Obituary: Mozart expert Wye Jamison Allanbrook, 67

Posted on: July 26, 2010

In Monday’s (7/26) New York Times, James R. Oestreich writes, “Wye Jamison Allanbrook, a musicologist who altered modern ways of thinking about the music of Mozart and his contemporaries, died on July 15 at her home in Oakland, Calif. She was 67. The cause was cancer, said her sister Stephanie Jamison Watkins. Ms. Allanbrook, known to friends as Wendy, was most famous for her book ‘Rhythmic Gesture in Mozart’ (University of Chicago, 1983), based on the dissertation for her doctorate from Stanford, which she received in 1974. She showed that the music of Mozart and his contemporaries was not abstract but full of topical references to music of the social environment—in particular, social dances. This, she wrote in her book, is what gave the music its tremendous power to ‘move audiences through representations of its own humanity.’ … In 1994, she went to the University of California, Berkeley, first as the visiting Ernest Bloch Professor and from 1995 on the regular faculty. She was chairwoman of the music department from 1997 to 2003. She was elected president of the American Musicological Society in 2003, but had to resign during her first year in office because of the onset of cancer.”

Posted July 26, 2010