Anna Weesner


Dr. Robert Weiss Professor of MusicUndergraduate Chair in Music


Room 304, LERNER CENTER/6313


Recipient of a 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2008 ‘Academy Award’ from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Anna Weesner has received many other awards, including a 2006 Award for Excellence in the Arts by the Virginia Center and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts (2003).  She has been in residence at the MacDowell Colony, the Wellesley Composers Conference, the Seal Bay Festival, and at Fondation Royaumont in France.  Her music has been recorded on CRI and Albany Records.

Anna Weesner’s music has been described as “animated and full of surprising turns” (New York Times, Oct. 10, 2003), as “a haunting conspiracy” (Philadelphia Inquirer, April 24, 2001) and cited as demonstrating “an ability to make complex textures out of simple devices” (San Francisco Classical Voice, March 27, 2001).  John Harbison has written that “none of it proceeds in obvious ways.  Her vocabulary is subtle and rather elusive; the effect is paradoxically confident and decisive.”

Weesner’s music has been performed by leading ensembles and soloists, including the American Composers Orchestra, the St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, Metamorphosen, Dawn Upshaw, Richard Goode, Gilbert Kalish, Judith Kellock, Mary Nessinger, Jeanne Golan, Scott Kluksdahl, Adrienne Kim, the Cassatt Quartet, the Cypress Quartet, Network for New Music, Ensemble X, Counter)induction, and Orchestra 2001.  Her orchestral music has been featured in readings by the Indianapolis Symphony and the American Composers Orchestra.  She has been commissioned by Open End, violist Melia Watras, Network for New Music, the MATA festival, the Cypress Quartet, Dawn Upshaw, Sequitur and Orchestra 2001, among others.

Upcoming performances include: a new string quartet to be played by the Daedalus Quartet at Penn, her piano trio, Lift High, Reckon—Fly Low, Come Close, to be performed by Ensemble 20/21 at Curtis in Philadelphia, and the premiere of her choral work, Snapshot of a Teenaged Moment When Everything Began, by the New York Virtuoso Singers with conductor Harold Rosenbaum in New York.



Research Interests


New work for Network for New Music, voice and ensemble, Harbison project, pending, 2012-13.

New work for string quartet and percussion for the Lark Quartet and Yousif Sheronick, pending.


Courses Taught

Undergraduate Courses:

  • Music 14: Freshman Seminar: Being Moved by Music in America 
  • Music 70: Music and Musicianship I
  • Music 71: Music and Musicianship II
  • Music 170: Music and Musicianship III
  • Music 171: Music and Musicianship IV
  • Music 273: Twentieth-Century Styles and Techniques
  • Music 99: Independent Study in Composition, for undergraduates

Graduate Courses:

  • Music 505: Chromatic Harmony, a graduate seminar
  • Music 525: Selected Forms: Graduate Seminar on Song
  • Music 998: Composition, graduate level
  • Music 526: Twentieth-Century Analysis, a graduate seminar
  • Music 700: Composition Seminar
  • Music 988: Dissertation Preparation: the Composition
  • Music 989: Dissertation Preparation: the essay
Selected Publications


The First Letter, for three singers, flute, clarinet, cello, percussion, commissioned and premiered by Orchestra 2001, Sept. 2009.

Lift High, Reckon—Fly Low, Come Close, for violin, cello, piano; commissioned by Open End, premiered in New York, May, 2009.

Flexible Parts, for viola and piano; commissioned by violist Melia Watras, to be be premiered (October 28, 2008) and subsequently recorded.

Third Quartet; commissioned by the Newburyport Chamber Music Festival, premiered August 19, 2007, Newburyport, MA; Nurit Pacht, Neli Nikolaeva, violins, David Yang, viola, Caroline Stinson, cello.

Mother Tongues, for voice, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, piano, was commissioned by Network for New Music; a setting of four haiku by Sonia Sanchez, premiered March, 2006, as part of The Poetry Project. 

The Nearness of Things, for solo violin, for Veronica Kadlubkiewicz; premiered June, 2005, Paris, France.

Forthcoming on Albany Records, Lift high, Reckon; five chamber works by Anna WeesnerPossible Stories, Caroline Stinson, cello, forthcoming on Albany Records.Flexible Parts, Melia Watras, viola, Kim Russ, piano, forthcoming.Distant Heart, for voice and piano, The Berg-Debussy Project, by Mary Nessinger and Jeanne Golan, Albany records.