Professor Benjamin M. Korstvedt is an active researcher and scholar, a committed and enthusiastic teacher, a frequent speaker at national and international conferences, and a productive author and editor. He 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 and currently serves as Chair of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts. He is also affiliated with Clark’s program in Media, Culture, and the Arts and with German Studies. Before coming to Clark, Professor Korstvedt held faculty positions at the University of St. Thomas, Ball State University, and the University of Iowa.
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Scholarship and Research
Professor Korstvedt publishes widely in several areas. He is a leading scholar of the great Austrian symphonist 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 as well as a monograph on Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony that considers the history, musical design, aesthetic meaning, and performance of that great work. His current book project is Bruckner’s Fourth: The Critical Biography of a Symphony, which explores the long history of the Fourth Symphony starting with its extraordinarily complex compositional history and continuing through its reception by later generations as they performed and interpreted the symphony in their own ways.
Korstvedt is a contributing editor to the New Anton Bruckner Complete Edition. His new edition of the second version of the Fourth Symphony was published in 2019. It has been performed by several leading orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic and the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra under the direction of Herbert Blomstedt. He published the first modern edition of the 1888 version of Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony 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 in 2010.
Korstvedt also works in other areas of critical musicology. He is the author of a critical study of the musical aesthetics of the German Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch (1885-1977) entitled Listening for Utopia in Ernst Bloch’s Musical Philosophy (Cambridge University Press). 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. Other publications cover topics ranging from the role of music criticism in public discourse to the social character of Schubert’s late style, with new work in progress on liberal anxieties surrounding the body as a social text.
A frequent speaker at international and national conferences and symposia, Korstvedt has been invited to present lectures and seminars at universities in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Hungary, Austria, and Italy. He has contributed essays to program books for performance and recordings, and he is active in the local music scene as regular pre-concert speaker with Music Worcester.
Professor Korstvedt’s research has been honored with several international and national fellowships, including those from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Internationale Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften, Vienna. In 2010 he was awarded the Julio Kilenyi Medal of Honor by the Bruckner Society of America in recognition of “exemplary work in furthering the understanding and appreciation of the life and work of Anton Bruckner.”
Prof. Korstvedt has recently been appointed to the Advisory Board of the Institute of Austrian and German Music Research, a forum for renewed scholarly investigation of Austrian and German musical culture based at the University of Surrey. He has been the President of the Bruckner Society of America since 2011 and also serves on the editorial board of the Nineteenth-Century Music Review (Cambridge University Press), a journal that explores music within all aspects of culture in the long nineteenth century (c.1789-1914). He is a past member of the Council of the American Musicological Society and was the founding Vice President of the Haydn Society of North America.
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, classical and romantic repertory, musical modernism from 1885 to 1945, and music and politics. In spring 2021 he will offer a new seminar entitled “From Wagnerism to Nazism: the grandeur and catastrophe of German music. ” Together with Prof. Wiebke Deimling of Clark’s Philosophy Department, he has created a team-taught interdisciplinary seminar on “The Ethics and Aesthetics of the Sublime in Music and Art,” which will be offered again in Spring 2022.
Listening for Utopia in Ernst Bloch’s Musical Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 2010).
Anton Bruckner: Symphony no. 8, Cambridge Music Handbooks (Cambridge University Press, 2000).
Anton Bruckner, Symphony no. 4 in E-flat, Second Version (Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag, Vienna, 2019)
Anton Bruckner, Symphony no. 4 in E-flat, First Version (Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag, Vienna, in press)
Anton Bruckner: IV Symphonie Es-Dur, Fassung von 1888, Anton Bruckner Sämtliche Werke, Band IV/3 (Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag, Vienna, 2004)
The Bruckner-Streit: The Original Texts with English Translations. Introduction and annotations by Benjamin Korstvedt. Translations by Sebastian Smallshaw, with Benjamin Korstvedt. (Bruckner Society of America, 2017)
“Bloch, Music, and Historical Materialism: Why Now and Why for the Future?,” M: Review in Music and Critical Theory 1 (2020), in press
“Language and Ideology in the German Reception of Bruckner’s Symphonies in the 1930s,” German Quarterly, special issue on Music and German Culture, 1848-1945, Vol.91, no. 3 (2018), , 459-471
“Is Something Missing? Music History as Reality and Geist” in “Colloquy: Ernst Bloch’s Musical Thought,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 70 (2017), 840-846
“Mahler’s Bruckner, between Devotion and Misprision,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 70 (2017), 357-432
“The Path to the ‘Homeric Seas’: On an Overlooked Aspect of Bruckner’s Stylistic Evolution, ca. 1880,” The Bruckner Journal, Vol. 21, no. 3 (November 2017), 15-29
“’The Prerogative of Late Style’: Thoughts on the Expressive World of Schubert’s Late Works” in Schubert’s Late Music in History and Theory, ed. Lorraine Byrne Bodley and Julian Horton (Cambridge University Press, 2016), 204-25
“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
“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 Anton Bruckner Lexikon Online, and his reviews have appeared in The Journal of the American Musicological Society, German Studies Review, Music and Letters, The Journal of Modern History, Fontes Artes Musicae and Notes.