Harvard has made two tenure offers that officials hope will help unity the Music Department's two sharply split divisions and prepare it for the imminent retirement of most of its faculty.
The offers are to Donald Martino, a composer on Brandeis University's faculty, and David Lewin, a Yale music theorist. Both professors, who have tenured posts at their current universities, said yesterday they have not decided whether to accept positions at Harvard.
Christoph Wolff, the Music Department's chairman, said Friday both offers were made in an effort to tie together the department's programs in composition and scholarship He said he hopes to hear decisions from them by the spring.
The two branches offer separate degrees that virtually do not overlap at all in their curriculums, and faculty members in the two departments have often been at odds about the department's goals, students and teachers in the department said.
"The composers have viewed the musicologists as being divorced from the real world of music, and the musicologists have viewed the composers as being uneducated craftsmen," said one graduate student, who asked not to be identified.
"Things have developed in such a way that composition and history have not been functioning as mutually supportive components of the music program," said Wolff. "We made it a point that the two new appointments would strengthen the interrelation between them."
In addition, Wolff pointed out that a majority of the department's 10 senior faculty members reach the retirement age within five years. "We really have to rebuild our faculty now," Wolff said.
Though Lewin and Martino are not chiefly musicologists, both have been active as scholars and writers. Wolff said, explaining that this broad background would help unify that department's two programs.
If Lewin joined the department, it would mark the first time Harvard has offered graduate instruction strictly in theory. Wolff said.
Musical theory has traditionally been taught by composers. "There has been a trend in recent years towards compartmentalizing the discipline and having people called 'theorists' teach it," Lewin said.
Theoretical study, which examines the structure of music and the way it has changed through history, would work well as a bridge between the composition and history wings of the department. Wolff said.
Lewin, who is 49, said yesterday that Yale's music department has "probably the best theory program in the world," but he might find it appealing to build up a new program.
"If the way I think Harvard should get into a theory program coincides with the way Harvard thinks if should, then maybe we can make some music" he said.
A difficulty with his current position, he noted, is that Yale's music department does not cover composition, which is taught at the university's school of music.
Martino refused to discuss his offer yesterday. "I don't want to begin talking about it publicly before I've had a chance to think about it privately," he said.
Both musicians visited Harvard last week, Wolff said.