Reese, Gustave

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Reese, Gustave

Reese, Gustave , eminent American musicologist; b. N.Y., Nov. 29, 1899; d. Berkeley, Calif., Sept. 7, 1977. At N.Y.U. he studied jurisprudence (LL.B., 1921) and music (B.Mus., 1930), joining its faculty, teaching there during the periods 1927–33, 1934–37, and 1945–74. He concurrently worked with G. Schirmer, Inc. (1924–45; from 1940 to 1945 as director of publications), and was director of publications for Carl Fischer (1944–55). From 1933 to 1944 he was assoc. ed., and in 1944–45 ed., of the Musical Quarterly. In 1934 he was a co-founder of the American Musicological Soc; was its president from 1950 to 1952, and remained its honorary president until his death. He gave numerous lectures at American univs.; also gave courses at the Juilliard School of Music in N.Y. An entire generation of American music scholars numbered among his students; he was widely regarded as a founder of American musicology as a science. He held a chair at the Graduate School of Arts and Science at N.Y.U., which gave him its “Great Teacher Award” in 1972 and its presidential citation on his retirement from active teaching in 1974; he then became a visiting prof. at the Graduate Center of the City Univ. of N.Y. He died while attending the congress of the International Musicological Soc. in Berkeley. Reese contributed a great number of informative articles to various American and European publications and music encyclopedias, but his most lasting achievement lies in his books, Music in the Middle Ages (N.Y., 1940; also in Italian, Florence, 1960) and Music in the Renaissance (N.Y., 1954; 2nd ed., rev., 1959), which have become classics of American music scholarship; he also brought out an interesting book that describes selected early Writings on music not available in English, Fourscore Classics of Music Literature (N.Y., 1957).


J. LaRue, ed., Aspects of Medieval and Renaissance Music: A Birthday Offering to G. R. (N.Y., 1966; 2nd ed., 1978).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire