The Eaton Portrait

Herman Melville JOEaton 95ppi 250wBy permission of Houghton Library, Harvard University: 61Z-4

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whale-trp200Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies appears three times a year in March, June, and October. We welcome articles, notes, reviews, and creative writing on the life, works, and influence of novelist and poet Herman Melville (1819-1891). Click here for more information.

Melville Electronic Library

mel-thumb-crpd-3The Melville Electronic Library is an online resource for Melville texts. Housed on a Hofstra University server, MEL is being developed and maintained by a group of Melville scholars and digital specialists.

Johns Hopkins University Press

jhup-logoTo join the Melvillle Society and subscribe to Leviathan, visit Leviathan's Johns Hopkins University Press journal site by clicking here.

Melville Society Cultural Project

Melville Society and New Bedford Whaling Museum Cultural Project The New Bedford Whaling Museum in collaboration with The Melville Society is the established home of the Melville Society Cultural Project and Melville Society Archive. The Melville Society Archive is housed at the New Bedford Whaling Museum's Research Library, where significant works from this collection are also on display. The Melville Society Cultural Project also sponsors a book donation program and presents exciting annual events including the Moby-Dick Marathon and a Birthday Lecture.

 Moby Dick: An Oratorio

MATA Interval 7.2 presents
West Fourth New Music Collective and Contemporaneous
Friday, February 21st, 2014 | 8:00 pm
ISSUE Project Room | 22 Boerum Place, Ground Floor | Brooklyn
Tickets Available at

Moby Dick-An Orotorio

Press Contacts:
Molly Herron (W4): 917.623.3663| This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Alex Weiser (MATA): 212.563.5124| This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

MATA Interval presents two rising stars of the DIY new music scene in a modern oratorio inspired by Melville's Moby Dick. Composer collective West Fourth New Music Collective (W4) joins Contemporaneous, a New York-based new music ensemble, in the world premiere of Moby Dick: Extracts on Death and Other Curiosities on Friday, February 21 at 8:00 pm at Brooklyn's ISSUE Project Room.

Collaboratively written by composers and W4 co-founders Matt Frey, Tim Hansen, Molly Herron, and Ruben Naeff, the evening-length piece composes through Melville's novel, focusing on themes and events related to mortality, identity, and the hunt. Singers will include Lucy Dhegrae, Ariadne Greif, Charlotte Mundy and Sean Christensen. The music will be accompanied by abstract projections inspired by Rockwell Kent's illustrations to the 1930 Modern Library edition of Moby Dick, created by visual artist Andy Cahill.


Moby Dick: Extracts on Death and Other Curiosities

I. Hymn Tim Hansen
II. At the Mast-head Molly Herron
III. The Graceful Repose of the Line Ruben Naeff
IV. Some Ships Matt Frey
V. The Sea Herron
VI. The Non-Valvular Structure of the Whale's Blood-Vessels Naeff
VII. A Song of Wind, Sea and Stars Hansen
VIII. A White and Turbid Wake Frey
IX. There She Blows Hansen
X. All Men are Enveloped in Whale-Lines Naeff
XI. Lower Away Frey
XII. Call Me Herron

The program will be performed without intermission and runs approximately an hour.

About Moby Dick: Extracts on Death and Other Curiosities.

Echoing the multiplicity of Melville's novel, W4 composers created a collection of responses to themes and events from the book. From a narrative episode depicting the final chase of Moby Dick to abstract meditations incorporating spoken text as a textural element embedded in the music, the evening ranges widely through styles and impressions vividly evoking scenes and emotions from Melville's world. Balancing collaboration and individual expression, each composer engaged with personal areas of interest while together conceiving the flow and experience of the work as a whole. The libretto was crafted by the composers, in some cases using extended excerpts, and other times stitching together lines from across the whole novel. This oratorio was written specifically for Contemporaneous who work-shopped early sketches.

About the Artists:

Matt Frey (b. 1980) is a Brooklyn-based composer of contemporary concert music. In 2013, selections from his opera-in-progress The Fox and the Pomegranate were selected for performance at Ft. Worth Opera's inaugural Frontiers showcase. Frey's concert music has been heard in performances by the JACK String Quartet, West Point Woodwind Quintet, NYU Symphony Orchestra, Manhattan Wind Ensemble, Washington Square Winds, and at the 2012 Etchings Festival in France and 2012 Duffy Festival in Norfolk, VA. An alumnus of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop and a recent graduate of the Masters program in Music Composition at New York University, where he studied with Joan La Barbara and Julia Wolfe, Frey is also known as a new music producer, performer, conductor, and advocate through his activities as co-founder of the West 4th New Music Collective.

Tim Hansen (b. 1978) is a composer whose work fuses cabaret and music theatre, with more traditional concert music idioms. His music has been performed in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Mexico, and the United States, as well as in his native Australia. He has composed music for Austrailia's Song Company, Sydney Theatre Company, Saffire Guitar Quartet, Guitarstrophe and the Griffyn Ensemble, and has collaborated closely with artists such as guitarist Tim Kain and clarinetist Nicole Canham. In America, Hansen has worked with Transit, the JACK Quartet, Cadillac Moon Ensemble, NYU Symphony Orchestra, NYU Contemporary Music Ensemble, and has been a composition fellow at the Bang on a Can Summer Institute and the Norfolk Contemporary Music Festival. He has been awarded the Frank Ponton Memorial Prize, the Darwin International Guitar Festival Composition Prize, and an ArtStart Grant from the Australia Council for the Arts. He is a founding director of both ExhAust New Music and the W4 New Music collective in New York.

Molly Herron (b. 1982) is a Brooklyn based composer, performer, and educator. She is a recipient of the Exploring the Metropolis 2012/13 Con Edison Composer's Residency at the Brooklyn Youth Chorus Academy and a fellow at La Pietra Forum in Florence. Recent commissions includes pieces for the JACK Quartet, ECCE, The Cygnus Ensemble, The NYU Contemporary Ensemble and arrangements for the folk group The Great Republic of Rough and Ready, among others. Herron has collaborated with a variety of artists in theater, dance, and film. Her work with the filmmaker Josephine Decker will premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in February. She is a co-founding director of the W4 New Music, a composer's collective dedicated to enriching the possibilities for new music and its makers since 2010. Herron received her bachelor's degree from Sarah Lawrence College where she studied composition with Chester Biscardi and Steven Burke. She received a Master of Music degree from the Steinhardt School at NYU having studied with Joan La Barbara and Michael Gordon.

Ruben Naeff (b. 1981) writes music that speaks to broad audiences as well as to new music lovers. A native of Amsterdam, currently residing in Brooklyn, NY, he is a co-founder of West 4th New Music and has collaborated with such groups as Signal, JACK Quartet, Deviant Septet, Wild Rumpus, Berkeley Symphony, and the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble. His music has been performed in seven European countries and across America and was presented by as a part of the Bang on a Can Marathon. In 2008, he released his CD De Bètacanon. Naeff was awarded the prestigious HSP Huygens Talent Scholarship to study with Michael Gordon at NYU; previously he attended the conservatories of Amsterdam and The Hague and also holds a master's degree in mathematics. He has attended master classes by Louis Andriessen, David Lang, Augusta Read Thomas and Christopher Rouse and the summer programs of Aspen Music Festival, June in Buffalo, Bang on a Can and Music11.

About West Fourth New Music Collective
West Fourth New Music is a collective of composers and performers dedicated to presenting new live concert music in and around New York City. W4 makes a priority of programming and producing new music events with an eye toward bringing diverse audiences together through innovative concert experiences. Co-directors Matt Frey, Tim Hansen, Molly Herron, and Ruben Naeff met while studying in the graduate program of NYU's Steinhardt School on West 4th Street in Manhattan in 2010. A mutual desire to produce their own work outside of the academic environment and to cultivate a broader audience for new music spurred the formation of W4.

About Contemporaneous
Contemporaneous is a New York-based ensemble of nineteen musicians dedicated to performing and promoting the most exciting music of now. Founded in 2010 at Bard College, Contemporaneous has played over sixty shows at venues including (le) poisson rouge, Merkin Concert Hall, Roulette, St. Ann's Warehouse, Galapagos Art Space, Baryshnikov Arts Center and The Stone and has been featured as guest artist at the MATA Interval Series, Tribeca New Music Festival, Neighborhood Classics, and in California at the Berkeley Arts Festival. The ensemble has been featured on WNYC's "SoundCheck" and "New Sounds" programs. Contemporaneous supports the work of new and established composers, encouraging artists to take risks, challenge expectations and defy constraints. To date, Contemporaneous has performed more than thirty world premieres by such composers as Albert Behar, Conor Brown, Ryan Chase, Kyle Gann, Yotam Haber, Molly Joyce and Dylan Mattingly. In 2012, Innova Recordings releasedthe ensemble's debut album, Stream of Stars — Music of Dylan Mattingly, comprising music written specifically for Contemporaneous by its founding co-artistic director. Contemporaneous often collaborates with musicians and artists from other fields, among them pop and rock artists Jherek Bischoff, David Byrne, Sondre Lerche, Amanda Palmer, Zac Pennington, Greg Saunier, Mirah Zeitlyn, Zola Jesus, Fifth Veil and Yassou Benedict. The ensemble regularly presents educational programs for New York public elementary school P.S. 142 and the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra.

About MATA

MATA is unique in its singular devotion to the music of young and emerging composers regardless of their stylistic inclinations or aesthetic leanings. Founded by Philip Glass, Eleonor Sandresky, and Lisa Bielawa in 1996 as Music at the Anthology, MATA presents a week-long festival of new music by composers under age forty each spring in New York City, an acclaimed series of occasional concerts and events known as Interval, and workshops and activities geared to the professional development of young composers. Each year's MATA festival presents approximately twenty works by young composers, three to four of which are commissioned specifically for the occasion. MATA receives more than 600 submissions to its annual call for scores, making a MATA commission the most sought-after opportunity for young composers worldwide. To date, MATA has commissioned more than 70 works, and has presented over 300 performances of pieces by young composers. In 2007 MATA established Interval, an occasional concert series that presents the work of young composers. Since its inception, MATA's festivals and events have been critically acclaimed and broadly respected within the contemporary music community: The New Yorker has hailed MATA as "the city's leading showcase for vital new music by emerging composers"; The New York Times has called it "nondogmatic, even antidogmatic;" The Village Voice named MATA "the contemporary classical equivalent of the U.N. General Assembly." In 2010 MATA received the ASCAP Foundation's prestigious Aaron Copland Award in recognition of its outstanding commitment to young composers. MATA is dedicated to providing opportunities for young composers who may be overlooked by other institutions and consequently programs its events nearly exclusively from free and open submissions to several annual calls for scores. For the majority of the composers selected through our jury process, a MATA performance is an early harbinger of success; it is often one of their first major commissions and first significant exposure to New York and national audiences. MATA Alumni have gone on to receive Takemitsu, Siemens, Pulitzer and Rome prizes, MacArthur "Genius" grants, Guggenheim Fellowships, Barlow and Koussevitsky commissions and every other major prize in contemporary music. In recognizing, presenting and supporting unique compositional voices, MATA is a catalyst for their entry into American musical life.


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Melville Society Facebook Posts

Greg Lennes The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster, MA presents JMW Turner’s Whaling Pictures & "Moby-Dick" with Storyteller, Tom Lee on Saturday, March 24th.
Mindy Wallis The New Bedford Whaling Museum, in partnership with Mystic Seaport, has developed the world's most comprehensive whaling history database and it is now available for all to use at Researchers, genealogists, students, teachers, and history buffs alike will find it to be the most robust and useful repository of whaling history documentation and scholarship.
Whaling History – Connecting All Things Whaling William Bradford, The Port of New Bedford from Crow Island, 1854, oil painting. New Bedford Whaling Museum, 1975.18 Whale oil provided fuel for lighting and lubrication for the gears of the industrial revolution, until it was replaced by petroleum products in the mid-nineteenth century. The whali....
Greg Lennes Scenes from Pittsburgh Opera's "Moby-Dick"
Pittsburgh Opera: Moby-Dick - “Death to Moby Dick!” Captain Ahab (Roger Honeywell) incites the Pequod's crew into swearing that they will hunt and kill the white whale Moby-Dick, which previously took off his ...
Greg Lennes Melvillean TV: Moby-Dick's Captain Ahab appears as a character on ABC's TV series "Once Upon a Time" on the March 16th "Knightfall" episode. Here is a video excerpt - farfetched:) Did the screenplay writers ever read "Moby-Dick?" - probably not!
Greg Lennes "I may here remark by the way — what I subsequently learned — that all the islands of Polynesia enjoy the reputation, in common with the Hibernian isle, of being free from the presence of any vipers; though whether Saint Patrick ever visited them, is a question I shall not attempt to decide." (From "Typee" - Chapter 7)
Greg Lennes "Common Threads is a free annual publication and outreach program produced by Mass Poetry, with a goal to broaden the audience for poetry and support poets and poetry in Massachusetts by helping thousands of people across the Commonwealth come together in small, local groups to read and discuss poetry." For 2018 one of the featured poems in its publication is “Billy in the Darbies” by Melville. According to the editor Alan Feldman the poem "is probably the best poem Melville ever wrote."
Greg Lennes Today in Melvillean History: On March 17, 1846 Melville's "Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life" was published by Wiley & Putnam in America. In London John Murray had published it in late February under the title "Narrative of a Four Month's Residence among the Natives of a Valley of the Marquesas Islands." "Copies were issued in printed wrappers (two volumes) and in blue, brown, green and slate blue cloth, gilt (one volume) as part of Wiley and Putnam's “Library of American Books” series.... The edition was 2,000 copies, of which 1,498 were bound in cloth and 496 in wrappers (the other six copies were defective sets of sheets)." (From "A Checklist of Herman Melville First and Major Editions" by Kevin McDonnell)
Typee : a peep at Polynesian life. During a four months' residence in a valley of the Marquesas The BookReader requires JavaScript to be enabled. Please check that your browser supports JavaScript and that it is enabled in the browser settings. You can also try one of the other formats of the book.
Eileen Valentino Flaxman You can open Moby-Dick just about anywhere and along with spectacular narrative and stunningly beautiful prose, you're likely to find something philosophical that can apply to your 21st century life. I was inspired by a few … Chapter 45 - The Affidavit We fear what we do not understand. Ignorance is not bliss but an instigator, with stories, fables, even downright lies filling in the blanks and believed true. Men are moved by such things. From ear to ear, from man to man, from ship to ship . . . Careers made Lives changed, Leaving carnage in its wake. Chapter 98 - Stowing Down and Clearing Up Tis in whaling as in Life, there is no rest, for one thing follows another. No matter how arduous, still harder tasks will come and often a man just catches his breath when along comes another. So what is the point, exactly? Like Pythagoras - and sometimes feeling like Sisyphus - we discover, we learn, we teach and we work. Over and over and over again. From my collection
Greg Lennes Mt. Greylock
Herman Melville's Arrowhead We've run this quote before, but not in mid-March! Photograph of Mt. Greylock taken this morning, from Arrowhead.
"I have a sort of sea-feeling here in the country… My room seems a ship’s cabin; and at nights when I wake up and hear the winds shrieking, I almost fancy there is too much sail on the house, and I had better go on the roof and rig the chimney.”
Herman Melville writing to Evert Duychinck from Arrowhead, December, 1850.
Colin Dewey This Saturday in San Francisco!
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park Breaching this Saturday in the Maritime Museum’s Blue Room: “Does the Whale’s Magnitude Diminish? Maritime Labor and the Environment in Melville’s Moby-Dick." Join Associate Professor Amy Parsons’ free gam at 1pm, and learn how the classic American novel frames the environmental and human cost of the industry’s tremendous riches during “the golden age of whaling.”


Fellowships and Scholarships

Melville Society Archive
Walter E. Bezanson Fellowship
The Melville Society, under the auspices of the Melville Society Cultural Project in New Bedford, offers an annual fellowship to help a scholar undertake research on Herman Melville at the Society’s Archive in the Research Library of the Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts.


Click here for more information and application details.


New York Public Library
Short-term Research Fellowships


Graduate students or other affiliated academics whose work would benefit from visiting the Manuscripts and Archives Division to view collections such as the Gansevoort-Lansing collection, and Duyckinck family papers are encouraged to apply.


Click here for more information and application details.

From Our Photo Collections

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Woodlawn Cemetary

WoodlawnWoodlawn Cemetary - final resting place of Herman, his wife, Elizabeth, and other family members. Click here to view photos of the gravesites.

125th Anniversary Celebration

125th Woodlawn

A celebration of Melville's life at Woodlawn Cemetary on the 125th anniversary of his passing.

Lansingburgh Historical Society

Melville House

Melville lived for nine years in this Lansingburgh house. It was here that he wrote Typee and Omoo

Berkshire Historical Society

ArrowheadMelville's Arrowhead home and farm in Pittsfield, MA where he wrote Moby-Dick and lived for most of the 1850s.