James Gibbons Huneker (1860-1921) was a American music writer and critic, born at Philadelphia, Pa. 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 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 the complete works of Brahms were published after Brahms' death, is the best analysis of those works in existence.
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)
- Ivory, Apes, and Peacocks (New York, 1915)
- Steeplejack (1921)
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 are sadly indicative of a virulent anti-semitism which seems to have been endemic to American critical writing at that time. See http://www.crcstudio.arts.ualberta.ca/americandecadence/, an arts project at the University of Alberta, for facsimile pages from this early publication; see especially page 13.
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