Campus News

Professor Mary Hunter Wins Prestigious Award

Story posted November 10, 2000

Mary Hunter, the A. LeRoy Greason Professor of Music at Bowdoin, has been awarded the prestigious Otto Kinkeldey Award by the American Musicological Society. The award was announced during the annual meeting of the AMS, held November 1-5 in Toronto.

Professor Hunter was honored for her book The Culture of Opera Buffa in Mozartís Vienna: A Poetics of Entertainment (Princeton, 1999).

Each year the Kinkeldey Award honors the work of musicological scholarship deemed to be the most distinguished of those published during the previous year in any language and in any country by a scholar who is a citizen or permanent resident of Canada or the United States. A "work" is defined as a major book, edition, or other piece of scholarship that best exemplifies the highest qualities of originality, interpretation, logic and clarity of thought and communication.

In The Culture of Opera Buffa in Mozartís Vienna, Hunter offers a comprehensive view of opera buffa (Italian comic opera) during the bustling theatrical world of late 18th-century Vienna. Mozart and his librettist Lorenzo da Ponte contributed such works as Cosi fan tutte and The Marriage of Figaro to the repertory, comic operas which are today placed among the masterworks of Western music. Yet little critical attention has previously been paid to the musical environment in which they were written. Hunterís book explores nearly 80 comic operas, attributing their success to entertainment value. But, she argues, by placing important issues within the framework of sheer entertainment, Mozart and da Ponte (and other masters of the genre) simultaneously shone a light on the social values and habits of the times.

The American Musicological Society was founded in 1934 as a non-profit organization to advance "research in the various fields of music as a branch of learning and scholarship." In 1951 the Society became a constituent member of the American Council of Learned Societies. At present, 3,000 individual members and 1,250 institutional subscribers from 40 nations are on the rolls of the Society.

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