Claire Brook is a writer, editor, and composer whose career is most distinguished by her work in publishing. She was managing editor of RILM Abstracts of Music Literature from 1968 to 1969. She then became associate music editor at W.W. Norton in 1969 followed by promotion to music editor in 1973. Ultimately, she became vice president at Norton in 1979, a post she held until her retirement in 1992.
A native of New York, Brook received her education at the City University of New York, earning her bachelor’s degree in 1945, and at Columbia University, from which she received her master’s degree in 1947. Following her university education, she studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris in 1947-1948. In the 1950s, in part because of the difficulties faced by women composers, she gave up her career in composition in favor of publishing. More recently, however, she has returned to composition and published “Four Songs from ‘Six Significant Landscapes’” in 1995 as part of the series Art Songs by American Women Composers.
Brook has been married to musicologist Barry S. Brook since 1958. She has two children with her first husband, Seymour Mann. Though Brook was not raised in an observant Jewish home, she describes her upbringing as culturally and politically Jewish, and she raised her own children to be aware of their Jewish heritage.
In addition to the “Four Songs,” Brook’s publications include a series of musical guides to European countries (coauthored with Elaine Brody) entitled Music Guide to Austria and Germany, Music Guide to Great Britain, Music Guide to Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland and Switzerland, and Music Guide to Italy. She is also coeditor (with E. Clinkscale) of A Musical Offering: Essays in Honor of Martin Bernstein.
In 1982, Brook received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. She is a member of the American Music Center, the College Music Society, the American Institute of Verdi Studies, the American Musicological Society, and the Music Library Association.
Brook’s contributions have been most notable in publishing. She attained the position of vice president at one of the most prestigious publishing firms in the United States. In addition, her appointment as the sole music editor at Norton in 1973 was a significant accomplishment for a woman at that time. Brook has championed the continued publication of music books by commercial publishing houses because of their significant contribution to the field and despite their marginal commercial potential. She continued through her career to strike a necessary balance between specialized and commercial music books as well as recognizing the potential of changing technologies for publishing, such as the inclusion of recordings with music textbooks. Thus, in her publishing career, she has made a significant mark in the field of music.
SELECTED WORKS BY CLAIRE BROOK
“The Book Publisher and Recordings.” In The Phonograph and Our Musical Life, edited by H. Wiley Hitchcock (1980);
“Four Songs from ‘Six Significant Landscapes.’” In Art Songs by American Women Composers (1995);
Music Guide to Austria and Germany, with Elaine Brody (1975);
Music Guide to Belgum, Luxembourg, Holland and Switzerland, with Elaine Brody (1976);
Music Guide to Great Britain, with Elaine Brody (1975);
Music Guide to Italy, with Elaine Brody (1977);
“Music Publishing Today—A Symposium.” Notes 32, no. 2 (December 1975): 2243–2248;
A Musical Offering: Essays in Honor of Martin Bernstein, with E. Clinkscale (1977);
Words and Music: Essays in Honor of Andrew Porter, ed. with David Rosen (2004).
Who’s Who in American Music: Classical. 2d ed. (1985).
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Blunsom, Laurie. "Claire Brook." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 27 February 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on April 10, 2021) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/brook-claire>.