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Finck, Henry T(heophilus)

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Finck, Henry T(heophilus)

(b Bethel, MO, 22 Sept 1854; d Rumford Falls, ME, 1 Oct 1926). American music critic. After graduating from Harvard in 1876 with highest honours in philosophy (he also studied music with John Knowles Paine), he went to Europe and reviewed the first Bayreuth Wagner Festival for the New York World and The Atlantic Monthly. He returned to Harvard for graduate study a year later and won a three-year scholarship which gave him the opportunity to pursue his studies from 1878 to 1881 in Berlin, Heidelberg and Vienna. While abroad he continued to contribute articles to various American periodicals. In 1881 he returned to the USA and became music critic of The Nation and the New York Evening Post, positions he held until his retirement in 1924. He lectured on music history at the National Conservatory in New York from 1888 until his death. One of the most prolific and influential critics of his day, Finck embraced the musical aesthetics of the Romantics and was an ardent and eloquent champion of Liszt, Wagner, Grieg and MacDowell. He wrote 24 books on music, anthropology, psychology, travel, diet and horticulture, and also edited four collections of songs.


Chopin and Other Musical Essays (New York, 1889/R)

Wagner and his Works (New York, 1893/R; Ger. trans., 1897)

Paderewski and his Art (New York, 1895)

ed.: Anton Seidl: a Memorial by his Friends (New York, 1899)

Songs and Song Writers (New York, 1900)

Edvard Grieg (London, 1906; Ger. trans., 1908)

Grieg and his Music (London, 1909/R)

Success in Music and How it is Won (New York, 1909)

Massenet and his Operas (New York, 1910)

Richard Strauss: the Man and his Works (Boston, 1917)

My Adventures in the Golden Age of Music (New York, 1926/R)


DAB (F.L. Twinner Cole)


Finck [van de Vinck], Herman

(b London, 4 Nov 1872; d London, 21 April 1939). British conductor and composer. He first studied with his father, a Dutch immigrant who, as Louis von der Finck, was a theatre violinist, conductor and composer in London. Herman Finck began to play the violin in theatre orchestras at 14, studied with Henry Gadsby, entered the Guildhall School of Music at 16 (his compositions there included violin sonatas) and learnt theatre orchestration from Edward Solomon. At the Palace Theatre of Varieties Finck was a pianist and violinist (from 1892), a leader and sub-conductor to Alfred Plumpton (from 1896) and a conductor (from 1900). In 1919 he moved to the Queen’s Theatre, and in 1922–31 was musical director at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, where he conducted the London premières of romantic musicals such as Rudolf Friml’s Rose Marie. From 1933 he conducted the Sunday night concerts at Southport. His memoirs were published in 1937.

Finck composed, arranged and orchestrated a great deal of music, particularly revues, for the Palace Theatre. He also wrote musical comedies including My Lady Frayle (Howard Talbot, 1916) and many light orchestral pieces. His thorough grasp of technique and lightness of touch are well displayed in the dance In the Shadows (1910) and in the song I’ll make a man of you (‘On Sunday I walk out with a soldier’) from the revue The Passing Show (1914).


Finck, Hermann

(b Pirna, 21 March 1527; d Wittenberg, 29 Dec 1558). German theorist, composer, teacher and organist. He was the great-nephew of the composer Heinrich Finck. After early training, presumably in Pirna, it is thought that he joined the chapel of King Ferdinand I of Hungary and Bohemia. In 1545 he matriculated at Wittenberg University, where in 1554 he became a teacher of music. Three years later he was appointed organist in Wittenberg. He does not appear ever to have lived in Poland, as has been suggested on the basis of the dedication of his most important work, the treatise Practica musica, to members of the Gorca family (Polish nobility prominent in Wittenberg).

Finck was involved with the intellectual life of Wittenberg, then a centre of Lutheranism and humanism. In particular he gained the support of Melanchthon, two of whose poems he set to music and whose Epistola complectens commendationem musicae provided much of the text of the dedicatory epistle in the Practica musica. Finck also wrote motets for the weddings of important persons. Two of his compositions are included in a manuscript written by a Wittenberg student, Wolfgang Küffer (D-Rp AR 940–1); it contains passages that are also found in Finck's own Practica musica (Josephus Flavius on the inventors of music and the distichs of Simon Proxenus). His compositions have been confused with those of Heinrich Finck.

The Practica musica, a comprehensive treatise presenting the rudiments of music for students, is divided into five books: the elements of plainchant; the elements of measured polyphony; canons; the modal system; and performing practice. The treatise contains 83 compositions as illustrative examples, given without attributions, mostly from the works of leading composers of the time, notably Josquin Des Prez.

In the explanation of the basic rules of music Finck, as was customary in a treatise of this kind, drew from the works of other leading theorists, particularly Heinrich Faber, but also including Listenius, Rhau and Spangenberg, all of whom at some time were connected with Wittenberg. The main importance and interest of the treatise lie in the digressions that appear from time to time, where Finck for the most part expressed his own ideas, not only on the definitions and rules, but also on historical and aesthetic matters. These include, in addition to the much-quoted explanations of tactus and the early history of music, accounts of the solmization syllables, the modal system (with particular reference to polyphony), the various mensurations and the proportions. The extended treatment of canon in the third book and all of the fifth book are of the same character. The fourth book includes a brief statement on how to determine mode in a polyphonic composition: each point of imitation must be regarded separately to ascertain the mode to which it corresponds; the mode that most have in common is to be assigned to the entire piece.

From the treatise it is clear that Finck was deeply concerned with the state of music in his time. His reflections on the history of music are contained in the preliminary comments to the first book and in the fifth book. He included Flavius's conventional account of the mythological origin of music, taken over from Ricchieri's Lectionum antiquarum, but then went on to interpret the music of his own time. He made a distinction between older composers – those of the late 15th century among whom he included Gaffurius, Tinctoris and Du Fay, who established the principles of the art, and more recent composers such as Josquin and Gombert (the latter being singled out for particular praise), who stressed euphony, the proper setting of the text, and imitative counterpoint. The distinctions between different composers are made on the basis of style and technique of composition. Finck's humanistic preoccupation is revealed by his preference for contemporary composers and his concern for the proper expression of affections of the text in a composition. His interest in history is shown by the unusually detailed presentation of proportions and canon, both associated primarily with earlier music. The fifth book of the treatise also deals with the difficult circumstances in which German musicians found themselves at the time.

The Practica musica concludes with a discussion of the proper performance of ensemble polyphony. Finck urged that the singers maintain proper intonation throughout a piece and that while the individual voice-parts should be kept in balance, the musical subjects of the imitative entries should be sung louder than the rest. Finck explained how embellishments (‘coloraturae’) are to be applied in performance, particularly at cadences, and provided an example of his own – the four-part motet Te maneat semper (text by Melanchthon) – in which all such embellishments are written out.


Practica musica … exempla variorum signorum, proportionum et canonum, iudicium de tonis, ac quaedam de arte suaviter et artificiose cantandi continens (Wittenberg, 1556, enlarged 2/1556/R)


all published in Wittenberg

Edition: Heinrich Finck und Hermann Finck: ausgewählte Kompositionen, ed. R. Eitner, PÄMw, viii, Jg.vii (1879/R) [E]

4 wedding motets: Amore flagrantissimo, 5vv (1555); Pectus ut in sponso, 4vv (1555), E 84; Coniugium sponsi, 4vv (1557); Semper honorabile, 5vv (1557), E 95

1 German motet: Was mein Gott will, inc. (1558)

3 Latin motets: Cantate domino, 4vv, inc.; Ecce advenit, 4vv; Te maneat semper, 4vv, pubd in Practica musica (2/1556); ed. in Mw, xii (1956), 75–9

1 German motet: Christ ist erstanden, 5vv, E 6

2 works in D-Rp: Sauff auf und machs nit lange, 4vv; Carmen a 4

Further works, according to EitnerQ, in the Stadtkirche Library, Pirna, and University Library, Rostock


MGG1 (H. Albrecht)

R. Eitner: ‘Einige Nachrichten über alte Musiker’, MMg, x (1878), 29–30

R. Eitner: ‘Auszüge aus dem “Album Academiae Vitebergensis”’, MMg, x (1878), 54–5

R. Eitner: ‘Hermann Finck über die Kunst des Singens, 1556’, MMg, xi (1879), 11–12

L. Erk: ‘Nicolas Selneccer und Hermann Finck’, MMg, xi (1879), 63–4

H. Haacke: ‘Eine Hochzeitsmotette (1557) von Hermann Finck’, Mf, v (1952), 211–12

L. Hoffmann-Erbrecht: ‘Die Chorbücher der Stadtkirche zu Pirna’, AcM, xxvii (1955), 121–37

P. Matzdorf: Die Practica musica Hermann Fincks (Frankfurt, 1957)

F. Kirby: Hermann Finck's Practica musica: a Comparative Study in 16th Century German Musical Theory (diss., Yale U., 1957; abstract in JAMS, xi, 1958, p.82)

F. Kirby: ‘Hermann Finck on Methods of Performance’, ML, xlii (1961), 212–20

B. Meier: ‘Hermann Fincks Practica musica als Quelle zur musikalischen Dynamik’, Mf, xxx (1977), 43–6


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