Soon, a new music composition professor at Harvard?

Harvard's music department - To charm, to strengthen, and to teach. These are the three great chords of might.
Harvard Music Building - picture by eileansiar
Professeur Composition Harvard

During the Spring, the students in the music department met a number of candidates for a new position: professor in composition at Harvard. All of the students who met with candidates were asked to share their thoughts with the recruiting committee.

Here is an excerpt from my letter to the committee. I was not completely clear on the type of profile the department was looking for (see the original announcement for this tenure position), so I imagined a course that could be a great addition to the department's offering: an exciting Gen Ed class about 20th and 21st century music...

...A Gen Ed class that would show how great and influent have been creative artists such as (I'll name just a few from the top of my head, trying to keep in mind the American orientation)

  • George Antheil
  • Milton Babbitt
  • John Cage
  • George Crumb
  • Miles Davis
  • Duke Ellington
  • Michael Jackson
  • Scott Joplin
  • Alan Parsons
  • Les Paul
  • Pink Floyd
  • Steve Reich
  • Buddy Rich
  • Karlheinz Stockhausen
  • Frank Zappa
  • Hans Zimmer

Such a Gen Ed course could also look at the music producer as a composer, and could study the relations between technology and musical innovations. Technology and music have always been linked (Bach & organs, Mozart and the clarinet, the influence of Adolphe Sax's innovations, etc.) For instance, we could look at how University computer music centers, experimental independent developers, and commercial companies have all contributed to the evolution 20th and 21st century music.

Assignments would include not only papers, but also composition assignments (music can be "written" in many ways).
In complement to formal midterm(s), this course could end not with a final exam, but with final projects, tailored by the students themselves. Could be a composition, a paper, a creative performance.

If the department is looking for a candidate capable of doing that or something close, (...) would certainly be the most qualified among the selected candidates.

Given the complexity of the recruitment process, I have unfortunately no idea when we will know more about this... Wait and see.


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