One of the coolest parts about being a student at UChicago is that you get to meet a bunch of faculty who have contributed so much scholarly work and breadth of knowledge to different fields and areas of research. Unfortunately, as a student studying molecular engineering and chemistry, I don’t really have much time to take classes or do activities within the music department, which is really a shame because there are some truly brilliant individuals within the department that I would absolutely love to work with. One of those individuals was Professor Philip Gossett, who passed away yesterday. In my opinion, Professor Gossett was one of those faculty members whose scholarly research transcended the (sometimes) theoretical world of academia and into the real world of practice and performance, made evident by his numerous collaborations with artists (some of which are listed in his comprehensive book, Divas and Scholars). His research on the critical editions of Verdi and Rossini’s works is used all over the world today in leading opera houses, illustrating his great impact and legacy in the field of Italian opera.
I only met Professor Gossett once: it happened after Maestro Muti’s visit at UChicago a couple of years ago at the Logan Center, and I managed to run into him while I was leaving to walk back to my dorm. I said nothing more than a simple hello to him, but after listening to Maestro Muti talk about his collaborations with Professor Gossett, I began to look into his work. I was amazed to see that there was someone right on campus who was doing really influential work in the field (19th century Italian opera) that I was most interested in! If I was majoring in music, I know that I would’ve tried my absolute best to do some sort of research project under Professor Gossett, or at least take the classes taught by him. Although I never got the chance to work with him, I’m glad that I’m at the same school of which he was such an integral part – I hope the Italian opera tradition that Professor Gossett left at this school continues to thrive, as it did under his leadership.
Image: The cover for Verdi’s Nabucco, the third work published in The Works of Giuseppe Verdi in 1988, which was overseen by Professor Gossett.