Obituary: musicologist and critic Joseph Kerman, 89

Posted on: March 20, 2014

In Thursday’s (3/20) San Francisco Chronicle, Joshua Kosman reports, “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 89.” Born in London and educated at New York University and Princeton, Kerman “taught at UC Berkeley for more than 40 years.” He was “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 intellectual whose writing in the New York Review of Books and elsewhere brought his ideas to a lay audience.” Kerman’s “most transformative work” was Contemplating Music (1985), which “marked the pinnacle of a 20-year crusade to broaden the world of academic musicology beyond its traditional roots in manuscript studies, historical research and technical analysis.” With his wife Vivian he authored Listen, “an introductory music textbook that has gone through seven editions.”

Posted March 20, 2014