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Jordan Musser

Jordan Musser

Educational Background

MA, Humanities, The University of Chicago

BM, Music Education, Susquehanna University

Mary Pappert School of Music, Duquesne University


My research tends toward two distinct areas: popular music and politics in the twentieth century, and aesthetics and criticism in nineteenth-century Europe. My dissertation, “Managing the Crisis: Music, Neoliberalism, and the Popular Avant-Garde in Britain, 1975–84,” uses four case studies to explore how free improvisers, performance artists, punk bands, and dub producers both reacted against and ambivalently drew on burgeoning Thatcherism in the process of traversing fine-arts and popular formations, creating what I call a “popular avant-garde.” Putting musicology in dialogue with art history and political theory, I complicate existing theories of the avant-garde by considering the 1970s dissolution of the post-war settlements in relation to the emergence of neoliberal artistic criteria like DIY and risk-taking, and a political ethos based in entrepreneurship.

Nineteenth-century projects have concentrated on Austro-German music cultures. Among my favorites is an essay dissecting the relationship between Hermann von Helmholtz’s psychoacoustics and Eduard Hanslick’s aesthetics, and an article on the epistemology of “the mechanical” in Carl Czerny’s keyboard pedagogies and four-hand transcriptions. This latter work was presented at Four-Hand Keyboarding in the Long Nineteenth Century, a symposium I organized in early 2017, and will soon be published in the Journal of the American Musicological Society.

In 2012, I earned the M.A. in the Humanities from the University of Chicago. Prior to graduate school, I completed the B.M. in Music Education at Susquehanna University, and briefly attended the Mary Pappert School of Music at Duquesne University. My research has recently been supported by the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies, and a Don M. Randel Teaching and Research Fellowship. I have presented at numerous conferences, including the national meeting of American Musicological Society, the biennial meeting of the North American British Music Studies Association, and Music and the Moving Image at New York University. My reviews have been featured in such fora as Metal Music Studies, the Newsletter of the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies, and Sounding Out!. Before coming to Cornell, I worked as an editorial assistant for Grove Music Online, and as a music educator.


  • Music