Izaly Zemtsovsky

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Izaly Zemtsovsky
Born (1936-02-22) February 22, 1936 (age 82)
Residence San Francisco
Alma mater Leningrad Conservatory
Known for The notions of Melosphere and Homo musicus
Awards Fumio Koizumi Prize for ethnomusicology (2011)
Scientific career
Fields ethnomusicology,
Institutions Stanford University

Izaly Iosifovich Zemtsovsky (Russian: Изалий Иосифович Земцовский; born February 22, 1936 in St Petersburg, Russia) is a Russian-born American ethnomusicologist. He is a Visiting Professor at Stanford University. Zemtsovsky is known in ethnomusicology for his wide range of subjects of study, including the theory of melodic formulas, rhythmic formulas, comparative research of various regions of the world, study of musical universals and the importance of musical data in ethno-genetic reconstructions.


Zemtsovsky proposed the notions of "melosphere", "Homo musicus", and proposed a new scholarly discipline, ethnogeomusicology, and a new research approach, known as "historical morphology of the folk song". Zemtsovsky has been a lifelong advocate of Russian Soviet musicologist Boris Asafiev's "intonation theory" and contributed to its use at European and American universities. He has lived in the US since 1994, teaching first at UCLA, then at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Wisconsin, Berkeley, and now at Stanford University. Zemtsovsky graduated from Leningrad Conservatory with degrees in ethnomusicology and composition, and graduated Leningrad University as a folklorist and linguist.

In the 1970s-1990s, Zemtsovsky was widely regarded as a key figure of Russian (and Soviet) ethnomusicology. As a prolific teacher (for several decades he was a professor at the Leningrad State Institute of Theatre, Music and Cinema), he affected the formation of Russian and other ethnic schools of musicologists in former Soviet Union (including Baltic, Caucasian, and Central Asian republics, from the 1990s – independent states) and countries of the Eastern Europe. He maintains professional contacts with Russia.

Zemtsovsky is married to Alma Kunanbaeva, a Kazakh ethnomusicologist.

Zemtsovsky is the author of over 20 books and over 500 articles on numerous European and Asian languages.

From 2006, Zemtsovsky is the director (and founder) of Silk Road House,[1] a non-profit organization focused on the culture of the Silk Road, in Berkeley, California.

In 2011 in recognition of his research activity and prolific teaching Zemtsovsky was awarded the Fumio Koizumi Prize for ethnomusicology.[2]

See also


  1. ^ Silk Road House, Berkeley website
  2. ^ Website of the Fumio Koizumi Prize for ethnomusicology
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