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Musicologists study the history, cultural contexts, and interpretation of music. While the discipline has tended, historically, to focus largely on European art-music repertories, in recent decades it has expanded to include many other traditions as well as other regions. The Department of Musicology at UCLA now leads the field nationally and internationally in offering advanced training within this broader vision of the discipline.
UCLA has a long and illustrious history of transformative musical scholarship going back to the decades after the establishment of the Westwood campus in the 1930s. The building in which Musicology is housed takes its name from an early professor of music, the composer Arnold Schoenberg, who taught at UCLA from 1936 until his retirement in 1944. The study of music at UCLA also bears the mark of pioneering ethnomusicologist Charles Seeger, who taught at UCLA from 1957 to 1971.
The UCLA Department of Musicology was formed in the 1980s as a freestanding program within the UCLA Division of Humanities. The Department has a long-standing tradition of specialists in early repertories, including Emeriti Professors Marie Louise Göllner and Frank D'Accone, specialists in Medieval and Renaissance musics. Robert Stevenson (Emeritus) maintains his status as perhaps the leading authority on Spanish and Latin American musics; his pioneering archival and institutional work has laid the foundation for study of Iberian-American music around the globe. Beginning in the 1960s, the department acquired a number of scholars of seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century music, including Murray Bradshaw (Emeritus), Malcolm Cole (Emeritus), and Richard Hudson (Emeritus).
MacArthur Fellow Susan McClary came to UCLA at the beginning of the 1990s, inaugurating a strong growth period for the department. Under her leadership, and that of the next chair, Robert Walser, the department hired a number of new faculty and developed its current strengths in contemporary music and culture, popular music studies, hermeneutics and interpretation of music, performance studies, gender and sexuality, and post-colonial studies. Recent years have brought new connections with the Departments of Music and Ethnomusicology, now aligned with Musicology within the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music .
Current Faculty and Research Areas
The UCLA Department of Musicology is distinguished by profound diversity of research areas, methodologies, and ideological approaches.
Among our current faculty working primarily on earlier repertories, medievalist Elizabeth Upton has challenged traditional understandings regarding the formes fixeschansons of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and is currently working on a book on Guillaume Dufay as songwriter. Olivia Bloechl, a specialist in ancien regime French culture, has broadly reconceptualized early modern European and colonial Atlantic music history, bringing perspectives from postcolonial studies, continental theory and philosophy, and ethics of history; her current work brings post-colonial perspectives to the operas of Lully and Rameau. Elisabeth Le Guin has brought her experience as a world-class baroque cellist to bear on issues of performance and aesthetics, particularly music as an embodied practice, whether that music be Boccherini cello sonatas, Debussy chansons, or sixteenth-century theatrical recuperations of oral traditions. As a scholar of Hispanic musics during the colonial period, she publishes actively in both Spanish and North American journals.
Those in the department working primarily on later repertories have a similar diversity of interests and approaches. In addition to his work on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century instrumental music, Raymond Knapp has written an award-winning two-volume work on the American Musical; Mitchell Morris's seminal work on turn-of-the century transcendentalism and queer musicology has been supplemented by a forthcoming book on the 1970s in popular music, and studies in contemporary music and ecology. Tamara Levitz, a scholar of transnational modernism in France, Germany, and the colonial world, engages a wide range of issues in her work, most recently on Stravinsky's Persephone: compositional practice, performance (including dance), visual representation, recording technology, postcolonial theory, and aesthetics.
UCLA possesses a unique roster of musicologists who focus primarily on contemporary issues. Robert Fink works at the intersection of musicology, music theory, and cultural studies, applying his insights to contemporary music from experimental minimalism to rave culture to "post-classical" music. He has also published on African-American popular music and analysis, and is a founder of the MiLA Project, an interdisciplinary scholarly project on music in the city of Los Angeles. Timothy Taylor, who has a shared appointment in Ethnomusicology at UCLA, is perhaps the premiere theorist of musical commodification in contemporary global perspective; currently researching a history of music in advertising, his work considers how intersections of capitalism, race, and technology have shaped music and its reception. In addition to her work on stage, composer-performer-musicologist Nina Eidsheim investigates socially and culturally framed perceptions of vocal timbre and, by extension, of vocality and corporeality in opera, popular music, and the world of music technology.
Through its faculty, the department is actively involved with several interdisciplinary programs at UCLA, including the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the Center for Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Studies, Center for the Study of Women, and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies program. The department is also dedicated to increasing community awareness of new research in the humanities at UCLA, and members of its faculty frequently present lecture/demonstrations on various topics of interest to large audiences, in addition to delivering papers at scholarly conferences throughout the world. In Southern California, UCLA faculty members have lectured at such cultural landmarks as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Opera, the Ojai Festival, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Getty Institute, the Villa Aurora, and the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Institute. Members of the department have been called on as expert witnesses in high-profile copyright cases, interviewed in music documentaries, and given countless interviews in print and electronic media.
Thanks to a generous 2001 gift from Professor Emeritus Robert Stevenson, the Musicology department is able to sponsor the Robert Stevenson Lecture each year; past Stevenson lecturers have included Gary Tomlinson, Joseph Kerman, Maynard Solomon, and Richard Taruskin. The department's faculty has organized international and interdisciplinary conferences at UCLA on a variety of topics as diverse as the string quartet (Raymond Knapp), rhetoric in Haydn's chamber music (Elisabeth Le Guin and Raymond Knapp), Wagner (Raymond Knapp and Mitchell Morris), eighteenth-century Spain (Elisabeth Le Guin), the American musical (Raymond Knapp and Mitchell Morris, with UT-Austin's Stacy Wolf), and opera and politics (Olivia Bloechl). The department also hopes to inaugurate a collaboration with the Experience Music Project's celebrated Pop Conference (Robert Fink with scholar-critic Eric Weisbard) in the near future.
Honors and Awards
Since the 1980s, various members of the faculty have won prestigious grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), as well as numerous honors within the university, including distinguished teaching and service awards. Professor Emeritus Robert Stevenson, among his many honors, was awarded the Constantine Panunzio Distinguished Emeriti Award in 2004, and has achieved a "triple crown" of sorts, becoming an honorary member in the American Musicological Society (2002), the International Musicological Society (2006), and the Society for Ethnomusicology (2007); Elisabeth Le Guin has won both the Alfred Einstein Award (2003) and Noah Greenberg Award (2007) from the American Musicological Society; Robert Fink won the Kurt Weill Prize for distinguished scholarship in Musical Theater in 2001, and Raymond Knapp won the coveted George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism in 2005. In recent years UCLA faculty members have held visiting appointments at Yale University, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
The UCLA Musicology Department has an enviable record of training and placing graduate students; according to the calculations of the online Musicology Job Wiki, UCLA Musicology is consistently at the top of the field in getting its graduates jobs. Recent UCLA alumni have been hired to tenure-track positions or fellowships at Tufts, Colby, the University of Texas (Austin), the University of Michigan, Michigan State, the University of California (Irvine), San Jose State University, the University of Oregon, the University of Sydney (Australia), and the University of New Zealand, to name just a few. Musicology graduate students at UCLA have been the recipients of numerous prestigious awards in the field, including the AMS-50 Dissertation Fellowship and the Society for American Music's Wiley Housewright Dissertation Award. The students run an independent lecture series as well as the respected peer-reviewed online journal, ECHO.