(b Norwich, 14 Sept 1859; d Dinton, nr Salisbury, 2 May 1948). English musicologist, critic and editor. He was educated at Wellington College and Balliol College, Oxford (MA, 1882), and studied music for two years at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik. He became a schoolmaster at Dulwich College (1884–6) and a form master at Wellington (1887–1910), where he succeeded Alan Gray as the music master in 1893, a post he held until 1901, when he was made house master in college. During these years he wrote a Wellington College German Grammar and visited India, which aroused his interest in Indian music. When he left Wellington in 1910 he returned to India for eight months, collecting material for a book which is still a classic on its subject, The Music of Hindostan (1914); he also acted as Rabindranath Tagore's unpaid literary agent, 1912–14, obtaining Tagore valuable contracts and making possible his international career. Fox Strangways settled in London in 1911 and began to write criticism for The Times, soon after becoming a member of its staff. In 1925 he left to become music critic of The Observer.
To supplement the inevitable deficiencies of newspaper criticism he founded at his own risk and under his own editorship the quarterly Music and Letters, of which the first number appeared in January 1920. After 17 years he relinquished responsibility for it and the editorship, which passed to Eric Blom (1937–50; 1954–9). The ‘Letters’ of the title indicated not so much an equal concern with literary subjects as the highest kind of literary treatment of musical subjects; however, the translation of German lieder texts was for a number of years a special concern of his. He published Schubert's Songs Translated (London, 1925) with Steuart Wilson and a similar volume of Schumann (1929); he continued to translate the texts set by Brahms, Liszt, Wolf and Richard Strauss long after the movement of taste for lieder in the vernacular had passed. Another earlier interest, possibly connected with his encounter with unharmonized melody in India on his first visit, was folksong. In 1908 he joined the Folk Song Society and in 1929 contributed the chapter on folksong to the introductory volume of the 1929 edition of The Oxford History of Music; in 1933 he collaborated with Maud Karpeles in the biography of Cecil Sharp. He remained active in journalism until the outbreak of war in 1939, when he retired.
A social dance of the 20th century. The foxtrot and such ephemeral dances as the ‘horse trot’, ‘fish walk’, ‘turkey trot’, ‘grizzly bear’, ‘bunny hug’ and other canters or ‘trots’ had their origins in the one-step, two-step and syncopated ragtime dances in the USA shortly after 1910. The basis of them was a slow gliding walk at two beats per step and a fast trot at one beat per step. The tempo varied between 30 and 40 bars per minute, and the dance could be done to almost any popular tune in simple duple metre with regular four-bar phrases. It is claimed to have been introduced to the USA by Irene and Vernon Castle in 1914. Both W.C. Handy and Irene Castle claimed that James Reese Europe (the Castles’ musical director) created the dance to the accompaniment of Handy’s Memphis Blues. The foxtrot reached London in summer 1914 and the Continent immediately after World War I. It consisted in its original form of a box-step completed by a gliding walk performed forwards and backwards and quick runs of trotting steps and kicks. During the 1920s it developed into two distinct styles, a slow dance in the English style (later called the ‘slowfox’ in German-speaking countries) and the ‘quickstep’ (in German-speaking countries called the ‘foxtrott’).
The slow foxtrot was fashionably regarded as representing a rebellion against 19th-century styles of social dance. It was danced at about 30 bars per minute, with great attention given to deportment, using smooth gliding movements. The quickstep developed as bands took up faster jazz-influenced music, and became one of the most popular dances in England after a visit by Paul Whiteman’s band in 1923. The foxtrot continued to absorb elements from and to give rise to other dances, including the black bottom, Charleston and shimmy. It has remained a popular dance in competitions and ballrooms, but the term is often now used in general reference to slow ballroom dancing.
L.Staats: Théorie du fox-trot (Paris, 1920)
P.J.S.Richardson and V.Silvester: The Art of Ballroom (London, 1936)
A.P. and D.Wright: How to Dance (New York, 1942, 2/1958)
M. and J.Stearns: Jazz Dance: the Story of American Vernacular Dance (New York, 1968)
L.A.Erenberg: Steppin’ Out: New York Nightlife and the Transformation of American Culture, 1890–1930 (Westport, CT, 1981)