed highly sophisticated
music."14 This influence of the popular or secular on "official" art forms
emerges as a problematizing feature of the categories "high" and "low,"
and is a significant theme in Greenberg's revival of early music.
Descriptions of medieval music performed by the New York Pro M?
sica sometimes drew comparisons to another "people's music"?jazz.15
For instance, reviews sometimes made references to jazz. A1964 New York
Times review of the New York Pro Musica's tour inMoscow notes, "The
shawm, forerunner of the oboe; the sackbut, an early trombone, and the
krummhorn, a reed instrument that buzzes like a bee, were joined with
the more familiar clavichord, the recorder, and the viola da gamba in a
simulated jazz session of about 1600 that was one of the highlights of
the evening."16 Other performers who overlapped both worlds included
jazz trumpeter LaNoue Davenport, said to "carry his improvisatory skills
over to his recorder playing, Renaissance music in a lan
guage uniquely his own."17 Moreover, one of the New York Pro Musica's

long-term members, Bernard Krainis, had been a professional jazz trom

bonist who doubled on recorders and led a small instrumental group
that Greenberg introduced into his first choral ensemble in 1952.
Reviews of medieval music recordings entered the pages of jazz's
foremost musical magazine, Down Beat.18 From 1955 to 1959, the "Clas
sics" column included almost no classical or baroque music reviews, but
a range of
early music recordings, including Alfred Deller 's Elizabethan
and Jacobean Music; a Decca release of music from the year 700 to the
era, called The Living Archives; a review of the Archive series'
recording Gregorian Chant, Minnesingers and Early Polyphony before 1300,
and Troubadours, Trouv?res; and an album praised for its "vocal roots"
called Notre Dame Organa: Leoninus and Perotinus Magister, which featured
among its performers two New York Pro M?sica singers, Russell Ober
lin and Charles Bressler. The Chicago Daily News' jazz readership must
have found something of interest in reviews of early music as the editor
mentions that writer Donald Henahan "will continue to review those
classical records that we think should be of interest to a primarily jazz
Noah Greenberg and the New York Pro M?sica 425

oriented readership."19 The next ten years of reviews in these columns

reveal a penchant for early music, modern music (such as Copland's
Appalachian and Eastern bloc or Soviet music. In 1960 the first
crossover of and was
explicit jazz liturgy released: Liturgical Jazz, Ed
Summerlin's jazz recording of Rev. Roger Ortmayer's service. Henahan
praised the record for itsmusical accompaniment and jazz arrangement
of hymns.20
Such intriguing crossovers among early music, folk music, and jazz
point to the ways in which medieval music resonated with the culture of
the left. Early music, like jazz, folk, and modern music composed with
the vernacular in mind, was thought to have democratizing potential
and to offer an alternative to elite or mass-produced music. InMusical
America, a review of the Play ofHerod notes that the "mainstream" was not
missed: "I began to understand the Latin after awhile, and never missed
Mozart's woodwinds, Verdi's strings, orWagner's brasses."21 That early
music did not subscribe to the cult of the performer, surfaced in other
reviews: "Glory be?the age of the virtuoso singer had not yet dawned.
In this lay the strength and unity of the ensemble?not one performer
had occasion to turn himself into a
shining star, casting the others into
exterior darkness."22

Socialist Politics
The early political activities of Noah Greenberg (1919-66) shed light on
his later attraction to medieval music and the ideological values and
populist attitudes that informed his approach to the Middle Ages. A Jew
growing up in New York City during the Depression and Popular Front
era, Greenberg held political beliefs that were shaped by social and eco
nomic issues and the rights and conditions of workers. With confidence
in capitalism eroded, many, especially immigrant Jews in New York,
adopted the ideals of socialism and communism, which they viewed as

enlightened, liberal, and modern.23 Such ideals were considered the only
solution to the collapsing capitalist economy of the Depression. Many
immigrant New York Jews were committed to equality and freedom
from oppression, and as such, brought this focus to the communist ac
tivism in which they participated. As James Gollin argues, Greenberg's
political views shared much with the left leanings of the New York Jews.
According to Gollin, in 1934 Greenberg "joined the most radical of the
period's student political organizations, the American Student Union,
dominated on most campuses by Stalinists rather than socialists." Some
time around 1937 he joined the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), an organi
zation founded by Max Shachtman that followed Trotsky's anti-Stalinist
assessment of communism in Russia.24 Greenberg and Edith Schor, his
soon-to-be wife, then followed Shachtman in his later break away from
426 Yri

Trotsky to form theWorker's Party, which existed until 1948 with Schor
and Greenberg as devoted members.

Greenberg's socialist interests are recounted by his friend Jesse Simons,

who says that after he and Greenberg became devoted members of the
Worker's Party, they and a number of other cohorts a lathe to
acquire the skills to get jobs in the unions, in order, in Simons's words,
"to be among workers so we could teach them about socialism." Accord

ing to Simons, he and a half dozen other members of theWorker's Party

secured positions in the International Union of Marine Shipbuilding
Workers of America in 1942. Simons maintains, "We were Marxists and
Leninists, and convinced that capitalist society needed to be radically
changed. We also thought that all the social forms and cultural aspects
of our society had been corrupted by private ownership of the means
of production and we were in favor of its socialization?ownership and
control by the state." As Simons recalls of Greenberg and his friends, "We
would sing all these songs of the radical movement?Spanish, Yiddish,
German, Irish, and Italian songs, in the original languages, everybody
seemed to know them and I came to learn them."25
However, Greenberg's overt political activity was curtailed in 1948,
after the commencement of hearings by the House Un-American Activi
ties Committee; according to Gollin, "the Worker's Party voted itself
out of existence ... and reconstituted itself as the Independent Socialist
was no involved in the
League."26 Though Greenberg longer officially
Worker's he continued to be an active supporter for
Party, progressive
causes. Greenberg supported the civil rights movement, describing him
self in a letter to Raymond Arvio of the Artists Civil Rights Association
Fund as "deeply interested in the Civil Rights Movement and concerned
about its development" and contributed money to the fund.27 Other
progressive organizations Greenberg belonged to included the Hispanic
Society, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People, even his name to be used in the NAACP's campaign
to eliminate segregated concert audiences.28 In 1955 a New York Pro
M?sica European tour sponsored by the State Department's American
National Theatre and Academy was canceled due to Greenberg's Trotsky
ist activities. In the customary background check, Greenberg was found
by the State Department to be controversial and suspect. Even appeal
to the American Committee for Cultural Freedom, an
ing organization
whose antitotalitarian mandate included support for those accused of
being communist proved futile.29 Greenberg later conducted the Broad
way musical A Shadow ofMy Enemy, written by Sol Stein with music by
cellistSeymour Barab, constructed from the legal record of the trial of
Alger Hiss, who was with communist activity by key witness
Whittaker Chambers.30
Through his connections to the labor movement, Greenberg was able
Noah Greenberg and the New York Pro M?sica 427

to land a night job directing choirs for the International Ladies Garment
Workers Union in 1949. This experience is noteworthy for several rea
sons. First, it helped carve out a niche for Greenberg as amusic director
and gave him his first paid conducting experience. Second, it suggests
that members felt Greenberg had the requisite socialist background to
uphold the organization's reputation for social critique, through the use
of popular accessible musical forms. The union choirs had been so suc
cessful that according to Serge Denisoff, "Most Trotskyist protest songs
actually were modeled on the show tune idiom popularized during the
1930s in labor circles, for example by the International Ladies Garment
Workers Union in their successful musical, Pins and Needles/'31

Medievalism as Utopia

Greenberg's involvement with medieval music must also be viewed

against the larger symbolic meaning of the Middle Ages for his contem
poraries. Indeed the very fact that Greenberg chose to direct his attention
to early music of all historical periods is revealing. For many, the Middle
a a cor
Ages stood as Utopian Other distinct from what was considered
rupted modern world. Medievalist Roger Sherman Loomis stressed the
of medieval as to modern isolation:
importance community opposed
"In response to the individualization, fractionalization, and isolation of
modern life, he evoked the community and solidarity of a courtly gather
was also apparent in the
ing."32 This kind of image scholarly and fictional
works of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, the latter largely responsible
for creating the landscape of the Middle Ages for popular culture. As
Norman Cantor has argued, Tolkien and Lewis used the Middle Ages
for therapeutic purposes, and claimed its treatment would attenuate the
general malaise for the contemporary world of industrialization, capital
ism, and the military.33 Jane Chance has also suggested that Tolkien and
Lewis considered the Middle Ages as an escape from a dehumanized,
technocratic, and industrialized England.34
The Middle as a
Ages had long been implicated utopia in socialist
and Marxist thought before the works of Loomis, Tolkien, and Lewis. As
Timothy Evans argues, nineteenth-century medievalists and members of
the Arts and Crafts movement, disillusioned with industrialization and
city life, operated under a nostalgia for the pastoral and preindustrial
peasant which they mapped onto medieval society. The medievalists
a social
John Ruskin and Thomas Carlyle formulated theory to discuss
the production of culture through labor. They, together with William
Morris, "came to view human labor as the source of identity and values,
and postulated that the arts and industries of a historical period were
directly connected to its social and moral systems. Resisting the evils they
perceived in industrial capitalism meant reviving traditional arts and
428 Yri

crafts."35 Embedded in this socialist approach to medieval was

also a critique of the elitist division between "fine arts" and "crafts."36 For
Greenberg as for Morris, Ruskin and Carlyle, the words "community"
and "tradition," had moral as well as political implications?community
being the antidote tomodern alienation and a sign of utopia.37
At the same time, Greenberg's interest in early music was caught up in
an ambivalence for what he called "the standard repertoire." Greenberg
shared the modernist practice of disdaining common-practice repertoire
in favor of new music and old music made new. Greenberg recounted
the growing interest in early music in blatantly oppositional terms: "The
musician and music listener have rebelled against the standard reper
toire and they have found 700 years of music of every description."38
Greenberg's outlook would thus place early music into a camp oppo
site Romanticism in much the same way as those involved with Neo
classicism embraced the "objective" rather than "subjective" modes of
expression.39 Charged with the same rhetoric reserved for antitotalitari
a reaction against the
anism, Greenberg's language could be said to be
in New York of Toscanini, who was conductor first for
long reign City
the Metropolitan Opera (1908-15), then for the New York Philharmonic
(1926-36), and finally for the NBC Symphony (1937-54). By 1947 Tosca
nini's television audience for broadcasts of NBC symphonic concerts was
estimated at ten million. Declared to be a musical Joe
by Life magazine
DiMaggio, Toscanini transformed high culture and classical music into
a mass movement.40 Toscanini favorites such as Wagner's Preludes to
Tristan and Isolde and Die Meistersinger von Nuremburg, and Beethoven's
Third and Fifth Symphonies came to be so ubiquitous that they would
increasingly limit the listening opportunities for the New York audience.
Even though Toscanini was no longer conducting by the time the Play
Daniel was his presence left its mark on Green
of premiered, certainly
berg who defined his task as challenging the "tyranny of the standard
a to and set
repertoire," phrase that surely refers the small entrenched
of "masterworks" favored by Toscanini.41

Medieval Music as Gebrauchsmusik

Greenberg's attraction to the two plays and the decisions he made in

directing their performances also reflect the left-wing ideals of the Ge

brauchsmusik aesthetic that sought tomake music for social use. Informed
by midcentury ideals of socialism and Gebrauchsmusik, Greenberg
wanted to disseminate medieval music widely and make it socially rel
evant?even the fact that Greenberg named the Pro M?sica after the
Brussels Pro M?sica Antiqua underscores his populist attitude toward
medieval music. Safford Cape, the American who founded and led the
latter group, established a reputation in Europe for bringing early music
Noah Greenberg and the New York Pro M?sica 429

into the popular and social sphere. Rejecting the idea of early music as
an elite form of music, intended it to be The New
Cape participatory.
York Pro M?sica shared Cape's outlook. On many of their tours across
the United States, the New York Pro M?sica gave workshops and visited
schools. They also established a outreach education program,
inwhich Greenberg led a choral study group, Martha Blackman directed
viols, and Bernard Krainis taught recorder. This focus also reflects the
cultural front's populist trend, which in the 1930s had witnessed the
widespread dissemination of high art forms such as the paperback edi
tions of classic literature published by Penguin.
To be sure, the Gebrauchsmusik aesthetic shared much with the work
of nineteenth-century medievalists, both having been born of the same
malaise for the industrial revolution. l?chard Taruskin asserts that the Ge
brauchsmusik aesthetic
"emerged out of an antiquarian milieu," and that
the German musicologist Heinrich Besseler adopted the term Gebrauchs
musik to assert the social relevance of medieval music as intrinsic to "life
as-lived": "Besseler, whose research inmedieval music had relativized his
values, had lost faith in the supremacy of absolute music and its attendant
modes of listening. He dreamed of recapturing Heidegger's 'primordial'
immediacy of experience, and the social relevance the music he studied
had possessed as an art still undivorced from life-as-lived."42
Taruskin's discussion of Gebrauchsmusik is in the context of neoclas
sicism, where the "back to" nature mindset marked out not an in
terest in eighteenth-century and baroque forms, but also the more trans
parent textures and simpler melodic structures of folk music and early
music. According to Taruskin, Hindemith's neoclassicism a
"Bach of the Left": a communal and Gebrauchsmusik view of Bach as a
"Gemeinschaftsmusiker, turning out well made, socially useful goods
to order" for the masses.43 Greenberg's treatment of medieval music
can be compared to this notion of Gebrauchsmusik, borne out in such
accessible pieces as Lehrst?ck or Wir bauen eine Stadt, which Hindemith
wrote for amateurs and children, and which were tied to the social and
political aims illuminated in their texts.
Unlike the other sacred and secular music the New York Pro M?sica
performed, the plays, in fact, had a Gebrauchsmusik aesthetic as their
raison d'etre. Greenberg knew that both Daniel and Herod had been written
as educational tools for an audience of common folk. He also focused on
the two medieval provenance and transmission, em
plays' widespread
phasizing they were for everyday people. Greenberg believed the music
of the plays included music of everyday "folk" to be used for didactic
purposes, something that surely resonated with his own ideas about the
social function of art. Moreover, Greenberg was aware that the financial
success necessary to continue his endeavors might follow if the public
found the plays accessible.
430 Yri

Greenberg also believed that both plays had been written for the Feast
of Fools, a feast between Christmas and New Year's Eve that gave the
youth and students of the Church, as well as common folk and other
participants, the chance to switch hierarchical roles and become the "rul
ers" for the duration of the event.44 Such a reversal of roles, and the
privileging of the students of the Church and "the people" over "the
establishment" may have been attractive to Greenberg given his earlier
revolutionary persona. But more important, this reversal resulted in a
blurring of boundaries between the sacred and secular, and allowed
Greenberg to consider the plays more as drama rather than liturgy.
Liner notes emphasize these features. Father Rembert Weakland (b.
1927), who transcribed Daniel for Greenberg, described the work as a
hit in its time, performed for one hundred years at New Year for the
Feast of Fools and having been written for the Feast by the students of
the Cathedral of Beauvais from the Vulgate. Weakland also emphasized
the impending independence of drama, stating, "Our interest in Daniel
is heightened by the fact that itwas written at that precise period when
the connection between the liturgy and the drama had become more and
more tenuous and the drama was soon to assert its independence."45 In
his notes for the Play of Daniel, Paul Henry Lang suggests that Daniel
was intended as a moral tale for an audience of common, illiterate folk,
and that elements of myth, fable, and burlesque appear. Lang also drew
attention to the fact that performances of these plays were eventually
stopped during the Middle Ages because their "secularization and ir
reverence" were perceived
as threatening to Church authorities.46
As best he could, Greenberg considered the two dramas in terms of
their historical as well as their contemporary social and moral functions,
but, as we will see, he downplayed the religious aspects in favor of those
that emphasized "people's" culture. Although the plays had a Christian
didactic function in their historical provenance, the cultural context in
which were in the 1950s andl960s shifted the focus away
they presented
from the religious to the social. The choice of biblical themes on the Jew
ish hero Daniel and the slaughter of the innocents would seem to reflect
a religious commitment. was not, however, a man.
Greenberg religious
As author and critic George P. Elliott would recall, "He did not do it in
order to bring the people of New York into a better connection with the
God of Jews and Christians. He had been born and raised a Jew, but in
his youth had accepted the rationalistic Jewish-Christian heresy, social
ism, and especially, Trotsky's faction of the schism."47 The ideological
dimensions of the cultural front in New York together with the secular
context of contemporary life suggest that the texts may have been read
as metaphor and perhaps even spoke to the threat of totalitarianism
among other topical socialist concerns.48
A socialist or even Marxist reading of Christian texts would, signifi
Noah Greenberg and the New York Pro M?sica 431

cantly, have precedent in the cultural front.49 A communist reading of

religion, for instance, revolved around the ideals of brotherhood and
emancipation: "In the ideas of goodness, equality, fraternity among
human beings which the Christian religion also speaks of and which are
reflected in the religious and sincere conscience of any believer, there are
elements capable of contributing to an emancipating struggle."50 Marxist
readings also stressed the history of oppressed Christians. As Friedrich
Engels stated:

The history of early Christianity has notable points of resemblance

with the modern working-class movement. Like the latter, Christian
was originally amovement of oppressed people: it first appeared
as the religion of slaves and emancipated slaves, of poor people
of all rights, of peoples or dispersed
deprived subjugated by Rome.
Both Christianity and the workers' socialism preach forthcoming
salvation from bondage and misery; Christianity places this in a life
beyond, after death, in heaven; socialism places it in this world, in
a transformation of society.51

Likewise, the texts spoke to issues of universal concern such as tyranny,

corruption, and jealousy versus honor, hope, and reward. They did not
need to have partisan labels to communicate their ideals, nor could they
in the postwar anticommunist period of McCarthyism.
The Play of Daniel recounts the Old Testament tale of a humble, ex
iled, and persecuted Jew who is finally recognized and rewarded for his
faith and wisdom. Daniel is brought in to "read the writing on the wall"
and divines the corrupt king's impending doom for his part in using
vessels stolen from the Jews as adornment and riches, and for
making these vessels into idols to be worshipped. The story lends itself
to a number of different interpretations. On one level, it can be read as
a "back-to-basics" statement, that social and spiritual life be
of its on material items. Given the dominant posi
stripped dependence
tion of left-wing politics in New York, and the rampant commodifica
tion in 1950s and 1960s cultural life, Daniel's rejection of the gifts that
he receives for his wisdom is striking for its cautionary statement about
The focus on Babylon as amorally bankrupt community and
Belshazzar as an evil oppressor of Jews was an obvious echo to the Jewish
Holocaust masterminded by Hitler during World War II. (Harold Rome's
1937 "Pins and Needles" treats King Belshazzar as a fascist dictator in
the sketch "Men?, Men?, Tekel.")52 Finally, Darius's manipulation into
using a law he was tricked into making against his esteemed Daniel sug
gests the corrupted practices of modern bureaucracy, easily a reflection
of postwar Trotskyist views of the Soviet Union or anticapitalist views
of the United States.
The Play ofHerod also features themes that likely attracted a left-leaning
432 Yri

Greenberg. Christ's humble origins and his mission to unite the world
and bring about peace and goodwill may have resonated with revolu
tionary agendas to stand up against a corrupt but powerful government.
More important, the king's decision tomurder a generation of baby boys
underscores the existence of totalitarianism and atrocities, a telling state
ment of holocaust experience, and perhaps even Stalinist purges here, as
in the play, brought on by arbitrary political forces. By making critical
statements about their societies and voicing collective hopes to find a
leader worthy of trust, the plays' texts can be understood in relation to
the ideological values of the cultural front.

Medieval Music as Folk Music

Concurrent with the cultural front and Greenberg's activities with the
New York Pro M?sica was the revival of a folk ethic whose commu
nist, Marxist, and other left-wing connections have been thoroughly
explored.53 Greenberg's direction of the plays reflected the ideological
aesthetic of the folk revival in the way he highlighted the "folk" roots of
the music even when the repertoire was sacred. As I shall shortly discuss,
Greenberg and his advisers brought out the popular and/or folk origins
of the plays in the liner notes and in the use of instruments and meter.
This decision hinged on several elements. First, it involved an equating
of anonymous works, whether sacred or secular, with folksong or folk
music at this time. Particularly in the case o?Herod, there was a common
pool of anonymous melodies also employed in other "Magi" dramas,
a form of that translated to "people's music."
suggesting popularity
Linked to this was Greenberg's and his contemporaries' knowledge of
the complex interweaving of sacred and secular inmuch medieval rep
ertoire. For example, musicologist Gustave Reese, a friend and advisor
to Greenberg, believed "there was no sharp line of demarcation between
sacred and secular music" at this time, and explored the influence of folk
elements on church music, as well as the influence of church music on
the music of the troubadours and trouv?res.54 This connection of high
art music to folk music or music was a theme in
"popular" frequent
monographs and writings from the period.55 The fourth edition of Grove's
Dictionary ofMusic and Musicians (1947) contains a substantial entry for
"song," in which Claudie Marcel-Dubois notes the close connection be
tween folksong and liturgical song: "It is necessary to emphasize the
close connection which has ever existed and perhaps in France more
than in any other country?between the folk song and the Church."56
In the fifth edition of Grove's Dictionary (1954), Maud Karpeles defines
"folk music" as as as which has into the
"any music well song entered
of the people, but can be assigned to no composer, school, or
as a rule, even
Noah Greenberg and the New York Pro M?sica 433

The liner notes for the Play of Daniel recording and edition draw atten
tion to the overlap between the music of the plays and folksong, popular
song, and music of the trouv?res. The majority of the pieces in Daniel
were said to draw "on the rhythms and melodies of the trouv?res who
journeyed over France delighting its people with song and story, and
from the art of those folk themselves."58 Paul Henry Lang writes of the
Jewish, Greek, Latin, and traditional folk elements that merge together to
form a Gregorian art, again highlighting the relationship between secular
and sacred: "from its very beginning, Christian ritual music could not be
and would not be sharply distinguished from secular-profane music,"
and further, "this is natural because, as we now realize, Gregorian chant
is a repository of all manner of music, from pentatonic melodies of ex
treme antiquity toWestern folk song and Byzantine hymn."59 Of the
Play of Daniel, Weakland notes: "[It] is the music itself that ensured the
play's popularity, and in the tunefulness of its melodies and piquancy
of its rhythms, we come perhaps as close as we ever shall to medieval
folk song."60 The attraction to the music was surely another factor in
Greenberg's selection of Daniel. Writings about Daniel also emphasized
the strong relationship between secular and sacred traditions in the music
of the play, highlighting the popular, vernacular themes that crept inside
the sanctity of the Catholic Church.
This popular appeal was also mentioned in liner notes for the Play
of Herod, which included two plays from the Fleury Playbook, The Rep
resentation of Herod and The Slaying of the Children, both of which were
said to have been "written to appeal to a popular audience and were
performed the men and of the choir school attached
originally by boys
to the monastic church of Fleury." In another passage, Greenberg noted
that "these pieces must have been very well-known in the twelfth cen
tury," again suggesting he felt their widespread appeal made them more

Descriptions of other repertoire performed by the New York Pro M?

sica also played up the music's popular and secular origins. Consider
statements made about Leonin's Viderunt on the album Music of theMe
dieval Court and Countryside. Saul Novak writes:

It is in the compositions of Leonin that we witness for the first time in

liturgical music the organization of time values into patterns clearly
establishing the concept of rhythm. The sources of this concept are,
however, secular, for itwas from the word-born rhythmic modes
of the troubadour and trouv?re, the courtly poet singers that the
rhythmic groupings of the Notre Dame composers evolved.62

It is thus clear in the writings about the plays and concurrent scholarship
that "high art" forms of medieval music such as Gregorian chant and
troubadour and trouv?re music were thought to have their basis in folk
434 Yri

song and popular song. Medieval songs supplied the universal "roots"
for other forms of medieval music. This common outlook manifested in
Greenberg's plans for a of medieval music that would be
called "Medieval Roots," and which would feature what he considered
to be popular songs of the Middle Ages.63
also considered medieval "roots music" as that
Greenberg something
could be used to build community. In a 1962 lecture on medieval music,
Greenberg suggested "roots music" could offer comfort and community
at a time when political factions were increasingly hostile.

Today perhaps more than any other time, we crave the comfort that a
great tradition gives us. In this period of rapid changes, phenomenal
scientific achievements accompanied by the ever-present threat of
mass destruction, many of us need the support that only "roots" can
an escape (who can
give, partly as deny it) but primarily to reinforce
our belief inMan and the he can
good accomplish.64
The ideology underpinning Greenberg's comments on "tradition" and
"roots" evokes nineteenth-century medievalists' visions of community
as a panacea for alienation. Since such an outlook informs midcentury
American ideals for the performance of folksong and folk music, it is
not surprising to find similar statements about "roots" and "tradition"
in literature about the folk revival. Robert Cantwell contends, "As folk
music and crafts symbolized the grassroots democracy of preindustrial
America, they also embodied the values of a rootedness and authenticity
characteristic of patriarchal aristocracy. The very concept of folk was
vertical one, of a traditional society pictured from above, where peasantry
and nobility live in an interdependence literally grounded in land."65

Medieval Music Performed as "People's Music"

In keeping with his understanding of the plays as exhibiting popular prov
enance and folk elements, Greenberg constructed their performances to
be accessible and attractive to audiences such that they conveyed the idea
of "people's music." The adoption of instruments, the insertion of instru
mental pieces, and a strong rhythmic emphasis provided the plays with
the characteristics of a medieval town square rather than cathedral.
Itmust be remembered that the "scores" for the medieval pieces the
New York Pro M?sica performed were sketchy, to say the least. Though
was inmany cases notated in a form that was decipherable, there
remained about meter, tempo, and Whether to ac
questions rhythm.
company or not, what?if any?type of instruments might be used, what
vocal style and timbre was authentic, and what tempo or interpretive
framework should be applied, were all left up to Greenberg. As such,
the New York Pro M?sica could practically "invent" both the sound and
the cultural meaning.
Noah Greenberg and the New York Pro M?sica 435

For the Play of Daniel, Greenberg enlisted the help of Weakland and
based his performance and edition on Weakland's transcription.66 Weak
land transcribed the pitches from the medieval notation into modern no
tation with little difficulty. Many of the melodies themselves, especially
those in Daniel, had skips and leaps that were typically associated with
secular and dance music, confirming forWeakland and Greenberg the
influence of the art of "the people" on the music of the Church.
Rhythm was another matter. The question of rhythmic interpretation
was controversial since the Beauvais manuscript, like other medieval
manuscripts from this period, gave no rhythmic markings. Weakland
the two pieces in the that were in the style of plainchant in their
kept play
unmeasured However, a number of the
original settings. large pieces
were given strong triple meter settings dictated by the rhythm of the
Latin poetic texts and based on late twelfth- and early thirteenth-century
rhythmic modes. Other pieces were set in duple meter perhaps because
Weakland and Greenberg were aware of the theory that duple meter
may have been used in medieval secular music and troubadour and
trouv?re music even though itwas not able to be notated until the four
teenth century.67 For listeners in the 1950s and early 1960s, such metered
settings established links to popular music and certainly did not convey
the prayer-like atmosphere of liturgy or religious drama: the triple meter
was associated with secular dance numbers and the duple meter drew
associations withpopular forms like the march. In all cases, the music
conveyed strong metric settings that signaled the secular rather than
sacred realm.

Another way Greenberg made the plays accessible "people's music"

and drew on what he to be themes was to add in
posited "popular"
struments to the musical settings. At the time Greenberg began to put
together Daniel, medievalists knew the liturgical dramas were performed
after the Office of Matins because of the final Te Deum. Wflrile medieval
ists proscribed the use of instruments during liturgical services, they
were unsure whether instruments were used in liturgical dramas.68 As
he recounted in his edition for Daniel, there were several references to
instruments in the Latin poetry: "Let the drums sound forth, let the
harp players pluck their strings, let the instruments of the musicians
resound in his praise." Greenberg believed that the use of instruments
in his edition was justified, and chose to feature the unusual timbres of
Renaissance and "Oriental" instruments typically reserved for secular
music. Psaltery, rebec, and recorders were grouped with Arabian nakers,
Turkish cymbals, Near Eastern finger cymbals and Scottish bagpipes to
create an instrumental world rife with color. The settings of both plays
also make extensive use of tambourine and various other percussion
instruments to highlight the rhythmic, march-like or dance-like meter.
With the Play of Daniel, Greenberg also obtained advice from musi
cologist Edmund Bowles regarding the use of instruments for symbolic
436 Yri

purposes.69 Bowles suggested the use of psaltery, harp, and organ with
holy characters, the trumpet with kings and characters speaking to him,
the recorder, vielle, bells and percussion with the pagan courts, and the
rebec with "the envious counsellors." Bowles thus helped construct a
distinction between secular and sacred characters, as well as a hierarchy
of various social classes.
For the Play of Herod, Greenberg's performing edition relied on the
transcription provided by medieval liturgical drama expert William
L. Smoldon (1892-1974). The was put together at the Benedictine
monastery of Fleury for the Feast of the Holy Innocents.70 In contrast
to Daniel, Herod contains a large number of (liturgically derived) pieces
whose provenance can be traced to theMass or Office, and features fewer

pieces with regular rhyme and rhythm. As Smoldon notes, he set the few
pieces with obvious rhyme and rhythm in the Latin poetry to rhythmic
modes and set the rest of the material, prose passages, or service pieces
in "free rhythm."71 Accordingly, there are several prose passages where
singular figure, such as Herod (an Angel) or Rachel, sings in long pas
sages in free rhythm, and fewer passages in regular rhythm.
But ifHerod's reliance on liturgical items meant it had less of the rhyth
mic drive and duple or triple meter settings associated with secular or
popular influence, Greenberg's performance made up for this lack in two
ways. First, he added four metered pieces to the performance. He chose
to add two instrumental estampies or dances, and two choral on
sacred texts. Since the play included "The Slaying of the Innocents," a
feast commonly understood to take place between Christmas and New
Year's, Greenberg considered it too as a liturgical drama for the Feast
of Fools.72 Accordingly, he inserted the Christmas sequence "Orientis
Partibus," or "Prose of the Ass" as the The liner
opening processional.
notes suggest this sequence was used because the play provided no
music for a procession, and the donkey was a symbol of Christ's flight
to Egypt. But the medieval use of "The Prose of the Ass" as a parody
in the reversal of hierarchical roles during the Feast was well known
and surely played into the decision to include it. Greenberg also added
the thirteenth-century motet Alle-Psallite cum-luya, which highlights the
emotional sincerity of the Angels' and Rachel's mourning.
Presumably to maintain accessibility and create a pageant as vibrant,
colorful, and successful as Daniel, Greenberg also decided to repeat the
estampies at three further points in the performance. Second, Greenberg
also chose to use instruments in some of the texted pieces, though he
limited them to recorder, vielle, bagpipe, tenor drum, and bell carillon.
The instrumental a colorful contrast to the
accompaniments provided
were a or
passages that cappella accompanied only by tenor drum. Again,
since the music of Herod was closely related to the music of the service
books, such metered and instrumental additions would have been seen
Noah Greenberg and the New York Pro M?sica 437

as necessary to add contrast and variation, and to liven up what would

otherwise have conveyed a more
liturgical atmosphere.
The significance of the inclusion of instruments in Herod cannot be
overstated, since at the time Smoldon prepared the transcription, he
had become averse to their use and strongly advised Greenberg against
their employment. Notably, Smoldon had changed his mind. In his New
Oxford History and Grove entries in 1954 (before he began work on Herod)
he suggested that since the plays showed secular influence, it seemed
hard to imagine that they did not use instruments. However, by the
time he worked on Herod, Smoldon believed that since liturgical dramas
were as an appendage to the church service, they would have
used only organ and bells for accompaniment. In his liner notes for the
recording and edition of Herod, he even deemed it important enough to
go on record disagreeing, noting that,

regarding musical accompaniments, the evidence for the employ

ment of instruments during the acting of these Church dramas is
almost wholly negative. Whatever use of them ismade in modern
stagings must depend upon the principles of good taste, and the
fact that inmedieval times the dramas were performed during the
Hour services of the Church, when a restricted use of organ and
chime-bells was
only permitted.73
Smoldon also later prepared his own edition of the Play of Daniel that
dispensed with the use of instruments as well as with metric
Greenberg's scoring, staging, and edition, and his decision not to fol
low Smoldon's advice on the use of instruments are also telling in the way
they privilege the secular activity that infiltrated the Church. Greenberg
knew there were medieval edicts against using particular musical forms
and instruments in the churches where the plays would have been per
formed.74 In a guest lecture he delivered at the University of Colorado
in June 1962, Greenberg quoted Erasmus, who complained: "We have
introduced an artificial and theatrical music into the church, amorous
and lascivious melodies are heard such as elsewhere accompany only
dances of courtesans and clowns. The people run into the churches as
if they were theatres, for the sake of the sensuous charm of the ear."75
Greenberg interpreted this as evidence that since edicts existed to
forbid the use of instruments, instruments must have been used. If the
official stance of the Church was against the use of instruments other
than organ, Greenberg chose to privilege the unofficial, marginalized
versions that he perhaps felt represented "the people," or the "popular
audience" to whom he referred in his edition.
The use of instruments, the scoring of voices in different ranges, and the
use of metered also helped to underscore the social classes and
hierarchies of the characters in the plays. Greenberg's probable attraction
438 Yri

to the plays as popular products of youth and as moral tales involving

power struggles was undoubtedly bolstered by the large numbers of
choruses included in Daniel, which he directed to sound like workers'
choruses with their strict meter, repetitive rhythms, and robust presenta
tion. Greenberg adds contrast and variety to the longer "chorus" pieces
and processionals through instrumental, timbrai, and registral means.
Typically, each strophe is given different instrumental and/or registral
treatment. In the Play of Daniel, Greenberg's performance also marks the
characters' public and social status by employing different registers and
timbres, such that Belshazzar's Prince, a countertenor, is distinguished
from the Princes, who are baritones, and from the Satraps, who are sung
by a choir. As notes in his edition, he transposed par
boys' Greenberg
ticular sections because of range and tessitura.76 Greenberg scored both
King Belshazzar and King Darius as low voices (a bass and baritone re
and rendered their lines in rhythmic that suited
spectively), language
their authority. The king's syllabic declamation, his bass register, and
slow tempo mark him as authoritative, stately, and severe. The king's
regal and proclamatory stature is also reinforced by a trumpet fanfare,
the musical equivalent to the vocal signifier Rex in eternum vive that
always precedes him, and by the avoidance of instrumental accompa
niment. Daniel's melodic lines, particularly the lines of his lament, are
significantly different from the many secular-inspired pieces of the play,
a contrast that to out his and
helps bring unique holy role. Greenberg
also drew out the lyricism of Daniel's melodies by consistently setting
them for countertenor voice. In terms of instrumental accompaniment,
Greenberg chose only portative organ, drone, and the occasional striking
of the minstrel's harp to accompany the famed section in which Dan
iel reads the writing on the wall and the king's overthrow.
Weakland's suggestion for syllabic declamation of the text, performed
in a free manner, renders it closer in style to modern performances of
chant and thus suitable for Daniel's holy prophecy.
treatment, which might very well be described as pag
eant-like, with its processions, recessions, and costumes, makes every
effort tomake the play, its music, and itsmessage readily accessible. As
a touch, Greenberg chose to have an English narrator?no
less a as W. H. Auden?convey the meaning of the Latin texts.
Auden himself had a to the
Interestingly enough, special relationship
Middle Ages that overlapped in places with Greenberg's. According to
Lucy McDiarmid, "[Yeats, Eliot, and] Auden see the twentieth century as

historically 'fallen' from the golden time which they locate in the Middle
Ages. To those longing for the universalized system that Auden found
a a
lacking in 1927, disunified present might be compensated for by uni
fied past, a time undisturbed secularism, or science."77
by capitalism,
Noah Greenberg and the New York Pro M?sica 439

* * *

I have argued that Greenberg's work with the Play of Daniel and Play of
Herod is aligned with the ideological values of the cultural front. This
sharing of values encourages the plays to be considered against the his
torical and cultural contexts that made Gebrauchsmusik and folk music
so attractive to the American left and suggests ways that Greenberg's
revival of the plays grew out of them. The McCarthyite climate of the
postwar United States differed to such an extent from prewar New Deal
liberalism that the ideological values associated with the cultural front
were stripped of their partisan or communist associations in the postwar
as democratic
period and in some cases constructed and "American."
Without mentioning socialism, Trotskyism, Marxism, or communism,
nevertheless constructed the two as if he were devel
Greenberg plays
a form of use
oping "People's Music." Through careful presentation,
of instruments, lively, rhythmic interpretations, the addition of secular
as a literal emphasis on "folk" elements
pieces, as well and folksong,
he forged connections to other music whose emphasis lay in its social
If Greenberg had lived into the 1970s, he would have been able to
witness the incredible flourishing of medieval music in concert halls,
on airwaves, and on sound recordings. He would have been gratified to
see that what began as a tiny group of listeners could grow to become
significant portion of the classical music audience. He would surely
have seen his role in the 1970s stereotype of early music described by
Laurence Dreyfus as relying on social codes of democracy, harmony,
and fellowship in contrast to the hierarchical and competitive nature of
mainstream classical music.78 These social and cultural codes were set in
motion under Greenberg's tenure with the New York Pro M?sica. Under
his leadership, ideals of "community," "roots," and tradition, all values
that defined the "Old Left" in intellectual circles inNew York City, were
mapped onto the practices of reviving "pre-Bach" music.
Greenberg may have believed he was reconstructing performances
close to the original by focusing on elements he understood to have in
formed the unofficial backdrop to the plays during the Middle Ages. Yet
his choices are symbolic of the sleight of hand that tricks us into think
ing we have ready access to the Middle Ages, and that masks the fact
that our access is always mediated. While Greenberg's activities with
the New York Pro M?sica are not an "authentic" reflection of medieval
musical ideas, they provide a window to the birth of medievalism as a

democratizing force in the United States at mid-century, and continue to

enrich the musical experiences of listeners and music-makers not only
in sound, but in imagination.
440 Yri


Iwould like to thank Sarah Fuller, Lisa Barg, and David Fallows for their
Joseph Auner,
comments on earlier versions
of this essay. The author also
helpful gratefully acknowledges
the financial support for this research from a grant partly funded by Wilfrid Laurier Uni

versity operating funds and partly by a Social Science and Humanities Research Council
Institutional grant.

1. E. D. [Edward Downes], "Medieval Drama Sung at Cloisters," New York Times, Jan.
2. These were released as New York Pro M?sica, The Play of Daniel, Decca
79402,1959, and New York Pro M?sica, The Play ofHerod, Decca DXSA 7187,1964. Greenberg
also published performing editions: The Play of Daniel: A Thirteenth-Century Musical Drama,
ed. Noah Greenberg, based on a transcription by Rev. Rembert Weakland (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1959); and The Play of Herod: A Twelfth Century Musical Drama, eds. Noah
Greenberg and William L. Smoldon, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1965). Iwill use
the editions' full titles to them from the recordings.
3. Richard Taruskin, "The Pastness of the Present and the Presence of the Past," in Au

thenticity and Early Music, ed. Nicholas Kenyon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988);
Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, The Modern Invention ofMedieval Music (Cambridge: Cambridge
Press, 2002). Leo Treitler makes a similar in his "The Politics of Reception:
University point
the Present as Fulfillment of a Desired Past," Journal of Royal Musical Association
116, no. 2 (1991): 280-98.
4. Michael The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth
Century (London: Verso, 1997), 4.
5. The New York Pro M?sica
also performed Renaissance music in addition tomedieval
secular music, but I have on the
focused because of their I as
plays widespread appeal.
sign agency to Greenberg because he consulted in his work, he
although musicologists
made the final decisions, sometimes to the chagrin of those who advised him.
6. Denning, Cultural Front, 25.
7. For a reading of Blitzstein's see Carol J.
Oja, "Marc Blitzstein's The Cradle Will
Rock and Mass-song of the 1930s," Musical 73, no. 4 (1989): 445-75; and
Style Quarterly
Denning, Cultural Front, 285-94.
8. For Copland's involvement in the Popular Front, see Elizabeth B. Crist, "Aaron Cop
land and the Popular Front," Journal of the American Musicological Society 56, no. 2 (Summer
2003): 409-66.
9. Mike Collins, "Personal Observations on the Folk Craze," Catholic Times, Feb. 28,1964,

quoted in Robert Cantwell, When We Were Good: The Folk Revival Harvard
University Press, 1996), 282.
10. No reviewer no. 5 (1963-64): 77 and 79 respectively. Note that
Sing Out! 13,
the reviewer is also to the confluences of liturgical music, peasant music (read
"folk song") and court music, and a manuscript that epitomized "wandering scholars'
frank comments on love and wine," the Carmina Burana. This overlapping of medieval
and folk-music spheres has recently been discussed in John Haines, Eight Centuries of
Troubadours and Trouv?res: The Changing Identity ofMedieval Music (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2004), 245. Haines claims that in the mid-twentieth century, "folk song
was a for of medieval and involved the
frequent inspiration interpreters monophony"
"well-known circular sequence that trouv?re songs flow from living folk traditions which
lead straight back to medieval song."
11. According to Izzy Young, who owned and operated the Greenwich Village-based
folk-resource store Folkways, An Elizabethan Song Book and The Play of Daniel,
Noah Greenberg and the New York Pro M?sica 441

as well as Renaissance sheet music, were stocked and sold during the 1950s and 1960s;
Young, personal communication with the author, June 3,1999. An Elizabethan Song Book
was also advertised in Sing Out! in the 1950s.
12. The crossover is also evident on which included sleeves for
Vanguard Recordings,
the Connoisseur label advertising medieval, folksong, and early music. For instance, on the
are advertised:
Ravens album discussed below, recordings by the following musicians the
Weavers at CarnegieHall, Joan Baez, Kurt Weill and Bertold Brecht, and John Hammond's

Spirituals to Swing.The Folkways label released albums of Renaissance music, English

folksongs, and Robin Hood tunes, as well as albums by the Almanacs, the Weavers, and

13. A. L. Lloyd, "Revolutionary Significance of 14th-Century English Song," Sing Out!
4, no. 1 (1953): 4-6.
no. 5
14. Paul Henry Lang, "Christmas Music: A Tradition of Centuries," Sing Out! 12,
(1962-63): 19-21.
15. For a discussion of jazz as people's music, see Finkelstein, Jazz: A People's
Music (1948; New York: Da Capo, 1975).
16. N. A., "Shawm and Sackbut Charm Muscovites," New York Times, Oct. 6, 1964,
17. Judith Davidoff, "Tribute: LaNoue Davenport," Early Music America 6 (2000): 6.
18. Elizabethan and Jacobean Music, Vanguard is reviewed as
BG-539,1955, by Les Brown
an LP of songs "larded with attractive interludes of lute, harpsichord, and violins," that
features Alfred D?lier, alto"; Down Beat 22, no. 9 (1955): 18.
"a natural
19. "Editor's note," Beat 26. no. 25 (1959): 47.
20. Don Henahan, "Review of Liturgical Jazz" [Ecclesia ER 101], Down Beat 27, no.
1 (1960): 84. Four months later, Down Beat reported that Liturgical Jazz's success led to
Summerlin's decision to go on tour with it?see Don Henahan, Down Beat 27, no. 8 (1960).
A live performance was also telecast on NBC's TV-Net in 1960.
21. C. S. S, "The Play of Herod," Musical America 84, no.
(January 1964): 55.
22. V. R. R., "Concert: M?sica Antiqua," New
York Times, Nov. 11,1957,34.
23. For further discussion, see Arthur Liebman, Jews and the Left (New York: John Wiley
and Sons, 1979), and Stanley Rothman, Roots of Radicalism: Jews, Christians, and theNew Left
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1982).
24. James Gollin, Pied Piper, The Many Lives ofNoah Greenberg (Hillsdale, N.Y.: Pendragon
Press, 2001), 28, 29, 42. Although Gollin carefully details Greenberg's associations with
socialist and communist organizations, he consistently downplays Greenberg's cultural

politics by citing accounts of friends who do not remember Greenberg actually discuss
his views. Gollin's desire to will away Greenberg's political and
ing political ideological
activities is part of a larger symptom of anticommunist ideology that, as Elizabeth Crist
has argued in "Aaron Copland and the Popular Front," has informed accounts of Copland

among others. The exact date of Greenberg's affiliation with SWP is not known.
25. Mark Davenport interview with Jesse Simons, "Noah Greenberg, The Man Behind
the Music," no. 3, (1993): 40,41.
Early Music America 3,
26. Gollin, Pied Piper, 87. According to Gollin, the Independent Socialist was
on the U.S. General's list.
placed Attorney
27. Noah letter to Raymond Arvio, Dec. 3, 1964, in Box 6, New York Pro
M?sica Archives, Research Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

(hereafter New York Pro M?sica Archives).

28. Ibid.
29. For details about this incident, see Gollin, Pied Piper, 220.
30. Sol Stein, personal correspondence with the author, April 11, 2005.
31. Serge Denisoff, Sing Song of Social Significance (Bowling Green: Bowling Green State
Press, 1983), 85. Also see Great Day Coming: Folk Music and the
University Serge Denisoff,
442 Yri

American Left (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1971), for a discussion of social causes
in music of the 1930s and 1940s.
32. Roger Sherman Loomis, quoted by Jeff Rider in "Roger Sherman Loomis: Medieval
ism as Antimodernism," Studies inMedievalism 6 (1994): 144.
33. Norman Cantor, Inventing theMiddle Ages (New York: Quill William Morrow, 1991),
229-30. According to Cantor, the first of Lewis's messages "is the reality of evil, personified

by the devil and represented in the materialism, selfishness, corruption, and self-destruc
tiveness of everyday life. Like medieval Catholics, Lewis preached a dualistic
view of the world as the scene of
struggle between good and evil," 221. Tolkien's fictional
works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings also use the Middle Ages therapeutically, and
to in the world. asserts
speak of loss, of decay, and the desire bring about peace Cantor
that The Lord of the Rings employs medieval themes to comment on both the Middle Ages
and the present: "But his book can be read, and was by himself, as an argument
the mechanistic state and society that commit evil even when their intentions are
34. Jane Chance, Preface, "Inklings and Others," Studies inMedievalism 3, no. 3 (1991):
35. Timothy H. Evans, "Folklore as Utopia: of
English Medievalists and the Ideology
Revivalism," Western Folklore 47, no. 4 (Oct. 1988): 246.
36. William Morris was first amember of the Social Democratic Federation and then the
Socialist League.
37. Evans, "Folklore as Utopia," 264-65.
38. Noah lecture delivered at the University of Colorado, June 23, 1962,
typescript in Box 14, New York Pro M?sica Archives. In this lecture, Greenberg attributes
this interest in early music to the "tolerance and intellectual of our time and
to examine different cultural
willingness expressions."
39. Taruskin makes this point in "The Pastness of the Present and the Presence of the
40. Joseph Horowitz, "Sermons in Tones," American Music 16, no. 3 (Fall 1998): 311,
41. Ibid. Greenberg was not alone in his criticism of the stranglehold of "stan
dard Modern American composers, whose works were also played infre
quently, labeled Toscanini's audience "prestige-hypnotized and fashion enslaved" (ibid.,
330). Copland referred to the "endless repetition of a small body of entrenched master
works" as a effect on American culture (ibid.).
having negative
42. Richard Taruskin, "Review: Back toWhom? Neoclassicism as 19th Century
Music 16, no. 3 (Spring 1993): 295.
43. The other trajectory describes an elite version asof Bach
espoused by Stravinsky,
among others, which viewed Bach as a "transcendent
impersonal artisan" writing for an
aristocratic audience of experts. Both views are described in ibid., 297.
44. For more on The Feast of Fools and Daniel, see Margot Fassler, "The Feast of Fools
and Danielis Ludus: Popular Tradition in a Medieval Cathedral Play," in Plainsong in the

Age of Polyphony, ed. Thomas Forrest Kelly (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992),
45. Weakland, liner notes for Play of Daniel, 4.
46. Paul Henry Lang, liner notes for Play of Daniel, 3.
47. George P. Elliot, "The Achievement of Noah Greenberg," loose clipping, Box 7, Series
1, New York Pro M?sica Archives. I am unable to locate the original source in which this
document was but the page includes the heading "Observations" and the page
number 67.
48. Hindemith's 1935 Mathis der Maler, about the sixteenth-century painter Matthias
Gr?newald and his role in the German Peasant's Revolt, is an example of a work from that
Noah Greenberg and the New York Pro M?sica 443

period that spoke to the role of the artist in times of political upheaval. Even Beethoven
was understood as a or as the masses
having revolutionary left-wing agenda, "reaching
with his Jacobin Symphony of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. . . .The most
thing for Beethoven the message, and he did deliver that revolutionary message to
the masses in a language as clear as it could be done."
Bishop Fan S. Noli, Beethoven and
the French Revolution (New York: International Universities Press, 1947), 4-5, quoted in
Raina Hayim, "Beethoven, 125 Years Later" Sing Out! 2, no. 10 (1952): 4-5. See also Peter
Davies, The Character a Genius: Beethoven in Perspective Conn.: Greenwood
of (Westport,
Press, 2002).
49. This "dialogue" between Marxism and Christianity was visible in the
1930s: see Marxism and Christianity: A Symposium, ed. Herbert (New York: Hu
manities Press, 1968). See also Alasdair Maclntyre, Marxism and Christianity (London: Gerald
Duckworth, 1969); Charles C. West, Communism and the Theologians: an Encounter
Study of
(New York: Macmillan, Westminster Press, 1958); Denys Turner, Marxism and Christianity

(Totowa, N.J.: Barnes and Noble Books, 1983); Christians and theMany Faces ofMarxism,
ed. Wayne Stumme (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1984).
50. Santiago Alvarez, Espa?a Republicana, published by the Spanish Communist Party;
quoted in Aptheker, Marxism and Christianity, 18.
51. Engels, "On the History of Early Christianity," quoted in Aptheker, Marxism and

Christianity, 30.
52. Denning, Cultural Front, 298.
53. See Richard A. Reuss and JoAnne C. Reuss, American Folk Music and Lefi-Wing Politics,
1927-57 (Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2000); Cantwell, When We Were Good; Denisoff,
Sing Song of Social Significance; and Denisoff, Great Day Coming.
54. See Gustave Reese, Music in theMiddle Ages (New York: Norton, 1940), particularly
201 and 218.
55. See Sidney Finkelstein, Art and Society (New York: International, 1947), and his later
Composer and Nation: The Folk Heritage ofMusic (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1960); and
Lang, Music in Western Civilization (New York: Norton, 1941). Denis Stevens also writes,
and art music are often unified and interdependent" in his notes for The D?lier
Consort's 1956 album The Three Ravens, Songs of Folk andMinstrelsy out of Elizabethan England,
Vanguard VSR- 479,1956, with Desmond Dupre (lute) and Alfred D?lier (voice).
56. Claudie Marcel-Dubois, Grove's Dictionary ofMusic and Musicians, 4th ed. (1947),
is no entry for "folk music" or
"Song," 2. There "folksong" in this edition.
57. Maud Karpeles, Grove's Dictionary ofMusic and Musicians, 5th ed. (1954), "Folk Music,"
182. The main feature of folk music is oral transmission and the refashioning of this music

by the community. The author further notes that folksong could merely be any song that
has a of popularity.
enjoyed great deal
58. E. Martin to The
Browne, preface Play of Daniel: A Thirteenth Century Musical Drama,
59. Lang, liner notes, Play of Daniel, 3.
60. Weakland, liner notes, Play of Daniel, 11.
61. The Play of Herod, eds. Greenberg and Smoldon, vii, viii.
62. Saul Novak, liner notes, Music of theMedieval Court and Countryside, Decca DL 79400,
63. Greenberg's were recorded in the form of contracts with Decca, which, upon
Greenberg's premature death at age forty-seven, posthumously released Medieval Roots,
Decca DL 1971, and Music a Medieval DL 34541, 1968, from a
79438, for Day, Horizon
compilation of older recordings with several new renditions under the direction of John
Reeves White.
64. Greenberg, lecture at the University of Colorado.
65. Cantwell, When We Were Good, 307.
444 Yri

66. Weakland's is of British Museum 2615 (fol. 95R-108R).

transcription Egerton
67. See the New Oxford History ofMusic, vol. 2 (London: Oxford University Press, 1954)
for an overview of duple meter as itwas then understood. The complexity of this issue and
the changing of scholars on the matter of mensural of troubadour
opinions interpretation
and trouv?re music are discussed in detail in Haines, Eight Centuries of Troubadours and
68. See Edmund Bowles, "Were Musical Instruments Used in the Liturgical Service Dur

ing the Middle Ages?," Galpin Society Journal 10 (1957): 40-56; and Frank Harrison, Music
inMedieval Britain (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1958). On liturgical dramas, see
Reese, Music in theMiddle Ages, and the sections devoted to liturgical dramas in the New

Oxford History ofMusic, 175-213, and in Grove's Dictionary ofMusic and Musicians, 5th ed.
(1954), 317-43, both by William Smoldon.
69. Greenberg and the New York Pro M?sica acknowledge the specifics of Bowles's
"invaluable assistance" on the
Play of Daniel recording. Although Bowles had advocated

against the use of instruments in liturgical services, in "Were Musical Instruments Used," he
wrote in support of their use in sacred drama in Edmund A. Bowles, "The Role of Musical
Instruments inMedieval Sacred Drama," Musical Quarterly 45, no. 1 (Jan. 1959): 67-84.
70. The play appears in the Fleury Playbook, inMS 201 of the Bibl de Ville, Orl?ans, ff.
71. Smoldon, liner notes for Play of Herod, 14.
72. Smoldon mentions that he suggested this to Greenberg as a influence for
the work. See
the posthumous publication by William of theMedieval
L. Smoldon, Music
Church Dramas, ed. Cynthia (London: Oxford Press, 1980), 255.
Bourgeault University
73. Smoldon, liner notes for Play of Herod, 15, and in The Play of Herod, A Twelfth Century
Musical Drama, ed. Greenberg and Smoldon, 80. The use of instruments must have been
a sore in his lengthy passage the use of instruments in
spot for Smoldon; arguing against
Herod and Daniel in The Music of theMedieval Church Dramas, he stated, "I have mentioned
before that I happened to be concerned with the preparations of the New York Pro M?sica
for the Play of Herod ... inasmuch as I transcribed, and rhythmed the musical
and wrote one of the articles in the published edition. Imanaged to have my way
in certain features, but there was much else that I objected to?unsuccessfully" (255).
74. In "Were Musical Instruments Used," Bowles mentions several of the edicts, in par
use of organ, and
ticular the Council of Milan (1287), which decreed only the prohibited
recorders and clarions.
75. Greenberg, at the University
lecture of Colorado.
76. Greenberg, The Play Daniel, x. does not provide more information, but
of Greenberg
it is clear from the manuscript that the ranges for Daniel and King Darius are inconsistent;

perhaps he felt he was correcting these inconsistencies.

77. Lucy McDiarmid, Saving Civilization: Yeats, Eliot, and Auden Between theWars (Cam
Press, 1984), 35. Like many of his generation, Auden was
bridge: Cambridge University
also influenced career (xiv).
by Marxism early in his
78. Laurence Dreyfus, "Early Music Defended against its Devotees: A Theory of Histori
cal Performance in the Twentieth Century," Musical Quarterly 69, no. 3 (Summer 1983):