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Frank Kirby, Grove and me (October 23, 2013)

Music Ramble - Frank Kirby, Grove and me

One of my personal heroes was the late musicologist Frank Kirby (1928-2007), who was my music professor at Lake Forest College when I was an undergrad there (1977-1981). I wasn’t a music major, though I took so many music department classes that I found out only weeks before graduation (too late to do anything about it) that I was only one class shy of a double major. Much of that was because of how much I enjoyed Frank Kirby’s classes.

One vivid memory was bumping into him outside his office and he was beaming, holding a letter from the publishers of the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, THE standard music reference work (which already had many entries written by him), telling Frank that the next edition would have an entry ABOUT him. Being a typical undergrad (and a non Music major), I had no idea what an accomplishment that was, but I loved seeing him so tickled and thought, “Wow, it must be a big deal.”

I often wish he was around to chat about something music-related – and he was the first person I thought of when the editors for The Grove Dictionary of American Music (Second Edition, Oxford University Press) asked me to be a contributor. I just received a notification that this eight-volume behemoth will be out in November, and buried among the 9300 entries will be five by me, all bluegrass-related (Reno & Smiley, Tony Rice, Sam Bush, Bluegrass Alliance, New Grass Revival). And if you want to buy a set, it’ll only set you back $1195.00.

I like to think that Frank would be proud, even if I was a psychology major.

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