Leon Plantinga

Henry L. and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Music

Leon PlantingaLeon Plantinga, B.A. Calvin College, M. Mus. Michigan State University, Ph.D. Yale University, faculty member at Yale since 1963: you are one of a remarkable family of scholars and teachers. Many of your family members teach at Calvin College, where you began, and your three brothers, all educated there, include a philosophy professor at Notre Dame, the president of Calvin Seminary and a Presbyterian lay leader in South Africa. In your youth you were equally accomplished as a pianist and student, and had to choose between a concert and an academic career. Luckily for Yale you chose the latter. You entered the discipline of musicology at the top of the field, with your classic studies of Robert Schumann’s musical criticism, and of the life and music of Muzio Clementi—works central to all succeeding scholarship on these composers. Your study of Romantic music in 1984 has long set the standard for the period, and is unequalled in the scope of its vision, the depth of its musical insight, and the breadth of its scholarship. Your more recent book on Beethoven’s Concertos won well-deserved critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic for its splendid synthesis of source study, performance history, and musical analysis. 

At Yale generations of students, undergraduate and graduate, have benefited from your combination of meticulous archival scholarship, intellectual acumen, and unfailing musicianship; they have always known that Professor Plantinga can not only study, talk about and write about music, he can also “do” it—as a superb pianist, still capable of impressive concretizing. The Department of Music has you to thank for your years of strong leadership as chair, and for your loyalty and kindness to the department and your colleagues. Jonathan Edwards has you to thank for many years of fellowship and for your beloved seminar, “Music in a Residential College.” And Yale, writ large, will miss you in its day-to-day work—the wisdom of your counsel, the warmth of your spirit, and your concern for the common good. Forty-two years of impeccable scholarship, musicianship and service: As the song says “Who could ask for anything more?”

Tribute Editor: Penelope Laurans