About Music at Harvard

Harvard’s vast and varied music scene offers multiple opportunities for students in both the curricular and extracurricular realms. The Office for the Arts oversees and supports several professionally-led instrumental and choral ensembles, including the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra, Holden Choirs, Kuumba Singers of Harvard College, and Jazz Bands, among others; student-led ensembles include the Bach Society Orchestra and River Charles Ensemble. Students also lead a range of music groups and appreciation societies, from Early Music to a cappella, plus rock/R&B, hip-hop and electronica, as well as ensembles performing the music of ethnic cultures worldwide.

In the curricular realm, the Harvard University Department of Music is devoted to the study and practice of music, and exists to provide a first-rate music education that gives students advanced skills and knowledge of music history, repertory, and performance.

As an academic department, the Music Department offers both an undergraduate and a graduate program. Undergraduates receive an A.B. with a concentration in music ("concentration" is Harvard's word for "major"). Graduate students complete a Ph.D. program in historical musicology, ethnomusicology, theory, or cross-disciplinary music studies.

There is also a small A.M. program in performance practice, and a dual degree program 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.

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. Many music department courses are performance-based.

The Music Department is located in the renovated 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, Collection of Instruments, 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.

The music department is comprised of around 20 permanent faculty, around six visiting faculty, 50 undergraduates concentrators, 70 graduate students, 12, staff, and 10-15 associates.