Musicology Program

Students entering the MA/PhD program can look forward to two years of wide-ranging coursework, reflecting the interests of the diverse faculty.  Recent PhD seminars include “Operatic Collaboration,” “Aesthetics After Humanism,” “The Motet before 1360,” “Opera in 17th-Century Venice,” “Nineteenth-Century Italian Opera: Staging Body, Voice, Society,” “Music and the Cold War,” “Music in the Himalayas,” and “Asian Classical Musics.”  (Further course titles and their descriptions can be found here.)  Augmenting these offerings, the faculty also teaches a range of doctoral seminars designed primarily for Eastman’s DMA students but available to PhD students for elective credit.  (Titles of recent courses are available here.)

While prominent internationally, the Musicology Department is also deeply integrated into the wider Eastman School.  Most fundamentally, we develop courses in music history to suit the curricular needs of students in all departments, from undergraduates to DMA candidates.  We have also formed partnerships with natural constituencies throughout the school.  Our “sister” department of Music Theory—a recognized leader in the field—offers a welcome complement to musicological study.  Likewise, our faculty and students regularly collaborate with performers and composers in an environment of interdisciplinarity.  Artists such as the aforementioned Paul O’Dette, Hans Davidsson (organ), and Robert D. Morris (composer) are officially affiliated with the department, while others connect on a more informal basis.  Perhaps uniquely at Eastman, musicology students may enroll in studio lessons (instrumental, vocal, or conducting) as part of their elective credit.

Indeed, at Eastman, musicology is practiced in a highly musical setting, with over seven hundred concerts a year, top-level studio teachers behind every door, and a rich slate of visiting artists and lecturers.  Worthy of special mention is the Early Music Program, with its own graduate degree offerings, brilliant faculty, and rich instrumentarium (including two fortepianos, a pedal clavichord, multiple harpsichords, and a full complement of baroque stringed instruments).  The closely allied Department of Organ and Historical Keyboards is engaged in the Eastman Rochester Organ Initiative (EROI), a project to assemble and install new and historic organs in Rochester’s churches.  The recently inaugurated instrument in Christ Church, across the street from Eastman, is a widely hailed modern copy of a Bach-style organ from 1776.  For non-Western music, many Eastman students perform in one of the department’s two ensembles: the Gamelan Lila Muni (directed by Ellen Koskoff); or the Zimbabwean mbira ensemble (directed by Glenn West).

Courses at the University of Rochester
Students may also take courses outside of music at the University of Rochester River Campus and may even develop the equivalent of a “minor” in some area such as German literature, American studies, or critical and cultural theory.  We have a particularly close relationship with the History Department, where faculty have published on musical topics and served on musicology dissertation committees.  The renowned Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies is interdisciplinary and offers cutting-edge courses in critical theory.  Based in Art and Art History, it draws faculty from English, Film Studies, Modern Languages and Cultures, and Anthropology.  The University’s Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies provides another useful resource, offering courses and workshops (and even a graduate certificate) in this field of intense interest.  The George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film contains one of the most important archives of moving images in the United States, including silent films.

Teaching Opportunities
All graduate students are expected to teach, or assist in teaching, in the music history curriculum for at least two years during their enrollment at Eastman.  For this service, they will receive a teaching stipend.  The department views the teaching requirement as co-curricular preparation for a career in musicology, in that it gives students important teaching experience, professional development, and faculty mentoring around teaching. Students normally begin assuming teaching responsibilities in their second year.  At first they work alongside veteran faculty members, assisting with music history survey courses, but later they often teach independent courses of their own design.  As the musicology faculty offers courses at many levels—serving the BM, BA, MM, and DMA curricula—Eastman PhDs enter the marketplace with extensive and diverse teaching experience.  Graduate students also serve as teaching assistants at the University of Rochester College Music Department for intensive four-semester surveys of music history for students pursuing the BA in music.

After coursework, students focus on a special field and then their dissertation topic.  The titles of some recently completed studies suggest the range of possibilities at Eastman:

  • “Beyond Beyoncé: Intersections of Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Contemporary American Hip-Hop ca. 2010-2016”
  • “Technologies of Singing, Teaching, and Spectating in French Operatic Culture, 1870-1914”
  • “Music and Politics in New York City in the 1930s”
  • “‘Complex Impressions’: Nature in the Music and Criticism of Claude Debussy”
  • “Living Traditions: Embodying Heritage in Contemporary Jazz Performance”
  • “Performing the Lied, Performing the Self: Singing Subjectivity in Germany, 1790-1832”
  • “The Alamire Manuscripts of Frederick the Wise: Intersections of Music, Art, and Theology”
  • “Maiden Voyage: The Genesis and Reception of Show Boat, 1926-1932”
  • “Morals across the Footlights: Viennese Singspiel, National Identity, and the Aesthetics of Morality, c. 1770-1820”
  • “Diasporic Communities and Negotiated Identities: Trauma, Recovery, and the Search for the Armenian Musical Voice.”

Sibley Music Library
Central to the work of music scholars at Eastman is the remarkable Sibley Music Library, the largest music library affiliated with any college or university in the United States. With nearly three-quarters of a million items, the Library offers vast resources for performance and research. Indeed, the holdings of the Ruth T. Watanabe Special Collections have launched more than one dissertation in recent years.

George Eastman, the founder of Eastman Kodak, established the Eastman School of Music as part of the University of Rochester in 1921. The handsome Beaux Arts building in neo-Renaissance style is located in downtown Rochester and houses the 2,300-seat Kodak Hall at Eastman Theater, the 455-seat Kilbourn Hall, and in the brand new East Wing of the School, the 222-seat Hatch Recital Hall. Eastman has been the home of well-known performers and composers such as Howard Hanson, the Cleveland Quartet, and the singer Jan De Gaetani, and it currently boasts the Ying String Quartet, mezzo-soprano Katherine Ciesinski, bass Jan Opalach, and lutenist Paul O’Dette. Graduates include Renée Fleming, jazz musicians Ron Carter and Maria Schneider, and composers Dominick Argento and Michael Torke. Eastman enrolls about 900 students. One of the first schools in the United States to offer the PhD in musicology, Eastman conferred its first degree in 1936 for a dissertation on the music of Francesco Landini. Recent graduates in musicology now teach at colleges and universities across the United States and Canada, including the University of Chicago, Rutgers, Notre Dame, UCLA, Brigham Young, Vassar, Franklin and Marshall, Dickinson, and the University of Ottawa.