Oxford University Press
The Dent Medal - Journal of the Royal Musical Association 130:1 Journal of the Royal Musical Association 130.1 (2005) 154-155

The Dent Medal

The Dent Medal, in memory of Edward J. Dent, is awarded by the Royal Musical Association annually to recipients selected for their outstanding contribution to musicology from a list of candidates drawn up by the Council of the Association and the Directorium of the International Musicological Society.

For 2004 the medal is awarded to DANIEL CHUA. He was born in Malaysia and educated at St Catharine's College, Cambridge (BA Hons., 1988), and at St John's College, Cambridge (M.Phil., 1989), and was awarded the Ph.D. in 1992 with a dissertation on Beethoven's 'Razumovsky' Quartets. He was Henry Fellow at Harvard University (1991-2) and subsequently served as Research Fellow (1993-7) and Director of Studies in Music (1994-7) at St John's College, Cambridge. In 1997 he was appointed Lecturer in Music at King's College London, becoming Reader in Music Theory and Analysis in 2000.

Chua's two books The Galitzin Quartets of Beethoven (1995) and Absolute Music and the Construction of Meaning (1999) are indications of a brilliant analytical mind at work. In The Galitzin Quartets, Chua shows how Beethoven's language progresses toward an abstraction that forces the emotional and technical content of the music to break down in violence; the analyses are based on a combination of Schoenbergian and Schenkerian techniques as well as Adorno's philosophy. And in Absolute Music and the Construction of Meaning, he argues against the notion of absolute music, which tends to be the paradigm for most musicological and analytical studies. The discussion is concerned not so much with what music is, but with why and how meaning is constructed in instrumental music and what structures of knowledge need to be in place for such meaning to exist. Instead of existing in a pure and autonomous form, then, music is woven back into the epistemological fabric and tangled with the discourses of theology, visual perspective, biology, philosophy, gender, chemistry, politics and physics. This contextualization demonstrates the centrality of music in the construction of modernity, and Chua discusses the writings of Vincenzo Galilei, Descartes, Diderot, Rameau, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Hanslick, Wagner, Max Weber and Adorno, as well as works by Monteverdi, C. P. E. Bach, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. Chua's important article 'Haydn as Romantic: A Chemical Experiment with Instrumental Music' considers the early Romantic philosophy of instrumental music as a transformative force and the unexpected affinities and connections between irony, chemistry, music and philosophy that were meant to produce a brave face to confront the contradictions bequeathed to the Romantics by the Enlightenment; Chua includes a brilliant discussion of Mozart's 'Jupiter' Symphony, among other works, and considers how music of the time symbolized a move from the ancien rÈgime of the body to the spirit of freedom, from passive to active, and from material biology to vital chemical processes.

His is a unique voice among scholars working in this area, presenting a heady combination of erudition and analytical and rhetorical skills. Particularly impressive is the clarity of his prose. Despite his use of technical language, he has the knack of tackling complicated philosophical and cultural ideas and presenting them in a clear and thought-provoking way. His range of ideas is extensive, as is apparent from the many papers presented at colloquia and conferences: for example 'Music at the Theological Mouthpiece of Modernity' (on Vincenzo Galilei); 'Mozart, [End Page 154] Music, Money'; 'Engendering the Eroica: Sex, Violence and the Canonisation of Absolute Music'; 'The Romantic Chemistry of the Classical Style'; and 'Musical Reflections on Adorno's "Gaps" '. He was appointed editor of Music and Letters in 2004.

Previous winners of the Dent Medal have been:

1961 Gilbert Reaney Great Britain
1962 Solange Corbin France
1963 Dénes Bartha Hungary
1964 Pierre Pidoux Switzerland
1965 Barry S. Brook USA
1966 F. Alberto Gallo Italy
1967 William W. Austin USA
1968 Heinrich Hüschen West Germany
1969 Willem Elders Holland
1970 Daniel Heartz USA
1971 Klaus Wolfgang Niemöller West Germany
1972 Jozef Robijns Belgium
1973 Max Lütolf Switzerland
1974 Andrew McCredie Australia
1975 Martin Staehelin West Germany
1976 --
1977 Reinhard Strohm Great Britain
1978 Christoph Wolff USA
1979 Margaret Bent Great Britain
1980 Craig Wright USA
1981 Anthony Newcomb USA
1982 David Fallows Great Britain
1983 Lorenzo Bianconi Italy
1984 Iain Fenlon Great Britain
1985 Curtis A. Price USA
1986 Silke Leopold West Germany
1987 Richard F. Taruskin USA
1988 Jean-Jacques Nattiez Canada
1989 Paolo Fabbri Italy
1990 Christopher Page Great Britain
1991 Roger Parker Great Britain
1992 Kofi Agawu Ghana
1993 Carolyn Abbate USA
1994 Lorenz Welker Germany
1995 Susan Rankin Great Britain
1996 Ulrich Konrad Germany
1997 Philip V. Bohlman USA
1998 Rob C. Wegman USA
1999 Gianmario Borio Italy
2000 Philippe Vendrix Belgium
2001 Martha Feldman USA
2002 Laurenz Lütteken Switzerland
2003 John Butt Great Britain

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