In Memoriam: Linda Burman-Hall (1947-2023)

Linda Burman-Hall
Linda Burman-Hall

The UC Santa Cruz Arts Division community was deeply saddened to hear that Professor Emerita Linda Burman-Hall, recently passed away very suddenly while travelling in Malaysia. She joined the UC Santa Cruz Music Department as a Lecturer in 1976, and has been a vital part of the community for the past 47 years.

Burman-Hall retired from teaching in 2014 but became a research professor at the university. Her research was centered on performance practices and improvisation in both Western and non-Western music, and specialized in Baroque and classical literature for early keyboards such as the harpsichord, organ and fortepiano. She was also an ethnomusicologist of traditional Euro-American and Indonesian music and had published articles on South American folk fiddling, traditional and contemporary Balinese and Sudanese gamelans and Ottoman music performances.

A noted harpsichordist, cultural musicologist and early music producer, she studied at the College of Letters and Science of University of California in Los Angeles (B.A. in Music with Honors), Princeton University (M.F.A. Music in Theory and Musicology, and Ph.D. Music in Theory and Musicology). She had postdoctoral research at the Institute of Ethnomusicology, University of Amsterdam. While approaching early keyboard literature from an independent perspective, she studied with Alan Curtis and Dutch scholar-performer Gustav Leonhardt.

She was featured in concerts at the Getty, de Young, and Huntington Museums, and on local and national radio. She performed and recorded with celebrated performers of early music and California artists, including Judith Nelson, Max van Egmond, Randall Wong, Elizabeth Blumenstock, Leta Miller, Anner Bylsma, Amy Brodo, John Dornenburg, Roland Hutchinson, and Nicole Paiement. She appeared with groups such as Philharmonia Baroque, Chanticleer, America’s premiere vocal ensemble, American Baroque Ensemble, Musica Pacifica, and the group Lux Musica of which she was a founder.

In contemporary music, she performed with artists as diverse as Steve Reich and Meredith Monk, and commissioned, premiered and recorded new music by contemporary Indonesian composers and by her colleagues at UC Santa Cruz (David Jones, David Cope – EMI, and Robert Strizich).

Burman-Hall also was the founder and longtime artistic director of the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival. Under her direction, the Baroque Festival presented hundreds of early music concerts across 46 years. Her Baroque chamber and solo music recordings are available on the Centaur, Helicon, Kleos, Wildboar, GoldenHorn, MSR, East Meets West Music, Gourd and Koustic labels.

The entire UCSC community sends compassionate thoughts to Professor Emerita Linda Burman-Hall’s husband, Tim, and daughter, Sarina. Her loss will be felt deeply throughout the UC Santa Cruz community and beyond.

Her obituary appeared in the Santa Cruz Sentinel and longtime Santa Cruz arts writer, Wallace Baine, paid tribute to her outstanding career in Lookout Santa Cruz, noting that “with the death of Linda Burman-Hall, Santa Cruz loses one of its great artistic souls.”