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Faculty of Music

 Ian  Bent


Honorary Professor in the History of Music Theory


Ian Bent was educated at King Edward VI School, Birmingham, then (after national service) took first class honours in Music at Cambridge (1961), MusB (1962), and PhD (1969) for a dissertation on the English Chapel Royal 1066-1327. His college is St. John’s. He was (Assistant) Lecturer at University of London King’s College (1965-75), where he was involved in inaugurating the new BMus and MMus syllabuses and creating the MMus in Analysis. He was Professor of Music at the University of Nottingham (1975-87), in 1982 Visiting Professor at Harvard University, and from 1987 Full Professor of Music at Columbia University in New York City until his retirement in 2003 (now Emeritus), when he returned to live in Cambridge.

From 1971 to 1980, he was Senior Consulting Editor for The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians; for twenty years he worked editorially for Editions de l’Oiseau-Lyre on collected editions of late medieval polyphony; and since 1986 he has been General Editor of the series Cambridge Studies in Music Theory and Analysis.

Over the past thirty-five years, his chief interest has been the history of music theory and analysis. His principal book publications are Analysis (Macmillan, 1987; translated into Italian and French), Music Analysis in the Nineteenth Century, 2 vols (CUP, 1994), and (edited) Music Theory in the Age of Romanticism (CUP, 1996). In recent years, he has worked on the early 20th-century Viennese piano teacher and influential music theorist, Heinrich Schenker, in translated editions of two of whose works he has been involved: The Masterwork in Music, 3 vols (CUP, 1994-97) and Der Tonwille, 2 vols (OUP, 2004-06). He has contributed articles to scholarly journals and chapters to collected volumes, most recently ‘Steps to Parnassus: Contrapuntal Theory in 1725: Precursors and Successors’, in Cambridge History of Western Music Theory (2002), and ‘”That Bright New Light”: Schenker, Universal Edition, and the Origins of the Erläuterung Series, 1901-1910′, Journal of the American Musicological Society (2005).

With an international team of contributors, he is currently directing a long-term project, Schenker Documents Online, which is an online edition and translation of Schenker’s voluminous correspondence, diaries, and lesson-notes.