Philip Gossett, an acclaimed musicologist and scholar of 19th-century Italian opera, died June 13 at his home in Hyde Park. He was 75.
Gossett, the Robert W. Reneker Distinguished Service Emeritus Professor in Music at the University of Chicago, conducted exhaustive research of composers such as Giuseppe Verdi and Gioachino Rossini. His work included uncovering forgotten operatic compositions, editing critical editions on such works as La gazzetta, and writing books, including the award-winning Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera.
In a 2010 interview, Gossett said he hadn’t planned to study Italian opera. “I was thrown into it because I began looking at available sources for some of the music of Rossini, and I discovered that every single source that I looked at was different from every other source, and at a certain point I had to ask myself, ‘well what did the man actually write?’” he said.
Born in New York, Gossett began studying piano at age five. During high school, he attended what is now Juilliard’s Pre-College Division. Gossett completed his undergraduate studies at Amherst College in music, having started in physics, and received his doctorate in musicology from Princeton University. He joined the University of Chicago in 1968.
“I’ll always treasure the memory of Philip as a scholar’s scholar, a musician’s scholar and a public scholar—all in full and equal measure,” said Anne Robertson, dean of the Division of the Humanities and the Claire Dux Swift Distinguished Service Professor of Music and the Humanities.