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Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Eric Wagner on Joseph Kerman

[Today is the birthday of musicologist Joseph Kerman. Eric Wagner, who has a particular interest in classical music and Robert Anton Wilson's interest in it, penned this short tribute to Kerman. The online reading group Eric led on Kerman's The Beethoven Quartets remains available on the right side of this page. The Management.]

By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger

“Reviewing a PBS program on intelligent dogs, a television columnist jokes that while some dogs may be smart, his lhasa apso always breaks down in the middle of the “Rach 3.”

    • Joseph Kerman, Opera and the Morbidity of Music, pg. 26

In the winter of 1990-1991 I reread Erich Leinsdorf’s The Composer’s Advocate. Leinsdorf recommended Kerman’s The Beethoven Quartets, so I checked it out of the library. It blew me away. I read all of Kerman’s books. I keep coming back to them again and again. From 2000-2021 I taught high school music history, and I used Kerman’s textbook Listen for the classical music section of the course. It also helped with the world music and jazz sections. I feel so grateful for Kerman’s critical intelligence and humor. I keep returning to writing as I discover music new to me or get deeper into music I thought I knew.

Kerman also turned me to a lot of other writers on classical music, especially Charles Rosen. No matter where my life has taken me over the past thirty-three years, I keep finding fresh inspiration in Kerman and Rosen’s writing. They make me listen to music with fresh ears and to dig deeper into how music fits in with all the other aspects of life. 


Eric Wagner said...

Thank you very much for publishing this.

Oz Fritz said...

I enjoyed The Beethoven Quartets reading group.

Eric Wagner said...

Me too! I read a chunk of that book today.