Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2018

978-0-253-03314-7 (hardcover)
978-0-253-03315-4 (paperback)
978-0-253-03316-1 (ebook)

Published in the series 
Musical Meaning and Interpretation
ed. Robert Hatten.

Publication was supported by the AMS 75 PAYS Endowment of the American Musicological Society, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

NCMR 18-2 cover img.jpg

Guest-Edited Special Issue of 
Nineteenth-Century Music Review 
(Cambridge University Press, August 2021)

Jacquelyn Sholes's research explores issues surrounding narrative and the canon, particularly narratives that composers create in or about their music as a means of situating themselves and their work historically and culturally. She has been involved in a number of interdisciplinary and collaborative projects intersecting with such fields as women's studies and the visual arts (a project on women as patrons of nineteenth-century music and art); popular culture, math, science and technology, and film studies (work on Joseph Schillinger, including a book chapter on his "Project for Walt Disney"); commemorative culture (a chapter on birthday music in a book on commemoration in the nineteenth century); and neuroscience (a co-authored publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences with scientists at MIT).


Her core work, however, examines the ways in which composers--especially from the late eighteenth century on--seek to position themselves in history and culture through musical references to works of others or to their own previous work and/or their methods of marketing their music and themselves to the public. Her first book, Allusion as Narrative Premise in Brahms’s Instrumental Music (Indiana University Press, 2018), highlights how Brahms weaves allusions to the music of earlier and contemporaneous composers (Bach, D. Scarlatti, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner) into broad narratives that can span multi-movement works. These narratives, she suggests, served as outlets for Brahms's complicated attitudes toward the classical music canon coalescing during his lifetime, as he struggled to define his position in history. The project emphasizes the role of the canon in creating a Bloomian "anxiety of influence" and pressures to conform or rebel. She has also edited a collection of essays entitled Brahms and the Infuence of Beethoven, which was published as a special issue of Nineteenth-Century Music Review (Cambridge University Press, 2021); this issue is based on a symposium she organized for Boston University's Center for Beethoven Research, where she served as Acting Co-Director with Lewis Lockwood in Spring 2018. Her work on theorist, composer, and inventor Joseph Schillinger (active in New York in the 1930s-40s) examines Schillinger's means of marketing his work as a unique fusion of music with "science" while alienating himself from academic and classical musicians and yet becoming an influential teacher of some of the biggest names in jazz and popular music of his time.

She has authored articles and reviews in journals including 19th-Century Music, Nineteenth-Century Music ReviewThe Journal of Musicological Research, Notes and Music & Letters (forthcoming). Her work has been presented at meetings of the American Musicological Society, Society for American Music, German Studies Association, and Nineteenth-Century Studies Association and at the North American Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music, and she has recently spoken at events hosted by institutions including Phi Beta Kappa and the Center for Historical Keyboards at Cornell University.

She enjoys teaching on a wide range of topics, from chamber music to film music and jazz, from "music appreciation" to music research techniques, from the history of sound recording to the history of exoticism in music. Her teaching is driven by the aim of providing students with opportunities and resources to develop as creative, self-aware, and socially aware thinkers and communicators who can engage in critical historiography. Her hope is that students leave her classroom with an appreciation for the value of digging deep, questioning received modes of understanding, listening and speaking up, and finding connections across disciplinary and other socially constructed divides.


She currently serves on the music history faculty at the University of Rochester. She has previously held visiting faculty appointments at Central Connecticut State University, Boston University, Brown University, Wellesley College, and Williams College. She sits on the boards of directors of the Nineteenth-Century Studies Association, the American Brahms Society, and the Phi Beta Kappa Association of Boston; serves on the Editorial Board for College Music Symposium; and is a recent past president of the New England Chapter of the American Musicological Society. She holds a PhD in musicology from Brandeis University and a degree in music and mathematics from Wellesley College and trained in piano and choral singing at the New England Conservatory of Music.