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Philip Brett (October 17, 1937 – October 16, 2002) was a British-born American musicologist, musician and conductor. He was particularly known for his scholarly studies on Benjamin Britten and William Byrd and for his contributions to the development of lesbian and gay musicology. At the time of his death, he was Distinguished Professor of Musicology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Philip Brett was born in Edwinstowe, a coal-mining village in north Nottinghamshire, England. His father was a collier and his mother a school teacher. He was educated first at the choir school of Southwell Minster and then attended King's College, Cambridge as a choral scholar. He received his BA degree from Cambridge in 1958 and a MusB in 1961, studying under Philip Radcliffe, Boris Ord and Thurston Dart. After a year studying at University of California, Berkeley with Joseph Kerman, he returned to Cambridge as a Fellow of King's College and completed his PhD there in 1965. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on the songs of William Byrd, a composer on whom Brett would write extensively throughout his career. In 1966 he joined the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley and remained there for nearly 25 years. He was made a full professor in 1978 and went on to become chairman of the music department in 1988. During his time at Berkeley, he became a naturalised US citizen and participated in the musical life of the university both as a recitalist and as a choral conductor in addition to his teaching.
In 1991, Brett moved to University of California, Riverside to be with his long-term partner, George Haggerty, a professor of English there. He was appointed Associate Dean of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at Riverside in 1998, a position which he held until 2001 when he became Distinguished Professor of Musicology at University of California, Los Angeles. Brett died of cancer in Los Angeles at the age of 64, a year after taking up his appointment at UCLA. On the 6th anniversary of his death, the University of California, Riverside dedicated the Philip Brett Memorial Peace Garden, a traditional Japanese Karesansui designed by Takeo Uesugi. The annual Philip Brett Award from the American Musicological Society honors exceptional musicological work in the field of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender/transsexual studies.
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