Skip to page content

The American Musical Instrument Society


The Curt Sachs Award 1999

Cecil D. Adkins

Cecil D. AdkinsThe Board of Governors of the American Musical Instrument Society designated Cecil D. Adkins the recipient of the Curt Sachs Award for the year 1999 in recognition of his distinguished contributions to the study of the monochord, marine trumpet, positive organ, eighteenth-century oboe, historical performance practices, and music bibliography, and in acknowledgment of his dedicated service to the Society.

Adkins has served the Society as President (1987—91); member of the Board of Governors (1978-87, 1994—2000); member of the Journal Editorial Board (1985—present); program chairman for annual meetings in Vancouver (1983), Vermillion (1986), and San Antonio (1992, also local-arrangements chairman); and a frequent presenter of scholarly papers at the society's annual meetings.

Born in Red Oak, Iowa, in 1932, Adkins graduated from the University of Omaha with a B.F.A. in 1953. He served as Assistant Conductor and Arranger of the Fourth Armored Division Band at Fort Hood, Texas (1954—55), and went on to become Director of Instrumental Music in the Paullina, Texas, Independent School District (1955—60), while studying for his M.M. degree, which he earned at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, in 1959. His college-teaching career began in 1960 with a position as Instructor in the Department of Music at Mount Mercy College at Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In the same year he commenced his doctoral studies at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and he completed his Ph.D. in 1963 with a dissertation entitled "The Theory and Practice of the Monochord." It was also in 1963 that he began his association with the University of North Texas (the North Texas State University) as a member of the music faculty. He became Regents Professor at that institution in 1983.

The fruits of Adkins's organological research began to appear early in his scholarly career. In 1963 he presented a paper on the subject of his doctoral dissertation at a meeting of the Texas Chapter of the American Musicological Society, and that was followed by another paper presented to the same organization the next year, on a related topic that would become one of his principal scholarly interests: the trumpet marine. Over the next three decades, Adkins contributed articles on the history of these two instruments to Acta musicologica (1967 and 1982), the Report of the International Musicological Society, XIth Congress (1974), Sohlmans Musiklexikon (1977), Musica Antiqua (1978), The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1980), the Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society (1982), The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments (1984), and the Tijdschrift van de Vereniging voor Nederlandse muziekgeschiedenis (1986). In 1991 Adkins's definitive treatment of the subject, A Trumpet by Any Other Name: A History of the Trumpet Marine, written in collaboration with Alis Dickinson (Mrs. Adkins), was published in two volumes (613 pp.) by Frits Knuf. Along the way, Adkins had presented additional papers on the trumpet marine at meetings of scholarly organizations and had appeared as a solo performer on the instrument. His most recent contribution to the study of this subject is The Trumpet Marine: Description and Technical Drawings (R. K. Lee, 1993).

As a bibliographer, Adkins produced A Topical Index to Edmond de Coussemaker's Scriptores de musica medii aevi, nova series (North Texas State University, 1968) and An Index to Acta musicologica (Bärenreiter, 1970), working with Alis Dickinson on the latter publication. He is best known in the bibliographical field, however, for his published catalogues (some produced as a joint effort with Dickinson) of musicological doctoral dissertations, prepared for the American Musicological Society and the International Musicological Society. In addition to supplements that have appeared regularly in the pages of the Journal of the American Musicological Society and Acta musicologica, and as separate publications, these catalogues are Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology (1971, 1984, and 1989) and the International Index of Doctoral Dissertations and Musicological Works in Progress (1977). In connection with this work, Adkins was director of placement services of the American Musicological Society (1972—77) and has served as chairman of the Center for Musicological Works in Progress of the International Musicological Society since 1969.

In addition to the above mentioned articles in The New Grove Dictionary and its specialized Dictionary of Musical Instruments, Adkins contributed studies of a number of music theorists and composers of the eleventh through eighteenth centuries to the former publication, as well as an article on the machine head in string instruments that appeared in both publications. Adkins is also known for his research on the positive organ, especially in connection with the process of miniaturization. He is the author of The "ab Yberg" Positive Organ: Basle, Historical Museum 1927-258, Description and Technical Drawing (R. K. Lee, 1979), and his articles on the subject have appeared in our Society's Journal (1988) and in De musica hispana et aliis (1990). Over the last decade and a half, Adkins has established himself as a leading expert on the eighteenth-century oboe through five papers on related subjects that he has presented at the Society's annual meetings, three of which he has prepared as articles for our Journal: "Oboes Beyond Compare: The Instruments of Hendrik and Fredrik Richters" (1990, winner of the Society's Frances Densmore Prize for 1992), "William Milhouse and the English Classical Oboe" (1996), and "Proportions and Architectural Motives in the Design of the Eighteenth-Century Oboe" (1999).

Adkins has also been an active participant in the study of historical performance practices. In addition to his work as a soloist on the trumpet marine, he has directed the Collegium Musicum of the University of North Texas in numerous performances, based on his own editions, of works from the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. Two of these critical editions have been published: Joseph Haydn's Philemon and Baucis (Theodore Presser, 1968) and Orazio Vecchi's L'Amfiparnasso (University of North Carolina Press, 1977). Related to Adkins's work in the performance of early music are his accomplishments as an instrument maker and restorer. He built a three-rank positive organ in 1974, a copy of the Basle Museum's four-rank "ab Yberg" positive organ in 1978, a Flemish-style harpsichord with decorations after Gromarus van Everbroek (Antwerp, 1659) in 1988, and a copy of a Stein pianoforte (Augsburg, ca. 1785) in 1996. As a maker of woodwind instruments, Adkins produced four copies of baroque oboes after Thomas Stanesby, Sr. (ca. 1700) in 1982, 1983, 1985, and 1987. His output of string instruments comprises two baroque violins (1984), two baroque violas (1985 and 1993), and restorations of a dozen existing violins, violas, and cellos to baroque specifications (1982—86).

©2007 American Musical Instrument Society Website managed by D. Newton/