Tate_03-2018
The Music Column

The Two Lhevinnes

Though too many years have gone by since I last crossed paths with Robert K. Wallace, that doesn’t mean I have forgotten that gifted and accomplished man.  I remember him well from sites and scenes in graduate school at Columbia University; from his environment in northern Kentucky and at the old Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, where Danny Jackson was pitching; and from an American academic conclave in Europe.  That was the man in person and that was much—but the author in print is an imposing presence as well.

Before he took up the subject of Melville and the visual arts and then other aspects of the writer I heard him refer to as “Herman,” and before he wrote a book about a girls’ basketball team (Thirteen Women Strong: The Making of a Team, 2008), Wallace had already put forth three more than remarkable books about music.  In reverse order, Emily Brontë and Beethoven (1986) and Jane Austen and Mozart (1983) are probably the best books ever written about the analogues between literature and music.  The relationship of one mode to another is both appealing to imagine and impossible to articulate coherently, or rather it was so until Wallace did it.  In an age of critical affectation, obscurity, and fanaticism, Wallace was all persuasion, demonstration, and performance.  He who has ears, let him hear, and her also.

But Robert K....

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