Faculty Biography

Benjamin Korstvedt

Benjamin Korstvedt, Ph.D.

Professor of Music
Department of Visual and Performing Art
Clark University
Worcester, MA 01610-1477

Phone: (508) 793-7369 phone
Email: bkorstvedt@clarku.edu


Benjamin Korstvedt graduated summa cum laude from Clark University in 1987 with a B.A. in Music and received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1995. He joined the Clark faculty in 2002, where he is now Professor of Music.  He has served as Chair of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts and as Program Director for Music. He is also affiliated with the program in Media, Culture and the Arts and German Studies.  Before coming to Clark, Professor Korstvedt taught at the University of St. Thomas, Ball State University, and the University of Iowa.  He has held fellowships with the American Musicological Society, the NEH, the Mannes Institute for Advanced Studies in Music, and the Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften (International Research Center in Cultural Studies) in Vienna

Scholarship and Research

Professor Korstvedt is the author of a critical study of the musical aesthetics of the German philosopher Ernst Bloch (1885-1977) entitled Listening for Utopia in Ernst Bloch's Musical Philosophy.   The book, which is the first work in English to address this topic, explicates central themes of Bloch's philosophy of music and develops them through essays on works by Wagner, Mozart, Bruckner and Brahms.

Professor Korstvedt is also a leading scholar of the Austrian composer Anton Bruckner (1824-96). His work has explored the complex text-critical issues surrounding Bruckner's works, the reception of his music by critics and scholars in the Third Reich, the place of Bruckner's music in the culture of fin-de-siècle Vienna, and the form and meaning of Bruckner's symphonies. He has published numerous articles on these topics and has presented papers at conferences and symposia in the United States, Canada, England, Germany, Hungary, and Austria.  In 2000, he published a monograph on Bruckner's Eighth Symphony that considers the history, musical design, aesthetic meaning, and performance of that great work.

He published the first modern edition of the 1888 version of Bruckner's Fourth Symphony for the Bruckner Collected Works edition in 2004.   This version of the symphony has been performed internationally in Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Austria, as well as in the U.S.  A video production of a performance by the Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst in the St. Florian Abbey, Austria has appeared on DVD (Euroarts).  The Minnesota Orchestra gave the score its American premiere and recorded it on CD under the direction of Osmo Vänskä, (BIS SACD 1746) in 2010.

In 2010 Professor Korstvedt was awarded the Julio Kilenyi Medal of Honor in recognition of his achievements in promoting the better understanding and appreciation of the music of Anton Bruckner.

In 2007 Professor Korstvedt was a Senior Fellow as the Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften (International Research Center in Cultural Studies) in Vienna.  His project there, "Rhetorical excess and the cultural unconscious in Viennese music criticism," explored music criticism as a public discourse in fin-de-siècle Vienna.  Professor Korstvedt is currently President of the Bruckner Society of America.  He also has a long interest in the music of Joseph Haydn and has served as Vice President of the Haydn Society of North America.  His current projects include essays on fraught aspects of bourgeois consciousness as expressed in Schubert's epic mode, in Brahms's revisions of the Trio, op. 8, and in the psycho-social drama of Wagner's Die Meistersinger.


Professor Korstvedt's teaching explores musical history and culture from the seventeenth century into the twentieth century, with a special interest in developing critical strategies for exploring connections between music and its many cultural contexts.   He teaches several courses in Clark's music curriculum including an innovative introductory course "Studying music historically and critically," as well as courses on topics in music before 1750, the classical and romantic repertory, and musical modernism from 1885 to 1945.

Topics of his seminars and LEEP workshop courses have included "Music and culture in fin-de-siècle Vienna," "Haydn: Approaches to the Music and its Audiences" and "Classical Music as Recorded Art."  He has twice had the opportunity to team-teach interdisciplinary seminars sponsored by Clark's Higgins School of the Humanities, "The Total Work of Art and Cultural Criticism from Wagner to the Present" (with Prof. Jiro Tanaka, German) and "Seeing and Hearing in Early Modern Europe" (with Prof. Andrea Lepage, Art History).

Selected Publications


Listening for Utopia in Ernst Bloch's Musical Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 2010).

Anton Bruckner: IV Symphonie Es-Dur, Fassung von 1888, Anton Bruckner Sämtliche Werke, Band IV/3 (Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag, Vienna, 2004)

Anton Bruckner: Symphony no. 8, Cambridge Music Handbooks (Cambridge University Press, 2000).


"On Not Inviting Difficulties in Haydn’s Symphonies," Haydn: Online Journal of the Haydn Society of North America 3.2 (2013), 35 pages.

"'Defining the 'Problem': the Development of Post-war Attitudes toward Bruckner Versions," Journal of Musicological Research 32 (2013), 1-27.

"Reading Music Criticism Beyond the fin-de-siècle Vienna Paradigm," Musical Quarterly 94 (2011), 156-210.

"Still Searching for Bruckner's True Intentions," The New York Times, Arts and Leisure Section, Sunday, July 10, 2011, p. 19.

"The Critics and the Quintet: a Study in Musical Representation" in Anton Bruckners Wiener Jahre: Analysen – Fakten – Perspektiven. Wiener Bruckner-Studien 1, ed., Renate Grasberger, Elisabeth Maier and Erich Wolfgang Partsch (Vienna, 2009), 145-66.

"The Early Compositional History of Bruckner's Fourth Symphony: an Interim Report," The Bruckner Journal, Vol. 12, no. 1 (March 2008), 33-40

"Music Criticism as Cultural Text: the Case of Hugo Wolf," Musicologica Austriaca: Jahresschrift derGesellschaft für Musikwissenschaft 26 (2007), 53-64 Österreichischen

Review of Ernst Bloch, Traces for h-net.org (2007).

"Resistance, Satire, and Strange Enthusiasm: Progressive Responses to Wagner during the First World War Era" in 'Von Grenzen und Ländern, Zentren und Rändern': Der Erste Weltkrieg und die Verschiebungen in der musikalischen Geographie Europas, ed. Christa Brüstle, Guido Heldt, and Eckhardt Weber (Edition Argus, 2005)

"Bruckner Editions: the Revolution Reconsidered" and "Between Formlessness and Formality: Aspects of Bruckner's Form" in The Cambridge Companion to Bruckner, ed. John Williamson (Cambridge University Press, 2004)

"'Return to the Pure Sources': The Ideology and Text-Critical Legacy of the First Bruckner Gesamtausgabe" in Bruckner Studies, ed. Paul Hawkshaw and Timothy Jackson (Cambridge University Press, 1997)

"Anton Bruckner in the Third Reich and After: an Essay on Ideology and Bruckner Reception," The Musical Quarterly 80 (1996)

He is a contributor to The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, and his reviews have appeared in The Journal of the American Musicological Society, Music and Letters, The Journal of Modern History, Fontes Artes Musicae and Notes.