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Jonathan Goldman

Professor of musicology

An encounter with Jonathan Goldman, professor of musicology at the Université de Montréal Faculty of Music.

  • Could you talk to us about your background and your area of research?

I have a number of areas of research! Here they are in rapid succession: avant-garde traditions in 20th-century music; artistic responses to sound technologies (1950-1970); the “gamelan” moment in art music in Québec (1975-2000); and the music and thought of Pierre Boulez, regional modernism.

I enjoy being part of a community of researchers who are interested in contemporary music in a historical way. Recently there’s been an enormous amount of work on music in the Cold War period and the transition to the 21st century. That work has seen the emergence of historiographic approaches to avant-garde music since 1945.

  • Do you play an instrument?

I play an instrument you don’t hear much in Canada: the bandoneon. This cousin of the accordion was invented in Germany in the 19th century before migrating to Argentina and Uruguay and becoming part of the tango tradition. It’s my passion for tango music that led me as a matter of course to its emblematic instrument. Incidentally, I`ll be doing a concert with I Musici de Montréal in 2021 to mark the 100th birthday of Astor Piazzolla.

  • How does research modify your teaching practices and methods?

My teaching is always informed by my research. We no longer teach the history of 20th-century music the way it was done 30 years ago. Music teaching is benefiting from this new tendency towards a truly history-oriented musicology, liberated from the control of the activist rhetorics penned by the composers involved or their spokespeople. The historical narrative becomes more open as a result, and I think students are sensitive to that openness.

November 2020