UC Berkeley News


In its earliest incarnation, the music department simply oversaw the University Orchestra (above). In the 100 years since, faculty have expanded their charge to embrace composition (a score by Andrew Imbrie, above left), musicology (one of six volumes in Richard Taruskin's lauded history of music, center), and ethnomusicology (department chair and Asian-music scholar Bonnie Wade, above right), while maintaining a consistent focus on performance.

Scholars and players in harmony

20 October 2005

The Department of Music, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, began as a non-academic entity charged with overseeing the young campus's musical aggregations. Its focus on the emerging field of musicology awaited the era of Charles Seeger (1912-18), who taught one of the first such courses anywhere in the U.S. at Berkeley, just prior to the outbreak of World War I. A subsequent department chair, Albert Elkus, had by mid-century put together a range of courses in orchestration, composition, music history, and related subjects - and a world-class faculty to teach them - that in their diversity and comprehensiveness set the tone for the department's future development.

Today's department, chaired by Bonnie Wade and boasting such distinguished current and emeritus faculty as Edwin Dugger, Daniel Heartz, Joseph Kerman, Myra Melford, Richard Taruskin, and Oliver Wilson, is a thoroughly integrative academic milieu, wherein ethnomusicologists collaborate with carillonists, classicists with avant-gardists, composers with performers. Its performance ensembles - among them the University Orchestra, University Chorus and Chamber Chorus, Young Inspiration Gospel Choir, and Collegium Musicum - entertain and instruct the campus and wider communities. The Center for New Music and Audio Technologies, directed by David Wessel, explores the psychological perception of music along with the application of computers to composition, while producing a stimulating array of concerts and recitals. In all these endeavors, the department continues to study music in its many extramusical contexts, out of a longstanding belief that it must connect with contemporary life to be fully appreciated.

On Friday, Oct. 21, at 4 p.m. in Hertz Hall, a special centenary event will feature presentations by Kerman and Associate Professor Benjamin Brinner, an ethnomusicologist, and performances by University Organist Davitt Moroney and the University Chorus, directed by Marika Kuzma. Admission is free.