Dramatis Personae

Who are these people anyway? While I argue that Lee, Newmarch, and Prime-Stevenson all “count” as musicologists (and made contributions that reflect a kind of forerunner to today’s queer musicology), all three were active outside of academia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, all three wrote both scholarly and creative writings on music history (and numerous other topics), and all three in various ways talked about or around issues of gender and/or sexuality in their works.

Oil painting of Vernon Lee, a white woman with short dark hair wearing a black dress with a white color. She is wearing glasses and appears to be looking at something to the right of the viewer.
Vernon Lee (Violet Paget, 1856-1935)

British scholar of Italian Baroque art and music history, philosophy of aesthetics, and music perception. Horror writer. Pacifist. Fascinated by the gender ambiguity and vocal power attributed to the castrati. Very much not a Wagner fan (see: what happens to the Wagnerian in “A Wicked Voice,”) although she apparently enjoyed Prime-Stevenson’s music criticism.

Oval-shaped photograph of Rosa Newmarch, a white woman in a patterned dress seated at a desk and facing the viewer. Underneath the image is a handwritten note "yours very sincerely, Rosa Newmarch."
Rosa Newmarch (1857-1940)

British scholar and translator of Russian music and poetry. First English-language biographer of Tchaikovsky and translator of Modest Tchaikovsky’s biography. Program note writer for the Proms, among other concerts. Contributor to Grove. Poet. Views on music appreciation shaped by Lee’s theories. Critic of unsupported gossip in popular biographies.

Photograph of Edward Prime-Stevenson, a white man standing and wearing a hat, long dark-colored coat, boots, and carrying a backpack and long walking stick. The upper left-hand corner is signed "E.P. St., Dec. 26, 1928."
Edward Prime-Stevenson (1858-1942)

American music critic and queer historian. Music and theatre columnist for various independent newspapers in New York. Author of boys’ adventure novels and sentimental fiction. Wrote two books on overtly gay subject matter under the pseudonym “Xavier Mayne.” Acquaintance of Lee in Florence and possible reader of Newmarch. Enjoyed self-references and allusions across his writings.

Image credits and permissions:

Vernon Lee, 1881, John Singer Sargent
Photo: Tate. (Reproduced via CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported))

Photograph of Rosa Newmarch attributed to “Mme. Klary, Brussells.” Printed in M., “Mrs. Rosa Newmarch,” The Musical Times 52, no. 818 (1911): 230.

Photograph of Edward Prime-Stevenson signed “December 26, 1928.” Photographer unknown.