Lowinsky, Edward E. (Edward Elias), 1908-1985

Alternative names
Birth 1908-01-12
Death 1985-10-10

Biographical notes:

Born January 12, 1908 in Stuttgart. Studied music performance, composition and conducting at Stuttgart's Hochschule für Musik from 1923-1928. Studied under Heinrich Besseler at Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg. Lowinsky completed a dissertation on the Renaissance composer Orlando di Lasso. Ph.D. in musicology in 1933. Died October 11, 1985.

From the description of Edward E. Lowinsky papers, 1920-1986 (inclusive). (University of Chicago Library). WorldCat record id: 606929513

American musicologist of German birth.

From the description of Typewritten letters signed (2), dated : Chicago, 9 January and 11 February 1980, to Joan Peyser, 1980 Jan. 9. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270992599

Edward Elias Lowinsky (January 12, 1908 – October 11, 1985), musicologist, served on the faculty of University of Chicago's Department of Music from 1961-1985. An innovative scholar of sixteenth-century music, Lowinsky set academic and editorial standards in the field of musicology, and provoked debate and discussion that elevated musicological discourse.

Lowinsky's parents, Leopold and Clara, were Russian immigrants to Germany; Edward Lowinsky was born in Stuttgart. He studied music performance, composition and conducting at Stuttgart's Hochschule fuer Musik from 1923-1928. He also worked as a piano teacher during this time. Moving on to the Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg, where he studied under Heinrich Besseler, Lowinsky completed a dissertation on the Renaissance composer Orlando di Lasso, and earned a Ph.D. in musicology in 1933.

From 1933 to 1939, Lowinsky lived in Holland, where he taught and studied music independently. During this time, he wrote on music history and pedagogy. His pedagogical Buch der Kindermusik was published in Copenhagen in 1933. In 1939, Lowinsky began the process of immigration to the United States with his family. He lived for a time in Cuba, and entered the United States in 1940. Lowinsky became a United States citizen in 1947.

Lowinsky's first professorship was at the experimental Black Mountain College near Asheville, North Carolina. Lowinsky served there as Assistant Professor from 1942-1947. From 1947-1956 he was Associate Professor at Queens College, New York. Here he became involved in disputes over academic freedom, an issue that continued to engage him in his career. In the early 1950s he was a fellow at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study. From 1956-1961 Lowinsky served as Professor at the University of California.

In 1961, Lowinsky came to the University of Chicago's Department of Music as the first Ferdinand Schevill Distinguished Service Professor. He also founded and chaired the university's interdisciplinary Renaissance Seminar. As a proponent of academic freedom and liberal political causes, Lowinsky was engaged in campus anti-war organizations and demonstrations during the 1960s.

Lowinsky took emeritus status in 1976, but continued to be involved in departmental and university affairs until his death. The provocative Secret Chromatic Art in the Netherlands Motet (1946) was Lowinsky's first major scholarly publication. His three-volume The Medici Codex of 1518 (1968) initiated Monuments of Renaissance Music, a series of scholarly editions that Lowinsky founded and edited until 1977. Lowinsky also published Tonality and Atonality in Sixteenth-Century Music (1961), and Cipriano de Rore's Venus Motet: its Poetic and Pictorial Sources (1986). Most of his shorter writings were collected in Music in the Culture of the Renaissance and Other Essays, edited by his wife, musicologist Bonnie Blackburn, and published by University of Chicago Press in 1989.

Lowinsky was a prominent member of the American Musicological Society, in which he held honorary membership, and received its Otto Kinkeldey Award for the Medici Codex. He conceived and directed the International Josquin Festival-Conference, commemorating the 450th anniversary of the death of Renaissance composer Josquin des Prez. Sponsored by the American Musicological Society in cooperation with the International Musicological Society and the Renaissance Society of America, the conference was held in New York in 1971. Lowinsky also edited the conference proceedings in collaboration with Bonnie Blackburn.

Lowinsky was honored twice with Guggenheim Fellowships (1947-1948 and 1976-1977) and was also awarded grants from the Bollingen Foundation. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Albert A. Bauman Distinguished Research Fellow at the Newberry Library.

From the guide to the Lowinsky, Edward E. Papers, 1920-1986, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)


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