The Nicholas Bessaraboff Prize committee has made two awards for 2023, for two equally distinguished, but very different, contributions to organology.
The 2023 Nicholas Bessaraboff Prize for the most distinguished book-length publication in English is awarded to Murray Campbell, Joël Gilbert, and Arnold Myers for The Science of Brass Instruments (Cham, Switzerland: Springer Nature, 2021). xvi + 443pp., 323 illus. ISBN 978-3-030-55684-6 (hardback), price $139.99. ISBN 978-3-030-55686-0 (ebook)
This collective effort of scholarship represents the culmination of decades of sustained, original, wide-ranging research into the science underpinning many facets of the world of brass instruments, including performance, design, timbre, acoustics, early history, and taxonomy. Scientific explanations and approaches are laid out for many aspects of brass instrument behavior that were previously the domain of subjective and heuristic understanding. The methodology employed to construct a taxonomy moves the classification of brass instruments beyond vague and often inaccurate descriptive parameters. The content in each chapter has been cleverly layered to provide both an accessible introduction to brass instrument science for the generalist while adding to the specialist knowledge in the field through engagement with recent research and mathematical modeling techniques. In combining their diverse expertise, the authors have produced a significant, authoritative, and pioneering contribution to organological literature.
The 2023 Nicholas Bessaraboff Prize for the most distinguished book-length publication in English is awarded to Robert Adelson for Erard: A Passion for the Piano (New York: Oxford University Press, 2021). xvii+238pp., illus., tables. ISBN 978-0-197565-31-5 (hardback).
This eloquently written volume reflects the author’s lifelong interest in one of the most important figures in the development of the piano. Locating and interpreting the primary sources that inform this book shows commendable initiative on the part of the author. Through comprehensive access to both the extensive company archives and hitherto unresearched family papers, he has produced an academic, yet highly readable account of one of the truly great piano houses. Technical aspects of piano design are considered in terms of their musical significance and access to the family archives illuminates new aspects of the roles played by the different members of the Erard family in various aspects of this famous firm. The author is to be commended for fresh and significant scholarship in producing this outstanding contribution to the field of organology.
2023 Bessaraboff Award Committee
Bradley Strauchen-Scherer (chair)