Matthew Brown

Matthew Brown

Professor of Music Theory




Matthew Brown was born in London and studied at the Royal College of Music J.D., King’s College (B. Mus.), and Cornell University (M.A., Ph. D.). He was a Junior Fellow at the Society of Fellows, Harvard University. Brown has been a member of the Eastman faculty since 1986 and has also taught at Harvard University (1986), Louisiana State University (1992-1997), the University of Texas at Austin (2003), and the Mannes Institute for Advanced Studies in Music Theory. Brown is the recipient of numerous awards such as the Provost’s Interschool Interdisciplinary Award (University of Rochester), Summer Research Fellowship (LSU), Sage Graduate Fellowship (Cornell University), the Purcell Prize and Sambrooke Exhibition (King’s College, London). He won the Monster’s of Rock Tour Guitar in 1989.

Over the past twenty years, Brown has supervised sixteen Ph. D. dissertations. His advisees have won numerous external fellowships, including Presser, Fulbright, and Chateaubriand awards, and have positions at major universities, such as New York University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Arizona, the University of Western Ontario, the University of Alabama, and the Eastman School of Music.

Brown’s publications include three books–Debussy’s ‘Ibéria’: Studies in Genesis and Structure (Oxford, 2003), Explaining Tonality: Schenkerian Theory and Beyond (Rochester, 2005), and Debussy Redux. The Impact of His Music on Popular Culture (Indiana, 2012)—as well as forty articles and reviews in the Journal of the American Musicological Society, Journal of Musicology, Nineteenth-Century Music, Journal of Music Theory, Music Theory Spectrum, Intégral, Journal of Film Music, Science, New Harvard Dictionary of Music, Analyzing Opera, Understanding Rock, and elsewhere. In 2012, Brown co-founded Table Top Opera, a chamber ensemble that specializes in multi-media ensembles. So far, Table Top Opera produced two comic- book operas–Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande and Strauss’s Salome–with celebrated American artist P. Craig Russell and Echoes of ’64 with award-winning Italian photojournalist Paolo Pellegrin. Our most recent production is a version of Gustav Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder for the Rochester Fringe Festival (2015).

Works / Publications

Works in Press or in Progress

2004 Explaining Tonality: A Schenkerian Perspective (University of Rochester Press).

2004 “Music Theory, Music Cognition, and “The Case of the Iguanodon’s Thumb”,” Intégral.

2004 “‘My Hovercraft is Full of Eels’: Or, The Ups and Downs of Translating Schenker’s Das Meisterwerk in der Musik,” In Theory Only.

2004 “Composing with Prototypes: Charting Debussy’s L’Isle joyeuse,” Intégral.

2005 Claude Debussy’s Images sér. 3 for the Oeuvres complètes de Claude Debussy with Pierre Boulez (Durand).

2005 Debussy Redux (new book, about half written).

Papers and Reviews

2003 “Consonance/Dissonance,” “Rhetoric,” “Theory,” in the revised edition of The Harvard Dictionary of Music , ed. Don Randel (Harvard University Press).

2003 “Review: Carl Schachter, Unfoldings, ” Journal of Music Theory, with Panayotis Mavromatis.

2000 “Ethel Smith: Weird Organ Lady or Mondo Organista?” Cool and Strange Music! Magazine 18, pp. 16-19 with Elizabeth Galand.

1998 “Rothstein’s Paradox and Neumeyer’s Fallacies,” Intégral 12, pp. 95-132 .

1997 “The #IV(bV) Hypothesis: Testing the Limits of Schenker’s Theory of Tonality,” Music Theory Spectrum19/2, pp. 155-183 with Dave Headlam and Douglas Dempster.

1997 “‘Little Wing’: A Study in Music Cognition,” in Understanding Rock, ed. John Covach and Graeme Boone (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 155-169.

1997 “Adrift on Neurath’s Boat: The Case for a Naturalized Music Theory,” Journal of Musicology 15/3, pp. 330-342.

1993/4 “Composers’ Revisions and the Creative Process,” College Music Symposium 33/34, pp. 93-111.

1993 “Tonality and Form in Debussy’s Prélude à ‘L’Après-midi d’un faune,’” Music Theory Spectrum 15, pp. 127-143.

1993 “Review: Robert Chapman, Selling the Sixties and Sheila Whiteley, The Space Between the Notes,Notes September, pp. 203-205.

1993 “Review-Article: Leonard B. Meyer, Style and Music, ” Intégral 6, pp. 151-172 with Douglas Dempster.

1992 “Review: Harry Shapiro and Caesar Glebbeek, Jimi Hendrix Electric Gypsy, ” Notes December, pp. 528-530.

1992 “Review: Joseph Straus, Reshaping the Past: Modernism and the Influence of the Tonal Tradition, “Intégral 5, pp. 125-140.

1991 “Review: Hedi Siegel ed., Schenker Studies and Allen Cadwallader ed., Trends in Schenkerian Research,” Music Theory Spectrum 13/2, pp. 265-273.

1990 “Evaluating Musical Analyses and Theories: Five Perspectives,” Journal of Music Theory 34/2, pp. 247-279 with Douglas Dempster.

1989 “The Scientific Image of Music Theory,” Journal of Music Theory 33/1, pp. 65-106 with Douglas Dempster.

1989 “Isolde’s Narrative: From Hauptmotiv to Tonal Model,” in Analyzing Opera ed. Abbate and Parker (Berkeley: University of California Press), pp. 180-201.

1989 “Review: John Rothgeb and Jürgen Thym, Counterpoint, A Translation of ‘Kontrapunkt’ by Heinrich Schenker ,” Music Theory Spectrum 11, pp. 232-239 with Robert Wason.

1988 “Review: Nicholas Cook, A Guide to Musical Analysis, ” Journal of Music Theory 32/1, pp. 148-158 with Douglas Dempster.

1986 “The Diatonic and the Chromatic in Schenker’s Theory of Harmonic Relations,” Journal of Music Theory30/1, pp. 1-33.

1986 “Theory,” in The New Harvard Dictionary of Music ed. Don M. Randel (Cambridge:Harvard University Press), pp. 844-854.

1985 “ ‘Ancora un bacio’ : Three Scenes form Verdi’s Otello,” Nineteenth-Century Music 9, pp. 50-62 with Roger Parker.

1984 “Conference Report: Sixth Annual Meeting of the Society for Music Theory,” Music Analysis 3, pp. 91-95.

1983 “Motivic and Tonal Interaction in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 36/2, pp. 243-265 with Roger Parker. Reprinted in The Garland History of Western Music vol. 14, ed. Ellen Rosand (N.Y.: Garland, 1985), pp. 363-385.

Conference Papers

2003 “The Lodovico Way’ Eastman School of Music.

“A Declarative Model of Schenkerian Theory/Analysis Using Prolog” SMT Madison WI with Panayotis Mavromatis.

“C’est l’extase”: Debussy’s Experiments in Chromatic Tonality Oxford University.

2002 “Panel Discussion: Popular Culture and the Academy,” Inaugural Conference on Popular Music and American Culture, University of Texas at Austin.

2001 Prélude à ‘L’Après-midi d’un faune: Ars erotica or scientia sexualis ? University of Texas at Austin.

2000 “Learning How To Build and Test Music Theories: A Prolog Primer” Eastman School of Music, with Panayotis Mavromatis.

1999 “Panel Discussion: ‘The #IV/bV Hypothesis,’” MTSNYS with Robert Gauldin, Ian Quinn, Douglas Dempster, Dave Headlam, and Charles Smith.

1999 “Debussy, Schenker and the Psychology of Composition,” UNC, Chapel Hill.

1999 “The Foundations of Schenkerian Theory,” UNC, Chapel Hill.

1998 “Choosing Between Music Theories,” University at Buffalo, SUNY.

1997 “A Rational Reconstruction of Schenkerian Theory,” Graduate Center, CUNY.

1996 “‘The Scientific Image’: Ten Years Later,” Eastman School of Music.

1996 “More on Schenker the Progressive,” Austria Conference, Ottawa.

1995 “Adrift on Neurath’s Boat: The Case for a Naturalized Music Theory,” SMT N.Y.

1995 “ Pelléas, Nuages, and Le Rossignol : Critical Concepts and Cognitive Consequences,” Southern Chapter AMS.

1993 “The Bonamassa Test of Musical Understanding,” Cornell University with Douglas Dempster.

1993 “Schenker, Cognition, and the Compositional Process,” North Texas State University.

1992 “‘Little Wing’: A Study in Music Cognition,” University of Kansas.

1992 “Composer’s Revisions and the Creative Process,” Music Theory Midwest.

1992 “Tonality and Form in Debussy’s Prélude à ‘L’Après-midi d’un faune,’” South-Central Chapter SMT.

1990 “Schenkerian Theory and the Limits of Tonality: The Problem of #IV,” SMT Oakland, with Dave Headlam.

1990 “Axis: Bold as Love: Jimi Hendrix and Psychedelic Blues,” SMT Oakland, Music Theory Midwest, International Society for the Study of Popular Music.

1990 “Why Study Rock Music?” Brigham Young University.

1990 “Debussy and Symphonic Form,” Brigham Young University.

1989 “Is Rock Music Really Evil?” University of Rochester.

1988 “Tonality and Octatonicism in Petrouchka : A Schenkerian View,” SMT Baltimore, OXMAC, Cornell University.

1988 “Value Systems in Rock Music,” University of Rochester.

1987 “The Nature of Explanation in Music Theory,” SMT with Douglas Dempster.

1986 “Debussy, Schenker, and Post-Tonal Analysis,” Eastman School of Music.

1986 “Schenker and the Problems of Extended Tonality,” Yale University.

1984 “Isolde’s Narrative: From Hauptmotiv to Tonal Model,” Verdi-Wagner Conference Cornell University.

1984 “Schenker’s Theory of Harmony,” Columbia University.

1983 “Sketch Studies and Analysis in Haydn: From ‘Chaos’ to Creation ,” Harvard University.

1983 “Problems of Structure in Verdi’s Otello ,” American Verdi Institute/New York Chapter AMS, with Roger Parker.



Schenkerian Theory I & 2 (Eastman School of Music, Louisiana State University, Harvard)

What is Music Theory? (Eastman School of Music)

History of Theory II 1600-1900 (Louisiana State University)

Introduction to Tonal Theory (Eastman School of Music, Louisiana State University)

Debussy (Eastman School of Music, Louisiana State University)

Stravinsky (Eastman School of Music, Louisiana State University)

Sketch Studies (Eastman School of Music)

Musicology Seminar–20th-Century Topics (Eastman School of Music)

Music History Survey: 20th Century (Eastman School of Music)

Modal and Tonal Counterpoint (Eastman School of Music, Louisiana State University)


Freshman Theory (Eastman School of Music, Louisiana State University)

Sophomore Theory (Louisiana State University)

Form and Analysis (Louisiana State University)

Music History Survey: 20th Century (Eastman School of Music)

Stravinsky (Eastman School of Music)

Rock Music (Eastman School of Music)


Honors and Awards

2002-3 Faculty Leave Eastman School of Music
2002 Faculty Mannes Institute for Advanced Studies in Music Theory
1993, 1996 Summer Research Fellowship Louisiana State University
1990 Reappointment Leave (Fall) Eastman School of Music
1983-86 Junior Fellow, Society of Fellows Harvard University
1980-81 Continuing Humanities Fellowship Cornell University
1979-80 Sage Graduate Fellowship Cornell University
1978 Purcell Prize (Best Degree) King’s College, University of London
1977 Sambrooke Exhibition King’s College, University of London
1968-75 Full Scholarship Royal College of Music, London