Richard Taruskin still provoking debates as “pit bull of classical music”

Posted on: June 4, 2014

Sunday’s (6/1) San Francisco Chronicle includes Joshua Kosman’s profile of music historian Richard Taruskin, who will retire later this year from University of California at Berkeley. “For someone who has spent much of his career picking fights—and winning most of them … Taruskin is an awfully amiable fellow…. But take just a dip into his published writings … and you can see why he’s considered the pit bull of classical music.… Perhaps if he waded into those fights with less ammunition on his side … Taruskin would be less of an influential figure. Instead … Taruskin has established himself as perhaps the foremost living thinker on musical matters, an expert on Russian music in particular and an innovative theorist on the relationship between political history and the arts.” The article covers the controversies over John Adams’s opera The Death of Klinghoffer and the historical performance movement in early music; Taruskin’s “magnum opus The Oxford History of Western Music … an astonishing six-volume, 4,200-page tour through the entire course of written music”; and his plans to write a short, 100-page introduction to classical music for Oxford University Press. “After that, he plans to write a practical, and typically compendious, guide to musicology.”

Posted June 4, 2014