Locke, Ralph (Ph.D. 1980)

In April 2009, Ralph P. Locke’s (MA ’74, PhD ’80) book Musical Exoticism: Images and Reflections was published by Cambridge University Press. The book has received praise from pre- and post-publication reviewers. Hugh Macdonald (Washington University) noted, “The range—from baroque opera to jazz—is vast, and the ethical and political issues are more relevant today than ever.” David Nicholls (University of Southampton and editor of the Cambridge History of American Music) concluded, “Ralph Locke proves himself to be an extremely expert guide to that musical Elsewhere that we all know but little understand.” Sumanth Gopinath (University of Minnesota) appreciated “the book’s lucid prose and accessibility to general readers, which should garner it a wide audience.” Geary Larrick (in the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune) agrees, calling it a “very important and fine book” that (he seems pleasantly surprised to note) is “readable by the average person.” Further details at http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521877930.

A half-hour podcast-interview with Locke about the book can be heard, in two different-length versions, on Rochester’s public-radio website. A very listenable 7-minute version, incorporating relevant musical excerpts, is at: http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wxxi/news.newsmain/article/0/0/1530171/Arts..and..Culture/New.book. examines.exotic.influences.in.classical.music

The full interview (but without musical excerpts) is at: http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wxxi/.jukebox?action=viewPodcast&podcastId=17658

Locke also published two articles in the past year. A broad essay, independent of the book but addressing issues in music aesthetics that relate to it, is “Doing the Impossible: On the Musically Exotic” (Journal of Musicological Research 27, no. 4 (2008): 334-58. The other article discusses a work that Locke did not have space to consider in the book: “Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy: The Incidental Music for Le martyre de saint Sébastien (1911),” Musical Quarterly 90 (2007): 371-415.

In August 2009, the program book of the Bard Music Festival contained a commissioned essay by Locke, “Wagner in Paris,” coordinating with a concert of works that Wagner composed, and works that he could have heard during two crucial early years in that city. Locke also contributed a number of essays to From beyond the Stave, the blog that Boydell and Brewer (the UK publisher that distributes University of Rochester Press books beyond the Western hemisphere) publishes about books on music. Locke’s postings are collected at http://frombeyondthestave.blogspot.com/search?q=locke.

At AMS-Philadelphia he will be presenting a paper entitled Restoring Lost Meanings in Musical Representations of Exotic ‘Others.'” Works he will consider include Petrouchka, Daphnis et Chloë, “Laideronnette, Empress of the Pagodas” (from Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite), and an undying (unkillable?) pops-orchestra favorite: Alfred Ketèlbey’s In a Persian Market.

Locke remains the very active editor of music books published by the University of Rochester Press. Among the dozen or so titles that have appeared in the past year or so are a festschrift for Charles Rosen (Variations on the Canon); a book by Michiel Schuijer on the systematization of music theory by Allen Forte, Milton Babbitt, and others; Composing for Japanese Instruments (by world-renowned composer Minoru Miki); a 600-page study by John Koegel of German-language operetta and musical comedy in New York City ca. 1900; and books on such varied figures as Richard Wagner (his relationship to the city of Venice), Edmond de Polignac (who was an early explorer of octatonicism), music theorist August Halm, composer/painter/astrologer Dane Rudhyar, and a major Swiss composer of art song and opera: Othmar Schoeck.

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