Derek Katz

Event Date: 

Monday, February 1, 2016 - 9:00am

"I’m now in my thirteenth year of teaching in the UCSB music department, but I also received my PhD here, and my total time in Goleta is now approaching the two-decade mark. I came to UCSB to work with Professor Michael Beckerman on Czech music, and much of my academic work has been in that area. I’ve published a book about Leoš Janá?ek’s operas (Janá?ek Beyond the Borders, 2009) and have also worked on topics ranging from Bed?ich Smetana’s second string quartet (that’s the little-known, insufficiently appreciated one) to the uses of American jazz by composers and poets in interwar Prague.

I’m still working in these areas, most recently writing a program essay for the Bavarian State Opera about Janá?ek’s The Makropulos Case, and a chapter about that same opera for a forthcoming edited volume (Modernism and Opera, 2016), but my main research focus these days is on institutional support for chamber music in the United States around the middle of the last century. In particular, I’m looking at string quartets that immigrated to this country from Europe right before the war. I spent a sabbatical quarter at Harvard in the fall of 2013, looking at the papers of Rudolf Kolisch, the leader of the Kolisch Quartet, which premiered string quartets by Arnold Schoenberg and Béla Bartók. The Kolisch Quartet relocated to America in 1937, but failed to sustain itself on American bookings and disbanded, with most of the members joining American orchestras (I heard the violist, Eugene Lehner, play with the Boston Symphony many times back in my student days, and was coached by him for a performance of the Schoenberg Serenade). Kolisch moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where he led the Pro Arte Quartet, one of the first quartets to be in residence at an American research university.

Outside of the Music Department, I’m always looking for opportunities to work with audiences and collaborate with performers.  I do annual seminars for a community group in Santa Barbara, and give lectures for the San Francisco Opera Guild (Wagner’s Meistersinger this past fall).  I also speak at a series of Salon Concerts for the Ives Collective, a chamber ensemble based in Palo Alto, and I’ll be going down to San Diego at the end of this month for the first of a series of concerts by the Hausmann Quartet called “Haydn Voyages,” in which they will play the complete string quartets of Joseph Haydn (as well as quartets by contemporary composers) on a steam ferryboat at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. In the past, I’ve given classes and talks for Princeton University Concerts, and spoken at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.

Like most musicologists, I started playing music long before it occurred to me to study it.  I still try to play the viola as much as I can. I play in an amateur quartet in the Bay Area.  We’ve been working on Beethoven quartets for the past few years, and are currently preparing the first movement of Op. 59, no. 1 for a workshop run by the San Francisco Symphony’s Community of Music Makers program. We’ll be playing that movement on the stage of Davies Hall at the end of the month." - Professor Derek Katz


Derek Katz received his PhD from UCSB, his BA from Harvard, and has studied at The Free University of Berlin on a Fulbright Fellowship. A specialist in Czech music, he has published articles in Musical Quarterly and multiple Czech journals, as well as chapters in Nineteenth Century Chamber Music (Schirmer, 1998), Janá?ek and His World (Princeton, 2003), and Modernism and Opera (Johns Hopkins, 2016). His book Janá?ek Beyond the Borders was published by the University of Rochester Press in 2009. His more recent work deals with institutional support for professional string quartets in the United States in the mid-20th Century. In particular, he has been researching the American career of the Kolisch Quartet and the history of the New Friends of Music in New York. Katz has also worked extensively in public musicology and audience enhancement. He has written for The New York Times, the San Francisco Opera, the Teatro Real Madrid, and the Bavarian State Opera, and spoken at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. He also collaborates with the San Francisco Opera Guild, the Ives Collective, and the Hausmann Quartet. He is an enthusiastic amateur violist and chamber music player.