James Currie

Associate Professor; Historical Musicology Unit Coordinator

306 Baird Hall
(716) 645-0629


PhD, Columbia University


Historical Musicology


James Currie is a writer and performer whose work has been concerned with articulating the points of interaction and dislocation between music, history, philosophy, and politics. His scholarly writings have appeared widely, including in the Journal of the American Musicological SocietyThe Musical QuarterlyPopular MusicMusic and LettersWomen and Music, and in a number of collections. His book, Music and the Politics of Negation, is coming out from Indiana University Press in the Spring of 2012, and is simultaneously an extended political and philosophical critique of the pervasive postmodern ideologies of the contemporary academy, and an investigation into the continuing relevance of the founding principles of modernity and their articulation within the music of the Viennese Classics. Educated at Cambridge University (UK) and at Columbia University in New York City, where he wrote a dissertation on fugal counterpoint and Enlightenment thinking in the music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, he held a post-doctoral research position in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University and taught in the College of Music at Loyola University in New Orleans before coming to the Department of Music at the University at Buffalo in 2003 where he is now an Associate Professor.

Since being at the University at Buffalo, he has concentrated on teaching courses on music history to undergraduates and music and philosophy at the graduate level, and has been involved in a number of creative projects with the graduate students, including writing, directing, and performing in the theatre piece Examples of Excess, which was put on at the Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Centre in Buffalo in December 2006, and writing the libretto for Diana Soh’s opera Down the Lane, which was performed as part of the Tête-à-Tête contemporary opera festival in London in August of 2011. At present he is at work on completing a volume of poetry, entitled “The Mourning After,” and has started work on a second scholarly book project concerning forgetting and the limits of culturally- and historically based methods of interpreting and assessing music and its value. Its working title is “A Time to Forget: Music and Context in a Troubled Time.”

Selected Publications

Music and the Politics of Negation. In Robert Hatten's series, "Musical Meaning and Interpretation," Indiana University Press (Spring 2012).

"A Time to Forget: Music and Context in a Troubled Time. " Work in progress

Selected Articles and Essays

"Another Music, A Time to Forget: Reflections on Edward Said's Late Style," Contemporary Music (forthcoming)

"The Music Without Expression," in Mine Doganten-Dack and Anothony Gritten, eds. , Music and Value Judgment, Indiana University Press (forthcoming)

"The Prima Donna's Art of Politics," in Rachel Cowgill and Hilary Poriss, eds. , Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming)

Selected Papers and Presentations

"Forgetting in a Troubled Time: Music and Politics at the End of Modernity. " Invited keynote address—Stony Brook Graduate Conference, February 2012.

"Edward Said's Late Politics of Forgetting and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. " Invited—Association for the Study of Arts of the Present, Pittsburgh, October 2011.

"Disciplines of Forgetting; Remembering Music. " Invited—Colloquium Series. Cambridge University (UK), Department of Music. May 2011.

Selected Poetry and Performance

"Down the Lane." Libretto for a one-act chamber opera, music by Diana Soh. Commissioned by Size Zero Opera Company. Tête à Tête opera festival. Riverside Studios. Hammersmith, London, UK. August, 2011.

"Surround." The Reactionary Ensemble at the Burchfield Penny Art Center as part of Beyond In Western New York. Participated as text and vocal improviser. November, 2010.

Five-hour long text/music improvisation with The Reactionary Ensemble. At Hallwalls's "Unhinged: Artists and Models Affair 21." Buffalo Central Terminal Building, East Buffalo. May 2008

"Someone had to die"—monologue for voice, tape, and musicians. Included in "Asheboro Wake," an experimental oratorio directed by Otto Muller, performed by members of Open Music Ensemble. Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Buffalo, New York. May 2008.

"I will not and neither will Music"—solo performance piece with tape recorder. The Love Factory, Rust Belt Books, Buffalo, New York (see documentation at ricroyer.com/ptrsIwillnot.htm). March, 2008.