Biography and History

After graduation from Harvard University (B.A. 1925), Mendel went to Paris, where he studied with Nadia Boulanger (1925-1927). He was music critic of The Nation (1930-1933), literary editor for G. Schirmer (1930-1938), editor of the American Musicological Society's journal (1940-1943), and editor for Associated Music Publishers (1941-1947). He was also an active translator. From 1936 to 1953 he conducted the Cantata Singers, one of the first groups in the USA to give authentic performances of Baroque music. He taught at the Dalcroze School of Music and the Diller - Quaile School in New York (1938-1950), serving as president of the former (1947-1950).

In the late 1940s Mendel gained recognition as a musicologist. He was appointed professor of music at Princeton University (1952), where he was departmental chairman (1952-1967), and held the Henry Putnam University Professorship from 1969 until his retirement in 1973. He was a member of the editorial boards of the Neue Bach - Ausgabe and the new Josquin edition. Mendel published studies on the history of musical pitch and the rhythmic structure of Renaissance and Baroque music. His editions and studies of Bach's life and works, most notably the documentary biography The Bach Reader (1945, with Hans T. David), and his practical and critical editions of the St. John Passion (1951, 1974), brought him recognition as the foremost American Bach scholar of his generation.

In his later years he investigated the music of Josquin and possible applications of computer technology to musicological problems. A Festschrift in his honor, Studies in Renaissance and Baroque Music, was published in 1974 (edited by Robert L. Marshall).

Source: From the finding aid for C0600


  • Conductors (Music) -- New York (State) -- New York..
  • Princeton University -- Faculty..
  • Department of Music Records. 1932-2015 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC151

    Since 1935 Princeton University's Department of Music has offered courses in composition, music history, and related areas to students at the graduate and undergraduate level. The records of the Department of Music document the department's wide range of activities including teaching, research, curriculum development, and the planning of music-related programs on campus.

  • Arthur Mendel Papers. 1950-1979 (bulk), 1937-1981 1950-1979 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C0600

    Arthur Mendel was a prominent music scholar in the twentieth century and a professor at Princeton University. The collection contains correspondence with professional colleagues, course notes, musical notes, scrapbooks, and clippings. There is also additional unprocessed material from Mendel’s time at Princeton.