Musicology

The Meadows Advantage

Southern Methodist University is located in the heart of Dallas, a vibrant city and major cultural center. As a result, you will not only have access to all the advantages of being a student in the Division of Music at this prominent university, but will be within easy reach of more than 500 cultural events a year. The faculty of the Meadows School of the Arts is committed to the highest standards of teaching and to active professional participation in music performance and research. Students benefit from the broad experience of our faculty, our rehearsal and performance facilities, the Hamon Arts Library , our visiting artists, and the thriving culture of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The quality of instruction at Meadows is superlative and is further augmented by world-renowned ensembles and exceptional opportunities.

The Department

Led by faculty who are well-respected scholar-teachers, the Department of Musicology offers courses in the historical, cultural, and philosophical study of music, with expertise spanning 18th-20th century Western art music, music in screen media, music in advertising, popular music, jazz, women in music, music and dance, and music and indigeneity. We offer classes for both majors and non-majors, ranging from introductory surveys of Western art music, world musics, popular music, and jazz to advanced, writing-intensive seminars in special topics for upper-level students (see the selected course list below). We aim not only to prepare professional musicians for careers in music, but also to instill in students in any academic program a curiosity for musics of many kinds and provide tools for understanding and analyzing these as historical, cultural, and social phenomena. While we have no undergraduate major, the B.A. in Music provides students with an interest in musicology an opportunity to focus their coursework on relevant topics.

Graduate Study

The M.M. in Musicology at SMU offers students interested in advanced musicology study a unique opportunity to work closely with and be advised and mentored by renowned faculty in a small, personalized program while at the same time being able to take advantage of the resources and opportunities of a full-scale music school and research university located in a major metropolis with a thriving arts scene. In particular, the M.M. in Musicology distinguishes itself from other similar programs by allowing students to pursue one of two specialization tracks: research and pedagogy. First, though, all students receive thorough background in the historical, cultural, and philosophical study of music through 20 credits of foundational coursework that includes research methods, foundations of musicology, and advanced topical/thematic musicology seminars. For the final 10 credits students choose to specialize in either (1) the research track, which includes the writing of a substantial thesis with the aim of preparing students to be competitive for top musicology Ph.D. programs; or (2) the pedagogy track (unique in the United States), which aims to train students in the techniques of transformative college-level musicology teaching. Included in this track are a pedagogy practicum in which students work closely with faculty to hone their teaching and course design skills in the undergraduate musicology classroom and a final pedagogy project. Class sizes are small and many are taken together with students from varying degree programs, thus ensuring exposure to a broad spectrum of perspectives. Click here for more on the coursework and degree plans. The M.M. in Musicology degree at SMU may be combined with an M.M. in Composition or Performance to broaden career opportunities.

Students applying to the program must submit examples of scholarly research and writing. Basic proficiency in a second language is strongly desired, as during their studies students must pass a translation exam in German, Italian, French, Spanish, Latin, or a language relevant to their specialization.

How to apply


Departmental Highlights

18 September 2022: Prof. Kupfer to give pre-concert talk for Dallas Chamber Music Society (the Aizuri Quartet in works by Clara Schumann, Bartok, Tanya Tagaq, and Haydn)

28 November 2022: Prof. Kupfer to give pre-concert talk for Dallas Chamber Music Society (the Junction Trio in works by Conrad Tao, Ives, and Ravel)

August 2022: Prof. Kupfer published an article titled “Of Majesty, Mockery, and Misprints: The Coda of Shostakovich’s Fifth on Record” in the Journal of Musicological Research

Summer 2022: Kristina Nielsen is currently working on her book, Composing Histories: Aztec Music and Dance in Los Angeles, which is under contract with the University of Illinois Press

Summer 2022: Prof. Whitelaw continued work on her book manuscript, Free Agency and Erudition: Female Composers of Modern Europe, which argues for a reassessment and renewed perspective concerning women’s participation in the "public sphere" during the late Enlightenment

May 2022: Prof. Kupfer presented a virtual paper titled “Neoliberalism and Classical Music in Recent Television Commercials” at the conference “Classical Music in Contemporary Media and Society” (hosted by the University of Gothenburg, Sweden)

May 2022: Prof. Kupfer to present at “Classical Music in Contemporary Media and Society” conference

14 March 2022: Prof. Whitelaw gave pre-concert talk for Dallas Chamber Music Society (Dallas Symphony Chamber Players in works by Kodály, Madeleine Dring, and Brahms)

7 February 2022: Prof. Kupfer gave pre-concert talk for Dallas Chamber Music Society (the Hermitage Piano Trio in works by Ligeti, Ravel, and Rachmaninoff)

January 2022: Prof. Kupfer to presented a virtual paper titled “The Birth of a Nation: Musical Representations of the Russian Past, Present, and Future in Alexei Balabanov’s Brother (1997) and Nikita Mikhalkov’s The Barber of Siberia (1998)” at the conference Imagining the 90s: The First Post-Soviet Decade and its Narratives in Literature and Culture (hosted by the University of Basel, Switzerland)

8 November 2021: Prof. Kupfer gave pre-concert talk for Dallas Chamber Music Society (the Hermitage Piano Trio in works by Turina, Ravel, and Rachmaninoff)

October 2021: Prof. Kupfer, together with Composition Faculty Lane Harder, invited to contribute chapter in Oxford Handbook of Music and Television on the music for NFL films by Sam Spence

11 October 2021: Prof. Kupfer to give pre-concert talk for Dallas Chamber Music Society (the Doric Quartet in works by Haydn, Bartok, and Elgar)

8 November 2021: Prof. Kupfer to give pre-concert talk for Dallas Chamber Music Society (the Hermitage Piano Trio in works by Turina, Ravel, and Rachmaninoff)

August 2021: Prof. Nielsen, along with colleagues Chris Witulski and Jessie Vallejo, officially launched the World Music Textbook. The World Music Textbook is a collaborative effort to create a quality free and accessible resource on music.

Summer 2021: Prof. Whitelaw continued work on a monograph of Eighteenth-Century South German female composer editions, as well as on several related articles; she also continues to plug away at Saint-Saens' Piano Concerto in C Minor!

June 2021: Prof. Kupfer interviewed for and his research on Bach in television commercials cited in Times of London and The Daily Mail

May 2021: Prof. Kupfer awarded Tom Tunks Distinguished University Citizen Award

Spring 2021: Prof. Nielsen received the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend award for her work on the manuscript of her book Composing Histories: Aztec Music and Dance in Los Angeles.

March 2021: Prof. Kupfer delivered SMU Godbey Lecture on Beethoven at 250

March 2021: Prof. Kupfer interviewed for Cliburn Masterpiece Series

February 2021: Chapter by Prof. Kupfer published in the Oxford Handbook to Music and Advertising

December 2020: Article by Prof. Nielsen appeared in Yearbook for Traditional Music

October 2020: Chapter by Prof. Kupfer published in Music in World War II: Coping with Wartime in Europe and the United States

September 2020: Chapter by Prof. Nielsen published in The Cambridge Companion to Rhythm

Musicology Faculty

Peter Kupfer Peter Kupfer

Peter Kupfer

Associate Professor of Musicology
Chair, Department of Musicology

Kristina Nielsen Kristina Nielsen

Kristina Nielsen

Assistant Professor of Musicology

Laureen Whitelaw Laureen Whitelaw

Laureen Whitelaw

Visiting Assistant Professor of Musicology

Kim Corbet Kim Corbet

Kim Corbet

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Christopher Anderson

Christopher Anderson

Associate Professor of Sacred Music
Perkins School of Theology

Marcell Silva Steuernagel Marcell Steuernagel

Marcell Silva Steuernagel

Assistant Professor of Church Music
Director of the Master of Sacred Music degree program
Perkins School of Theology