Wendy was born on March 15, 1943, in Hagerstown, Maryland, and passed away on July 15, 2010, from cancer. She graduated from Vassar College with a degree in classics. She earned a Ph.D. in music history from Stanford University in 1974. Her doctoral dissertation became the basis for the book Rhythmic Gesture in Mozart (University of Chicago Press, 1983), in which she demonstrated that Mozart’s music integrated references to the social practices and dances of his period. She wrote that this is what gave the music its tremendous power to “move audiences through representations of its own humanity.” Wendy’s work has influenced stagings of Mozart operas and provides a standard critical tool for opera studies today. Her book The Secular Commedia: Comic Mimesis in Late 18th-Century Music is near completion, and will be published by the University of California Press.
From 1969 to 1995, Wendy taught at St. John’s College in Maryland. She served as assistant dean from 1987 to 1990 and again from 1992-1994. She joined the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley in 1994 as the Ernest Bloch Visiting Professor of Music and was made a permanent member of the faculty in 1995. She was chair of the department from 1997 to 2003, during which time she oversaw the construction of the Jean Gray Hargrove Music Library.
She received numerous awards and fellowships, including those from the National Humanities Center, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. In 2008, Wendy received the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Emeritus Fellowship. She was elected president of the American Musicological Society in 2003, but had to resign during her first year in office because of the onset of cancer.
She is survived by a son, John Allanbrook of Oakland, a step-son, Timothy Allanbrook of New York, New York, and two sisters, Stephanie Jamison Watkins, of Los Angeles, and Martha Page Martineau of Shepherdstown, W.Va.
The Department of Music at Berkeley has established a fund in Wendy’s honor as a way to remember her very special contributions to musicology and the department. Memorial contributions may be made to the Wendy Allanbrook Memorial Fund, c/o Roia Ferrazares, 104 Morrison Hall, Department of Music, University of California, Berkeley 94720-1200.