Tullia Magrini:
In Memoriam

a weblog

page four


I met Tullia under somewhat humorous circumstances. Very many years ago, when I was living in the United States, I had read some of her publications. I was eager to meet her, and the occasion presented itself with the ICTM Conference to be held in East Berlin in 1987. A few letters were exchanged, and the agreement was we would be looking for each other. It was not easy to make contact though, probably because she did not expect me to be a funny little fellow with a bushy black beard. But then a colleague of ours put her on the right track, by describing me as the type of suspicious-looking chap the Stasi might arrest anytime. So we did eventually make contact, became friends, and never since lost sight of each other.

Now that she no longer is, I ask myself why was she for me such a special friend and colleague. Part of the answer is I admired her scholarship, her impressive control of the literature, her ability to build on everything she knew, her capacity to work synchronically on many fronts, and always be ready to take up extra chores as well as challenges. At the same time, with her I constantly felt I was speaking to a fellow musician. Her thorough training in the Western tradition was the foundation to which all other forms of knowledge and expertise were added and related. That is why it was so much fun to discuss with Tullia, for instance, Gamelan polyphony, and then go and find in Bach comparable fractal constructions, disagree over the significance of the finding, and enjoy every minute of the argument. At the end of it, to be sure, something was going to be better clarified and understood.

Tullia was one of the people who made my life and experience of music richer. I simply took it for granted, I could pick up the phone, often just for a chat or, else, answer to the ringing of the cellular and be surprised by her melodious, distinctive Bologna accent.

I find it difficult to believe I am never going to hear her voice again. (Marcello Sorce Keller)

When Tulia saw something that needed doing and she knew she could do it, she stepped right up and did it. She often did it marvelously well. I admire that. I take inspiration from memories of working together to perfect her multimedia contribution to the maiden issue of EOL. From memories of the Sala dei Templari, the food, and the villa where we stayed at the Mediterranean music conference at Bari, Italy. She did things well, with brio, with style. I hope some of these virtues might've rubbed off on me. (Karl Signell, Editor, EOL)

[See English translation] Quando penso a Tullia non sopporto l’idea che se ne sia andata senza che io l’abbia potuta ringraziare. Lei ha avuto un posto molto importante nella mia vita e nella mia formazione di etnomusicologa. Mi dispiace non averla abbracciata ancora una volta.

Quando l’ho conosciuta pensavo di essere intransigente e puntigliosa nel mio lavoro ma ho scoperto che nessuna intransigenza e puntualità era pari alla sua. Sapeva sempre essere di più. Di più nel lavoro, di più nella passione, di più nell’affetto e nel riconoscimento dei valori o dei non-valori degli altri, di più nella stima che mi ha dimostrato e non mi ha più tolto.

Quando ormai credevo di conoscerla abbastanza ha continuato a stupirmi disegnando la mia mappa astrale e interpretando per me le stelle, i pianeti, le loro sovrapposizioni e congiunture. Era perfettamente a suo agio fra quei segni che, per me, erano solo strani geroglifici. Avrà sicuramente interpretato anche il suo cielo ma ha continuato a lavorare e a darmi le ultime indicazioni per la pubblicazione del n. 10 di Music & Anthropology finché se ne è andata.

Lei è fra noi con i suoi lavori passati e quelli ancora da portare avanti. Un abbraccio Tullia.

English translation: When I think of Tullia I can’t bear the thought of her leaving before I could get the chance to thank her. She has played a very important part in my life and in my training as an ethnomusicologist. I am sorry not to have been able to embraced her at least once more.

When I met her I thought I was intransigent and fussy in the work I do, but I found out that no amount of intransigence or fussiness was in any way equal to hers. She always knew she was much more than anything or anyone else. She was more on the job, more passionate, more in terms of the affection and the recognition of the values (or the non-values) of others, more in the esteem that she had shown me and never took away from me.

When I thought I had got to know her quite well, she continued to astonish me by drawing my astral map and interpreting the stars, the planets, their overlaps and their conjunctions for me. She was completely at ease among those signs that to me represented no more than strange hieroglyphics. She will certainly have interpreted her own stars as well, and yet she continued to work and to give me her last pieces of advice for the publication of issue no. 10 of Music & Anthropology before she eventually passed away.

She lives among us through her past works and the ones yet to be written. Here’s my warm embrace to you, Tullia.

(Giuliana Fugazzotto, Music & Anthropology Web Editor)

next page

EOL 9 | page one | two | three | obit