Bryan Parkhurst

  • Associate Professor of Music Theory and Aural Skills

Areas of Study


  • BM, Rice University, 2007
  • MA in music theory, University of Michigan, 2012
  • MA in philosophy, University of Michigan, 2012
  • PhD in music theory and philosophy, University of Michigan, 2014


Bryan Parkhurst is a music theorist, musicologist, and philosopher. He studied these subjects at the University of Michigan, where he was the first person to earn a joint PhD in music and philosophy. He has written extensively on the connections between the history of philosophy and the history of music theory.

In addition to his scholarly work, Parkhurst is a professional harpist. As a child, he was one of the last students of the legendary pedagogue and Oberlin harp professor Alice Chalifoux. He went on to study harp with Joan Holland at the Interlochen Arts Academy and with Paula Page at Rice University. He also is an amateur accordion player.

Proquest Distinguished Dissertation Award Finalist, University of Michigan (2014)

Emerging Scholar Award in the "Article" category, Society for Music Theory (2018), received for his article “Making a Virtue of Necessity: Schenker and Kantian Teleology” published by the Journal for Music Theory, Vol. 61 , Issue 1.

Oberlin College & Conservatory 2021-22 Excellence in Teaching Award

  • Society for Music Theory
  • American Musicological Society
  • American Harp Society

  • “Pitch, Tone, and Note,” Oxford Handbook of Critical Terms in Music Theory (2018)
  • “Bloch’s Hopes and Adorno’s Thorns,” Theory and Practice (2018)
  • “Aspects of Analysis,” forthcoming, Music Theory and Analysis (2018)
  • Review of Nicholas Wolterstorff, Art Rethought, the Philosophical Review
  • “A Hopeful Tone: Bloch, Music, and the Revolutionary Imagination,” Oxford Handbook of Sound and Imagination (2018)
  • “On Theorizing a ‘Properly Marxist’ Musical Aesthetics” International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music (June 2017), pp. 33-55.
  • “Making a Virtue of Necessity: Schenker and Kantian Teleology,” Journal of Music Theory, Volume 61, Issue 1 (November 2018), pp. 59-109.
  • Review essay on Kendall Walton, “In Other Shoes,” Journal of Music Theory, Vol. 60, No. 2 (October 2016), pp. 295-305.
  • “Review: Robert Morgan, Becoming Heinrich Schenker: Music Theory and Ideology,” Current Musicology (fall 2014), pp. 121-33
  • “Fraught with Ought: An Outline of an Expressivist Music Theory,” Music Theory Online Vol. 19 No. 3 (September 2013)
  • “Poetry as Panacea: Mill on the Moral Rewards of Aesthetic Experience,” the Journal of Aesthetic Education Vol. 47 No. 2 (summer 2013), pp. 16-34
  • “The First-Person Feeling Theory of Musical Expression,” Postgraduate Journal of Aesthetics Vol. 9 No. 2 (spring 2012), pp. 14-27
  • “A Beautiful Piece of Property: Toward a New Definition of Aesthetic Properties,” American Society for Aesthetics Graduate E-Journal (winter 2011), pp. 1-13
  • “Projecting Sound: A Theory of Musical Representation,” Interdisciplinary Humanities Vol. 26 No. 2 (fall 2009) pp. 128-143

Fall 2024

Aural Skills III — MUTH 201
Freedom, Self-Consciousness, and Alienation: Philosophy in the Nineteenth Century — PHIL 245

Spring 2025

Aural Skills IV — MUTH 202
Introduction to Schenkerian Analysis — MUTH 448


Theory Professor Bryan Parkhurst Co-editor and Contributor for New Book

September 28, 2023

A new book, Perspectives on Contemporary Music Theory: Essays in Honor of Kevin Korsyn (Routledge), was released in July 2023 and edited by two University of Michigan alumni who studied with Professor Korsyn while completing graduate degrees—Bryan Parkhurst, associate professor of music theory and aural skills at Oberlin College and Conservatory, and Jeffrey Swinkin, associate professor of music theory at the University of Oklahoma School of Music. The volume consists of an introduction and interview with Korsyn and nine essays that pay tribute to Korsyn’s decades of scholarship by exploring a variety of topics important to Korsyn and the field. Parkhurst contributed to the introduction as well as the Chapter 8 essay, “Completing the Triad: Schenker and Kantian Practical Philosophy.” The editors invitation to readers of the book—“a kaleidoscopic array of perspectives”—“will find provocative lines of inquiry, genuine musical and humanistic curiosity, and exploratory, nondogmatic approaches to and attitudes toward theorizing music—challenges, not answers.”

Bryan Parkhurst included in award from the Society for Music Theory

December 3, 2020

Music theory professor Bryan Parkhurst has been included in the Society for Music Theory's (SMT) 2020 award for Outstanding Multi-Author Collection. This was given for The Oxford Handbook of Critical Concepts in Music Theory, for which Parkhurst coauthored the lead chapter, "Pitch, Tone, and Note." In the citation for the award, SMT provided, "The eloquent essays gathered together in this volume reflect the unique insights of the contributors as well as the coalescence of a shared vision of its editors. With uniform excellence in depth and clarity, the essays demonstrate that, if we understand and teach these so-called fundamentals as immutable entities, we bypass essential disciplinary questions."

Bryan Parkhurst honored by Society for Music Theory

November 9, 2018

Bryan Parkhurst, assistant professor of music theory and aural skills, has been honored with the Emerging Scholar Award by the Society for Music Theory. The society annually recognizes publications of the best books and articles on music-theoretical topics.

The award was presented at the society's annual meeting in San Antonio, TX on November 3, 2018 recognizing Parkhurst's article, “Making a Virtue of Necessity: Schenker and Kantian Teleology,” published in the April 2017 issue of the Journal for Music Theory.

The society's review committee praised Parkhurst's in-depth study of aesthetic and philosophical underpinnings of the theories of Heinrich Schenker as "a rigorous philosophical inquiry into the ideal of 'musical science'."