Awards / Grants

The Frances Densmore Prize

One of two publication prizes, the Frances Densmore Prize is awarded for the most distinguished article-length work in English which best furthers the Society's goal "to promote study of the history, design, and use of musical instruments in all cultures and from all periods." The first award in this category was given in 1988 and has been awarded in even-numbered years thereafter. In 2009, the Board of Governors voted to make the award annually. 

The prize consists of the sum of $500 and a certificate, and the winner is announced at the Society's annual meeting and in the Society's Newsletter. Nominations (including self-nominations) and copies of the publication nominated should be submitted by November 15.

Questions or nominations? Contact

2021 Recipient

Rachel Beckles Willson

The 2021 Densmore Prize goes to Rachel Beckles Willson for the article "Orientation through Instruments: The ʿūd, the Palestinian Home, and Kamīlyā Jubrān" in the world of music (new series), vol. 8, no. 1, 2019.

This article is a compelling and sophisticated account of the role played by the ‘ūd in constructing and complicating notions of home. The author provides a richly nuanced consideration, from multiple perspectives, of this most iconic of Arab instruments, demonstrating how it becomes an ‘orientation device’ both for herself and others in relation to conceptions of place and space, and how these become infused – or not – with notions of home.

Previous Recipients

Jaime E. Oliver La Rosa
Robert Adelson
“‘A Museum of Its Own’ – The Musical Instrument Collection of Antonio Guatier (1825-1904) in Nice," Galpin Society Journal, Volume LXX, 2017
Yuanzheng Yang
“Typological Analysis of the Chinese Qin in the Late Bronze Age,” in the Galpin Society Journal LXIX (2016): 137–151.
Allen Roda
“The Tabla Past and Present: Analysis of Materials in India’s Most Iconic Drums,” The Galpin Society Journal, LXVIII, March 2015
Megan Rancier
“The Musical Instrument as National Archive: A Case Study of the Kazakh Qyl-qobyz” Ethnomusicology, Fall 2014 (58/3)
Lance Whitehead and Jenny Nex
“The Insurance of Musical London and the Sun Fire Office 1710-1779” The Galpin Society Journal LXVII (2014)
Edmond Johnson
“The Death and Second Life of the Harpsichord” Journal of Musicology 30/2, (Spring 2013), 180-214.
Arnold Myers
"How Different are Cornets and Trumpets?" Historic Brass Society Journal 24 (2012), 113-128.
John Koster
“A Harpsichord by Diego Fernandez?”, The Galpin Society Journal LXIV (March 2011), pp. 5-48.
David Lasocki
"New Light on the History of the Keyed Bugle." Historic Brass Society Journal 21:11-50 (2009) and 22:19-54 (2010).
George S. Bozart and Margaret Debenham, with collaborator David Cripps
"Piano Wars: the Legal Machinations of London Pianoforte Makers, 1795-1806," Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle XLII (2009), 45-108.
Rita Steblin
“Viennese Woodwind Makers in the Classical Era, with Emphasis on Friedrich Lempp’s Request for Protection in 1768,” Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society XXXIV (2008), 26-73.
Patrizio Barbieri
“Roman and Neapolitan Gut Strings 1550-1950.” Galpin Society Journal 59 (2006):147-182.
Robert Howe
"The Boehm Système Oboe and its Role in the Development of the Modern Oboe." The Galpin Society Journal 56 (2003): 27-60.
Stewart Carter
"The Gütter Family: Wind Instrument Makers and Dealers to the Moravian Brethren in America." Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society 27 (2001): 48-83.
Michael Greenberg
"The Double-Bass Class at the Paris Conservatory, 1826-1832,"Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society 26 (2000): 83-140.
Sabine K. Klaus
"German Square Pianos with Prellmechanik in Major American Museum Collections: Distinguishing Characteristics of Regional Schools in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries," Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society, 25 (1998): 27-80.
Sam Quigley
"The Raffles Gamelan at Claydon House," Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society,22 (1996): 5-41.
Philip F. Gura
"Manufacturing Guitars for the American Parlor: James Ashborn's Wolcottville, Connecticut, Factory, 1851-56," Journal of the American Antiquarian Society (1994): 117-56
Darcy Kuronen
"The Musical Instruments of Benjamin Crehore," Journal of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 4 (1992): 52-77.
Cecil Adkins
"Oboes Beyond Compare: The Instruments of Hendrik and Fredrik Richters," Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society, 16 (1990): 42-117.
Robert S. Winter
"The Significance of Striking Points in the Evolution of the Romantic Piano," Journal of Musicology 6, No. 3 (1988): 267-92.
Bruce Haynes
"Questions of Tonality in Bach's Cantatas: The Woodwind Perspective," Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society 12 (1986): 40-67.