Musicology Events

The Musicology Department sponsors two series of presentations:

  • The Colloquium series offers talks by current faculty and graduate students.
  • The Symposium series presents prominent guest speakers from other institutions.

Both series are open to the Eastman community. All events take place on Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. in NSL 404 (Sibley Library seminar room) unless otherwise noted. 

MUY Symposium Speakers Fall 2021

14 October 2021

Seth Brodsky, (PhD, ESM 2007), The University of Chicago
“Like a heartbeat drives you mad” (Music, Drive, Interregnum)

In this talk I focus on some musical and sonic objects I take as symptomatic of the current interregnum, in order to ask how the formations we are now witness to—so monstrous and unyielding and at the same time so weak and breakable; so constant and yet so disruptive; so rhythmic and so arrhythmic—owe their power to a kind of strange, paradoxical musicality.
My bridge between the figures of contemporary reality and musicality here will be the psychoanalytic concept of drive, Trieb as Freud called it and what Jacques Lacan, emphasizing its rhythmic quality, called pulsion. Drive is itself a concept of both the monstrous and unyielding and also the weak and breakable; it posits a paradoxical coexistence of the constant and disruptive, the rhythmic and arrhythmic; and it is also arguably the most unsettled and elusive grounding category of psychoanalysis. “The theory of the [drives],” Freud wrote in 1933, “is so to say our mythology. [Drives] are mythical entities, magnificent in their indefiniteness. In our work we cannot for a moment disregard them, yet we are never sure that we are seeing them clearly.”
Almost a century later, the political dynamics that compelled Freud to formulate his drive theory appear to have returned and to seize the fantasies of the present. But one cannot say Freud’s articulation has changed much. The theory of the drive, like the drive itself, is still zielgehemmt as Freud put it, “inhibited in its aim”—still definitionally imperfect, incomplete, inconsistent, left undone and open. How might music at such a moment offer a way into and out of the drive? How might it be at once a way of completing the drive and its theories—perfecting them, rendering them magically consistent and uninhibited, a proper object of desire—and at the same time, how might drive itself be musical? How might drive drive the present in a musical way?
AMS Roundup
Thursday, December 2, 2021, 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
NSL 404
Zoom link–please contact:

MUY Symposium Speakers Spring 2022

24 March 2022

Alexander Stefaniak, (PhD, ESM 2012), Washington University

Alexander Stefaniak received his PhD from the Eastman School of Music in 2012 and joined the faculty of Washington University that year. His research explores how virtuoso instrumentalists developed performing and compositional strategies to embody (indeed, to capitalize upon) the aspirations articulated in nineteenth-century writings on musical aesthetics. Stefaniak’s publications have used the activities of Clara and Robert Schumann as windows onto the broader landscape of piano virtuosity, particularly within Austro-German contexts. His first book, Schumann’s Virtuosity, draws upon a wide range of methodologies—from archival research to music analysis—to explore Robert Schumann’s multifaceted critical and compositional engagement with virtuosity. He has recently published articles about Clara Schumann’s engagement with popular pianism, concepts of interiority, and beliefs about interpretation and the musical work. He is currently at work on a monograph about Clara Schumann’s ascendency as an authoritative performer of canonic repertoire, titled Becoming Clara Schumann: Performing Strategies and Aesthetics in the Culture of the Canonic Tradition. Stefaniak will complete this project as a Faculty Fellow at Washington University’s Center for the Humanities.

14 April 2022

Kira Thurman, (PhD, UR 2013), University of Michigan

Kira Thurman is an assistant professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures and History at the University of Michigan. A classically-trained pianist who grew up in Vienna, Austria, Thurman earned her PhD in history from the University of Rochester with a minor field in musicology from the Eastman School of Music. Her research, which has appeared in German Studies Review, Journal of the American Musicological Society (JAMS), Opera Quarterly, and Journal of World History, focuses on two topics that occasionally converge: the relationship between music and German national identity, and Central Europe’s historical and contemporary relationship with the Black diaspora.

She is the recipient of many awards and fellowships, including a Fulbright fellowship to Germany, the Berlin Prize from the American Academy of Berlin, and a residential fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton, New Jersey. Her article, “Black Venus, White Bayreuth: Race, Sexuality, and the De-Politicization of Wagner” won the German Studies Association’s DAAD prize for best article on German history in 2014. Her book, Singing Like Germans: Black Musicians in the Land of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, is forthcoming with Cornell University Press.

Thurman teaches courses on a wide variety of subjects, including Music and German National Identity; Germany and the Black Diaspora; Global Cultural Encounters Since 1800; Global Migration; and Performing Race, Gender, Nation (grad seminar).

A firm believer in public engagement, Thurman has published articles in magazines such as The New Yorker, served as a consultant for PBS documentaries and public radio projects, and has worked with different orchestras, opera houses, and music ensembles on programming and public education. Together with colleagues across the United States and Europe and with the support of the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C., she runs the public history website,

28 April 2022

Tamara Levitz, (PhD, ESM 1994), University of California, Los Angeles

Tamara Levitz is a musicologist from Montréal, Canada who currently holds a position as Professor of Musicology at UCLA in Los Angeles, California. She has published widely on musical modernism in Germany, Cuba, Senegal, and France in the 1920s and 30s. Combining extensive archival research with acute critical interpretation, Levitz explores in her work the artistic intentions, complex motivations, sexual and gender identifications, and intricate social relations of musicians, composers, critics, ethnographers, performers, and audiences involved in historical events of musical performance.