Thanks to all who shared their thoughts and recollections about this legendary musicologist.
I had the good fortune to know Dr Tischler in the 1990s while a PhD candidate at Bloomington. Though I do not believe I ever took a seminar with him, I felt his influence and was an admirer of his stamina, dedication, and intellectual curiosity. I also always enjoyed–as a bystander!–the interplay between Dr Tischer and another titanic, much-missed intellect, Professor Thomas Binkley.
Dr Tischler was likewise an avid attendee and probing discussant at the Musicology colloquia. I well remember presenting a paper (on Frank Zappa’s Broadway the Hard Way) which I was prepping for AMS national meetings. At the end of that presentation–which provided a semiotic analysis of such Zappa gems as “Elvis Has Just Left the Building” and “Jesus Thinks You’re a Jerk”–Dr Tischler popped up, as he was wont to do, with the first question.
After expressing his appreciation for a presentation on music he had never heard, he asked, “But I can’t help noticing that this music is almost totally devoid of harmonic sophistication–so what is there to study?” Thinking quickly, and wishing both to recognize the good Doctor’s contrasting (and vast) musicological experience, but also to frame an argument he would find persuasive, I replied “Well, Dr Tischler, I would agree with you. But the musics upon which these pieces are based don’t emphasize complex harmonic practice; instead, their priorities are the sophisticated manipulation of timbre, text, and rhythm.”
His expression changed (Dr Tischler had a wonderful “Eureka!” expression) and he said, “Why, that is a very interesting and useful observation; it helps me understand this music. Thank you very much, Mr Smith!”
I was humbled.
He was a brave, kind, challenging man and he taught generations of us to frame our arguments compellingly. May his name be a blessing.
One of my most favorite memories of Hans Tischler was the way he frequently reminded us (his graduate students) that we were not -ologists, that we were music-ologists, along with reminders about all the concerts we could be attending or all the music we could be performing. I frequently saw him at concerts scanning the audience to see which of us were there. Then, he engaged us in conversations about the music the next day in class.
As there is a golden age of singing, there is no less in musicology. Professor Tischler ‘s profoundly important and lasting research provides full and complete evidence that musicology had its own golden age. From my beginning musical studies in under graduate school at Milton College through my doctoral studies with James Anthony at the University of Arizona, where I earned a minor in musicology, required musicological assigned readings rightly included those of Dr. Tischler. On a more personal level, it was his external letter, supporting enthusiastically my tenure at my former employer, University of Colorado at Boulder, which continues to awe me to this day.
Hans Tischler: a shining beacon of the best, the golden age of teaching, research, and service to the art of music.
I came to IU after Hans had retired, so I did not have the opportunity to study directly with him. But like every student of medieval music, I learned a great deal from him, through his writings and editions. It is a consolation to know that Hans will continue to teach generations of music students through his published works. Hans was a constant presence in the music library at IU. His enthusiasm for learning about music and his genuine interest in what others were studying was a tremendous gift for everyone at IU. I will miss him tremendously and I think it is safe to say that I will hear the echo of his voice in every pun I hear for the rest of my life….
I began my studies at Indiana after Dr. Tischler had retired, but I had the pleasure of being in his company many times. My fondest memories are from 2000, after I had completed my Ph.D. and before I landed my first teaching position. I worked for Dr. Tischler for several months transcribing his manuscripts of trouvère songs using the Finale notation program. I’ll always remember sitting at his home waiting nervously for his approval of the work I had done. His scrutiny was meticulous, and his kindness toward me was greatly appreciated, even when it was necessary to revise some of my work. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of these melodies, and I continue trying to emulate his attention to detail.
I knew Hans from the time he first came to Indiana, and was fortunate enough to see him at many, many AMS Midwest meetings. It was always one of the great pleasures of those meetings to see Hans and enjoy his warm greetings — and his proddings for more work! I consider myself especially fortunate to have heard his final presentation at a Midwest meeting in Chicago — one of many I enjoyed over the years — and to have been present at the dinner at the Berghof restaurant afterwards where he was honored. And the last time I was in Bloomington, on a sort of final visit before leaving the Midwest for retirement in the Rockies, I spent a wonderful afternoon with Hans and Alice. It was truly a blessing to have known him, and had the chance to visit with him on these late occasions in his life. His mind remained sharp, even as he lost the ability to distinguish pitches (a particularly harsh fate for a musicologist, of course), but even then he was still the upbeat and engaging Hans we all had known. Such a kind and engaged soul will, I am certain, rest in peace. To Alice, my heartfelt condolences. Hans will be missed in so many places, in so many ways.
I had the pleasure of having studied with Dr. Tishler and to work for him as an graduate assistant some 35 years ago. I admired his profound knowlege of the field, his meticulous scholarly research, and his generosity with his time to assist students. Most of all, I found him to be a genuinely sincere and kind human being. I will
always remember him fondly and thank him, along with many other of my former
I.U. professors, for a solid grounding in doing research and critical thinking which I
still apply today in my present, non-musical, professional career.
I suspect that most of the posts that appear here will from musicologists, which I am definitely not. My studies at Indiana led to a D.M. in Woodwind Performance and Literature (multiple woodwinds) and I was required by that degree to pursue a minor in music history, which I would never have chosen willingly. However, I found that I really enjoyed Dr. Tischler’s courses, especially his lectures; there was always a zinger in there, such as “Perotin was the father of the motet, although not by marriage!”. Those little jokes always helped me remember things. I really enjoyed studying early music with Tischler, and he encouraged me to use my soprano saxophone in it, which both surprised and encouraged me, as he said that he thought that it was the modern instrument which most closely replicated the sound of the old cornetto. I am also thankful to have know a Holocaust survivor to keep that painful and important memory alive.
I first met Dr. Tischler at the fall musicology picnic just before my first semester of grad school at IU. After the initial pleasantries, he asked me what instrument I played. When I told him I “was” a singer he chastised me (with teasing kindness) for using the past tense, and encouraged me to find opportunities for performance. The last time I saw him was when he was in Meadowood this past spring. True to form, he was curious about what I was working on. I explained that my dissertation was on English opera of the 1830s and 1840s. Since he hadn’t heard any of the music from these operas (not many people have!), he asked me to sing something. And so, I sang one of the arias, or at least as much of it as I could remember. It wasn’t a stellar performance, but how could I refuse! I did not have much occasion to work professionally with Dr. Tischler, but his enthusiastic support for young scholars was a true inspiration. As a scholar and a mentor, he exemplified what all musicologists *should* be.
I feel quite fortunate to be able to count Hans Tischler as one of the musicology professors I had in classes at the JSOM. When I arrived at IU, Dr. Tischler was already something of an icon – he was known as an erudite scholar, and as an exacting and demanding teacher. Early on, I was Dr. Tischler’s assistant for a Medieval-Renaissance class, and then took several classes with him, including medieval notation and chamber music literature. Dr. Tischler’s vast knowledge of disparate musical eras was immediately clear, and his mastery of the subtleties of medieval rhythmic patterns was awe-inspiring. His first-hand stories of experiences with musical giants such as Hindemith and Schoenberg made the classroom scintillating and it was apparent that Dr. Tischler’s intellectual breadth was unlike anything I had previously encountered. Outside of class, he was equally challenging and at his urging, I joined the local community chamber group (that he founded) and continued to expand my pianistic skills.
The qualities I valued most about Hans Tischler, however, did not stem from these academic experiences; rather, it was his friendship, his sincere and kind demeanor, his constant encouragement, and his gentle, yet brilliant command of humor that left lasting impressions. A visit with Hans always included a conversation about world politics, important musical issues, the classes I was teaching, and questions about my family—and of course, it also included a pun!
Hans’ ability to embrace life to the fullest remains with me as an inspiration for the pursuit of a rewarding professional and personal existence.
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