In a world where, sooner or later, everything is racialised, it was only a matter of time before classical music became a target of the crusade against whiteness. So I wasn’t particularly shocked when I read this headline in the New York Times: ‘Obscure Musicology Journal Sparks Battles over Race and Free Speech.’
The obscure musicology journal in question is the tiny Journal of Schenkerian Studies. The journal’s editor, Timothy Jackson, a music-theory professor at the University of North Texas, is under fire for his hard-hitting response to the claim that the interwar Austrian-Jewish composer and theorist Heinrich Schenker personified the white racist attitudes that dominate classical music. Jackson’s university has launched an investigation into his behaviour, barred him from editing the journal, and suspended funding for the Schenker Center, which he runs.
Jackson has been vilified by the Twittermob and ostracised by his colleagues. Graduates who have previously worked with him are now worried that their association with this fallen professor could harm their career prospects. How did this all happen?