Historical Musicology

The graduate program in Historical Musicology at Columbia is one of the oldest and most distinguished in the United States. It was founded in 1932 by Paul Henry Lang, who set the tone for a broadly interdisciplinary, humanistic approach to musical scholarship that continues today. Since its inception the program has embraced and fostered research in Western music and musical thought of all eras, from antiquity to the present. Music is studied through primary sources, the analysis and development of style, and in wider historical, cultural, and social contexts. The central component of the graduate composition program is the composition seminar, which includes individual lessons.

During the first two years, students are involved intensively with coursework. Students will take three proseminars in the musicological areas (Ethnomusicology, Historical Musicology & Music Theory), as well as lecture courses or research seminars in more specialized topics. Students are also encouraged to take courses outside the Music Department in areas of interest to them. General (Qualifying) Exams are taken in the third year. Additionally, students will prepare a dissertation proposal in two Dissertation Proposal Seminars I and II in year 3.  Then a dissertation proposal (or prospectus) is  orally examined by a faculty committee of at least three.

The PhD dissertation is a document representing original research and thought. The dissertation process is supervised by the Faculty Advisor. In addition to the Faculty Advisor, two faculty members from the Department serve as readers. When the dissertation is deemed ready for defense, two additional readers from outside the Department are appointed (for a total of five).

The Degree Requirements/Timeline page provides detailed information for the Historical Musicology PhD.

Kristy Riggs Barbacane, "On Colonial Textuality and Difference: Musical Encounters with French Colonialism in Nineteenth-Century Algeria" (2012)

Corbett Bazler, "The Comedies of Opera Seria: Handel's Post-Academy Operas, 1738-1744" (2013)

Beau Bothwell, "Song, State, Sawa Music and Political Radio between the US and Syria" (2013)

Elliott Cairns, "Listening to the World: The Berliner Phonogram-Archiv and the Emergence of Comparative Musicology" (2019)

Daniel Callahan, "The Dancer from the Music: Choreomusicalities in Twentieth-Century American Modern Dance" (2012)

Louise Chernosky, "Voices of New Music on National Public Radio: Radio Net, RadioVisions, and Maritime Rites" (2012)

Nicholas Chong, "Beethoven's Catholicism: A Reconsideration" (2016)

Sean Colonna, "Music, Aesthetics, Drugs, and Subjectivity in Germany, 1770s-1820s" (2023)

Andrew Eggert, "Staging the Operas of Francesco Cavalli: Dramaturgy in Performance, 1651-1652" (2014)

Thomas Fogg, "Expériences sonores: Music in Postwar Paris and the Changing Sense of Sound" (2018)

Mike Ford, "An Agile Musicology: Improvisation in Corporate Management and Lean Startups" (2021)

Jane Forner, "Distant Pasts Reimagined: Encountering the Political Present in 21st-century Opera" (2020)

Juliet Forshaw, "Dangerous Tenors, Heroic Basses, and Non-Ingénues: Singers and the Envoicing of Social Values in Russian Opera, 1836-1905" (2014)

John Glasenapp, "To Pray Without Ceasing: A Diachronic History of Cistercian Chant in the Beaupré Antiphoner (Baltimore, Walters Art Museum), W. 759-762" (2020)

David Gutkin, "American Opera, Jazz, and Historical Consciousness, 1924-1994" (2015)

Sean Hallowell, "The Deploration as Musical Idea" (2013)

Julia Hamilton, "Political Songs in Polite Society: Singing About Africans in the Time of the British Abolition Movement, 1787 to 1807" (2021)

Andrew Haringer, "Liszt as Prophet: Religion, Politics, and Artists in 1830s Paris" (2011)

Paula Harper, "Unmute This: Circulation, Sociality, and Sound in Viral Media" (2019)

Velia Ivanova, "The Musical Heritage of Incarceration: The Curation, Dissemination, and Management of the Lomax Collection Prison Songs” (2021) 

Qingfan Jiang, "Toward a Global Enlightenment: Music, Missionaries, and the Construction of a Universal History in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century China and Europe" (2021)

Aaron J. Johnson, "Jazz and Radio in the United States: Mediation, Genre, and Patronage" (2014)

Harald Kisiedu, "European Echoes: Jazz Experimentalism in Germany, 1950-1975" (2014)

Anne Levitsky, "The Song from the Singer: Personification, Embodiment, and Anthropomorphization in Troubadour Lyric" (2018)

Matthew Morrison, "Sound in the Construction of Race: From Blackface to Blacksound in Nineteenth-Century America" (2014)

Joshua Navon, "The Making of Modern Musical Expertise: German Conservatories and Music Education, 1843-1933" (2019)

Russell O'Rourke, "Representation, Emotion, and the Madrigal in Sixteenth-Century Italy" (2020)

Alexander K. Rothe, "Staging the Past: Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle in Divided Germany during the 1970s and 1980s" (2015) 

Mark Seto, "Symphonic Culture in Paris, 1880-1900: The Bande à Franck and Beyond" (2012)

Tom Smith, "Hearing with American Law: On Music as Evidence and Offense in the Age of Mass Incarceration" (2021)

Lucy Turner, “Rethinking Beethoven’s Middle Style: Form, Time, and Disruption in the Chamber Music of 1806-15” (2022)

Lucie Vágnerová, "Sirens/Cyborgs: Sound Technologies and the Musical Body" (2016)

Sonja Wermager, "Robert Schumann and 'the Artist's Highest Goal': Religion, Romanticism, and Nation in the Late Choral Works" (2023)

Ralph Whyte, "A Light in Sound, a Sound-like Power in Light”: Light and/as Music in the History of the Color Organ" (2019)

Amber Youell, "Opera at the Crossroads of Tradition and Reform in Gluck's Vienna" (2012)

Columbia historical musicologists currently hold positions at Bard College (Sean Colonna, PhD '23), University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia (Anne Levitsky, PhD '18), University of Chicago (Paula Harper, PhD '19), Rutgers University (Nicholas Chong, PhD '16), Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute (David Gutkin, PhD ’15 and Qingfan Jiang, PhD '21), Brown University (Mark Seto, PhD ’12), Kalamazoo College (Beau Bothwell, PhD '13), SUNY Oswego (Juliet Forshaw, PhD '14), Chicago College of Performing Arts (Andrew Eggert, PhD '14), Ithaca College (Julia Hamilton, PhD '21), University of Pittsburgh (Aaron Johnson, PhD '14), University of Nevada Las Vegas (Anthony Barone, PhD ‘96), Loyola University New Orleans (Janna Saslaw, PhD ‘92), Washington & Lee University (Timothy Gaylard, PhD ‘87), University of Rochester (Corbett Bazler, PhD '13), St. Anselm College (Sean Parr, PhD ‘10; Andrew Haringer, PhD '12), Boston College (Daniel Callahan, PhD ‘12), Cornell University (Benjamin Piekut, PhD ‘09), NYU (Matthew Morrison, PhD ‘14), University of Notre Dame (Alexander Blachly, PhD ‘96), Brigham Young University (Brian Harker, PhD ’97), Reed College (Mark Burford, PhD '05), University of Connecticut (Eric Rice, PhD '02), University of Hawaii (Katherine McQuiston, PhD '05), and elsewhere. At Bard, Brown, NYU, The Peabody Institute, Rutgers, University of Pittsburgh, Reed College, and other institutions, alumni of the Historical Musicology program are colleagues with other Columbia Music alumni (in Ethnomusicology, Composition, and Music Theory).