Panentheism.  Revisionism.  Anarchocapitalism.


Barry Ulanov


Essays by Me

Essays by Others



Barry Ulanov

April 10, 1918-April 30, 2000


From The History of Jazz in America [1952]

From The Handbook of Jazz [1957]

Barry Ulanov established a reputation as a scholar, writer and translator in several fields, including literature, visual arts, religion and psychology.  He taught at Princeton University (1951-53) and Barnard College (1953-88) and was active in the Church following his conversion to Catholicism in 1951.   He wrote many books on religion and psychology, often in collaboration with his second wife, Ann Belford Ulanov, a professor at Union Theological Seminary in Manhattan, where he also taught a course until 1999.  

To jazz fans, however, he was best known as the author of some of the earliest serious studies of the music, and was a high-profile champion of the modernists in the internecine battles of the bebop era.  He began to write about jazz while in college, and became the editor of Metronome in 1939. Ulanov radically reshaped the editorial policy, introducing coverage of black jazz musicians, and supporting the radical new developments of bebop as the decade progressed. 

The emergence of bebop precipitated one of the schismatic splits which sprinkle jazz history, with the supporters of the new music on the one hand, and the traditionalist lobby on the other.  In one famous episode in 1947, Ulanov organised a battle of the bands on radio, with his own hand-picked selection of bebop players led by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie going up against the resident band from Rudi Blesh’s This Is Jazz show.

Ulanov wrote pioneering studies of Duke Ellington and Bing Crosby in the 1940s and both a history and a handbook of jazz in the 1950s, a decade in which he continued to cover jazz for magazines like Down Beat and Esquire, after which he concentrated on his academic interests.

Adapted from The Scotsman (2000)

See the fuller sketch that appeared in the Barnard Campus News