Historical Musicology

Due to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Music regrets to announce that we will not be accepting applications in fall 2020 for students hoping to begin studies at Penn in fall 2021. The School of Arts and Sciences has made this difficult decision in order to allow allocation of available support to current students who require extra time to complete their degrees as a result of the global pandemic. While we recognize that this news is disappointing, we also believe that this is the most responsible course of action in these unsettled times.  We anticipate that we will accept applications again in the fall of 2021 and welcome new students into our program in fall 2022.

We always love to hear from prospective students. Please feel free to reach out to our graduate chair, Dr. Jim Sykes (jimsykes@sas.upenn.edu) with any questions.

The graduate program in Historical Musicology at the University of Pennsylvania serves students who intend to conduct cutting-edge research, produce high-quality scholarship, and develop teaching and professional skills in order to pursue academic positions in musicology and music studies; it also serves those who want to consider career opportunities beyond academia in both music and non-music domains.   

Rooted in Tradition 

During the last twenty years, our program has been at the forefront of the radical changes that occurred within the national and international musicological scene. It has provided leading scholars with an intellectually charged environment and the resources necessary to push music studies in daring directions through new methodologies, new repertories and theoretical interventions. Our contributions have included:

● Pioneering topics and approaches now mainstream in music studies, in areas such as gender and sexuality, critical theory, sound studies, race studies, and opera studies, all in dynamic relationship with the rest of the humanities.

● A unique integration with the other sub-disciplines in the music department.  

● A historical role in the founding of the American Musicological Society from its inception in 1934; Penn houses the records of the AMS from 1934 onward, including correspondence, manuscripts, and publications (AMS archivist: Liza Vick).

Situated in the Present

The program’s broad intellectual purpose has always been to expose students to a plurality of historiographical approaches and methodologies of humanistic inquiry. We continue to accomplish this goal by:

● Galvanizing graduate student research by offering seminars on a dynamic range of topics. Faculty specializations include the intersection of medieval secular and sacred music, Renaissance and Baroque vocal music, opera studies, music and the digital humanities, critical race studies, jazz, black musics of the West, music and cultural contexts of Chopin, landscape and modernism, music and colonial encounter, feminist musicology, transatlantic music studies, music and the history of the book.

● Familiarizing students with core issues, problems, and concepts that drive the study of musicology at large via a methodologically and historiographically rigorous training.

● Attentive mentoring throughout the degree program, including guidance for securing funding, placing scholarship within professional venues, and effective writing practices.

● Developing awareness of the importance of teaching, both in terms of helping graduate students hone their own classroom skills while at Penn, and encouraging them to define their own individual approach to teaching in their careers.    

Looking to the Future 

The program embraces the fresh challenges that the sub-discipline engages in its ongoing and lively dialogue with the humanities, the performing arts, the sciences, and the most dynamic areas of inquiry. Future directions include further developing:

● Increased access to, and diversity in, musicology. 

● Transnational approaches to American music studies (popular, vernacular, and art musics in global, hemispheric, and transatlantic perspectives).

● Connections to the digital humanities, in collaboration with Penn’s Price Digital Lab and the Penn Library system (especially special collections, rare books and manuscripts).

● Research in performance studies, also through collaboration with music ensembles, visual and performance artists, theater, dance and opera companies, at Penn and beyond.

● Relationships with Penn’s vibrant intellectual life, via its working groups, research centers, and interdisciplinary programs (e.g., the Certificate Programs in Global Medieval & Renaissance Studies and in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies).  

** The faculty in Historical Musicology includes Mauro Calcagno, Mary Channen Caldwell, Glenda Goodman, Jeffrey Kallberg, and Guthrie Ramsey.