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News & Press: In Memoriam

Daniel Heartz, 1928-2019

Wednesday, November 27, 2019  

Life, education and posts held

Daniel Heartz, distinguished scholar of 16th- and 18th-century musics, was born 05 October, 1928, in Exeter, New Hampshire, and passed away at 91 years of age on 24 November, 2019 in Berkeley, CA. He was a reserved, private person who through the elegance of his published work, and the kindly but uncompromising example of his teaching and friendships, had a profound impact on his fellow musicologists.

Heartz took his BA (1950) at the University of New Hampshire, and his MA (1952) and doctorate (1957) at Harvard, where he worked with Otto Gombosi, Tillman Merritt, and John Ward. His doctoral dissertation, “Sources and Forms of the French Instrumental Dance in the Sixteenth Century,” gave early evidence of his lifelong gift for situating music among its sister arts.

After teaching for a few years at the University of Chicago, Heartz was hired in 1960 as an assistant professor in the Department of Music at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught for the rest of his career. From 1969 to 1974 he chaired the department; he became emeritus in 1994.


Service for/prizes from AMS

Heartz was one of only two scholars to date to twice win the Society’s highest honor, the Otto Kinkeldey Award; he did so in 1971, for his book Pierre Attaingnant. Royal Printer of Music and again in 2004, for Music in European Capitals: The Galant Style, 1720-1780. He served as Vice President for the Society in 1975-76.


Scholarly areas and activities

Heartz’s Kinkeldey prizes mark the two broad areas of scholarship in which he chiefly worked. They are united by an intellect fascinated by the details of music and music-making, and capable of rendering them into profound theoretical and historical insight. All of his work is characterized by an extraordinary scope of inquiry, in which “background” and “foreground,” meticulous attention to positive data and ambitious reconfiguration of historiography itself, are not easily nor fruitfully separated; and all of it is conveyed in lucid, graceful, sometimes slyly witty academic prose.

The focus on 16th-century France produced, in addition to the magisterial book on Attaignant, a series of articles that range geographically over Western Europe. Everyday musical activities -- courtly dance, lute and guitar instruction, music printing and distribution – are put into conversation with the complex political and economic landscape of this period and place, of which Heartz had a peerless understanding.

In the late 1960s, Heartz turned toward the music of the late 18th century. This became the main focus of the rest of his career, in the course of which he reconfigured how scholars think about some of the most famous and beloved music in the European canon. Heartz dispatched the notion of “the Classical style” as posterior and alien to the late 18th century, unduly privileging Viennese composers and esthetics. His vision of the period, much messier and far more interesting, was founded upon the complex intercultural networks of the day: above all, Neapolitan opera and its extrapolation in the style galant, exported all over Europe, its outposts, and its colonies, corporeally inflected by ballet and pantomime dance, and finding a kind of consummation in Mozart’s late operas.

Heartz may well be best remembered as a Mozart scholar and editor; his dethroning of the historiography long used to validate the great composers of the late 18th century did not equate to dethroning those composers themselves, although he did insist on placing them squarely among their peers less favored by 19th-century canon formation -- Hasse, Gluck, Traetta, Boccherini, Galuppi, Monsigny – as well as their fellow artists in media other than music – Algarotti, Goldoni, Watteau, Metastasio, Diderot. Heartz’s work on Mozart stands out in a crowded field as much for its affectionate, precise, historically grounded analytical insight as for its uniquely broad perspectives; and much of it is written in language accessible to the educated layman..


Important grants and honors

Heartz received numerous grants and honors during his career: a Humanities Fellowship at Princeton University in 1963–4; the Dent Medal from the Royal Musical Association in 1970; Guggenheim fellowships in 1967 and 1978; election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1988; an ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award in 1991; the Jerry and Evelyn Hemmings Chambers Distinguished Professor Chair in Music  from 1992-94; and the Berkeley Citation, for distinguished achievement and service to the university, in 1994.


Updated 4/26/2020