Barry S. Brook

bbrookBarry Shelley Brook
(November 1, 1918–December 7, 1997)

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 P.H. Lang, Erich Hertzmann, Hugh Ross, and Roger Sessions. He continued his studies at the Université de Paris and in 1959 was promoted there to the Docteur de l’Université after defending his dissertation La symphonie française dans la seconde moitié du XVIIIe siècle. In 1974 he received an honorary doctorate ad eundum gradum from the University of Adelaide. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service as a U.S. Air Force captain in the European theater of operations during World War II.

His career-long 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, which he headed as Executive Officer until his retirement in 1989. In 1986 he became a Distinguished Professor at CUNY.

Brook served on the faculty of the Juilliard School and was 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, among them the Dent Medal of the Royal Musical Association (1965); the French government named him a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters (1972) and the Royal Swedish Academy of Music elected him fellow (1988). He served as the vice-president (1974–77) and president (1977–80) of the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives, and Documentation Centres (IAML), and as the vice-president (1980–82) and president (1982–84) of the International Music Council (IMC).

Brook’s interests were immensely wide-ranging  and in many areas pioneering, 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 in 1966  and two editions of the annotated inventory of thematic catalogues (with R.J. Viano) in 1972 and 1997. 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. The PRC has been merged with the Centro Studi Pergolesi at the Università degli Studi di Milano, where the collection now resides. Under his editorship a 60-volume series of symphonies written from 1720 to 1840 and a dozen volumes in a 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 the musical cultures of the world.

Brook understood the enormous possibilities of computer applications in musicology ahead of its time, and already in the early 1960s he advocated for 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 that is still in use today. The following year he founded Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale (RILM), the international annotated bibliography of music scholarship, and in 1967, under his editorship, the first volume of RILM Abstracts of Music Literature was published. At the 1971 St. Gall meeting of IAML, he initiated 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 the following year organized the Research Center for Music Iconography (RCMI)  at the CUNY Graduate Center, where he developed a substantial archive of iconographic material and designed a computer-operated information retrieval system. He was a member of the Commission Internationale Mixte of Répertoire International des Sources Musicale (RISM) (1986–97). Thus he was centrally involved in three of the four so-called R Projects that document musical sources internationally.

Brook’s interests and research work are embodied in the projects, documentation work, and archival sources of the Center for Research and Music Documentation, which he founded in 1989 at the Graduate Center of CUNY. The Center was renamed in his honor upon his death.