Yale Music Department Honors Two Esteemed Professors in Conference

Leon Plantinga

On December 9 and 10, the Yale Department of Music will host a two-day conference honoring long-time professors Leon Plantinga and Robert Morgan on the occasion of their retirements.

The conference, which will take place all day Friday, plus Saturday morning, is titled “Cross-Currents: Explorations in the History and Theory of Music.” The title reflects both the content of the papers to be given—topics involving the interaction of music history and theory—as well as the particular strengths of the two honorees: Plantinga is a music historian whose work is always enriched by music theory and analysis, while Morgan is a music theorist known especially for his sensitivity to musical history and culture. The speakers at the conference are former doctoral advisees—all of whom are now teaching in colleges and universities around the country—of Plantinga and Morgan.

Plantinga, who received his doctorate from Yale and spent his entire teaching career here, has written extensively on the music of the late 18th and early 19th centuries—Clementi, Beethoven and Schumann in particular. His book “Romantic Music” has been the standard text for 19th-century music for a whole generation of students. The chair of the Department of Music for 10 years, Plantinga was the Henry L. and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Music at the time of his retirement in June 2005. This fall he is a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton.

A composer and widely published scholar, Morgan came to Yale from the University of Chicago in 1989. He is known as an authority on music of the 20th century. Long acclaimed for his scholarly versatility, he has published on topics ranging from the history of music theory to musical form, music of Beethoven, Liszt, Wagner and Mahler and many topics in 20th-century music. His text “Twentieth-Century Music” combines his skills as historian and theorist, and is a classic in its field. Morgan will retire from teaching at the end of this academic year.

Plantinga and Morgan have long played key roles in shaping the Department of Music into what it is today, according to Patrick McCreless, chair of the department. “Both are superb undergraduate teachers, as well as extraordinarily effective graduate advisers and mentors. Both are first-rate musicians, as well as scholars—Plantinga a pianist, Morgan a composer. Their combined strengths have helped to give the department its unrivalled reputation as a place where students can make history and theory work imaginatively and productively together,” said McCreless.

The proceedings of the conference are organized in a loose chronological order, with papers on Haydn, Mozart, Clementi and Beethoven in the Friday morning session; on Mendelssohn, Wagner, and Brahms on Friday afternoon; and on Richard Strauss, Schoenberg and Copland on Saturday morning.

The conference, which is free and open to the public, will begin in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Wall and High streets, on Friday morning, and then will move to Sudler Hall in William H. Harkness Hall, 100 Wall St., for the other two sessions. It is sponsored by the Department of Music and also the School of Music, the Beinecke Library, the Music Library, the Institute of Sacred Music, the President’s Office and the Provost’s Office. For further information, call the Department of Music at 432-2985.

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Media Contact

Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345