I teach a range of courses at the University of Western Ontario: all are focused on art music of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Below is a sample of recent offerings.
2711G Music History c. 1800 to the present
This course provides a survey of art music history of the last 200 years for all 2nd year music students. We look at specific works of music and consider key movements and trends alongside the political and social developments that brought them about.
3762A/B Music and Politics
In this upper level undergraduate course, we examine the relationship between music and politics in various 20th-century contexts. Students give presentations on individual works that have served a specific political use or function and we together attempt to ascertain the extent of music’s political power. When I taught this class in 2010 and 2013, the students hosted undergraduate conferences on Music and Politics, Political Notes and Political Notes II. The blog for the first conference can be found here.
3706A/B Topics in Late Twentieth-Century Music
Art music written in the west between 1950 and today remains uncharted territory for many music undergraduates. In this course we explore the remarkable variety of music written in the last half century, examining specific techniques, trends, and styles through a close engagement with musical works.
3752A/B Topics in 20th-Century Opera
I focus this course on recent operatic developments in a single country: the United States. A nation without a lengthy operatic tradition, the story of American opera is a fascinating one, as composers attempted to define a national style that spoke to America’s similarities and differences from Europe. This course examines one opera per week, permitting a close engagement with the work and its context and allowing a detailed exploration of the scholarly literature it has engendered.
I have taught the following graduate classes at Western:
Copland and Shostakovich
In this course, we consider two major figures in twentieth-century music as representatives of their nations and as vehicles to consider the influence of a range of political currents on music, from the 1930s through the 1970s.
Minimalism as a movement has had a huge impact on popular and art music and influenced numerous other artforms. We examine diverse works granted this label and the diverse scholarly approaches they have attracted as a way to contemplate the most effective ways to write about contemporary music as musicologists.
Music and the Cold War
Considering the Cold War primarily from the perspective of the United States, we examine government motivations for engaging in musical promotions (what could music achieve in a war of ideas that other political tools could not?) and the objectives of musicians who participated in their campaigns. We also assess the impact of the Cold War on music written during this period, particularly focusing on the impact of the opposing ideologies of communism and democratic capitalism on concert music composers and their output in the United States and Europe.
This class explored the idea of musical Americanism–the quest to find a uniquely American sound–against the backdrop of changing attitudes to national identity in the United States between the nineteenth century and today. Americanist classical music serves here as a fairly narrow case study for contemplating music’s ability to engage with conceptions of national identity in the United States and across the world.
Music and Trauma
This course considers the potential application of scholarship on trauma in the social sciences and humanities for the study of musical works and experiences. Considering music from an array of genres that deals with traumatic experience, we interrogate musical works (and scholarship about them) that deals with sexuality and gender-related trauma, genocide, cultural trauma, auditory trauma, and traumatic memory.
I advise both Masters and PhD students at Western, mostly on 20th- and 21st-century art music topics, and I am always on the look-out for potential students.
In 2012 I graduated my first MA advisee, Allison Luff: her thesis was titled “Charles Ives and Musical Borrowing.”
In 2014 my first PhD advisee, John Pippen, completed his degree with a dissertation titled “Toward a Postmodern Avant-Garde: Labour, Virtuosity, and Aesthetics in an American New Music Ensemble.” An article about John’s innovative research written by one of his examiners can be found here.
In 2018, my first DMA co-advisee, Yolanda Tapia, completed her degree with a monograph titled “The Political Power of Carlos Chavez and his Influence upon Silvestre Revueltas and Blas Galindo.”
In 2019, Francisco Barradas Galván completed a DMA monograph under my co-supervision titled “Contexts for Musical Modernism in Post-1945 Mexico: Federico Ibarra – A Case Study.”