John Kapusta

Assistant Professor of Musicology




John Kapusta received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley after completing an AB in music and comparative literature at Harvard College. His work focuses on musical life in the twentieth-century United States, with an emphasis on issues related to cultural hybridity.  

His book project, The Tao of Bach: Music and Creativity in the Cold War United States, presents a new history of musical creativity in the US counterculture. Research for the book has been supported by the Society for American Music Edward T. Cone Fellowship and the American Musicological Society Ora Frishberg Saloman Endowment Travel Award. An article drawn from the project, “The Self-Actualization of John Adams,” appeared in the summer 2018 issue of the Journal of the Society for American Music.  

Other current projects include articles that examine race and the invention of the Broadway “belt” in the 1950s and the role of vocal typology in Maurice Ravel’s opera L’heure espagnole and in opera scholarship more broadly. He has presented his research at national and chapter meetings of the American Musicological Society, the annual conference of the Society for American Music, the International Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music, the Feminist Theory and Music conference and the Reading Musicals: Sources, Editions, Performance conference.

As an operatic tenor, John was a National Semi-Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and performed solo roles with the Houston Grand Opera, the Washington National Opera, and other companies. He studied voice in the joint program between Harvard and the New England Conservatory and at numerous festivals including the Music Academy of the West and the Aspen Music Festival and School. He was also the recipient of a Fulbright grant for study of French vocal music and performance practice in Paris, France.

Works / Publications


“The Self-Actualization of John Adams,” Journal of the Society for American Music 12 no. 3 (2018): 317–344.


Music Since 1900

Music in the Classic Period

The Idea of Early Music

Music and Cultural Hybridity

Music, Gender, and Suffrage in the Long Nineteenth Century

Making Music Postmodern