In Memoriam Tullia Magrini, 1950-2005


Tullia Magrini edited Music and Anthropology from its inception in 1996 until her untimely death last year. With the publication of issue 10, Music and Anthropology reached an important milepost - its decennial. Would that she were with us to enjoy this moment. We would have been celebrating not only a remarkable collection of articles representing the very best of Mediterraneanist music scholarship, but also the vitality of a scholarly scene that revolved around the ICTM Mediterranean study group and the Levi Foundation in Venice. Tullia bought all of this together, with an inimitable blend of intellectual seriousness, irrepressible energy and a tireless imagination.

Tullia's invitation to me to join the ICTM Mediterranean study group was a turning point in my own life. I think this was probably true for most of us. 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 as I believe they did for everybody else involved, occasions of intense and happy discussion, where enormously productive bonds between


Tullia in Venice, June 2004


younger and older scholars, between Europeans and Americans, and between people representing very different intellectual traditions were being forged. Tullia was not only the organizer, but also the living and beating heart of the project, intellectually, socially, and emotionally.


The project 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 sustained effort 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.


Tullia and Mark Slobin


Sixth Meeting of the ICTM Study Group

"Music in Mediterranean Islands"

Venice, 10-12 June 2004

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. Tullia was tireless in making connections between people, and making these connections productive. 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.

Her unquenchable affection for the music, the musicians, and the music scholars of the Mediterranean region was always plain to see.


Tullia's publications included five single-authored volumes, nine edited volumes, fifty-seven articles, six CDs and seven documentary films. She wrote prolifically on the Mediterranean musical practices and repertories with which her name is associated, those of Cantabria, Emilia, Romagna and Crete. Her published work also included forays into historical issues (Bartok, De Martino) and occasional excursions to other seas (Bali). She thought and wrote rigorously and analytically, in a style that enabled broad and provocative comparisons across time and space, retaining some of the


Tullia at work in Crete

of mind of an older ethnomusicology, one committed to a global - rather than a local -  understanding of music in social and cultural life. At the same time, she was deeply attentive to the quirks and quiddities of human creativity and imagination. The psychodynamics of gender were a growing preoccupation, inclining her towards more broadly humanistic interpretations of musical practice, notably in her superb introduction to the Music and Gender: Perspectives from the Mediterranean volume she edited in 2003.

Her work, as writer, friend, and builder of scholarly communities, will outlive us. We can scarcely imagine where it will take future generations of Mediterraneanists. She herself will be missed terribly by all those of us involved with Music and Anthropology.



Martin Stokes

Co-editor, Music and Anthropology

The University of Chicago

Magrini Publications | M&A Index