One of the leading musicologists to look at the way gender and sexuality, in particular lgbt sexuality, effects and influences music was Philip Brett (1937-2002). In commemoration of Philip’s pioneering work in queer musicology the American Musicological Society (AMS) created the Philip Brett Award, an annual prize which recognises the work of one or more individual in the academic study of queer music.
The AMS is currently looking for nominations for this year’s award, and their deadline in 1st July. The award winner will be announced later in the year. In advance of that announcement here is the first part the list of all recipients of the Philip Brett Award so far. I can’t go into much detail with all of them, so I’ll look at just a few of the recipients and their work. The rest of the list will be given when the latest award in announced.
1997 Elizabeth Wood, for “Decomposition” in “Decomposition: Post-Disciplinary Performance”, and for “The Lesbian in Opera: Desire Unmasked in Smyth’s ‘Fantasio and Fete Galante’ in “En Travesti: Women, Gender Subversion, Opera””. Elizabeth was one of the first collaborators with Philip Brett on queer musicology, and one of the very few out lesbian musicologists around at the time. They appeared at many seminars and conferences together, and co-authored the entry “Lesbian and Gay Music” for the 2001 edition of “The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians”. Elizabeth was a founder member of the Gay and Lesbian Study Group of the AMS in 1990. Just as Philip Brett was known for his work on Benjamin Britten, Elizabeth was equally well-known for her work on Dame Ethel Smyth, both delving into the significance of each composer’s sexuality in relation to their music.
1998 Gillian Rodgers, for “Male Impersonation on the North American Variety and Vaudeville Stage, 1868-1930” (PhD dissertation). Gillian was a founder member and early committee member of the Gay and Lesbian Study Group. The musical theatre of 19th century America is her speciality, particularly it’s evolution from minstrelsy to vaudeville.
1999 Martha Mockus, for “Sounding Out: Lesbian Feminism and the Music of Pauline Oliveros” (PhD dissertation).
2000 Byron Adams, for “The ‘Dark Saying’ of the Enigma: Homoeroticism and the Elgarian Paradox” in “19th Century Music”, and for “No Armpits, Please, We’re British: Whitman and English Music, 1884-1936” in “Walt Whitman and Modern Music: War, Desire and the Trials of Nationhood”.
2001 Bruce Holsinger, for “Music, Body, and Desire in Medieval Culture: Hildegard of Bingen to Chaucer”.
2002 Sophie Fuller and Lloyd Whitesell, editors of “Queer Episodes in Music and Modern Modernity”.
2003 Boden Sandstrom, for the documentary film “Radical Harmonies”, of which she was co-producer. The documentary dealt with the emergence of the Women’s Music Cultural movement in America which began in the early 1970s. It chronicled the evolution of the work of female producers and technicians who, with performers, found very few women-based record companies and show producers with whom they could collaborate. June Millington was associate director on the documentary. Boden is a technician and sound engineer herself, a Doctor in audio technology, and is currently a lecturer in the Musicology and Ethnomusicology Division of the University of Maryland.
2004 Ruth Sara Longobardi, for “Music as Subtext; Reading Between the Lines” from “Models and Modes of Musical Representation in Benjamin Britten’s ‘Death in Venice’: Musical, Historical, and Ideological Contexts” (PhD dissertation).
2005 Judith Ann Peraino, for “Listening to the Sirens: Musical Technologies of Queer Identity from Homer to ‘Hedwig’ ”.
2006 (joint award) Nadine Hubbs, for “The Queer Composition of America’s Sound: Gay Modernists, American Music, and National Identity”. Nadine is a founding co-director of the Lesbian-Gay-Queer Research Initiative. She has written many other books on popular queer music culture, and is currently Professor of Women's Studies and Music, Faculty Associate of the Department of American Culture, at the University of Michigan.