Huneker

Huneker

[huhn-i-ker]
Huneker, James Gibbons, 1860-1921, American essayist and music critic, b. Philadelphia. The originality and pungency of his style and the soundness of his criticism made him one of the most important critics of his time. He was music, art, and drama critic for the New York Sun (1902-17), then music critic for the Times (1917-19), and later for the World (from 1919 until his death). He also wrote several books.

See his Letters (1922) and Intimate Letters (1924).

James Gibbons Huneker (31 January 1857-9 February 1921) was an American music writer and critic, born at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

He studied music in Europe under Alfredo Barili and others. He returned to New York City in 1885 and remained there until his death. His level at the piano was such that Liszt's student, Rafael Joseffy, had Huneker serve as an assistant teacher to his piano students.

Huneker wrote the analysis and commentary on the complete works of Chopin for Schirmer's music publishing company. His analysis of all the piano solo works of Brahms, written shortly after that composer's complete works were published after his death, is highly regarded.

He was the music editor of the New York Sun, and a frequent contributor to the leading magazines and reviews. His books include:

  • Mezzotints in Modern Music (1899)
  • Chopin: The Man and His Music (1900)
  • Melomaniacs (1902)
  • Overtones (1904)
  • Iconoclasts (1905)
  • Visionaries (1905)
  • Egoists: A Book of Supermen (1909)
  • Franz Liszt (1911)
  • The Pathos of Distance (1913)
  • Old Fogy (1913)
  • Ivory, Apes, and Peacocks (New York, 1915)
  • Unicorns (1917)
  • Steeplejack (1921)
  • Painted Veils (1930)

Huneker is mostly remembered now for his music criticism. He was a music critic who familiarized Americans with then modern European artistic movements and wrote in a highly subjective style, full of metaphorical descriptions.

Huneker was equally proficient in his knowledge of art and literature, and was one of the first to write of Gauguin, Ibsen, Wagner, Nietzsche, France, Faguet, Van Gogh, and George Moore.

See Huneker's early contributions to M'lle New York, a magazine of American Decadence founded jointly with Vance Thompson. While this was a remarkable magazine in many ways, its written content and its illustrations occasionally express the casual anti-Semitism of the period. See American Decadence, an arts project at the University of Alberta, for facsimile pages from this early publication, especially page 13. "Rubinstein was a man of talent ... but, like every Jew, without genius or originality.

Following Huneker's comment in reference to Chopin's Études that "Small souled men, no matter how agile their fingers, should avoid [them], Douglas Hofstadter, in his book I Am a Strange Loop, named the unit by which "soul size" is measured the huneker (lower case).

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