Austerlitz, Paul 1957–

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Austerlitz, Paul 1957–


Born August 26, 1957, in Helsinki, Finland; brought to United States, c. 1958; U.S. citizen; son of Robert (an educator) and Sylvi (an educator) Austerlitz; married Karoll Cortez, January 8, 1992 (marriage ended May 10, 1998). Education: Bennington College, B.A., 1979; Columbia University, M.A. (music education), 1984; Wesleyan University, M.A. (ethnomusicology), 1986, Ph.D., 1993. Religion: "Nondenominational."


Office—Department of Music, Gettysburg College, Schmucker Hall, Rm. 209, Gettysburg, PA 17325. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer, musician, composer, ethnomusicologist, and educator. City University of New York, New York, adjunct lecturer at Hunter College and City College, 1990; Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, lecturer in music, 1992; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, visiting assistant professor of music, 1993-94, visiting scholar, 1994-95; Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, adjunct professor, 1995; Autonomous University of Santo Domingo and National Conservatory of Santo Domingo, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Fulbright visiting professor of music, 1996; University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL, visiting professor of music, 1996-97; Brown University, Providence, RI, assistant professor of music and Africana studies, 1997-2005; Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA, assistant professor of music, 2006—. Lecturer at educational institutions, including Michigan State University, 1993, and University of Connecticut, 1997. Yaddo Artist's Colony, resident, 2004, and Omi Artist's Colony, resident, 2006. Saxophonist with a Latin jazz group and various Dominican music groups in New York City in the 1980s, and later in Connecticut. Recordings include Merengue: Dominican Music and Dominican Identitiy (ethnomusicological documentary), Rounder, 1997; Shoresh, Eye Tone, 1997; A Bass Clarinet in Santo Domingo and Detroit, X Dot Productions, 1998; (lead) Dominican Dreams, American Dreams, Engine, 2003; (with poet, Michael S. Harper) Our Book on Trane: The Yaddo Sessions, Yaddo, 2004; and (With poet, Michael S. Harper) Double-Take: Poetry-Jazz Conversations, Innova, 2004.


Society for Ethnomusicology, International Association for the Study Popular Music, Academy of Sciences of the Dominican Republic, KOSANBA, Caribbean Studies Association, Center for Black Music.


Grants from Finlandia Foundation, 1983, American-Scandinavian Foundation, 1988, Middletown Commission on the Arts, 1989, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, 1990, 1995, Fulbright council, 1996, 2001, Wayland Col- legium, 1998; MacColl Johnson fellow, Rhode Island Foundation, 2005; Alan P. Merriam Prize, Society of Ethnomusicology, 2006.


Merengue: Dominican Music and Dominican Identity, foreword by Robert Farris Thompson, Temple University Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1997.

Jazz Consciousness: Music, Race, and Humanity, Wesleyan University Press (Middletown, CT), 2005.

Merengue has been translated into Spanish. Contributor to books, including Island Sounds in the Global City: Caribbean Popular Music and Identity in New York, Institute for Studies in American Music/New York Folklore Society, 1998, and Rhythms of Culture: Latin American Popular Music, Temple University Press, 1998. Contributor of articles and reviews to periodicals, including Journal for Black Music Research, World of Music, and General Music Today.


Paul Austerlitz is an ethnomusicologist and accomplished jazz musician/composer who has also written books about Dominican music and jazz that reflect his musical interest in blending Latin and Caribbean music with free-form jazz. "Coming from an immigrant background, straddling my European and North American selves and struggling with my identity, I was attracted to the broadness of meaning in the music of artists such as Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and John Coltrane," the author wrote on his Home Page. "I loved both blues and Western classical music and was delighted to discover that jazz availed used all influences. I was also attracted to the politically progressive milieu of the jazz community and became committed to working to heal social divisions in inter-racial settings."

In his first book, Merengue: Dominican Music and Dominican Identity, the author explores the history of the quintessential dance music of the Dominican Republic. Focusing both on the Dominican Republic and the music scene in New York City, Austerlitz traces the music's origins and its popularity on the international music scene. Among the topics that Austerlitz covers are the music's symbolic and political significance within the Dominican community, its ethnic origins as an Ibero-African art form, and the context in which merengue is performed.

Austerlitz's next book, Jazz Consciousness: Music, Race, and Humanity, was called "a scholarly book which entertains as well as educates" by Lee Prosser in a review posted on Jazz Austerlitz presents his view that jazz music encompasses a worldview that seeks to embrace all of humanity. Basing his book on his years of experience in jazz music and on scholarly research, the author looks at jazz as it relates to race and national identity in America and elsewhere, from the Dominican Republic to Finland, where the author was born before moving to the United States with his family at the age of one. To demonstrate the inclusiveness of jazz, Austerlitz writes about various jazz bands such as Machito and the Afro-Cubans, who played Latin jazz inspired by the dancing of blacks in Harlem and Jewish "mamboniks," young Jewish boys and girls from the New York City boroughs. He also includes an interview with renowned jazz drummer Milford Graves, who was one of the author's mentors. Also included are notes, a videography and discography, bibliography, and index.

"The three central chapters—individual studies on Machito and His Afro-Cubans, jazz's aesthetic affinities with Dominican popular music, and the reception history of jazz in Finland—are the strength of the book," wrote Mark Burford in Notes. "In particular, Austerlitz's third chapter, the most extensive English-language study to date on Cuban bandleader Francisco ‘Machito’ Grillo, his brother-in-law and musical collaborator Mario Bauza, and their seminal Latin jazz band, is the book's highlight and will likely become required reading for future undergraduate or graduate courses covering Latin jazz." Other reviewers also had high praise for Jazz Consciousness. Writing in the Latin American Music Review, David F. Garcia noted: "With Jazz Consciousness, ethnomusicologist Paul Austerlitz contributes a theoretically thoughtful work on jazz that seeks to resolve its seemingly contradictory meanings as an African American, American, and global art form." Garcia went on to write in the same review that "this reviewer strongly recommends the book as required reading for scholars and students in jazz studies, popular music, African diaspora studies, Latin American, Caribbean, and Latina/o studies, globalization studies, and ethnomusicology."

Austerlitz told CA: "For me, writing is an extension of my work as a scholar in the fields of ethnomusicology and Africana Studies; the texts emanate from my research. Pioneers of Africana Studies and ethnomusicology such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Melville Herskovits, David MacAllester, and John Miller Chernoff are my main influences as a writer. Deeper inspirations, both for my writing and my composing, come from musical prophets such as Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and John Coltrane.

"Learning about the role that Dominican dictator Trujillo played in the history of meringue music (treated in my first book) made me a believer in the saying that ‘fact is stranger than fiction.’ My favorite writing is Chapter Two of Jazz Consciousness because it broaches the question of the efficacy of music; that is, it considers the ways music feels emotionally and physically.

"I hope that my books and music will influence people to connect with their inner selves and with the larger human race."



Americas: A Quarterly Review of Inter-American Cultural History, January, 1998, James J. Davis, review of Merengue: Dominican Music and Dominican Identity, p. 464.

Choice, July 1, 1997, T.E. Miller, review of Merengue, p. 1812; April, 2006, G. Toress, review of Jazz Consciousness: Music, Race, and Humanity, p. 1412.

Ethnomusicology, fall, 2002, Lise Waxer, review of Merengue.

Journal of Communication, winter, 1998, review of Merengue.

Latin American Music Review, spring-summer, 2006, David F. Garcia, review of Jazz Consciousness, p. 104.

Music & Letters, May, 2007, Andy Fry, review of Jazz Consciousness, p. 335.

Notes, March, 2007, Mark Burford, review of Jazz Consciousness, p. 629.

Providence Sunday Journal, March 6, 2005, Rick Massimo, "Austerlitz Hits a Universal Note."


Gettysburg College Web site, (January 21, 2008), faculty profile of author.

Jazz, (January 21, 2008), Lee Prosser, review of Jazz Consciousness.

Paul Austerlitz Home Page, (January 21, 2008).

Temple University Web site, (January 21, 2008), overview of Merengue.

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Austerlitz, Paul 1957–

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