May 22, 1997
University Gazette


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  Norton Lectures To Be Delivered by Musicologist

Musicologist-critic Joseph W. Kerman will deliver the 1997-98 Charles Eliot Norton Lectures starting this fall.

Kerman will explore the general theme of "Concerto Conversations" in six free public talks on Nov. 5 and 19; Dec. 3; Feb. 11 and 25; and March 11. All lectures will take place at 4 p.m. in Sanders Theatre.

Now a retired professor of music at the University of California, Berkeley, Kerman first gained wide attention with Opera as Drama (1956), a classic featuring analyses of works by composers such as Mozart, Wagner, Verdi, Stravinsky, Puccini, and Richard Strauss. The book has been translated several times, and a revised edition appeared in 1986.

Kerman has also written extensively on Beethoven. His book on The Beethoven Quartets (1967) has become a touchstone on the subject. During the 1970 bicentennial of Beethoven's birth, Kerman issued his influential edition of Beethoven's "Kafka Sketchbook."

In other facets of Beethoven studies, Kerman has collaborated with Harvard scholar Lewis Lockwood and English scholar Alan Tyson. In 1983, Kerman and Tyson coauthored The New Grove Beethoven, an expanded book version of their entry in the monumental New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1980). The book has become the most widely known brief study of the composer.

As a friendly critic of traditional musicology, Kerman has helped reshape the field through works such as Contemplating Music: Challenges to Musicology (1985). Most recently, he has produced the essay collection Write All These Down (1994). Kerman holds the 1981 and 1995 ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards for excellence in writing on music, and the 1970 and 1981 Kinkeldey Awards of the American Musicological Society.

With his wife, Vivian Kerman, he has written the widely used introductory textbook Listen (1972; sixth ed. 1995). He has also contributed regularly to The Hudson Review and The New York Review of Books.

Born in London on April 3, 1924, Kerman earned his Ph.D. in music at Princeton in 1951, writing his dissertation on the English madrigal. Later research in Elizabethan music produced his landmark study of The Masses and Motets of William Byrd (1981).

The Charles Eliot Norton Professorship of Poetry was established in 1925 in memory of Harvard's first fine arts professor, who taught the subject from 1874 to 1898. Under the original terms of the gift from Charles Chauncey Stillman, Class of 1898, the chair has always embraced "all poetic expression" in language, music, fine arts, and architecture.

Over the years, the Norton Chair has become one of the nation's most illustrious guest lectureships, with past incumbents such as Luciano Berio, Leonard Bernstein '39, Harold Bloom, Jorge Luis Borges, John Cage, James Cahill, Carlos Chávez, Aaron Copland, e. e. cummings '15, Umberto Eco, T. S. Eliot '10, Robert Frost, Dame Helen Gardner, Paul Hindemith, Roger Sessions '15, Leo Steinberg, Frank Stella, Igor Stravinsky, Lionel Trilling, and Thornton Wilder.


Copyright 1998 President and Fellows of Harvard College