Skip to Main Content
UWCSEA Libraries Logo

Music: Introduction: Institutions & People

Music and Cultural context

Susan McClary, Professor of Musicology at the University of California, Los Angeles, makes a forceful case for the importance of understanding the context in which a piece of music was written, as a prerequisite for understanding the music itself. She uses as an example Beethovens Ninth Symphony, and its slow evolution in Western culture as an un-performable mess to one of the greatest works of all time.


A number of universities, research institutes and Non-Governmental organizations have played an important role in the field of music. It is worth examining their websites for further information on the work they do and what their empahsis and specialisation is.  

Who's Who

The field of music counts a number of famous musicians and composers. In the books, journal articles, videos, blogs and podcasts you should have encountered the following people: 

Susan McClary is one of a number of people responsible for the 'new' musicology, that is, musicology that looks at music from the point of view of gender, class and race. Musicology was one of the last bastions of the pre-'progressive' approach to the humanities and I suspect there are still some corners of musicology that are relatively free of this kind of approach. 

Gary Tomlinson is a musicologist and cultural theorist known for his interdisciplinary breadth. His teaching, lecturing, and scholarship have ranged across a diverse set of interests, including the history of opera, early-modern European musical thought and practice, the musical cultures of indigenous American societies, jazz and popular music, and the philosophy of history and critical theory. His latest project concerns the evolutionary emergence of human musical capacities; his Wort Lectures at the University of Cambridge in 2009, outlining this project, were entitled "1,000,000 Years of Music."

Famous Musicians & Composers in History