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Noted Guitar Historian Dies: Harvey Turnbull (1936-2017)

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Article courtesy of Classical Guitar Magazine. Read the whole article here: http://classicalguitarmagazine.com/noted-guitar-historian-dies-harvey-turnbull-1936-2017/

Noted Guitar Historian Dies: Harvey Turnbull (1936-2017)
OCTOBER 31, 2017
An Appreciation by Graham Wade

Many guitarists around the world will be sad to hear that Harvey Turnbull, author of The Guitar from the Renaissance to the Present Day (published in 1974) and a co-contributor of the entry about the guitar in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, died on October 14, 2017.

The Guitar from the Renaissance to the Present Day followed the publication of various informative books on guitar history, such as Frederic V. Grunfeld’s The Art and Times of the Guitar (1969) and Alexander Bellow’s The Illustrated History of the Guitar (1970). Unlike Grunfeld and Bellow, however, Turnbull decided to begin his history of the guitar with “the Renaissance as a starting point, as it is only at this period that one can consider the guitar in relation to its music.” His aim, he wrote, was to ensure that “the guitar will cease to be regarded with surprise or wonder and finally become accepted as playing a normal part in the world of music.”

Turnbull’s approach was innovative, presenting a book with precise scholarly intent and no frills. He concentrated his research on period instruments in museums which could be literally measured and evaluated. This was then matched with appropriate commentary on the music available for those instruments. Thus, The Guitar from the Renaissance to the Present Day opened the way to a more objective approach to guitar scholarship, a methodology which set a precedent to enable subsequent scholars to explore the entirety of guitar history in astonishing detail.

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