PHILADELPHIA –- Carolyn Abbate, who ranks among the world’s foremost musicologists, has been appointed the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of Pennsylvania, effective July 1. Abbate comes to Penn from Harvard University where she is the Radcliffe Alumnae Professor at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and the Fanny Peabody Professor of Music.
"We are so delighted that Carolyn Abbate will be joining our distinguished Music Department. She is a world-renowned scholar and a superb teacher, with an astonishing range of expertise in music and culture,” Rebecca Bushnell, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Penn, said.
Jeffrey Kalberg, professor of music and chair of the department, wrote in a department letter announcing her appointment, “Carolyn Abbate is one of the most innovative musical thinkers of our day. She is perhaps best known as a transcendent critic of opera, from its beginnings around 1600 through the first half of the 20th century. But she also writes powerfully about instrumental traditions from the Enlightenment to the present and has lately embraced the topics of film music and sound technology.
“Her meditations on these subjects, which draw on insights from literary theory and philosophy, are informed by her experiences as a performer. She is a fine pianist and operatic dramaturg, who has worked on production teams at, among other major houses, the Metropolitan Opera in New York.”
Abbate practices the art of “public musicology” through regular lectures, journalistic essays, participation in the opera quizzes that enliven the weekly radio broadcasts from the Met and her teaching.
Among her numerous publications, Abbate is author of "In Search of Opera" (2001) and "Unsung Voices" (1991) and coauthor of the forthcoming "Opera: The Last Four Hundred Years."
Abbate has been a professor at Princeton, a lecturer at Stanford, a visiting professor at the Free University in Berlin and a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin. A recipient of awards from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, she has also won the Dent Medal of the Royal Music Association.