Joseph Kerman , a musicologist and critic whose learned, far-ranging and sometimes acerbic writings helped overturn accepted ideas about music both within the academy and in the wider cultural world, died Monday at his Berkeley home after a long illness. He was Kerman, who taught at UC Berkeley for more than 40 years, was a man of many parts: a scholar whose work on such topics as Beethoven and the Renaissance madrigal reflected deep research and study; a disciplinary gadfly who almost single-handedly changed the direction of academic musicology; a powerful and influential teacher; and a prolific public intellectual whose writing in the New York Review of Books and elsewhere brought his ideas to a lay audience. Most music lovers are apt to know Mr. Kerman's work primarily from his incendiary first book, "Opera as Drama," published in
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With this book, Joseph Kerman establishes the place of music study firmly in the mainstream of modern intellectual history. He treats not only the study of the history of Western art music—with which musicology is traditionally equated—but also sometimes vexed relations between music history and other fields: music theory and analysis, ethnomusicology, and music criticism.
Kerman sees and applauds a change in the study of music toward a critical orientation. As examples, he presents fascinating vignettes of Bach research in the s and Beethoven studies in the s.
Meyer, Heinrich Schenker, Milton Babbit, and many others. Contemplating Music is filled with wisdom and trenchant commentary. It will spark controversy among musicologists of all stripes and will give many musicians and amateurs an entirely new perspective on the world of music. Remembering Our Veterans during a Pandemic.
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Joseph Kerman, musicologist, critic, cultural shaper, dies
Joseph Kerman, an eminent musicologist and critic who modernized a field he had found insular and stagnant, challenging conventional wisdom with colorful, pungent prose, died on March 17 in Berkeley, Calif. He was His death, after a long illness, was confirmed by his daughter, Lucy Kerman. Kerman, the author of a number of admired books and essays, disliked what he saw as the intellectual isolation of musicology and encouraged a more multidisciplinary approach. In , for example, he noted that feminist criticism, an integral part of film, literary and art studies, was largely absent from musicology. Among Mr.
Joseph Kerman, Colorful Critic of Musicology, Dies at 89
One of the leading musicologists of his generation, his book Contemplating Music: Challenges to Musicology published in the UK as Musicology was described by Philip Brett in The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians as "a defining moment in the field. He then joined the faculty of University of California, Berkeley where he became a full professor in and was chairman of the music department from to In , he was appointed Heather Professor of Music at Oxford University , a post he held until , when he returned to Berkeley and again became chairman of the music department from until his retirement in He based his first book, Opera as Drama , on a series of essays written for The Hudson Review beginning in