University of Rochester

Eastman Studies in Music Series Celebrates Landmark Volume

February 14, 2008

University of Rochester Press Reflects Strengths of Campus

In music the passions enjoy themselves, wrote Nietzsche.

Talk with musicologist Ralph Locke about any of the critically acclaimed books from the Eastman Studies in Music series published by the University of Rochester Press—from Musical Encounters at the 1889 Paris World's Fair to CageTalk: Interviews with and about John Cage—and his fervent delight rings clear and true.

"When we began, I didn't dare dream that this could happen," says Locke, a professor at the Eastman School of Music for more than 30 years and series editor of the Eastman Studies in Music books since 1994. "We started producing two books a year, and now we are up to seven each year and growing, which means we can publish books on a range of topics and reach a wider spectrum of the reading public."

In an age of blockbuster books dominating the shelves at corporate chain stores, Locke has the right to be excited about the steady growth of the niche series.

"I am more intimately involved with some of the titles because of my personal interests," says Locke, who is celebrating his 50th book as series editor this month at the University of Rochester Press with the release of Music Theory and Mathematics: Chords, Collections, and Transformations (edited by Jack Douthett, Martha M. Hyde, and Charles J. Smith). "But music has a powerful way of conveying a wide range of moods and states of mind, and all of these books help us feel and see that."

Originally from Boston, Mass., where he was exposed to the symphony at an early age, Locke recalls when his official passion for classical music was permanently unleashed. It was the early 1970s. He was singing in the chorus of a Tanglewood concert. And Leonard Bernstein was wearing a Nehru suit conducting Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2.

"It was so beautiful my head nearly blew off, and I knew that I wanted to keep music at the center of my life," says Locke ( "I strongly felt that classical music could speak to anybody, I saw it all around me, regardless of social class or education."

Locke works closely with the Eastman Studies in Music advisory board to select and develop titles for review by the University of Rochester Press. "Books about choral and organ music do very well," he notes, picking up a copy of Maurice Duruflé: The Man and His Music, a popular biography about the French organist and composer. "An organ can whisper or roar, people love that," says Locke. "And Duruflé's Requiem is widely loved for its gentle message of transcendence."

Manuscripts are submitted to the press from musicologists nationwide and abroad, then sent out for peer review before being proposed to the editorial board. "The press's mission has long been to publish work that reflects select strengths of the University," says Suzanne Guiod, editorial director at the University of Rochester Press, which publishes 30 new titles each year in various academic disciplines ranging from African studies to the history of medicine. "The Eastman Studies in Music series has become our flagship series, due entirely to Professor Locke's devotion, inexhaustible enthusiasm, and unwavering commitment to excellence," Guiod adds.

In addition to his teaching at the Eastman School of Music and his work with the University of Rochester Press, Locke is writing a book about his most recent love, opera, and other theater works, including West Side Story, from the perspective of how Western composers portray different places and ethnic groups.

Opera, he says, combines the best of everything: stage, drama, dancing, and costume. "And the music helps us sense on an emotional level what the libretto is saying in words and actions," says Locke. "Are the characters fearful, are they overly trusting? Music says it all."

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