From Contemporaneous Reviews of the Festival
“Good music in really surprising quantity is being discovered by the festival of the International Society for Contemporary Music on the University of California campus.
“[T]here were two or three times as much good music in this festival as in my other two ISCM sessions (Frankfort [sic] 1927 and Vienna 1932) put together. … During the festival I met a zealot for modernist experiments. He said, ‘The concerts are tame.’ He was indignant. I agree with him in reverse. The concerts were not wild. What does good music to do, necessarily, with tameness or wildness?”
“Because of the war, ISCM events are likely to be centered in the United States for a long time.”
–Alexander Fried, “Music Festival at U.C. Draws Capacity Crowd” and “Composers Today Seem Superior”
San Francisco Examiner, August 4, 1942 and August 16, 1942.
“The International Society for Contemporary Music has been a particular target for the fury of the Axis. In was founded in Salzburg, Austria, in 1922, and held its festivals in European capitals for 17 successive years. It has now been suppressed in all Axis-controlled countries, and only its American and British sections remain active at the present time.”
–Alfred Frankenstein, “Berkeley is Scene of First Concert in Series Dedicated to Contemporary Music,”
San Francisco Chronicle, August 1, 1942.
“[T]he important orchestral works I heard played Saturday and Sunday in the Greek Theatre and the reports of the previous activities gave me a fair picture of a California meeting of musicians of broad vision. …
“As a result of holding the sessions on the campus, freedom from interferences and the absence of a public only interested in entertainment were marked advantages. Of course there were first, second, and even third-rate composers presented by the not-infallible judges but music of such merit was heard that it will be heard again and some of it will retain a music history.”
–Isabel Morse Jones, “Music Society Brings Great Works West,”
Los Angeles Times, August 16, 1942.
“Time was when the academic and the progressively creative were poles apart. Today that condition no longer exists. Of the thirty-three composers represented on the seven programs of the festival, the majority are now teaching in American institutions of higher learning …. There were other signs of the times in the festival’s programs. The American representation–twelve composers–was unusually high, and the Latin-American delegation of seven was probably the highest in the history of the ISCM. And of the eleven composers considered, for the purposes of the occasion, as Continental Europeans, there is only one, Marcel Poot of Belgium, who has not come to this country in the last two or three years.
“Two works played at the festival–the Bloch piano sonata and the Schoenberg piano pieces, opus 19–are already in the standard corpus of world music, but these two pieces are older than all the others and were presented hors concours as marks of special honor to their creators as the outstanding figures in modern music residing on the Pacific Coast. All the other works performed were composed within the past five years … At least four of them, I think, will stay with us for a long time. These are the divertimento for string orchestra by Béla Bartók, the symphony in E flat by Paul Hindemith, the canon and fugue for strings by Wallingford Riegger and the fifth quartet of Alexander Tansman.”
–Alfred Frankenstein, “West Coast Hears Festival of Modern Music,”
The New York Times, August 23, 1942.