Renowned German musicologist and former Harvard Music Department Chair Reinhold Brinkmann passed away on Monday, Oct. 10, after a drawn-out battle with an illness in Eckernförde, Germany. He was 76.
Brinkmann was known as a professor not only for his musical prowess, but also for his enthusiasm in connecting music to its social and historical contexts.
Brinkmann first taught musicology at the University of Marburg and Hochschule der Künste in Germany before he came to Harvard as a professor of musicology in 1985. During the 18 years he taught at Harvard, he was a major presence in the Department of Music, eventually becoming the chair of the department and serving in the position until his retirement in 2003.
Students and colleagues recalled Brinkmann’s creativity and generosity of spirit.
“He was one of those professors that was really great, that you really remember,” said Blaine G. Saito ’04, a former student of Brinkmann. “He commanded a quiet presence and was really excited by his music. He will be missed by generations of students.”
“He was a creative thinker and inspiring teacher,” wrote current Music Department Chair and former dissertation advisee Anne C. Shreffler in an e-mailed statement. “He was a musicologist in the very broadest sense of the word: passionate about art, literature, sports, and travel ... [H]is work drew on his knowledge of many fields,”
In addition to his teaching and his music, Brinkmann was a prolific author of several ground-breaking works in the world of musicology, including his book-length critical report on the sources and historical and biographical position of Schoenberg’s “Pierrot Lunaire” in the Arnold Schoenberg Complete Edition.
Brinkmann was beloved in the Music Department, known as much for his gentle spirit as his scholarship.
“He was a wonderful scholar, with high intellectual standards, but kind and generous in his personal relationships,” wrote Music Professor Thomas F. Kelly in an e-mail to The Crimson.
Brinkmann is survived by his wife, Dorothea Brinkmann, in Germany.