In tribute to Kevin E. Korsyn, professor of music theory, Routledge published a festschrift, a collection of essays honoring a scholar’s work, in July 2023. Perspectives on Contemporary Music Theory: Essays in Honor of Kevin Korsyn consists of nine essays that pay tribute to Korsyn’s decades of scholarship by exploring a variety of topics important to Korsyn and the field.
The volume is edited by two U-M alumni who studied with Korsyn while completing graduate degrees. Bryan Parkhurst, associate professor of music theory and aural skills at Oberlin College and Conservatory, earned his master’s degree and PhD in philosophy and music theory. Jeffrey Swinkin, associate professor of music theory at the University of Oklahoma School of Music, earned his master’s degree in piano performance and a PhD in music theory.
“Several years ago I had the idea to curate a volume of essays dedicated to Kevin Korsyn, who was my PhD advisor,” Swinkin recalled. “When I saw Bryan Parkhurst at a conference, I asked if he, also having studied with Kevin, would co-edit the book with me, and he graciously agreed.” Parkhurst noted, “Kevin Korsyn is a dear friend and cherished mentor of mine. Much of my own scholarship was inspired by Kevin’s work in the history of music theory.”
The volume features essays written by Korsyn’s former students and current colleagues, including the editors of the book and three U-M professors: SMTD’s Patricia Hall (professor of music theory) and René Rusch (associate professor of music theory) and LSA’s Elizabeth Sears (George H. Forsyth Junior Collegiate Professor of History of Art). “The varied topics are near and dear to Kevin’s heart,” Swinkin explained. “These include Schenkerian theory, music and philosophy, lieder, and chromaticism.”
In its description of the volume, Routledge stated that “Korsyn has had a profound impact on the field of music theory, along with the related fields of historical musicology and aesthetics.” The publisher noted that, in addition to familiar subjects in the realm of music theory, the essays explore a number of interdisciplinary topics as well, reflecting “the increasingly multifaceted intellectual landscape of contemporary music theory.”
Parkhurst expressed his appreciation for all responsible for the project: “Jeff and I are very grateful to Routledge for taking on the project, to all of the distinguished authors in the collection for their hard work, and most of all to Kevin for inspiring the whole endeavor.” Speaking of the editors’ goals for the work, Swinkin said: “Bryan and I hope it is a fitting tribute to a versatile, fascinating thinker and inspiring pedagogue.”