A Tribute to Rose Augustine (1910-2003)
By JIM TOSONE
Rose Augustine was the publisher and editor of Guitar Review magazine. This is my remembrance of the years I worked for her as a Contributing Editor and Staff Reviewer.
In the world of the classical guitar, I am not a famous performer or a renowned composer or a revered teacher. I am an amateur in both senses of the word: I rarely get paid for my work and I love the classical guitar. So there was no reason for Rose Augustine to give special consideration to the article on the vihuela that I sent to her in 1989. But sometimes life is about someone giving you a chance, even when there's no particular reason why they should. Rose published my article and gave me that chance.
Since that time I've had over 60 articles published in Guitar Review, including interviews, CD reviews, and concert reviews. Over the years, I learned that Rose looked asked three questions about any article: did you care about the topic, did you have a reasoned point of view, and could you express it clearly?
However, sometimes even this was not enough. I recall a concert I reviewed in late 1999. I gave the concert a mixed review, feeling that a couple of the pieces were performed very musically and expressively. Rose, who had also attended the concert, felt the performance was “just horrible.” She said that although my review “reads beautifully,” she'd “rather not write anything if we can't have the truth.” The review was never printed in the magazine. [It does appear on this website.]
When McFarland & Co. decided to publish my book, Classical Guitarists: Conversations, Guitar Review opened up their photo library to me, making possible some of the wonderful photos which appear in the book. I wanted to interview Rose for the book as well, but she demurred. She felt that her thoughts and feelings were not worthy of an interview. It was one of the few times she was wrong.
For all that Rose contributed to the guitar world, she did not publish Guitar Review single-handedly. One of her most important, if not most-often acknowledged, legacies was the development and mentoring of great editors. Over the past 14 years, I've had the pleasure of working with Mark Di Palma, Sal Cosentino, and most recently Steven Griesgraber. The fact that Guitar Review has continued to publish quality articles in a challenging musical and business environment is due in no small part to their talent and dedication.
It has been said that a musician is someone who has played music today and a writer is someone who has written today. That seemed to be the way Rose viewed the world. It wasn't who you were, it was what you did. In the world of the classical guitar, I am a small fish in a small pond. Hopefully, because of Rose Augustine, I've made a few worthwhile ripples.