Russell J. O'Rourke

Russell J. O'Rourke

Russell O’Rourke is a Core Lecturer in Music Humanities at Columbia University, where he earned his PhD in Historical Musicology in 2020. (Read my dissertation.) Since 2021, he has also been a member of the Histories of Music, Mind, and Body research group at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt, Germany.

Russell researches the elusive relationship between music, language, and the emotions in sixteenth-century Italian music theory (especially the writings of Gioseffo Zarlino and his acolytes) and musical practice (especially the madrigal). An article on these subjects, “Armida on the Beach: A Cinquecento Rhetorical Model of the Emotions and Its Musical Reception,” is forthcoming in the Journal of the American Musicological Society (Fall 2023: Vol. 76, no. 3).

A secondary research project concerns the music of California singer-songwriter Joanna Newsom. Specifically, I'm studying the influence on her piano songs of a cohort of female songwriters active in the US between the 1950s and ‘70s: Connie Converse, Karen Dalton, Judee Sill, and Joni Mitchell.

Russell is also a pianist, violist, singer, and singer-songwriter. As a violist, he served as a faculty member at Greenwood Music Camp, Jr. Division, for four years, from 2017 through 2020. As a singer, he founded and ran the historical notation study group Ars Nota for two years, from 2017 to 2019. 

[Bio updated April 2023. Photo by Nova Benway.]