In an interview with Richard Marshall at 3:AM Magazine, Professor Kivy describes how he came to study philosophy, and aesthetics in particular:
[T]wo years in the Music History Program at Yale ended in convincing me that philosophy was meant to be my profession, music my avocation. So to the Columbia Philosophy Department I went. On my first day there I was interviewed by the then chairman of the department, the late Robert D. Cumming, who looked over my relevant credentials, particularly my musicology degree and a paper I had published on Darwin’s theory of the origin of music, and declared: “Of course, Kivy, you will do aesthetics.” And that I did. In those days graduate students were obedient, and did what they were told. Needless to say, I have never regretted the decision Professor Cumming made for me.
Now when I made the decision to do aesthetics, or, rather, when the decision was made for me, I never in the world intended to combine it with my musical interests. Indeed, who in philosophy of art would have dreamed of such a thing in 1960?
When he published his first book on the philosophy of music The Corded Shell, what was supposed to be “a brief interlude between serious philosophical projects” became, he says, “the defining event of my career for many years to come.”
Professor Kivy earned his PhD from Columbia in 1966 and for all but one visiting year at UC Santa Barbara spent his entire career at Rutgers.
UPDATE: Larry Temkin, chair of the Department of Philosophy at Rutgers, has sent in a statement on behalf of the department:
On behalf of the entire Rutgers Philosophy Department, I sadly note that our dear friend, and former Board of Governors Professor of Philosophy, Peter Kivy, passed away last Saturday night. Peter had been very ill for some time, but even so, this news is a great blow to all who knew him.
Peter was an erudite scholar and lover of music, who kept a clavichord in his Philosophy Department office. He was also an accomplished oboist who studied under tutelage of the great Ronald “Ronnie” Roseman, a faculty member of the Mannes College of Music, the Julliard School, and the Yale School of Music, and acting principal oboist of the New York Philharmonic in the late 1970s. Peter played the oboe with many groups in many venues in New York City as well as Cape Cod where he took up summer residence.
Besides writing philosophy and playing the oboe, Peter loved a great scotch and Manhattans (or two!). He was a cherished member of the Department, and a personal friend. I shall miss his endless supply of jokes, and dinners at Tumulty’s Pub with him and Peter Klein.
Peter is survived by his beloved wife, Joan Pearlman. In accordance with Joan’s wishes, no flowers please, although your thoughts, cards or emails would be much appreciated. If you would like, please make a donation in his name to your favorite charity. Joan’s email address is: [email protected]. Her regular address is:
40 East 9th St., #12B
New York, NY 10003
Peter was a member of the first inducted class of 2016, of Trailblazers and Mentors, in grateful recognition for his loyal service and outstanding contributions to the Rutgers Philosophy Department and its students. He will long be remembered, and sorely missed.