Joseph Kerman, Colorful Critic of Musicology, Dies at 89 Joseph Kerman By Vivien Schweitzer March 25, 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.
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Start your review of Contemplating Music: Challenges to Musicology Write a review Shelves: books-read-in , books-studied-in-school Not a book for the casual reader, but an important one. Contemplating Music is the very book that set the stage for how musicology is taught at the collegiate level in our times. Reading this book helps one who is studying music comprehend why our understanding of ancient music and all that came after stands where it does.
If it is a field you hold interest in, Not a book for the casual reader, but an important one. If it is a field you hold interest in, I do recommend reading Contemplating Music. Reader beware: not a very captivating read in any sense. This book is written in very technical terms by a professor, to other leading members of musicology.
Also note, much of the book is filled with name dropping and discussions on the research of others. You need not know who these people are necessarily to absorb the themes Kerman pens, but know that there is a lot of sifting of information required here.
If you know nothing about classical music history or criticism, yes, this will be a dense foray. But it will still be pleasant reading. It received a glowing review from the New York Review of Books, which indicates accessibility for the nonspecialist reader. Kerman has become one of my favorite writers on music, with a style not only coherent but vivid and imaginative. A few months ago I had never heard of him. Now, I want to read everything he ever wrote. Samples: " Conjoined with a fanatical scientism, a search for quasi-logical precision of reference which tortured his syntax into increasingly Jamesian spirals for very un-Jamesian ends, there was an undertone of distress, even rage, erupting into repeated assaults and innuendos directed against various predictable targets.
The disciplinary neighbors of musicology address other forms of art , performance , ritual and communication , including the history and theory of the visual and plastic arts and of architecture; linguistics , literature and theater ; religion and theology ; and sport. Musical knowledge is applied in medicine, education and music therapy —which, effectively, are parent disciplines of applied musicology. Historical musicology[ edit ] Music history or historical musicology is concerned with the composition, performance, reception and criticism of music over time. Like the comparable field of art history , different branches and schools of historical musicology emphasize different types of musical works and approaches to music. There are also national differences in various definitions of historical musicology. In theory, "music history" could refer to the study of the history of any type or genre of music, e.
New musicologists seek ways to employ anthropology , sociology , cultural studies , gender studies , feminism , history , and philosophy in the study of music. He asked for "a new breadth and flexibility in academic music criticism [musicology]" Kerman, , 30 that would extend to musical discourse, critical theory and analysis. In the words of Rose Rosengard Subotnik : "For me For Lawrence Kramer , music has meanings "definite enough to support critical interpretations comparable in depth, exactness, and density of connection to interpretations of literary texts and cultural practices" Kramer, New musicology combines cultural studies with the analysis and criticism of music, and it accords more weight to the sociology of musicians and institutions and to non-canonical genres of music, including jazz and popular music, than traditional musicology did.
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 For Kerman, the value of an opera as drama is undermined when there is a perceived disconnection between text and music. He maintained an interest in the English madrigal composer William Byrd throughout his career, and wrote several influential monographs on his work. With his wife, Vivian Kerman, he wrote the widely used textbook, Listen,  first published in and now in its 7th edition co-authored by Gary Tomlinson.