horn gems main logo            Donate button               

Richard Taruskin webGEMS mourns the passing of Richard Taruskin, one of the world's foremost musicologists, and a founding member of the New York-based Aulos ensemble. Richard was a scholar of extraordinary conviction who never suffered fools gladly, and his voice will be sorely missed. Read a remembrance by his former editor, James Oestreich at The New York Times, and another on the Classical music news site, Slipped Disc.

GEMS Executive Director Gene Murrow offered his own remembrance:
"I was fortunate to encounter Richard Taruskin in the late 1960s at Columbia where I was a music major, and then into the 1980s, before he became the overwhelming “great man” many are remembering now. So one could be impressed solely by his mind and musicianship, both extraordinary, and not simply his reputation. At Columbia he played cello in the orchestra and served as a T.A. (if I’m not mistaken). At the Amherst Early Music Festival in the summers, he conducted the all-workshop collegium and gave memorable lectures that were erudite and provocative, with moments of hilarity. In concerts and at the late night informal playing sessions, he played gamba with a passion and beauty that were uniquely his. In the early music world’s “authenticity debates”, I largely agreed with Richard’s outlook, and find myself referring to and quoting from his collection of essays, “Text and Act”, even today.

Two quotations from his publications illustrate his humor, and his rare and dedicated work ethic:

In the second edition of “Text and Act”, he writes in the Preface: “Every piece in this collection has been thoroughly reedited…. Those encountering these pieces for the first time need never know what they have been spared”.

The lengthy, scholarly Preface to the Ogni Sorte Editions [“old” music in original and modern notations, of which he was the General Editor] collection devoted to “In mynen zin”, is signed and dated “Richard Taruskin, New Year’s Eve, 1980”. While the rest of us were sipping champagne or whatever, Richard was making settings of an old Flemish folk/popular song available to all.

Aulos ensembleAnd we asked long-time colleague from the Aulos Ensemble, Marc Schachman, for a remembrance:
“My relationship with Richard began when we were neighbors on the Upper West Side in 1975 in the early, heady days of the Aulos Ensemble. At that time Richard’s extraordinary gamba playing had a leg up on us ‘beginners’ and helped spur us to greater mastery of our instruments, as we began to enjoy many fruitful years of touring and groundbreaking recording. I lost touch with him briefly with his move to California, his break with performance, and his skyrocketing career as a writer. Happily, upon my own return to the Bay Area five years ago we resumed our friendship as if nothing had happened, as we were once again neighbors in the hills of El Cerrito. He joined my new musical venture, Cantata Collective, as a Founder, a program and CD annotator, and lecturer. I will miss him.”

GEMS is a non-profit corporation that supports and promotes the artists and organizations in New York devoted to early music — playing repertoire from the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and early Classical periods.