Jane A. Bernstein
Austin Fletcher Professor of Music
American Musicological Society
I had wanted to be a musicologist since I was thirteen years old, although I didn’t know what to call it back then. The year was 1960, and my sister had given me a copy of Grout’s newly-published A History of Western Music; I thought then that it was the greatest birthday gift I had ever received, and I still do. Although I began attending AMS chapter meetings in 1968 as a first-year graduate student, my initial experience with the national meeting was in 1973 when I gave my first paper in Chicago. Frightened as I was by the enormity of the conference, I recall two encounters that had a profound impact on my life. One was meeting Janet Knapp, the first woman president of the AMS. I had never had a woman as a music professor, and Janet immediately became an important role model for me. The second occurred after my presentation when a distinguished man wearing a bow tie came up to me and began showering me with questions. Wondering who this could be, I stole a glance at his badge and read: Howard Brown. In disbelief, I blurted out, “Excuse me, but you’re not the Howard Mayer Brown, are you?” “Why, yes I am,” he replied with amusement. Howard became an inspiring mentor for me, someone who taught me the importance of being open to all ideas, particularly those of young scholars.
A great deal of time has passed since then, and many wonderful and memorable things have happened both at chapter meetings and at our annual gatherings. For me, most of all, the AMS is not only a learned society, but a closely knit family of teachers, students, colleagues, and friends who share a passion and love for music. As we reach the culmination of our OPUS campaign, I have witnessed the generosity of our members both young and old in helping future generations of scholars. I am very proud to be a member, and I am deeply honored to be president at this special moment in the history of our extraordinary Society. Happy Birthday, AMS! Happy Birthday to all of us!