MVSA Lifetime Achievement Award — Nicholas Temperley

This subcommittee is unanimous in supporting Linda Hughes’ nomination of Nicholas Temperley, Professor Emeritus of Musicology at the University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign and one of our society’s founders, for the recently instituted MVSA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Nicholas Temperley accepts MVSA Lifetime
Achievement Award from former President
Christina Bashford at the 2019 Conference

In terms of both their academic distinction and impact, Nicholas’ contributions to scholarship on the Victorian era and to the Midwest Victorian Studies Association have been nothing short of outstanding. As Linda writes, “It is one thing to publish quantities of print; it is another thing entirely to shape a scholarly field,” referring to his immensely important research and writing on British music and musical life, especially in the nineteenth century. These contributions literally put Victorian music on the musicological map at a time when the study of British music was considered irrelevant by most music historians.

Among his several books, editions of music, and dozens of articles and essays are many publications that have been read, devoured, and much cited by more than one generation of scholars. These publications include his path-breaking two-volume study, The Music of the English Parish Church (Cambridge University Press, 1979; 3rd edition, 2006), his Hymn Tune Index (a seminal, now online, catalog of hymn tunes with English-language texts up to 1820, funded by a significant NEH grant), his Bound for America: Three British Composers (University of Illinois Press, 2003), and several edited essay collections, including the volume on the Romantic Age in the Athlone History of Music in Britain Series (Athlone, 1981), Music and the Wesleys (edited with Stephen Banfield; University of Illinois Press, 2010), and Musicians of Bath and Beyond: Edward Loder (1809-1865) and his Family (Boydell, 2016). He also co-edited, with Linda Hughes, The Lost Chord: Essays on Victorian Music (Indiana University Press, 1999), a collection of essays that arose from a session he organized for an MVSA conference.

Meanwhile, Nicholas has been a regular presence and speaker at MVSA meetings for more than forty years, serving as President from 1984 to 1986. He has also been an active contributor to activities, hosting conferences and organizing many memorable musical performances. As Linda points out, his reputation as a scholar and centrality in the organization has meant that other musicologists have been drawn to our ranks. She writes: “If Nicholas opened up the scholarly field of British music, he also deepened the interdisciplinarity of MVSA from its beginnings, which has now grown into the very fabric of MVSA and what sets it apart.” Moreover, he introduced to MVSA his former student, Alisa Clapp-Itnyre, scholar of Victorian hymnody and of music in Victorian literature — a happy development that led to her serving for several years as our Executive Secretary. In addition, Nicholas has encouraged many other students and scholars, including several of us within MVSA, with unending intellectual generosity and acts of kindness. In so doing he has always furthered the association’s mission of fostering understandings of the Victorians and promoting interdisciplinary exchange, collaboration, and publication. A more fitting nominee for this award is hard to imagine.

Remarks by former MVSA President Christina Bashford, 
presented at the 2019 Conference Luncheon

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