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About Us

The Music Department offers both an undergraduate and a graduate program. Undergraduates receive an A.B. with a concentration in music. Graduate students complete a PhD program in historical musicology, ethnomusicology, theory, composition, or Creative Practice and Critical Inquiry.

Harvard College offers two dual degree programs: one is in tandem with New England Conservatory, where undergraduate students earn an A.B. from Harvard and a M.M. from NEC over the course of five years. The other is with Berklee College of Music, where students earn an A.B. from Harvard and an M.M. or M.A. from Berklee, also over five years.

Although students cannot earn a vocal or instrumental performance degree at Harvard (such as a B.M., M.M., or D.M.A.), performance is very much a part of music department coursework, and students are welcome to join any of the many extracurricular music performance groups on campus.

The Music Department is located in the Fanny Peabody Mason Music Building, which houses classrooms, music practice rooms, the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, John Knowles Paine Concert Hall, the Harvard University Studio for Electroacoustic Composition (HUSEAC), an Ethnomusicology Lab, SoundLab, and faculty and administrative offices. The Department sponsors numerous concerts, colloquia, lectures and special music events each month, which are free to students and the public.


John Adams, Matt Aucoin, Leonard Bernstein, Elliott Carter, Justin Hurwitz, Tom Lehrer, Yo-Yo Ma, Bonnie Raitt, Pete Seeger, and Virgil Thomson—all graduates of Harvard who have gone on to influence the world of music. Creativity can be found throughout the music department's offerings: in classes on Adams Operas to Orfeo to the Music of Mali and Neo Soul, in collaborations that bring leading musicians—the Silk Road Project, Angelique Kidjo, Lin-Manuel Miranda, or Sir John Eliot Gardiner—to campus to work with small groups of student performers, or in working one-on-one with faculty to develop unique thesis proposals, research and fieldwork that support students' individual creative vision. Composition courses, new studios, and performance groups such as the Harvard Group for New Music support and nurture composers by providing instruction, mentoring, and opportunities for creators to hear their work. There are also a wide variety of curricular and extra-curricular performance opportunities for all students at Harvard, whether they choose to concentrate in music or not.

"Composition and teaching can mutually benefit each other. In order to teach in a deep way, which I always try to do, you have to see the score almost as if it was a person." —Chaya Czernowin, Walter Bigelow Rosen Professor of Music


Fusing ethnography and primary
source research, teams of students created
a new archive of Bernstein materials.
Collaboration among faculty and students is key to both the graduate and undergraduate music programs. Some faculty/student collaborations grow out of coursework, such as the launch of a public archive of Leonard Bernstein materials or the development of exhibits and online resources such as "Sounding China" or "Unmasking Jim Crow." Other collaborative efforts may be focused around thesis work, publications, or conferences. In addition, interdisciplinary collaboration among faculty often gives rise to new courses, such as "Fine Arts and Electronic Music," an effort of the music department in tandem with the Sackler Art Museum, or "Patronage and Contemporary Music," where students worked with library archivists to create an exhibit on the contributions of Paul Fromm to new music in America. Collaboration also enriches teaching at Harvard, as professors sometimes co-lead seminars that span more than one area of expertise. Recent examples include a seminar about music and activism, Music and Migration, and Water Musics, combining electroacoustic music and moving images.


The performance of music is at the heart of the department's mission, practice, coursework, and community. Harvard's undergraduate music concentration and its graduate program seek two complementary goals: to inform the performance of music through study of theory, composition, musicology, ethnomusicology, and critical inquiry, and to provide the academic training and discipline that will benefit young scholars, musicians, and composers. The Harvard campus is a hive of musical activity that includes master classes, performance courses, concerts, student recitals, and the performance of new compositions.


The students in the Music Department have access to the vast resources of the Harvard library system as well as to the Department's ethnomusicology lab, sound studies lab, and an annual calendar of lectures, colloquia, and scholarly conferences. The Norton Lectures, for example, bring artists and thinkers from the world to music to campus for a series of lectures. Herbie Hancock, Daniel Barenboim, and Luciano Berio are recent Norton appointees. Department-produced conferences and a lively colloquium series bring scholars from around the world to Harvard. In addition, visiting artists conduct residencies that benefit both graduate and undergraduate students. Recent artists-in-residence are Angelique Kidjo, Suzuki Masaaki, and Sir Eliot Gardiner. Graduate student research is supported by grants and fellowships and students frequently present at national/international conferences and publish their scholarly work. Undergraduates are able to propose a senior honors thesis, and often have opportunities to conduct original research as part of their coursework. Funding is also available for summer study. Harvard owns specialized, high-quality resouces such as the Isham Memorial Library (dedicated to primary sources), the autographed manuscripts housed at Houghton Library, archives of notable musicians such as Randy Weston and Georg Solti, and a full range of electronic and digital support such as state-of-the-art composing software and a recording facility.


The Music Building, including Paine Hall, the Loeb Music Library, and the Davison Room, are located directly behind the Science Center in Harvard's North Yard at 3 Oxford Street, Cambridge, Mass. 02138. If you're driving, the building is closest to the intersection of Kirkland and Oxford Streets.

Harvard University Department of Music
phone: 617-495-2791
email: musicdpt@fas.harvard.edu

Free parking is sometimes available for Paine Hall concerts. Please check each concert listing to see if parking is offered. Metered parking is available on Oxford, Kirkland, and several other nearby streets (such as Massachusetts Avenue). Additionally, paid parking lots are available in Harvard Square. Street parking meters are in effect until 8pm. All metered spaces are free on Sundays. The closest T stop is Harvard Square on the red line.

Finding Paine Hall

John Knowles Paine Concert Hall is located on the second floor of the Music Building, at the top of a grand staircase.

Finding the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library and the Davison Room

The Library entrance is located next to the Music Department reception office. The Davison Room is a conference room on the second floor of the library.

Contact Us

Mailing Address:

Harvard University Department of Music
3 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138


Telephone: 617-495-2791
Fax: 617-496-8081
email: musicdpt@fas.harvard.edu