Graduate Studies in Music History-Theory and Ethnomusicology

By fulfilling the vision of founding members such as David Lewin, Leo Treitler, Charles Rosen, and Sarah Fuller, the Stony Brook Department of Music represents today a special musical and cultural community characterized by an exceptional integration and interaction among the various sub-disciplines of history, theory, ethnomusicology, composition, and performance. Students in the various degree programs interact as members of a comprehensive music department, with emphases on the 20th and 21st centuries, on opera studies, and on music and philosophy. The rapid growth and success of the Stony Brook music department since its founding continues today thanks to faculty chosen not only for their stature as scholars but also for their rapport with students, their ability to work cooperatively, and their commitment to the values of the department.

The Graduate Program at Stony Brook: 

  • Encourages interdisciplinary study both within and outside of music. Students may pursue other music-related programs such as performance or composition in tandem with work devoted to the history-theory and ethnomusicology programs. At the doctoral level, work in related fields may be included in the program of study.
  • Offers an outstanding and internationally renowned faculty with broad-based expertise in many areas of music history, music theory, ethnomusicology, composition, and performance.
  • Places a special emphasis on music of the 20th and 21st centuries, opera studies, and music and philosophy; this focus is manifest in specific course and degree requirements and in the general music-making activities of the Department.
  • Promotes the interaction between the various sub-disciplines of music—history, theory, ethnomusicology, composition, and performance. Students in the various degree programs often take courses with one another and interact as members of a comprehensive music department. 
Students in Graduate Programs in History-Theory and Ethnomusicology:
  • Interact with faculty on a regular basis, receiving individualized attention and close supervision.
  • Have the opportunity to teach music courses as part of the program of study, either as assistants to faculty or individually.
  • Devise a unique course of study at the doctoral level, working in consultation with a Directing Committee. Each faculty member of this committee helps to oversee the student's progress toward completion of degree requirements.
  • May take courses in the New York Metro Consortium, which includes Columbia, NYU, Princeton, CUNY, and others.
  • May complete graduate certificates in Women’s Studies, Cultural Studies, and Philosophy and the Arts.
NB: The Department does not offer separate degrees in history or theory. Rather, the program in the history and theory of music requires students to be knowledgeable about both historical and theoretical issues of music, recognizing that these two domains of musical study are intricately entwined with one another.

Current Faculty include:
David Lawton, Conducting, Opera, 19th Century History
Judith Lochhead, 20th and 21st Century History & Theory
Ryan Minor, 19th Century History & Theory
Margarethe Adams, Ethnomusicology
Stephen Decatur Smith, Music History and Theory
Keith Johnston, Music History, Theory & Ethnomusicology
Catherine Bradley, Medieval & Renaissance History & Theory
Benjamin Tausig, Ethnomusicology
Erika Supria Honisch, Music History and Theory
Sample Seminar Topics:
  • Recent Research in 14th-Century Music
  • Analysis of Early Music
  • Luca Marenzio’s Secular Music
  • Staging Baroque Opera, from Monteverdi to Handel
  • New Perspectives on Wagner's Ring Cycle
  • Operatic Spectatorship from Meyerbeer to Brecht
  • Adorno: Music, Experience, Life
  • Twentieth-Century Opera: Modernity and Modernism
  • Dallapiccola's Twelve-Tone Music and its Influence in Europe and America
  • Issues in Post-Tonal Analysis
  • Phenomenological Approaches to Music Analysis: Embodied Cognition and Chaotic Mappings
  • Perspectives on the Performance of Music since 1945
  • Ethnomusicology and Social Theory
  • Music of Central Asia from the Steppe to the Silk Road
Some Recent Stony Brook Dissertations (completed or in progress):
  • Alecia Barbour, “Music and Remembrance: Listening to U.S. ‘Internment’ Camps, 1939-1947”
  • David Blake, “Bildung Distinctions: Cultivating Popular Music in the American University, 1960–2010”
  • Cordelia Chenault, “Behind a Flourishing Avant-Garde: An Institutional History of Recent Opera Production in Germany”
  • Christine Fena, “Composing ‘the land of sewing machines and typewriters’: Ultramodern Music and the American Industrial Landscape (1905-1935)” [2011]
  • Steven Gehring, “Spirituality, Modernity and Postmodernity in Post-War Music: Pärt, Coltrane and Harvey” [2011]
  • Jason Hanley, “Metal Machine Music: Technology, Noise and Modernism in Industrial Music, 1975-1996” [2011]
  • Kassandra Hartford, “Race, Nation, Musical Modernism: Rio de Janeiro, Paris, and New York, 1914-1945”
  • Aaron Hayes, “The Problem of Time for the European Musical Avant-Garde”
  • Sonya Hofer, “Experimental Electronica Beyond the Great Divide”
  • Kathleen Hulley, “Sonorous Bodies: Visual and Aural Representations of Female Sexuality in fin-de-siècle Austro-German Opera, from Wiener Moderne toward the Weimar Republic” [2012]
  • Katherine Kaiser, “Singing Subjects/Vocal Objects: The Recorded Voice in Modern Music”
  • Margaret Martin, “Cultivating the Vernacular: Bang on a Can and the New American Musical Avant-Garde” (AMS 50)
  • Michael Richardson, “Medievalism and Nationalism in Early Nineteenth-Century German Opera”
  • Amy Shapiro, "Sixty Years at the New York Philharmonic Through the Eyes of Clarinetist Stanley Drucker: An Oral History of the Philharmonic Community, 1948-2008" [2015]
  • Nick Tochka, “Creating Light Music: Politics, Personhood, and Cultural Production in Tirana, Albania (1962- present)” [2012]

For more information, please contact Ryan Minor at
Login to Edit