Seth Monahan Receives Emerging Scholar Award from Society for Music Theory

November 12, 2015

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Seth Monahan, associate professor of music theory at the Eastman School of Music, has been named the recipient of the Society for Music Theory’s 2015 Emerging Scholar Award. The award recognizes significant contributions to music theory, analysis, or history of theory in work published in the prior three years. 

Monahan was recognized for his article “Action and Agency Revisited,” which appeared in the Fall 2013 issue of the Journal of Music Theory. In the article, Monahan develops a theoretical model that accounts for the many ways that analysts have attributed emotion, consciousness, and volition to musical works and their internal elements,  as well as to fictionalized versions of the composer and/or performers. 

A member of the Eastman faculty since 2008, Monahan has published widely on a range of topics, including form in classical and Romantic instrumental music, Wagnerian harmony, and the rhetoric of music theory itself. His articles and reviews have been published in such journals as Music Analysis, Music Theory Spectrum, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 19th-Century Music, Music Theory Online, and the Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy. He has been invited to give lectures and presentations at national and international conferences.  

Monahan is the author of the book Mahler’s Symphonic Sonatas, published this year by Oxford University Press, which addresses the intersection of form and narrative meaning in the symphonies of Gustav Mahler (1860—1911). Monahan shows how the composer paradoxically used the century-old sonata-allegro form of Mozart and Beethoven as the basis for some of his most gripping and innovative symphonic stories. 

From 2005—2007,  Monahan taught harmony, counterpoint, and popular music history at Yale College and worked as a consultant and coordinator for Yale’s Graduate Teaching Center. He earned numerous distinctions for his classroom instruction, including the Prize Teaching Fellowship, Yale’s highest honor for instructors of his rank. At Eastman, he teaches courses in musical form and analysis to scholars and performers of all ranks, as well as model composition and pedagogy of music theory. 

Monahan received his bachelor’s degree in composition from Philadelphia’s University of the Arts in 1998, his Master of Music degree in music theory at Temple University in 2002, and his Ph.D. in music theory at Yale University in 2008.


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