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AMS Celebrates the Life of Bob Judd: Three Tributes

In Memoriam Robert F. Judd (12 February 1956 – 24 August 2019)

Executive Director of the American Musicological Society since 1996





The AMS Celebrates the Life of Bob Judd: Three Tributes

from Ellen T. Harris, President (2015–16)

Bob Judd became Executive Director of the Society in 1996 after a difficult hiatus following the retirement of Alvin Johnson. At first the position was officially half-time; it only changed to three-quarters in 2007 and to full-time in 2009. I suspect the work was full-time or more from the beginning. In short order, Bob became the heart and soul of the AMS. He oversaw the Society’s administrative organization and financial management, in the process forging personal relationships and connecting with what I imagine was a majority of the membership. Among his many activities, Bob attended every board meeting and every Publications Committee meeting, took a special interest in the AMS Chapters, and dealt personally with every award and fellowship winner (and most applicants), as well as with any group or person who scheduled time at the annual meetings. Primary among these interactions were his special relationships with the presidents of the Society. Over his twenty-three years of service, Bob worked with (or perhaps more aptly, learned how to work with) fourteen presidents, from Philip Gossett (1995–96) to Suzanne Cusick (2019–20). Despite what must have been necessary and obvious similarities to these partnerships, each relationship had to be built from scratch at two-year intervals. Bob made the adjustments.

In my own case (2015–16), given my background in academic administration, I imagined our roles as co-equal in terms of operational and executive oversight—in other words, provost and president. Nevertheless, Bob was my mentor as he generously (as well as gently and kindly) shared with me his depth of experience. As I suspect was the case with every president, I learned to depend on and seek out his advice. Dealing with the relatively continuous and quotidian aspects of management is the commonplace of administration, but in addition there is always, as in the game of Monopoly, the Chance or Community Chest card that tells you what you must do in the moment. All AMS presidents will be able to say what card or cards turned up during their term. Probably the most important during my presidency was the necessity of finding a new home for the AMS office once our contract with Bowdoin College expired at the end of June 2016. As I took on the negotiations for finding a new space in the New York City area, Bob bore the brunt of the relocation. He was short-staffed from the beginning, commuted between Maine and New York for months, and set up the office at NYU with no staff at the outset. Nevertheless, I am certain that the membership felt no difference in operational support during that period.

Bob was humble about his accomplishments, never in my hearing describing the extent of what he did—or sacrificed—for the AMS. Many members likely had no idea of his extraordinary credentials as a musicologist, including a PhD from Oxford, tenured professorship at California State University, Fresno, and a corpus of publications about and editions of early modern keyboard music (see the tribute by Roger Freitas to Bob’s scholarship for the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music). He was an accomplished organist, trumpeter, and choral singer; he may have been the first American boy treble to sing a solo in Westminster Abbey. He was also an avid concertgoer of music from all periods, as his musical interests expanded far beyond his own specialty. When he and Cristle first moved to New York, he acted like a child in a candy store in terms of what music was now available to him, effectively on his doorstep.

In his work with the AMS, he abided by clear and certain principles. As boards contemplated requirements for conference registration, submission of abstracts, or applications for fellowships or awards, Bob would always ask whether the AMS should act as a “gateway or a gatekeeper.” He wanted the Society to be as open as possible to all comers, not an elite club with financial and professional obstacles to be overcome. He encouraged new ideas and believed in doing “more with less,” often to his own detriment, as the “doing more” typically fell to him. Bob was open to all members of the Society and took a genuine interest in differing points of view. He opened an anonymous portal on the AMS website so members could send comments without identifying themselves and was a constant advocate of administrative transparency. He rarely allowed himself to get caught up in the tempests that came our way during my presidency, always thinking through issues in a calm and rational manner. I never heard him take part in blaming or criticizing another; rather, he always looked for the positive side. When criticisms came his way, typically in terms of problems or mishaps at the annual meeting, it made me angry, but he would smile wryly and say they had a point. He had enormous patience and grace. Bob’s kindness, intelligence, and wisdom, his moral and ethical values, and his pastoral concern for a Society he loved have set a high standard for the AMS as we move into a new era.

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from Al Hipkins, Office Manager, AMS, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine

I knew Bob before I began working for the AMS. Bob came to my church and joined the choir as a member of our bass section. His big voice was a significant contribution to our small choir. Soon after joining the choir, he changed roles, becoming the choir accompanist, director, and church organist. In this role, he oversaw the installation of a new organ, and was a leader in the remodeling of the church to help make the altar more accommodating and welcoming.

I had been trying to get a job at Bowdoin College for several years, and when the AMS moved their office to Bowdoin and the AMS administrative assistant position became available, I asked Bob to see if he could get me an interview. (Positions at Bowdoin are very competitive, and several prior openings for which I was qualified and experienced did not yield an interview.) I got my interview and the job.

Having Bob as a boss was very good for me and my family. He was always gracious and generous with my requests for time off for my family and my square dancing (a serious hobby of mine). This generosity—especially when deadlines were looming—was greatly appreciated by me, my family, and those who shared my passion for dancing.

I was always amazed at Bob’s dedication to detail. In preparation for the printing of the Annual Meeting Program, Bob read every submission and made sure that they were all grammatically correct and all words were spelled correctly. For Bob, the publication needed to be as good as it could be. This attention to detail extended to all elements of AMS work, including newsletters, directories, and the website (for which we spent a great deal of time re-building several times).

I will always remember Bob’s culinary interests and experiments. One of the plants in the office was a habanero pepper plant, which produced more than enough habaneros to spice any dish. Bob and I both made pepper jellies—his always had more heat! For one of our staff outings, Bob invited Melissa Kapocious (the AMS bookkeeper for many years) and me to his home for a presentation on Indian cooking by one of the Bowdoin professors who offered this class annually to all staff during a staff enrichment week. Bob wanted us to have a more in-depth experience, and so we had a grand lunch at his house.

When the AMS moved to New York City, Bob offered for me to move with the office. I asked if a few zeros would be added to my salary to make the move worthwhile! Ultimately, however, I would not have moved to NYC for three additional zeros! Again, Bob demonstrated great generosity by ensuring that Melissa and I were informed well in advance of the move and given ample time and opportunity to make arrangements for life and work after AMS.

My favorite part of the job with AMS was preparing for and managing the Annual Meetings. Bob allowed me to take charge of many elements of planning and implementation so I would be comfortable in my role. Travelling to these cites (starting with Nashville in 2008) and working with Bob to make these meetings the success that they were provide me with great memories of the person and leader who was Bob Judd.

Bob and his family were missed when they left Brunswick. We kept in touch occasionally with brags on our hot peppers and quality of jellies. This and more will be missed now that he is gone.

*     *     *

from Hannah Judd, Ethnomusicology graduate student, University of Chicago


It was nearly impossible to buy gifts for my father. When you asked him what he wanted, he would say: “Get rid of all this junk!” His favorite cookbook was called More With Less—it featured some recipes that became family standbys as well as a TVP loaf (texturized vegetable protein) smothered in homemade ketchup that everyone but him refused to eat—and “more with less” was also a phrase he repeated often, to try and think about the problems of excessive waste and consumption and how to push against them in everyday life. He liked tiny houses and minimalism; he insisted his sneakers were fine and put duct tape over the holes; he insisted his shirts were also fine and put on sweaters to hide the coffee and ink stains. If you pushed back on his wish to have less and his insistence that he owned too many things and didn’t need anything new, the only gift advice you were left with was that he wanted to be surprised and delighted.


“Surprise and delight” is something that my dad did for everyone in my family, often. The last gift he sent me was for my half-birthday: a tiny green frying pan that you can use to cook a single egg. He emailed “items of interest,” both funny and serious, to the whole family and/or to the individuals for whom it was relevant; he texted joyous Bitmoji responses to any news in the group chat. He built wood footstools and a sled and an entire playhouse and swing set for my sisters and me in our backyard; he cooked dinner and made pickles from the vegetables that my mother grew in the garden. He played the organ at every church I attended during my childhood, and in all of the ones where he was music director, he, my mother, my sisters, and I would fill in when the rest of the choir decamped for Christmas Day and the summer. He taught me how to do too many things to name; more than that, he taught me—and modeled—how to approach anything that I wanted to do: he was patient, slow and exacting and methodical, unwilling to cut corners and willing to take the time and care needed to make something that was good.


The best “surprise and delight” gift I was able to give my father was when we walked through Manhattan together and over the Brooklyn Bridge. From there I took him to a (now-closed) pickle shop that was supposed to have the best pickles in New York. We went to an un-air-conditioned single room where an old woman presided silently over white plastic vats of every kind of pickle imaginable. We rode the subway home with three jars he’d selected, sweaty and pleased, and at his suggestion we listened to Leonard Nimoy reciting Hart Crane’s “The Bridge” at home.


After he died, I bought the ingredients to make miso in my apartment. I was thinking about the act of pickling. I want to have faith that letting something ferment for a year or two isn’t leaving it to rot; it’s allowing magic to happen, growth and flavor to emerge in the secret dark. More than that, I am doing what he taught me: making more with less, making things with my own hands, taking things one step at a time, waiting for something to be ready without hurrying it, learning patience that I don’t have, making something to share with others that—hopefully—will be nourishing and tasty and filled with love, attempting to surprise, hoping to delight.