Music

  • Music-making in all its forms is supported by the Office for the Arts.

    Music

    Music-making in all its forms is supported by the Office for the Arts.

Harvard’s vast and varied music scene offers multiple opportunities for students in both the curricular and co-curricular 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, Jazz Bands, the Jazz Combo Initiative and 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.

Harvard offers two dual degree programs leading to a Bachelor of Arts (AB) at Harvard College and a Master of Music (MM) or a Master of Arts (MA) at Berklee College of Music, or MM at New England Conservatory. These programs benefit musically and intellectually talented students who wish to pursue both a professional music education at Berklee or NEC and a rigorous liberal arts education at Harvard.

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 co-curricular 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 approximately 20 permanent faculty, around six visiting faculty, 50 undergraduates concentrators, 70 graduate students, 12, staff, and 10-15 associates.

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From our Music Blog

For playing out loud

AnnaMusician Anna Lee '20 was caught by surprise when a child asked her ensemble a deeply philosophical question about artmaking. The question raised more than just an answer.    

By Guest Blogger Anna Lee '20... Read more about For playing out loud

Setting the tempo

xxConducting an orchestra or ensemble is demanding. It also offers students deep and detailed exposure and experience to leadership qualities in the world of music. A roundup of Harvard students and professionals discuss their roles and reasons for pursuing the baton. 

By guest blogger William Swett '22... Read more about Setting the tempo

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