Watkins, Glenn 5/30/1927 - 6/19/2021 Ann Arbor Glenn Elson Watkins of Ann Arbor, Earl V. Moore Professor Emeritus of Music (music history/musicology) passed away peacefully on June 19, 2021. Professor Watkins was born in McPherson, Kansas and spent his early years in Garnett KS. He enlisted in the army on his seventeenth birthday and later served as a Japanese translator and interpreter in MacArthur's headquarters in Tokyo. Following discharge, he earned his A.B. (1948) and M.Mus. (1949) degrees from the University of Michigan and his Ph.D. degree in musicology from the Eastman School of Music in 1953. He was a Fulbright Scholar in London and Oxford during 1953-54, after which he taught at Southern Illinois University (1954-58) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1958-1963). Professor Watkins joined the University of Michigan faculty in 1963 as associate professor of music and was promoted to professor in 1966. He held the title of Earl V. Moore Professor of Music from 1984 until his retirement in 1997. While Professor Watkins was a skilled performer on both the organ and piano, having studied with Jean Langlais and Nadia Boulanger in Paris, his greatest performances were always in the classroom. Whether leading an entire room of undergraduates in a cantata by Anton Weber or leaving a lecture hall of students in rapturous silence after introducing them to the piano music of Maurice Ravel, Glenn Watkins' comprehensive understanding of and deep love for music inspired generations of students. Two generous gifts from Professor Watkins to the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance assisted with the renovation of the Music Library and the creation of the Glenn Watkins Seminar Room in 2007, and the opening of the Glenn E. Watkins Lecture Hall in 2015. Professor Watkins' honors include an award from the American Council of Learned Societies (1962), a National Book Award nomination for Gesualdo: The Man and His Music, and a Pulitzer Prize nomination for Pyramids at the Louvre (1994). The Fondazione Carlo Gesualdo awarded him its highest honor at the Premio Internazionale Carlo Gesualdo in 2005. He has received distinguished alumnus achievement awards from the University of Michigan (1986) and the Eastman School of Music (1996), as well as the Rochester Distinguished Scholar Award in 2012. In his earliest scholarly work, Watkins edited four volumes of the sacred music of Carlo Gesualdo, which served as the impetus for his now-famous book on the composer. He would eventually become the co-editor of the complete works of Gesualdo as well as the editor of the works of Sigismondo d'India. When the composer Igor Stravinsky became fascinated with Gesualdo's music he sought out the young scholar Watkins and they became fast friends. In May 1995, an opera based on the life of Gesualdo by Russian composer Alfred Schnittke premiered at the Vienna State Opera. This afforded Watkins, who spoke from the stage of the opera house at a matinee, yet another opportunity as protagonist for the composer who has loomed large in much of his scholarly career. In 2010 he was the guest of French composer Marc-Andr Dalbavie at the premier of his opera Gesualdo in Zurich. His last book The Gesualdo Hex: Music, Myth, and History (2010) follows the impact of Gesualdo's music and life story throughout popular culture, film and of course music. Watkins' other books include Soundings, a survey of 20th century music that became a standard text in universities and conservatories throughout the country. Pyramids at the Louvre: Music, Culture, and Collage from Stravinsky to the Postmodernists explored the intersection of arts and culture in the Postmodern era, with particular attention to the ideas of "high and low," pluralism and collage. Perhaps his most personal book was Proof Through the Night: Music and the Great War (2003). In it Watkins shows how music could move from stirring national pride to comforting a world in grief, with examples as seemingly contradictory as George M. Cohan's Over There to Maurice Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin. Despite his reputation as an international scholar Watkins was also the consummate host, always ready with a brilliantly chilled martini cocktail and a crackling cheese twist. He took pride in remembering your drink preference and always kept "your brand" in his cabinet. He frequently hosted Igor and Vera Stravinsky in his stylish apartment at the top of the Huron Towers in Ann Arbor and countless other friends later in his beautiful midcentury home. His dry sense of humor kept his cocktail parties upbeat and his guests deliciously entertained. He was preceded in death by his parents, George E. Watkins and Orpha (Andes) Watkins, and his sister Janey (Watkins) Wessler. He is survived by his niece Chris Jarboe, and nephews John and Glenn Wessler. Funeral arrangements are private. In lieu of flowers, Glenn has asked that you make a gift to the University of Michigan Music Library at lib.umich.edu/give
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Published by Ann Arbor News from Jun. 19 to Jun. 20, 2021.