May 12, 2023

Erinn E. Knyt, Professor of Music History in the UMass Amherst Department of Music and Dance, has had her second book, Ferruccio Busoni as Architect of Sound, published by Oxford University Press. The new book won two American Musicological Society subventions (both publisher and individual awards) to assist with expenses related to the book’s publication. Her first book, Ferruccio Busoni and His Legacy, which was published by Indiana University Press in 2017, also received a subvention grant through the AMS’ 75 Pays Endowment.  Knyt specializes in nineteenth- and twentieth- century music, aesthetics, music history pedagogy, Bach Reception, and performance studies.

The book cover of "Ferruccio Busoni as Architect of Sound" by Knyt.

In the new book, Knyt offers further insights into the life of composer and pianist Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924), and contributes to the discourse surrounding the emergence of musical modernism in the early 20th century.

The book reveals that many of Busoni's compositional innovations, such as a spatialized treatment of sound, montage formal structures, and the free use of all twelve pitches of the chromatic scale (without avoiding consonances), were informed by the study of buildings and architectural styles. In addition, the book documents how Busoni's architectural music left a lasting imprint on future generations of composers like Kurt Weill and Edgard Varèse.

In his review of Ferruccio Busoni as Architect of Sound, Paul Fleet, Professor of Authentic Music Theory at Newcastle University, wrote,

“Knyt contributes to the continuing rich and diverse discussion of the musical modernist Ferruccio Busoni and offers us a blueprint for investigating his multi-faceted approach as a composer, pianist, arranger, teacher, thinker, and an architect of sound.”

Thomas Grey, Professor of Musicology from Stanford University, remarked on how the new book underscores “Busoni's commitments to old and new music, his own works, and his mentorship of diverse modernist talents in a striking new light... Knyt is unsurpassed as guide to all aspects of Busoni's multi-faceted career.”