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Charles Seeger

Charles (Louis) Seeger, Jr. (December 14, 1886, Mexico City - February 7, 1979, Bridgewater, Connecticut) was a musicologist, composer, and teacher.



He graduated from Harvard University in 1908, then studied and conducted in Cologne before taking a position as Professor of Music at the University of California at Berkeley, where he taught from 1912 to 1916 before being dismissed for his public opposition to the US entry into World War I. His brother, Alan Seeger was killed in action on July 4, 1916 while serving as a member of the French Foreign Legion . He then took a position at Juilliard before teaching at the Institute of Musical Art in New York from 1921 to 1933 and the New School for Social Research from 1931 to 1935. In 1936, he was in Washington, DC, working as a technical advisor to the Music Unit of the Special Skills Division of the Resettlement Administration (later renamed the Farm Security Administration).[1] From 1957 to 1961, he taught at the University of California Los Angeles. From 1961 to 1971 he was a research professor at the Institute of Ethnomusicology at UCLA. In 1949-50 he was Visiting Professor of the Theory of Music in the School of Music at Yale University. From 1935 to 1953 he held positions in the federal government's Resettlement Administration, Works Projects Administration (WPA), and Pan American Union, including serving as an administrator for the Works Projects Administration Federal Music Project, for which his wife also worked, from 1938 to 1940.


His first wife was the violinist Constance Edson; they divorced in 1927. One of their sons is Pete Seeger, the folk singer. They had two other sons, Charles III (1912-2002), who was an astronomer,[2] and John (born 1914), an educator.[3] His second wife was the composer and musician Ruth Seeger (née Ruth Porter Crawford); by her, he had two children who also achieved musical renown, Peggy Seeger and Mike Seeger, and another two daughters, Barbara and Penny Seeger.[2]


He is best remembered for his formulation of dissonant counterpoint. According to ethnomusicologist Bruno Nettl, "Seeger played a unique and central role in tying musicology to other disciplines and domains of culture. This collection shows him to be truly a musical 'man for all seasons,' for what comes across most is the many-sidedness of the man."[4]


  1. ^ Sidney and Henry Cowell, Association for Cultural Equity,
  2. ^ a b Obituary: Charles Seeger III, San Francisco Chronicle, 14 September 2002. Retrieved on 2 May 2009.
  3. ^ Seeger family crest and name history. Retrieved on 21 June 2009.
  4. ^ Bell Yung and Helen Rees, eds., Understanding Charles Seeger, Pioneer in Musicology (University of Illinois Press, 1999),

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Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Charles Louis Seeger (14 December 18867 February 1979) was a musicologist, composer, and teacher.


  • Perhaps the Russians have done the right thing, after all, in abolishing copyright. It is well known that conscious and unconscious appropriation, borrowing, adapting, plagiarizing, and plain stealing are variously, and always have been, part and parcel of the process of artistic creation. The attempt to make sense out of copyright reaches its limit in folk song. For here is the illustration par excellence of the law of Plagiarism. The folk song is, by definition and, as far as we can tell, by reality, entirely a product of plagiarism.

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