Richard T. Gill

Richard T. Gill, in all statistical probability the only Harvard economist to sing 86 performances with the Metropolitan Opera, died on Monday…He was 82.

The article is here.  Gill wrote many widely used texts and oddly he did not begin vocal training until he was almost forty. Up until that point, he had little acquaintance with classical music and he smoked two and a half packs of cigarettes a day.  He first performed in a staging of Figaro at Harvard, directed by John Lithgow and conducted by John Adams (the John Adams).  Later, he was in the world premiere of Philip Glass's Satyagraha.  Gill continued to write and edit textbooks throughout his singing career.

In 1971 he gave up his tenure at Harvard.  In 1984-85 he hosted a 28-part PBS show on economics.  In the 1990s he wrote two books, one on population the other on the decline of the American family.  Here is Gill's proposal for a Parental Bill of Rights.  His short stories for Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker were widely anthologized and in 2003 he published his first novel.

Here is his home page.  At the time of his death he was working on a three to four-volume autobiography.  As a Harvard undergraduate he was a successful boxer and somehow he ended up as an Assistant Dean at Harvard by age 21 and later Master of Leverett House.


"an Assistant Dean at Harvard by age 21": there was something to be said for the capacity that universities once had of appointing bright youngsters, rather than insisting that first everyone be slowly ground fine in the academic mills. Presumably nowadays impatiently bright young things think "no thanks" and clear off to some other career.

Hmmm ... sounds like Sidd Finch.

BTW, a "28 part PBS show on economics?" Who has that attention span? Well, I guess if there were to be a 28 part show on economics, it would have to be on PBS.

MY high school econ teacher showed some of those PBS videos in class (I graduated in '03). They didn't whet my appetite then, but I remember them pretty well. Probably my first decent exposure to econ.

His "Economic Development: Past and Present", 1963 (3rd edition, 1973) and "Evolution of Modern Economics", 1967 were basic readings for undergraduates in our state's universities (on the south-western state of Kerala in India). I have a personal copy of his book "Economics and the Public Interest", 1968 (5th edition, 1991).

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