Over the past half-century, we have seen the academic discipline of musicology evolve from the study of music, to the study of social issues around music, to a lobby for social equality to the exclusion of many things, including music.
The latest issue of VAN magazine has a survey of the Beethoven year with combative statements by the feminist musicologist Susan McClary and the BLM music theorist Philip Ewell (pictured), who says: ‘”Beethoven” is like a metonym for the toxic combination that often happens when whiteness combines with maleness in the history of the United States.. At times, especially in terms of power and impact, whiteness plus maleness has more or less always equated with power. And, when that power gets challenged, it really can lash out in horrible ways—up to and including violence, rape, and murder.’
Got it? Beethoven is a poster boy for every evil ascribed by anyone to men with white skin.
This is what passes today for musicology.
It’s time to draw a line between music scholarship and 21st century ‘musicology’, and to strip the latter of its musical prefix. Musicology is no longer what it claims to be. Where it operates under false pretences, it needs to be renamed.