A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Doctor of Music

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DOCTOR OF MUSIC. The superior degree in music conferred by the English Universities, the inferior one being that of Bachelor. These degrees can be traced as far back as the 15th century: an outline of their history and of the history of musical study at the Universities has been given under the title Bachelor. In the ordinary course the degree of Bachelor of Music must at Oxford and Cambridge precede that of Doctor by a period of five years; but by special leave of the University the degrees may be taken together, and the honorary degree of Doctor of Music has occasionally been conferred on musicians of distinction who had not graduated Bachelors. At Dublin no interval of time is necessary, and the degrees may in all cases be taken on the same day, other conditions being fulfilled. Among Oxford Doctors of Music the following are the best known names:—John Marbeck, 1550; John Bull, 1586 [App. p.615 "1592"]; W. Heather (founder of the Professorship), 1622; Arne, 1759; Burney, 1769; Callcott, 1785 [App. p.615 "1800"]; Crotch, 1799; S. Wesley, 1839; Bishop, 1854 [App. p.615 "1853"]. Haydn received an honorary degree on his visit to Oxford in 1791, when his Symphony in G, thence called the Oxford Symphony, was performed. The same distinction is said to have been offered to Handel in 1733, when his 'Esther' was performed at Commemoration, and to have been refused by him with characteristic humour. Cambridge owns the following names:—Greene, 1730; Boyce, 1749; Randall, 1756; Nares, 1757 [App. p.615 "1756"]; Cooke, 1775; Walmisley, 1848; Sterndale Bennett, 1856; Macfarren, 1875; Sullivan, 1876; Joachim, 1877.

During the last century there was no examination for either degree; it was sufficient for the candidate to present an 'exercise,' or composition, to be performed in the Music School. Stricter regulations have been now established, with the view of giving a more genuine character to these degrees; and the following rules are in force. At Oxford the candidate for a degree of Mus. Doc. must compose and send in to the Professor a vocal composition secular or sacred, containing real eight-part harmony and good eight-part fugal counterpoint, with accompaniments for a full orchestra, of such a length as to occupy from forty to sixty minutes in performance. The exercise having been approved by the Professor, an examination follows, embracing the following subjects:—Harmony; Eight-part counterpoint; Canon, Imitation, etc. in eight parts; Fugue; Form in composition; Instrumentation; Musical History; A critical knowledge of the scores of the standard works of the great composers; and so much of the science of Acoustics as relates to the theory of Harmony. After duly passing this examination (which is entirely in writing) the candidate must have his exercise publicly performed in Oxford, with complete band and chorus at his own expense; and must deposit the MS. full-score in the Library of the Music School. The fees on taking this degree amount to about £20. The regulations at Cambridge and Dublin are almost identical with those of Oxford, and the amount of the fees much the same. Degrees in music are not conferred by the University of London.

An anomalous power of creating a Doctor of Music by diploma still vests in the Archbishop of Canterbury. The only regulation existing in connection with this strange prerogative is that the person for whose benefit it is exercised shall pay £63 in fees. [App. p.613 "see Degrees in Appendix."]

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