This year’s Frederick R. Selch award was presented to Saskia Keller for her paper “The Side-Saddle Seating Position and Its Relationship to the Popularization of the Cello Endpin During the Victorian Era.” Established in 2004 and named after an important collector of American musical instruments, the Selch award honors the best student paper presented at an annual meeting of the Society. A graduate of Harvard College, Keller is currently pursuing a master’s degree in musicology at the University of Edinburgh.
The Selch Award Committee faced a difficult task in choosing from a field of over a dozen impressive student papers. Keller’s presentation ultimately stood out for its thoughtful use of a wide variety of historical sources in order to address a notable lacuna in the history of cello performance practice. Her work makes a compelling argument for seeing the popularization of the cello endpin within the larger context of nineteenth-century culture and its prescriptive gender roles. As she writes in her abstract, the goal of her project is “to answer definitively whether the endpin’s association with femininity helped or hindered its popularity.”