Presentation of the Dent Medal to Dean Sutcliffe, November 2010
For 2009, the Dent Medal is awarded to W. DEAN SUTCLIFFE, who is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Auckland.
Sutcliffe has produced a remarkably impressive body of published work, including monographs, critical editions, edited volumes, and journal articles, distinguished by an acute analytical insight and elegance of expression that are models of their kind. He has prompted new interest in ideas of dialogue in eighteenth-century instrumental music and his work on texture in Haydn's Piano Trios has prompted a critical re-evaluation of this neglected corpus. He has shed new light on works by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven with which we thought we were familiar. His monograph on Domenico Scarlatti's keyboard sonatas (2004) is a major musicological achievement. He has moreover made a leading contribution to the development of eighteenth-century studies as founding editor of the journal Eighteenth-Century Music.
A full citation appears in the Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 135(1), pp.203-204. A study day in honor of Dean Sutcliffe was held on 27 November 2010.
For 2008, the Dent Medal has been awarded to ANSELM GERHARD, who is Professor of Music and Director of the Institut für Musikwissenschaft, University of Bern, Switzerland. Anselm Gerhard is widely acknowledged as one of the most prolific and forward-looking European musicologists of his generation.
Born in 1958 in Heidelberg, he studied Musicology, German and History in Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Parma and Paris. Following appointments at the Wilhelms-Universität Münster (Westphalia) and Augsburg, he has been since 1994 full Professor of Musicology at the University of Bern. He has also been visiting Professor in Fribourg, Geneva, Pavia and at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris. He has been a prolific contributor to international symposia and has held office in many national and international scholarly bodies, including RISM, the IMS, and the European Science Foundation, as well as numerous journal editorships. His research has focused particularly on the history of music theatre, keyboard music, and aesthetics of music. In addition to these areas he has special interests in history of musicology and in issues of musicological method, and also in problems of so-called ‘performance practice’.
A full citation appears in Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 134(1), pp.161-163. A study day in honour of Anselm Gerhard was held on 28 November 2009.
For 2007, the Dent Medal has been awarded to GEORGINA BORN, who is Professor of Sociology, Anthropology and Music at Cambridge University. Professor Born studied cello and piano at the Royal College of Music, and during the 1980s appeared with numerous experimental music groups, making a number of recordings. She then went on to study anthropology at University College, London, where she was awarded the Ph.D. in 1989. After stints at Brunel University and Goldsmiths’ College, she moved in 1997 to Cambridge, where she was appointed to her present chair in 2006. In addition, she has held several distinguished visiting positions, including Visiting Professorships at the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies, University of Queensland, and at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Stockholm. In 2010 she will deliver the Bloch Lectures at the University of California, Berkeley.
Professor Born's areas of specialization are, as one might imagine from her multi-disciplinary background, extraordinarily diverse. At base, she is best described as a cultural ethnographer: someone who uses ethnography to examine many different aspects of cultural production, but who has consistently shown a particular interest in music. This concentration is amply evident in her first book, Rationalizing Culture: IRCAM, Boulez, and the Institutionalization of the Musical Avant-Garde (University of California Press, 1995), which was ground-breaking for the manner in which it shone a spotlight on the institutional workings of one of the bastions of the late-modernist musical establishment, while setting this study in dialogue with philosophical debates on modernism, postmodernism and the avant-garde. At the same time, the book interrogated the claims and the potential of computer music, introducing an abiding concern with the nature and effects of music technologies. In this and other work, Professor Born developed several post-Adornian directions, arguing for comparative analysis of music's mediation, and for the insights to be gained by probing the historical interrelations between art musics and popular and non-Western musics. The latter is a central theme of her next book, Western Music and its Others: Difference, Representation, and Appropriation in Music (University of California Press, 2000, co-edited with David Hesmondhalgh). This collection brings together a challenging series of essays that interrogate, often under the lens of postcolonial history, music's status and its epistemological condition. The volume speaks also to another theme of Professor Born's writings: a concern with the politics of music and culture. This latter concern is prominent in her third book, which analyses contemporary media policy with a particular focus on the BBC. Uncertain Vision: Birt, Dyke and the Reinvention of the BBC (Secker & Warburg, 2004) is a trenchant critique whose ripples are still being felt both inside and outside the institution (in 2005, for example, she was invited to give evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on the review of the BBC's Charter).
The future is already rich with new directions. A recent paper for Twentieth-Century Music examines music's links with digital media, while consolidating an account of music's mediation and of its plural ontologies. Currently, Professor Born is involved with a major research initiative on improvisation, in which she leads a group on music and social aesthetics, and has an article entitled ‘The Social and the Aesthetic: For a Post-Bourdieuian Sociology of Culture’ forthcoming in Cultural Sociology. She recently completed a study of interdisciplinarity, including the emerging field of art-science, which has resulted in a series of articles on the distinctive modes and ‘logics’ of interdisciplinarity. It is already clear that her work is of critical importance to all those who wish to think more deeply about the nature of cultural meaning, in particular musical meaning, and about how this meaning is conditioned by cultural institutions, knowledge systems and technologies.
A full citation appears in Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 133(1), pp.156-158.
For 2006, the medal has been awarded to MARY ANN SMART. Smart studied at McGill (BMus, 1985) and McMaster (MA, 1989) Universities, before going to Cornell for her doctorate. In 1994, she became Assistant Professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and in 1996 she moved to the University of California, Berkeley, where she is now Associate Professor.
Broadly speaking, Smart's work falls into two overlapping areas. First, she is one of the leading voices in the study of opera and gender, most notably through her editorship of (and contribution to) the volume Siren Songs: Representations of Gender and Sexuality in Opera (2000), which grew out of a conference that she organised with Elizabeth Hudson in 1995. More recently, she contributed the article on 'Music and Gender' to the Harvard Dictionary of Music (2003). Second, this research intersects with her ongoing exploration of new approaches to nineteenth-century opera, whether through the vocal traces left by singers (explored in articles such as 'The Lost Voice of Rosine Stolz' [Cambridge Opera Journal, 1994] and the chapter on singers at the Paris Opéra in The Cambridge Companion to Grand Opera ) or through the gestural traces still audible in the works of composers such as Auber, Bellini, Meyerbeer, Verdi and Wagner (the subject of her book Mimomania: Music and Gesture in Nineteenth-Century Opera ).
The appearance of this latter work has only confirmed her dominant position in her generation as a scholar of opera; a position underlined by her JAMS article 'In Praise of Convention: Formula and Experiment in Bellini's Self-Borrowings' (2000), her New Grove entries on Bellini and Donizetti, her edition of Donizetti's grand opéra Dom Sébastien, and by her ongoing work on opera and politics in Italy before Verdi. Her selection for this year's Dent Medal comes in recognition of the immense insight and influence of these works and others (not least her unusually perceptive book reviews); but also for the unfailing lucidity and poise of her prose, which has served as a model in areas of research too often dominated by jargon and a lack of attention to well-chosen language.
A full citation appears in Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 132(1), p165.
For 2005 the Dent Medal is awarded to Julian Johnson, St Anne's College, University of Oxford. Johnson's first book, Webern and the Transformation of Nature, made a major contribution to Webern studies by combining deft music analysis in the context of cultural constructions of nature in contemporary Austria. His second book, Who Needs Classical Music?, is a passionate defence of the relevance and explanatory power of traditional musicology's approach to understanding music. Johnson's work aims to explain, through linking its hidden details with its history, its production and the ways in which we respond to it, how music moves us and what it is.
A full citation appears in Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 131(1) p.176.
Previous winners of the Dent Medal (see JRMA for full citations)