Henry Kingsbury

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Henry Kingsbury is a pianist turned ethnomusicologist. He is notable for his book, Music, Talent, and Performance, an ethnographic study of an American conservatory of music.[1] This book examines the social and cultural nature of musical talent, understood within the anthropological framework of such theorists as Emile Durkheim, E.E. Evans-Pritchard, and Clifford Geertz. The appearance of Kingsbury’s book in 1988 marked an innovative and significant application of principals of ethnomusicology in the study of Western art music.[2][3][4][5][6]

Kingsbury has written of the role that personal change can play in the constituting of ethnographic approach. He writes, “just as fieldwork is often understood to be a traumatic personal experience, so also… can traumatic experience be retrospectively reconstituted as ‘fieldwork.’” [7] Kingsbury was born in 1943. He was a disciple of the pioneering ethnomusicologist Alan P. Merriam.[8]

In 1991, while he was a faculty member in the music department at Brown University, Kingsbury suffered serious injury during brain surgery.[9] His efforts to resume his academic career after recuperation included a pair of lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act. He has chronicled this episode in two self-published booklets.[9][10]


  1. ^ Music, Talent, and Performance: A Conservatory Cultural System, Temple University Press, 1988
  2. ^ Rice, Timothy, review of Music, Talent, and Performance, American Anthropologist vo. 21/4 (1994)
  3. ^ Herzfeld, Michael, Anthropology: Theoretical Practice in Culture and Society, Blackwell Publishing, 2001, p. 287
  4. ^ Nettl, Bruno, Heartland Excursions: Ethnomusicological Reflections on Schools of Music, Univ. of Illinois Press, 1995, pp. 1-2, 147-8
  5. ^ Loeb, Lawrence D., review of Music, Talent, and Performance, american ethnologist vol. 90/4 (1988)
  6. ^ Koskoff, Ellen, review of Music, Talent, and Performance, Ethnomusicology vol. 34 (spring 1990) pp. 311-14
  7. ^ “New Testament Anthropology and the Claim of an Ethnographer’s Voice,” ‘‘Dialectical Anthropology’’ 22: 79-93, 1997 [p. 80]
  8. ^ ‘‘Music, Talent, and Performance: A Conservatory Cultural System’’ Temple University Press, 1988. pp. iv, xi
  9. ^ a b ‘‘The Truth of Music: Empire, Law, and Secrecy,’’ Full Court Press, 2005, [1] pp. 24, 107, 113
  10. ^ The Secret Trial of Brown University: April 25 – May 5, 2004