What Does a Musicologist Do?

Guest Elaine Sisman   [Website]
Episode #5
Original Air Date May 3, 2006
Professor Elaine Sisman has been a teacher, a role model, a mentor, and a friend to me. As an undergraduate in her music history classes at Columbia, I admired her ability to speak articulately about music as much as I admired her ability to exude quiet elegance in everything she did. A few of her lectures will stay with me forever, but one in particular exploded my world, revealing to me indispensable ways of approaching music. The topic was Chopin's Fourth Ballade, the f minor, which was a work that I knew but had not performed at the time. Her visible excitement, her analytical insight made this Ballade one of the most gripping stories I had ever heard. Soon after, I started to perform the Ballade, and more than a decade later it remains one of my favorite pieces to play — it seems to yield endless layers of creativity-at-work, even after dozens of performances, and I know that I owe my ability to peel some of those layers to Elaine's vision. I had been trying to figure out how to use Elaine's talents on the air with Dial-a-Musician for some time when we got the question about musicologists. I was delighted to finally have a chance to show off her abilities. This DaM was one of the first times we could incorporate so many musical examples into the body of the interview, thanks to the skills of my wonderful producer, Lauralyn Hogan. It was a perfect opportunity to explore just how much we could accomplish in under five minutes!
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