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Award-winning American musicologist and critic Joseph Kerman was born and received his first education in London UK on 3 April 1924. He received a BA from New York University in 1943 and a PhD (with thesis on the Elizabethan madrigal, later published) in 1950 from Princeton University, where his mentors included Randall Thompson.
After teaching for a couple of years at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, he moved to the University of California, Berkeley, becoming a professor in 1960 and chairing the music department from 1960 until 1963. From 1971 until 1974 he was Heather Professor of Music at Oxford University, returning afterwards to Berkeley, where he again eventually became chairman of the music department from 1991 until retiring in 1994. In 1997-8 he occupied Harvard's Charles Eliot Norton Memorial Chair, giving a series of lectures emphasising the importance of 'close readings' of musical texts and performances, later published as Concerto Conversations.
Kerman was known for his interest in William Byrd, and for his first book, Opera as Drama of 1952. He also wrote about the music of Beethoven and, in 1985, Contemplating Music: Challenges to Musicology, credited as influential in 'shaping a new musicology'. His critical essays are collected in Write All These Down (1994).
Joseph Kerman died at home in Berkeley on 17 March 2014, aged eighty-nine.