Musicologist Richard Taruskin has Died, Aged 77


Commemorated musicologist Dr. Richard Taruskin, died in a hospital in Oakland, California from oesophageal most cancers, in response to his spouse.

An emeritus musicology professor on the College of California, Berkeley (UCB), Taruskin was a Russian music specialist with a specific curiosity in composer Igor Stravinsky, on whom he produced many scholarly writings.

Born in 1945 in New York Metropolis, in Queens, Taruskin’s father was a lawyer and beginner violinist, and his mom a former piano trainer. Taruskin started studying the cello at age 11 and attended what’s now the Fiorello H. LaGuardia Excessive Faculty of Music & Artwork and Performing Arts. Throughout this time, he reportedly learn each music historical past ebook on the New York Public Library, in response to The Washington Submit.

He later studied music and Russian at Columbia College, the place he remained to finish his doctorate — researching early music and Nineteenth-century Russian opera underneath the mentorship of music historian Paul Henry Lang

Holding a educating place at Columbia College throughout his postgraduate research, Taruskin started freelancing in New York taking part in the viola da gamba, and led a choral group performing Renaissance repertoire. He revealed his first ebook in 1981, and in 1986, he joined the UCB college till his retirement in 2014.

As reported by the New York Instances, Taruskin’s 2005 “Oxford Historical past of Western Music” of six volumes, together with the index, developed from his undergraduate lectures at UCB. In over 4,000 pages, the textual content gives detailed analyses and contextualization of classical music from 800 AD to the tip of the twentieth century — presenting musical historical past as additionally involving argumentation, politics, and energy.

“His instance utterly modified the way in which I do analysis,” stated Mary Ann Sensible, Taruskin’s UCB colleague within the San Francisco Chronicle. “He taught students to trace what music means to folks in a given second, somewhat than what a bit means throughout time. And the entire area went together with him on that.”

Within the mid-Nineteen Eighties, Taruskin grew to become a music critic for the NY Instances and was revealed within the New Republic. He drew consideration for his criticisms of composers Carl Orff, Arnold Schoenberg, and Sergei Prokofiev, plus modern American composers equivalent to Milton Babbitt, Donald Martino, and Elliott Carter.

Typically tangled in controversy, Taruskin challenged preconceived concepts about well-known works and sparred for years with music theorist Pieter van den Toorn — to whom he ultimately devoted certainly one of his books, with “public adversary, non-public pal” as its inscription.

Advancing the concept the classical canon’s inviolable standing has been on account of political forces, Taruskin believed that pushing in opposition to sure dogmas might assist classical music get away of its marginal standing in some American communities.

“I’ve all the time thought of it essential for musicologists to place their experience on the service of ‘common customers’ and alert them to the chance that they’re being hoodwinked, not solely by industrial pursuits however by complaisant teachers, biased critics, and pretentious performers,” wrote Taruskin in a 1994 essay — which grew to become a part of his ebook of papers titled, “Textual content and Act” in 1995.

Earlier than his loss of life, Taruskin was engaged on a ebook of essays that may function an mental biography. One in all his final books was the 2020 compilation, “Cursed Questions: On Music and Its Social Practices.” 

Taruskin’s awards embody Japan’s prestigious Kyoto Prize, which he obtained in 2017, and a convention in his honor was held at Princeton College in 2012.

“Richard was a beloved and deeply engaged member of the Berkeley college,” wrote UCB music division chair, David Milnes, on Fb. “[His] educating and analysis impressed generations of scholars and remodeled the sector of musicology.”

Dr. Taruskin is survived by his spouse, son, daughter, siblings, and two grandchildren. Our condolences to his household, pals, college students, and colleagues.