When I recently met with Visiting Professor of Music John A. Rice in his office he was laboring over digitizing old microforms. The scanning process was not working quite how he expected, with only parts of the document showing up in the digital files. Rice was frustrated by the setback, but undaunted. And why should he be? Rescuing important information from obscurity is a big part of what he does as a musicologist, whether the goal is to strengthen the content of his graduate seminar or bring the work of an unjustly neglected 18th century composer back into the repertoire.
The Department of Music decided to invite Professor Rice as a visiting Professor in order to fill in some of the gaps left by the retirements of Professors Mary Lewis and Don Franklin. He brings with him a distinguished career and a record of intellectual insight that has been a boon to the entire department. Rice studied music history at the University of California, Berkeley, earning his PhD in 1987. His extensive teaching experiences include stints at University of Washington, Colby College, the University of Houston, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Alabama as Endowed Chair in Music (November 2005). A member of the Akademie für Mozart-Forschung in Salzburg, his books include the 1998 monograph Antonio Salieri and Viennese Opera (for which he won the Kinkeldey Award from the American Musicological Society) and Mozart on the Stage (2009).
Professor Rice is teaching a variety of musicology courses to both graduates and undergraduates. His graduate seminar on Opera in 18th Century Vienna has allowed him to share his particular expertise with our graduate students, while undergraduates have benefitted from his survey of the History of Western Music since 1750. Another undergraduate course on Music in Europe and its Colonies, 1715–1815, has given students the opportunity to explore how European music spread and changed through a geographically organized “Grand Tour” of musical styles.
With all the demands of teaching courses in a new environment, Rice still has found time for significant scholarly contributions. He is currently editing proofs of a manuscript by the late Irving Godt, a professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania whose monograph on Marianna Martines will be published posthumously this coming fall by University of Rochester Press. After Godt's death, his family contacted Rice and asked him to complete and edit the manuscript. In its final form, Marianna Martines: A Woman Composer in the Vienna of Mozart and Haydn will have significant original material from Rice and will complete an important musicological survey. A contemporary of Mozart and student of Haydn, Martines was highly regarded as a singer, keyboardist, and composer during her lifetime. But after her death her work was dismissed by Viennese novelist Caroline Pichler in published criticisms that disparaged not only the work of Martines, but all women composers up to that time. By offering a new critical assessment and a catalogue of Martines' compositions, Godt's book, with significant contributions from Dr. Rice, is sure to have an impact on both the scholarship of the period as well as future programming as more and more of Martines' compositions are entered into the repertoire.
From the nitty gritty tasks of scanning old microforms to the daily rhythms of teaching or the seminal labor of completing the life's work of a fellow musicologist, John A. Rice is deeply involved in opening up and enriching the world of music scholarship, and by extension, the world of music making. We are fortunate to have him deeply involved this year at the Department of Music.