Legacies of Power in American Music

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  1. Judith A. Mabary
Legacies of Power in American Music

This volume honors and extends the contributions of educator and scholar Dr. Michael J. Budds to the field of musicology, particularly the study of American music. As the longtime editor of two book series for the College Music Society, Budds nurtured a wide range of scholarship in American music and had a lasting impact on the field. This book brings together scholars who worked with Budds as a colleague, editor, or mentor to carry on his legacy of passionate engagement with America’s rich and varied musical heritage. Ranging through jazz, gospel, Americana, and film music to American classical, and addressing music’s social contexts and analytical structure, the research gathered here attests to the diversity of the mosaic that is American music and the numerous scholarly approaches that have been taken to the subject.

Judith A. Mabary is Associate Professor of Musicology in the School of Music at the University of Missouri (Columbia).

Judith A. Mabary, Editor

Several aspects of a Festschrift written in his honor would have pleased Dr. Michael J. Budds (1947–2020). I will start with some of the minor points. First, it is a German word and Budds is a German name. This type of volume arose in the nineteenth century; Michael Budds could always be taken to a different place by a good performance of a Chopin work. The term literally means “celebration writing.” He was a tireless advocate for good writing, and he always loved a good celebration—especially a royal one.

While he contributed to original scholarship and has a healthy number of publications to prove it, he was most fulfilled, I believe, when he was in the classroom. He often said to me, “My life is my teaching.” In fact, you could place the emphasis on any word in that short statement and it would be equally true. Dr. Budds truly cared about each of his students, but he had a special reward for those who failed to meet the potential of which he knew they were capable—he “bled green.” Those who studied with him, as well as many of his friends and colleagues, will know this refers to the famous, or perhaps infamous, green pen with which he always marked assignments.

Another of his ambitious goals in life was to ensure a supply of scholarly publications at an affordable price. The conduit for achieving this mission was the College Music Society and the series for which he served as editor for many years. As those who worked with him to bring a book to the public market can attest, he did not just edit, he EDITED in the fullest sense of the term! His was not a mindless foraging for mechanical errors; he wanted each sentence to be accurate, well written, and clearly understood. The results are in the publications of many of the scholars represented in this volume.

With his colleagues at the University of Missouri School of Music, where he served for more than three decades, he could be a bit prickly, yet such a quality should not be regarded as combative for the sake of it. At the root of his heated comebacks was a desire to preserve what he believed was necessary, to strive to maintain accountability, and to plan in a way that would maintain a high standard for the future. With all his being, he aimed to leave the state of knowledge and a commitment to learning better than he found them.

For a person whose passion for the art of music touched so many, whether students, colleagues, community members, or friends, it is appropriate that this volume should come into existence, an act of respect and acknowledgment for sharing his enthusiasm, knowledge, and dedication with each of the scholars whose work lies within these pages. Even his imagined title for this volume (Music, My Rampart) confirms the central place such “sweet sounds” in all their forms occupied in his life.

In my countless hours of communication with Michael, talking through problems, solving those we could, and railing against those we couldn’t, it became immediately clear to me that he was an extraordinary human being whose actions generated from a central and unambiguous core. He was also a lover of certain poems, one of them the following by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Let her words conclude these opening remarks.

“On Hearing a Symphony of Beethoven”
Sweet sounds, oh, beautiful music, do not cease!
Reject me not into the world again.
With you alone is excellence and peace,
Mankind made plausible, his purpose plain.
Enchanted in your air benign and shrewd,
With limbs a-sprawl and empty faces pale,
The spiteful and the stingy and the rude
Sleep like the scullions in the fairy-tale.
This moment is the best the world can give:
The tranquil blossom on the tortured stem.
Reject me not, sweet sounds; oh, let me live,
Till Doom espy my towers and scatter them,
A city spell-bound under the aging sun.
Music my rampart, and my only one.
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