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Richard Taruskin (born 1945, New York) is an American musicologist, music historian, and critic who has written about the theory of performance, Russian music, 15th-century music, 20th-century music, nationalism, the theory of modernism, and analysis. As a choral conductor he directed the Columbia University Collegium Musicum. He played the viola da gamba with the Aulos Ensemble from the late 1970s to the late 1980s. Taruskin received his B.A. magna cum laude (1965), M.A. (1968) and Ph.D. in historical musicology (1976) from Columbia University.
He has received various awards for his scholarship, including the Noah Greenberg Prize (1978) from the American Musicological Society, the Alfred Einstein Award (1980), the Dent Medal (1987), the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award (1988, 2005) and the 1997 and 2006 Kinkeldey Prizes from the American Musicological Society. On the faculty of Columbia University until 1986, he was a professor of musicology at the University of California, Berkeley, holding the Class of 1955 Chair, until his retirement at the end of 2014.
Taruskin's extensive 1996 study Stravinsky and the Russian Traditions: A Biography of the Works through Mavra shows that Igor Stravinsky drew more heavily on Russian folk material than has previously been recognized, and analyzes the historical trends that caused Stravinsky not to be forthcoming about some of these borrowings.
Taruskin has also written extensively for lay readers, including numerous articles in The New York Times, many of which have been collected in Text and Act (in which he is an influential critic of the premises of the "early music" movement in classical music performance), The Danger of Music and Other Anti-Utopian Essays, and On Russian Music.
- Opera and Drama in Russia: As Preached and Practiced in the 1860s (Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press, 1981; republished, University of Rochester Press, 1993)
- Music in the Western World: A History in Documents compiled and edited by Taruskin and Piero Weiss (New York and London, 1984)
- Musorgsky: Eight Essays and an Epilogue (Princeton University Press, 1993)
- Text and Act (Oxford University Press, 1995)
- Stravinsky and the Russian Traditions: A Biography of the Works through Mavra (University of California Press, 1996)
- Defining Russia Musically: Historical and Hermeneutical essays (Princeton University Press, 1997)
- The Oxford History of Western Music, 6 volumes, (Oxford University Press, 2005, 2009) (Kinkeldey winner, 2006) (2nd edition reissued in 5 volumes, 2010)
- Wachtel, Andrew Baruch; Scholl, Tim, Kennedy, Janet, Taruskin, Richard (1998-05-13). Andrew Baruch Wachtel, ed. Petrushka: Sources and Contexts. Northwestern University Press. ISBN 0-8101-1566-2.
- The Danger of Music and Other Anti-Utopian Essays (University of California Press, 2009)
- On Russian Music (University of California Press, 2009)
- Jerry McBride, Richard Taruskin
- Taruskin's Biographical page at the UC Berkeley music department website
- A New York Times article about Taruskin's Oxford History of Western Music
- Settling Scores: Lingua Franca's 2001 profile of Taruskin
- article by Taruskin published in The New Republic