Academic journal article Notes

Edward N. Waters: Notes of a Career

Academic journal article Notes

Edward N. Waters: Notes of a Career

Article excerpt

Fortunately for us, there were no teaching positions available to the precocious young graduate of the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music in June 1928. To support himself and his young wife, he returned to his parents' town, Palmyra, New York, where he played organ and taught a class of piano students privately until the 1930--31 academic year when he filled in for the head of the piano department at Juniata College, a small liberal arts college in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. At the end of that year he returned to Palmyra with his wife and infant son. Not long after, he received a telegram from Carl Engel, Chief of the Music Division of the Library of Congress--to whom he had applied three years earlier(1)--asking what salary it would take to bring him to Washington. The young musicologist, Edward Neighbor Waters, asked Otto Kinkeldey, then Librarian of Cornell University, what to respond. Kinkeldey suggested $1800, to which Engel replied "If you can come for $1620 the position is yours."(2) So on 1 October 1931, Waters began his forty-five year career in the Music Division of the Library of Congress.

Born in Leavenworth, Kansas on 23 July 1906, he was the son of Emma Louise (Neighbor) and Charles Andrew Waters. The elder Waters, a hero of the Philippine Insurrection at the turn of the century, was then a guard at the federal prison in Leavenworth. In April of 1918 the family moved back to Western New York to care for Emma's ill mother. There, the menage included the ill grandmother, her maiden sister, Emma, Charles, Edward, and his siblings Robert and George.(3) Edward completed high school in three years and entered the University of Rochester where he majored in piano and theory at the Eastman School of Music. Max Landow was his piano teacher there.(4) For his non-music courses he traveled to the old campus of the University of Rochester on University Avenue--the River campus had not yet been built. He earned his B.A. in 1927 and remained another year, receiving his M.A. in musicology in 1928; Donald N. Tweedy was his major professor.(5)

Waters's initial title at the Library of Congress was assistant librarian in the Music Division. His duties included serving the public, cataloguing music, and selecting copyright deposits to be added to the Music Division's collection. The practice of screening the music copyright deposits was first described to this author in 1974 by Harold Spivacke, Assistant Chief of the Music Division 1934--37, Chief, 1937--72.(6) After Spivacke became Chief, he revised the process so that all copyright deposits were accepted by the Music Division but catalogued selectively. Uncatalogued items were shelved alphabetically by composer within the appropriate classification number. Hand-typed catalogue cards for music were prepared within the Music Division by its staff; books, on the other hand, were catalogued in the Catalog Department, where printed cards were prepared.

In 1934 Carl Engel resigned as Chief of the Music Division; Oliver Strunk succeeded him, Harold Spivacke was appointed Assistant Chief, and Waters was promoted to Head of Reference in the Music Division. In that same year Waters expanded his arena of activities by succeeding Strunk as program annotator for the National Symphony Orchestra, an appointment he retained for nine seasons (1934/35--1942/43).

By 1937 both Spivacke and Waters were quietly looking for other positions because of internal dissatisfaction with Strunk as Chief. Mrs. Elizabeth Sprague coolidge, donor of the Coolidge Auditorium, its chamber music concerts, and a series of commissions of chamber music compositions, was particularly unhappy with Strunk.(7) The situation was resolved when Strunk resigned and was appointed to the faculty of Princeton University, where he remained until his retirement in 1966. Spivacke became Acting Chief on 1 July 1937, Waters Assistant Chief.(8) Again Waters succeeded Strunk by assuming his post as lecturer in bibliography and musicology at Catholic University in Washington. …

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