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Emeritus music professor Bruno Nettl honored as distinguished humanist

Bruno Nettl
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L. Brian Stauffer

Bruno Nettl has been awarded the Charles Homer Haskins Prize.

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10/4/2012 | Dusty Rhodes, Arts and Humanities Editor | 217-333-0568;

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Bruno Nettl, a professor emeritus of music and of anthropology at the University of Illinois, has been awarded the Charles Homer Haskins Prize, presented annually to a distinguished humanist by the American Council of Learned Societies. This honor includes a cash award and asks the recipient to deliver the Haskins Prize Lecture reflecting on “a lifetime of work as a scholar and an institution builder” at the Council of Learned Societies’ annual meeting in May 2014.

Nettl pioneered the field of ethnomusicology, the study of social and cultural aspects of music in local and global contexts. He is the author, co-author or editor of 26 books, including “Nettl’s Elephant,” a collection of essays on the evolution and current state of ethnomusicology, and “The Study of Ethnomusicology: Thirty-one Issues and Concepts” – the updated and expanded edition of his 1983 book “Twenty-nine Issues and Concepts,” which is considered a classic in the field.

Nettl’s fieldwork focused on India, Iran and Israel, and the Blackfoot people of Montana. In recent years, he has focused on the study of improvisatory music, the understanding of musical change throughout the world and the intellectual history of ethnomusicology.

He is the former president and publication editor of the Society for Ethnomusicology, which nominated him for this current honor, and the first scholar in that organization to receive this prize.

Nettl was born in Prague and earned degrees in music, musicology, library science and anthropology. He received a Ph.D. in musicology, with minors in anthropology and folklore, from Indiana University in 1953, and taught at Wayne State University before joining the U. of I. in 1964. He retired in 1992 and continues researching, teaching and advising part time, and has several essays and scholarly articles set for publication.

In 2000, Nettl and his wife, Wanda, an artist, endowed an annual lecture series in ethnomusicology, intended to attract a general academic audience. This year’s lecture will be presented Friday (Oct. 5) by Michael Beckerman, the Carroll and Martin Petrie Professor of Music at New York University. Titled “The Darkening of ‘Night’ and Other Strange Tales From Gideon Klein’s Concentration Camp Lullaby,” the talk will trace the migration of a Hebrew lullaby from the Ukraine to Palestine and England to Nazi Germany. The lecture begins at 4 p.m. at the Levis Faculty Center, 919 W. Illinois St., Urbana.

Editor's note: For more information, email Gabriel Solis at

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