The ASCAP Foundation just announced that the 2017 Virgil Thomson Award for Outstanding Music Criticism in the concert music field will go to The Thought of Music, by Distinguished Professor of English and Music at Fordham Lawrence Kramer. Published by University of California Press, the book, according to the citation, "grapples with the understanding of humanity through music." "What, exactly, is knowledge of music?" Kramer asks. "And what does it tell us about humanistic knowledge in general?
The Thought of Music grapples directly with these fundamental questions—questions especially compelling at a time when humanistic knowledge is enmeshed in debates about its character and future. In this third volume in a trilogy on musical understanding that includes Interpreting Music and Expression and Truth, Kramer seeks answers in both thought about music and thought in music—thinking in tones. He skillfully assesses musical scholarship in the aftermath of critical musicology and musical hermeneutics and in view of more recent concerns with embodiment, affect, and performance. This authoritative and timely work challenges the prevailing conceptions of every topic it addresses: language, context, and culture; pleasure and performance; and, through music, the foundations of understanding in the humanities.
The Virgil Thomson Award, named for one of the leading American composers and critics of the 20th Century, is part of the ASCAP Foundation's annual Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Awards, which is in its 49th year. Thus The Thought of Music this year appears alongside the foundation's announcement of awards to books on topics as various as The Beatles, Mozart, The Replacements, 19th-Century American orchestras, and Buddy Guy, as well as liner notes for Big Star--Complete Third, a four-hour documentary film on The Grateful Dead, and a radio/internet show hosting the keyboard world’s greatest luminaries for themed discussion and performances.
Congratulations to Professor Kramer!