Glenn Watkins

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Glenn Watkins
Born (1927-05-30)May 30, 1927
McPherson, Kansas
Nationality United States
Fields Musicology
Institutions University of Michigan
Alma mater University of Rochester (Ph.D., 1953)
University of Michigan
Known for Study of Renaissance and twentieth-century European art music.
Notable awards Premio Internazionale Carlo Gesualdo, Honorary Member of the American Musicological Society
Faculty profile

Glenn E. Watkins (born May 30, 1927), is the Earl V. Moore Professor (Emeritus) of Music History and Musicology at the University of Michigan and a specialist in the study of Renaissance and 20th-century music.


Born in McPherson, Kansas, Watkins served in the United States Army from 1944-46. During this period he was enrolled in the ASTP engineering program at the University of Oklahoma, the Japanese language programs at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Minnesota, and was later stationed in Tokyo with the "Allied Translator and Interpreter Section" of MacArthur's General Headquarters. Immediately after the war in 1947 he briefly attended North Texas State University where his first organ teacher, Helen Hewitt, directed him to the field of musicology.

He received a B.A. (1948) and M.Mus (1949) from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. from the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, in 1953. Watkins was the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship at London and Oxford, 1953-54. He studied organ with Jean Langlais in Paris in 1956 and analysis and organ at Fontainebleau with Nadia Boulanger, who commissioned him to play the Poulenc Organ Concerto for the composer. His teaching career began at Southern Illinois University from 1954–58, and continued at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1958-63. In 1963 he moved to the University of Michigan, where he taught until retiring in 1996.


In addition to the Fulbright Award, Watkins has received an American Council of Learned Societies Grant, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities. He has published numerous articles, reviews and editions, and is co-editor of the complete works of Gesualdo. His critical study of that composer, Gesualdo: The Man and His Music (1973), which carries a Preface by Igor Stravinsky,[1] was a 1974 National Book Award nominee. It was translated into Hungarian in 1980 and into German in 2000, and a second revised English edition was published in 1990. In 2005, he was awarded the Premio Internazionale Carlo Gesualdo and was elected as an Honorary Member of the American Musicological Society.[2]


Watkins's editions of the works of Sigismondo d'India and Carlo Gesualdo have been recorded by numerous international groups, including the Deller Consort, the Consort of Musicke, the Tallis Scholars, La Venexiana, The Kassiopeia Quintet, and Les Arts Florissants. His text Soundings (1988) offers a synthetic overview of music in the 20th century, and his book Pyramids at the Louvre (1994) argues the idea of collage as a foundation for musical Modernism and a catalyst for the rise of Postmodernism. Watkins’s book, Proof Through the Night: Music and the Great War (2003), investigates the variable roles of music during World War I primarily from the angle of the Entente nations’ perceived threat of German hegemony. His most recent work, The Gesualdo Hex (2010) traces not only the recognition accorded to a Renaissance prince from his own time to the early twenty-first century but places it within the context of ongoing historiographic debates and controversies.

Watkins has lectured widely in America for universities, orchestras and art organizations, and his interest in both late Renaissance and 20th-century studies is reflected in numerous invited papers for international conferences as well as in projects for Columbia, Nonesuch, Pye, Éditions de l'Oiseau-Lyre, Harmonia Mundi, Glossa, and Deutsche Grammophon records and for BBC, German, and Italian television.



  1. ^ Coleman, Alexander (22 September 1974). "Gesualdo: The Man and His Music". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 February 2011. 
  2. ^ "Glenn Watkins". University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. Retrieved 17 March 2014.