Apply Now MSA Visit

Peter Kupfer

Associate Professor of Musicology
Chair, Department of Musicology

Peter Kupfer received his Ph.D. in music history and theory from the University of Chicago with a dissertation on the Soviet musical comedy films of Grigory Aleksandrov and Isaak Dunayevsky. He is a two-time Fulbright Fellowship recipient, for his dissertation research in Russia and for a research project on the reception of Wagner in the German Democratic Republic. As a teacher, Kupfer has taught at the University of Chicago, winning the Stuart Tave Course Design Teaching Award; in the School of Music at DePaul University in Chicago; and as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music in 2010-11 at Reed College in Portland, Ore.

Kupfer’s research focuses on intersections of music, ideology, and multimedia, with particular interests in 19th century German music and 20th century Russian/Soviet music. In addition, he studies questions of musical meaning and the reception of classical music in screen media, approaching these topics using empirical methods from music sociology and psychology. He has presented his work at both regional and national meetings of the American Musicological Society, at the national convention of the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies, at the International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition, and at other conferences throughout Europe.

Kupfer’s articles have appeared in the Journal of Musicology; Twentieth-Century Music; Music and the Moving Image; Music & Politics; and BACH: Journal of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute. He has also contributed chapters to Classical Music in the German Democratic Republic (Camden House, 2015), Rethinking Prokofiev (Oxford, 2020), Music in World War II (Indiana, 2020), and The Oxford Handbook of Music and Advertising (2020).

At SMU, Kupfer has taught seminars on Beethoven, Mahler, Shostakovich, music and multimedia, music sociology, film music, music and politics, analyzing performance, and music history pedagogy, as well as research methods and the second half of the undergraduate music history survey. In 2020, he received the Tom Tunks Distinguished University Citizen Award.

He is also a regular pre-concert speaker for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Dallas Chamber Music Society.


Ph.D., Music History and Theory, University of Chicago
B.A., Music, Computer Science, German Studies, Amherst College


Seminars on Beethoven, Mahler, Shostakovich, music and multimedia, music sociology, film music, music and politics, analyzing performance, and music history pedagogy, as well as research methods and the second half of the undergraduate music history survey


Peer-Reviewed Articles

“‘Good Hands’: The Music of J.S. Bach in Television Commercials,” BACH: Journal of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute 50, no. 2 (2019): 275–302.

“‘Music is Music’: Anton Ivanovich is Upset (1941) and Soviet Musical Politics,” Music & Politics 12, no. 2 (Summer 2018).

“Classical Music in Television Commercials: A Social–Psychological Perspective,” Music and the Moving Image 10, No. 1 (Spring 2017), 23–53.

“‘Our Soviet Americanism’: Jolly Fellows, Music, and Early Soviet Cultural Ideology,” Twentieth–Century Music 13, no. 2 (Fall 2016): 201–232.

Volga–Volga: ‘The Story of a Song,’ Vernacular Modernism, and the Realization of Soviet Music,” Journal of Musicology 30, no. 4 (2013): 530–576.

Book Chapters

“Fitting Tunes: Selecting Music for Television Commercials,” in The Oxford Handbook of Music and Advertising, edited by James Deaville, Siu-Lan Tan, and Ronald Rodman (Oxford University Press, 2021), 72–92.

“Musical ‘Diplomacy’ in American and Soviet World War II Films of the 1940s,” in Music in World War II:  Coping with Wartime in Europe and the United States, edited by Pamela M. Potter, Christina Baade, and Roberta Montemorra Marvin (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2020), 77–108.

“Prokofiev in the Popular Consciousness,” in Rethinking Prokofiev, edited by Rita McAllister and Christina Guillaumier (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020), 423–448.

Ehrt euren deutschen Meister: Reproducing Wagner in the GDR,” in Classical Music in the German Democratic Republic: Production and Reception, eds. Kyle Frackman and Larson Powell (Rochester, N.Y.: Camden House, 2015), 75–96.


“Review of Composing for the Red Screen: Prokofiev and Soviet Film (by Kevin Bartig),” in Transposition: Musique et sciences sociales 6 (2017). Available at

Areas of Study



Art History

Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship

Corporate Communication and Public Affairs

Creative Computation


Film and Media Arts



Featured Alumni

About the Division of Music

Undergraduate Studies

Graduate Studies

Classes (See Catalog)




Faculty and Staff

By Instrument/Discipline

Faculty Travel Request Form

Visiting Artist Request Form

Student Resources

Student Internships & Collaborations

Meadows Artist Bridge

Dallas Resources

Peak Fellowship Ensemble-in-Residence

SMU Meadows Licensed Music Rights

Workshops and Special Programs

Opportunities for Non-Music Majors