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Rose Rosengard Subotnik

Professor Emerita / Visiting Professor:
Phone: +1 401 863 3234

I am writing a book about the Tin Pan Alley song, defined broadly as middlebrow songs with an independent American existence between 1890 and 1950. My focus is on analyzing ways in which this hybrid genre incorporated and projected a range of values involving commercialism, craftsmanship, and secularism in ways that have been recognized, both positively and negatively, as identifiably American.


Rose Rosengard Subotnik studied at Wellesley College (B.A. 1963) and Columbia University (M.A. 1965, Ph.D., 1973). Her disssertation was on Albert Lortzing and the Social Analysis of German Popular Opera. She has taught at the University of Chicago, CUNY Graduate Center, SUNY Stony Brook, Boston University, and Brandeis University. Both of her books were published by the University of Minnesota Press in Minneapolis: Developing Variations: Style and Ideology in Western Music (1991); and Deconstructive Variations: Music and Reason in Western Society (1996). Past fellowships include a Fulbright Scholarship to Vienna, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an ACLS Fellowship, and a Howard Fellowship. She has served on the Board of the American Musicological Society and is on the advisory board of the journals repercussions and Musik & Ästhetik. Her areas of specialization are music and critical theory (with particular emphasis on Adorno); American musical theater; American popular song (especially of the Tin Pan Alley era); and opera.


My current book about the Tin Pan Alley song examines attacks on Tin Pan Alley from the perspective of European art music (Adorno) and African-American-based vernacular music (blues, some jazz, and rock). It also considers the musical and cultural defense of Tin Pan Alley. Issues include Jewish American assimilation ("The Melting Pot"), blackface minstrelsy, authenticity, and musical intertextuality. The songwriters studied range from the Gershwins to many once-popular but now largely forgotten figures.


B.A., Wellesley College (1963); M.A., Ph. D., Columbia University (1965, 1973)


Fulbright Scholarship, 1965-66.
American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, 1977-78.
Guggenheim Fellowship, 1977 (used 1978-79).
Howard Foundation Fellowship, 1996-97.
Robert Stevenson Endowed Lectureship, UCLA, June 2-3, 2004.


American Musicological Society
Society for Values in Higher Education


American Musical Theater (late 19th century to the present).
American Vernacular Song: (19th Century; Tin Pan Alley; Great American Songbook; Early Rock and Roll; Changes in Popular Song after 1950).
Adorno on Music.

Funded Research


Curriculum Vitae

Download Rose Rosengard Subotnik's Curriculum Vitae in PDF Format