It is with great sadness that we announce the death on June 8, 2012, of Claire Brook, co-founder and Executive Editor of Pendragon Press. In 1972, Claire teamed with her husband Prof. Barry S. Brook to realize her vision of a small press which would publish seminal works in musicology, especially those which might not find a home with a larger, commercial publishing company. Beginning with Thematic Catalogues in Music
(1972) and continuing through the forthcoming Complete Copland
(2012), Pendragon has benefited from Claire's skills as one of the most able music editors of all time. She initiated the series French Opera in the 17th and 18th Centuries, and s
ince 2000, she served as editor of Pendragon's Lives in Music
series, most recently guiding Roger Evans's Xavier Montsalvatge, A Musical Life in Eventful Times
(2012)to publication. She was also instrumental in bringing the Xenakis
series to Pendragon.
From 1973 until her retirement in 1992, Claire was the tough, fair and famous vice president and music editor of W. W. Norton & Co. in New York, in a distinguished lineage that included Paul Henry Lang, Nathan Broder, and David Hamilton. During her tenure, she initiated, inspired, and quarterbacked many important publications including Norton's two cornerstone music books, Joseph Machlis's The Enjoyment of Music
and Donald Grout's History of Western Music
, bringing in Kristine Forney to continue Machlis's work and Claude Palisca to take over Grout's.
From 1968 to 1969, Claire served as managing editor of RILM Abstracts of Music Literature from 1968 to 1969, the comprehensive bibliography of writings on music which was conceived in a bibliography class taught by Barry Brook at Queens College of the City University of New York and which is now housed at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City.
Claire was born in New York City to immigrant parents Sonya and Frank Kessler and distinguished herself early in the field of music as a pianist and composer. She attended the High School of Music and Art, graduated from Queens College and was awarded a Masters degree in music by Columbia University, after which she spent a year in Paris studying music composition with the pre-eminent teach Nadia Boulanger. In 1999 she was awarded the degree of Doctor of Music, honoris causa
, by the New England Conservatory.
She directed the French Opera in Facsimile
series at the Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation at the CUNY Graduate Center and was a dear friend of the Copland School of Music at Queens College. She was married for 35 years to the love of her life, Barry S. Brook, head of the doctoral program in musicology at the the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. They traveled the world together and always considered Paris their second home.
"Claire's impact on the musical world was profound and a lasting achievement. When I look at my library of music books here at Norton, I see Claire's hand in so many of them, not only editorial but also musical and inspirational. I took some time on Friday to read through the prefaces of books Claire had edited and each bubbles over with praise, thanks, and appreciation." Maribeth Anderson Payne, Vice President and Music Editor, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
"This April [my wife] Joan and I performed an evening at the Café Sabarsky, and she was to give us an at-home two days after the event when fate in the guise of a broken hip sent her to hospital. We suggested canceling the party, which might have been difficult on such short notice -- but Claire said, 'I don't see why you should.' So the rather strange party went on, sans the hostess. We phoned her at the hospital, passed a cellphone around, and all wished her the best; for most of us, I suspect it would turn out to be the last time we'd talk to her. Her feisty wit had not deserted her despite the bad luck; when she came out of anesthesia after the hip operation, I'm told her first words were, 'Did I have a girl or a boy?'" Bill Bolcom, composer
"Claire could always be counted on to provide wise counsel, often with a quip and usually with a twinkle in her eye. She herself co-wrote music guides to various countries and coedited festschriften for Martin Bernatein and Andrew Porter. She also composed music and published a number of songs.
"On a personal level, I will always be grateful that she suggested me to follow her at Norton, though 'replacing' her was out of the question." Michael Ochs , former Music Editor, W.W. Norton
"Claire Brook's death is a devastating loss, personally as well as professionally. She was a peerless reader and keen editor who did not suffer fools gladly, tempering her tough intelligence with matchless warmth, humor, and generosity of spirit. A proud New Yorker who presided over her Upper East Side "classic six," Barry's final gift to her, she carried a history of the AMS inside her. With her death we have lost a titan." David Josephson, Professor of Music, Brown University
"Claire was smart, funny, talented, insightful, articulate, had a razor wit and a sharp tongue. She was also a keen observer of talent and ability, all too happy to encourage talent or uncover the lack thereof. She was a true Grand Lady of Music. She will be missed by her many, many friends and acquaintances at the School of Music and among the great number of musicians whose lives she touched over many years of extraordinary professional activity." Prof. Edward Smaldone, Director, Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College, CUNY
"Claire wasn't an active performer, but she was an able practical musician, as both pianist and organist. I still have warm memories of playing piano four hands with Claire, even to the extent of Grainger's "Let's dance gay in the green meadow" on a lunchroom piano at one of the AMS national meetings. And what a friend she was!" Mark DeVoto, Professor of Music, emeritus, Tufts University
"Claire Brook was the heart and soul of Pendragon Press. It was her invention and her nourishment in her last years. Her taste, her judgment, her knowledge, her intuition and her vision are in every one of the four hundred books that Pendragon has published. With the help of her myriad friends and colleagues I will attempt to maintain the standards that she lovingly set.
"Thanks, Sis. You were amazing!" - Robert Kessler, Managing Editor, Pendragon Press