Alexander Wheelock Thayer's reputation is well-established as one of the most important American music scholars and critics of the nineteenth century. However, there has been very little detail published about his life and works, and this work rectifies the oversight. Research on Thayer's life has been limited and not always accurate so I therefore studied all his writings; not just correspondence, but the articles he wrote for a number of journals. I searched for originals and first editions, letters, articles from his time, documents and records; not always accepting, as other writers have done, the authenticity of the extant information about him. I read all his articles published in Dwight's Journal of Music, because the progress of most of his travels can be traced from his original contributions to this journal. By carefully reading these and other writings it was possible to build up a picture of his life in Europe, his travels and many of his ideas on music and people. Of course, Thayer's personality is not discernable so much from his articles (which anyone can read), but from his many letters to his friends. All of those reveal his love for his work, for Beethoven and for his great undertaking to produce an adequate biography of Beethoven; not to mention his love for his brother and his hometown of Natick. I feel that only his correspondence can give an insight into his extraordinary character and enables one truly to know him.
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