Tullia Magrini

Editor, founder
Music & Anthropology

Coeditor, contributor


formal obituary

In Memoriam
a weblog

Tullia Magrini was a generous, imaginative, and dynamic scholar and collaborator. She worked very hard at bringing Italian ethnomusicology into the current American-influenced network and approach, while maintaining a distinctive European point of view. She had a fine sense of both people and institutions as a way of creating an atmosphere to move things forward. This type of person is always extremely rare, and Tullia also had her own personal magnetism. She will be badly missed by those who know her now and, unknowingly, by many who would have benefited from her rising influence in what would have been her real flowering as a figure in our field. (Mark Slobin)
Tullia's invitation to me to join the ICTM Mediterranean study group was a turning point in my life, and I will be forever grateful. In 1992 I was still a freshly minted PhD, newly embarked on a teaching career at Queen's, Belfast. The study group's meetings in the Levi Foundation in Venice struck me as glamorous and, initially, not a little intimidating. They quickly became, for me, occasions of intense and happy discussion, where enormously productive bonds between younger and older scholars, between Europeans and Americans, and between people representing very different intellectual traditions were being forged. Indeed, I began, at a very early stage, to feel part of a distinct 'project', an ongoing and very collaborative conversation that would often congeal in print in Music and Anthropology (of which I was co-editor), in various issues of Musica e Storia, and in more occasional publications, such as her recently published Chicago University Press volume. Tullia was, needless to say, at the heart of this project, intellectually, socially, and emotionally. The project, as I understood it, had two important dimensions.

One was a commitment to a broad conception of area study. This involved comparative moves across the region, but also a commitment to understanding histories of entanglement, contact, influence, exchange and violence, histories that simultaneously complicate and enrich the culture concept. The other was methodological: a vision of ethnomusicology that forthrightly engaged anthropological models and practices, that insisted on the priority of music as social practice rather than as text or representation, and a rooting of observation and intellectual engagement in fieldwork. In practice, I think that “anthropology,” for Tullia, was a rather eclectic and mobile disciplinary category. She took care to invite to the study group anthropologists representing very different traditions, as well as historical musicologists with very different takes on how anthropology might inform their scholarly practices, too. Tullia was tireless. Whether at study group discussions, or editorial meetings, or meals, or wandering the walkways of Venice, Tullia could always be relied on for tough and engaging questions, and firm opinions; for plans that had a habit of swiftly turning thought to action; for an immediate interest in anything new that was bubbling to the surface in our field; and an unquenchable affection for the music, the musicians, and the music scholars of the Mediterranean region.

She has passed on so much that will outlive us all. She will be terribly missed. (Martin Stokes)

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