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date: 20 February 2020

Nettl, Bruno free

  • Philip V. Bohlman

( b Prague, March 14, 1930). American ethnomusicologist of Czech birth . He was educated at Indiana University (AB 1950; MA 1951; PhD 1953) and the University of Michigan (MA 1960). His distinguished teaching career has been anchored at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (appointed associate professor of music, 1964; professor of music and anthropology, 1967–92; emeritus professor, 1992), but has included numerous guest professorships, including Kiel (Fulbright professor 1956–8), Washington (1985, 1988, 1990), Louisville (Bingham Professor 1983), Colorado College (1992, 1998), Harvard (1990), and Chicago (1996). Among numerous honours are two honorary doctorates (Chicago 1993; Illinois 1996), the Fumio Koizumi Prize (Tokyo 1993), and a Festschrift (1991).

Nettl’s scholarship has been seminal for the growth of ethnomusicology during the second half of the 20th century. He has written or edited numerous works surveying and broadening theoretical and methodological principles, notably Theory and Method in Ethnomusicology (1964), The Study of Ethnomusicology: 29 Issues and Concepts (1983), and Comparative Musicology and Anthopology of Music (with P.V. Bohlman, 1991). He has also published extensively on a variety of topics, including Native American music, folk and traditional music, the Middle East (especially Iran), the intellectual history of ethnomusicology, urban ethnomusicology, local music ethnography and improvisation. He has influenced musical scholarship through extensive editorial activities, from journal editorships (Ethnomusicology 1961–5, 1998–2002) to advisory boards (AMS committee for publications of American music and Garland Encyclopedia of World Music) to monograph series (Detroit Monographs in Musicology and Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology).

Nettl’s influence on modern musical scholarship crosses disciplinary as well as international borders. He has encouraged rapprochement and cooperation among all domains of musical scholarship, and has strengthened the interdisciplinary potential of ethnomusicology by drawing from folklore studies, anthropology and the social sciences. The influences of his approaches to world music are also evident in his activities as a teacher, which embrace all levels of music education, and appear in his articles and classroom textbooks, as well as the characteristically lucid quality of all his published work. Many leading ethnomusicologists have studied with Nettl and written dissertations advised by him. It has been the greatest measure of his intellectual breadth and diversity that his former students have not formed a single school, but have established new directions both for ethnomusicolgy and modern musical scholarship generally.


  • American Indian Music North of Mexico: its Styles and Areas (diss., Indiana U., 1953; Philadelphia, 1954 as North American Indian Musical Styles)
  • ‘Stylistic Variety in North American Indian Music’, JAMS , 6 (1953), 160–68
  • ‘Musical Culture of the Arapaho’, MQ , 41 (1955), 325–31
  • Music in Primitive Culture (Cambridge, MA, 1956)
  • ‘The Hymns of the Amish: an Example of Marginal Survival’, Journal of American Folklore, 70 (1957), 323–8
  • ‘Historical Aspects of Ethnomusicology’, American Anthropologist, 60 (1958), 518–32
  • ‘Notes on Musical Areas’, AcM , 30 (1958), 170–77
  • Cheremis Musical Styles (Bloomington, IN, 1960)
  • An Introduction to Folk Music in the United States (Detroit, 1960, enlarged 3/1976 as Folk Music in the United States)
  • Reference Materials in Ethnomusicology (Detroit, 1961, 2/1967)
  • Theory and Method in Ethnomusicology (New York, 1964)
  • Folk and Traditional Music of the Western Continents (Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1965, 3/1990)
  • ‘Studies in Blackfoot Indian Musical Culture’, EthM , 11 (1967), 141–60, 293–309; xii (1968), 11–48 (with S. Blum), 192–207
  • with B. Foltin: Daramad of Chahargah: a Study in the Performance Practice of Persian Music (Detroit, 1972)
  • ‘Taqsim Nahawand: a Study of Sixteen Performances’, YIFMC , 5 (1974), 11–50
  • ‘Thoughts on Improvisation: a Comparative Approach’, MQ , 60 (1974), 1–19
  • with C.E. Hamm and R. Byrnside: Contemporary Music and Music Cultures (Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1975)
  • ‘On the Question of Universals’, World of Music, 19/1–2 (1977), 2–12
  • ‘Some Aspects of the History of World Music in the Twentieth Century: Questions, Problems, and Concepts’, EthM , 22 (1978), 123–36
  • ed.: Urban Musical Cultures: Tradition and Change (Urbana, IL, 1978)
  • The Study of Ethnomusicology: 29 Issues and Concepts (Urbana, IL, 1983)
  • ‘In Honor of our Principal Teachers’, EthM , 28 (1984), 173–85
  • ‘Western Musical Values and the Character of Ethnomusicology’, World of Music, 24 (1984), 29–43
  • The Western Impact on World Music (New York, 1985)
  • ‘World Music in the Twentieth Century: a Survey of Research on Western Influence’, AcM , 58 (1986), 360–73
  • The Radif of Persian Music: Studies of Structure and Cultural Context (Champaign, IL, 1987, 2/1992)
  • ‘The IFMC/ICTM and the Development of Ethnomusicology in the United States’, YTM , 20 (1988), 19–25
  • Blackfoot Musical Thought: Comparative Perspectives (Kent, OH, 1989)
  • ed., with P.V. Bohlman: Comparative Musicology and Anthropolgy of Music: Essays on the History of Ethnomusicology (Chicago, 1991) [incl. ‘The Dual Nature of Ethnomusicology in North America: the Contributions of Charles Seeger and George Herzog’, 266–74]
  • with others: Excursions in World Music (Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1992, 2/1997)
  • ‘Mozart and the Ethnomusicological Study of Western Culture’, Disciplining Music: Musicology and its Canons, ed. K. Bergeron and P.V. Bohlman (Chicago, 1992), 137–55
  • ‘La musica dell’antropologia e l’antropologia della musica: una prospettiva nord-americana’, Antropologia della musica e culture mediteranee: Venice 1992, 37–56
  • ‘Recent Directions in Ethnomusicology’, Ethnomusicology: an Introduction, ed. H. Myers (London, 1992), 375–99
  • ed., with others: Commuity of Music: an Ethnographic Seminar in Champaign-Urbana (Champaign, IL, 1993) [incl. ‘A Place for all Musics? The Concentric Circles of Music Building’, 93–105]
  • Heartland Excursions: Ethnomusicological Reflections on Schools of Music (Urbana, IL, 1995)
  • ed., with M. Russell: In the Course of Performance: Studies in the World of Musical Improvisation (Chicago, 1998)


  • S. Blum, P.V. Bohlman and D.M. Neuman, eds.: Ethnomusicology and Modern Music History: Festschrift Bruno Nettl (Urbana, IL, 1991) [incl. list of writings, 278–305]
Journal of the American Musicological Society
Acta musicologica
Yearbook for Traditional Music
Yearbook of the International Folk Music Council
Musical Quarterly