Students reviewing music in a book

The musicology program at Brandeis offers an integrated approach to the study of music and its many contexts. We combine close critical attention to musical works and practices with investigation into the historical, cultural, intellectual, and institutional factors that have shaped their creation and reception. Our graduate curriculum is expansive, encompassing both intensive seminars on specific topics and proseminars that expose students to a variety of methodologies and new developments in the field.

Brandeis offers a two-year Master's degree and a five-year PhD degree in musicology.


News and Updates

The Brandeis Department of Music was well represented at the recent 2019 meeting of the American Musicological Society:

  • PhD Candidate Matthew Heck delivered a paper titled “Chromatic Bifurcation and the Philosophy of Disunity in Shostakovich.”
  • PhD Candidate Jacques Dupuis gave a poster presentation (with Kathryn Dupuis) titled “(Who Isn’t) On the Radio: Gender Disparity in Classical Radio Programming.”
  • Faculty member Karen Desmond was awarded the Lewis Lockwood Award (best book by scholar in early stages) for her book Music and the moderni, 1300-1350: The ars nova in theory and practice; she also was a panelist in the Digital Musicology session, and chaired the AMS Technology Committee meeting.

For more news on the department’s activities, read The Score.

Our Musicology Faculty

Karen Desmond
Karen Desmond
Professor of Music

Expertise: History of music notation, late medieval French and English music and theory, paleography, music and ideas, digital editions, digital musicology

Emily Frey
Emily Frey
Assistant Professor of Music
781-736-3321 Slosberg Music Center, 216
  • Expertise: Music of the "long" 19th century; Russian music, literature, and cultural history; history of opera; music and literature; music, politics, and law; Romanticism and realism; voice studies; music criticism; operatic acting.

Bradford Garvey poses in a garden
Bradford Garvey
Director of Graduate Studies in Musicology
Undergraduate Advisor, History & Culture Track; Assistant Professor of Music
781-736-3334 Slosberg Music Center, 218
  • Expertise: Ethnomusicology, Middle Eastern/Arab music, music and language (linguistic anthropology), Iraqi Maqām, analysis of rhythm and timbre, economic ethnomusicology.

Emily Richmond Pollock
Emily Richmond Pollock
Adjunct Associate Professor of Music
Slosberg Music Center, 237
  • Expertise: Opera, history and culture.

Taylor Ackley plays the mandolin
Taylor Ackley
Assistant Professor of Music
Director, Brandeis Roots Ensemble
Slosberg Music Center, 224

Expertise: Composition, ethnomusicology

Recently Offered Graduate Seminars

  • Analyzing Early Music, 1300-1600
  • Seeing Sound: The History of Music Notation to c.1500
  • The Bach Passions
  • The Music of Couperin
  • The German Postromantic Period
  • Opera and Realism
  • The Music of Alban Berg
  • Proseminar in Music and Disabilities

Careers and Alumni

Graduates of the Brandeis Music Department go on to successful careers in music, arts, and educational institutions across the nation and abroad. Here are a few examples:


Housed in the state-of-the-art Slosberg Music Center, our programs are supported by a first-class research library, also home to the Walter F. and Alice Gorham Collection of Early Music Imprints, 1501-1650. Students also have access to the rich resources of the Boston Library Consortium, and can take seminars in the Boston Graduate Consortium (Tufts, BU, Boston College). The department sponsors concerts, colloquia, lectures and special events throughout the year.

Graduate Student Musicology Conference

The Brandeis Musicology Graduate Student Society–composed of current MA, MFA and PhD candidates in Musicology–programs and hosts a biennial musicology conference. This two-day event, usually held in the late spring at the Slosberg Music Center, features keynote addresses from world-renowned scholars, interactive workshops and student presentations. Past faculty guests include Margot Fassler, Joseph Auner, Elaine Sisman, Anna Zayaruznaya and Jonathan Kregor, and conference themes have ranged from “Loci in Musicology” to “Forms of Music.”