Maynard Solomon, Provocative Biographer of Composers, Dies at 90

Attending the High School of Music and Art, because it was then referred to as, in Manhattan, Mr. Solomon performed the piano and studied cello. Recalling household music-making classes for a Talk of the Town characteristic in The New Yorker in 1955, Mr. Solomon stated that although neither of his dad and mom was musical, his mom “always wanted, and got, a trio in the house”: He performed cello, his brother violin and his sister piano.

He graduated from Brooklyn College in 1950 with a B.A. in music and English, and continued his research at Columbia University. Unusually for somebody who turned a revered scholar, Mr. Solomon by no means accomplished a complicated diploma.

In 1950, with a $10,000 mortgage from their father, Maynard and his brother, Seymour, based Vanguard Records. The enterprise started after Seymour, who had studied musicology at New York University, took a tape recorder to Vienna to seize performances of Bach cantatas by the Vienna State Opera Orchestra and Chorus performed by Felix Prohaska.

Over time Vanguard and its Bach Guild label launched an impressively various catalog of useful recordings, particularly of neglected works, and issued pivotal albums of people music, blues and jazz. The classical repertory included English madrigals, neglected Bach cantatas, lots by Haydn and a landmark survey of the whole Mahler symphonies with Maurice Abravanel conducting the Utah Symphony Orchestra.

During the peak of McCarthyism within the mid-1950s, Vanguard signed blacklisted performers together with the bass-baritone Paul Robeson and the Weavers, whose 1956 launch “The Weavers at Carnegie Hall” helped spark a revival of people music in America. Vanguard turned one of the trade’s main people and blues labels, releasing necessary albums by Joan Baez, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Odetta, Mississippi John Hurt, the Jim Kweskin Jug Band and different acts. Jazz artists like Elvin Jones, Larry Coryell and Oregon additionally recorded for Vanguard, as did the rock group Country Joe and the Fish. The Solomon brothers bought the label in 1986.

In the 1970s, whereas sustaining a full-time job at Vanguard, Maynard Solomon had been drawn more and more into analysis and writing, largely working within the evenings and weekends. His political sympathies led to the publication in 1973 of “Marxism and Art: Essays Classic and Contemporary,” a group of fundamental readings in Marxist criticism and aesthetics edited and launched by Mr. Solomon. The sale of Vanguard allowed him to pay attention totally on analysis.

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