Photo of Bryan Parkhurst
  • Assistant Professor of Music Theory and Aural Skills


  • 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.

His publications and presentations (many with co-thinker Stephan Hammel) explore the topics of the conceptual foundations of Marxist aesthetics, the application of Marx’s theory of value to the arts sector of the economy, and the viability of an historical-materialist approach to the history of musical style. Explore more about these projects at Modes of Musical Production,

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.

In his spare time, he dotes on his cat, Bun-Bun, and his goldfish, Larry Gaga, and also enjoys patronizing Cleveland’s many Eastern European restaurants.

Awards and Recognition

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

Professional Affiliations

  • Society for Music Theory
  • American Musicological Society
  • American Harp Society
  • International Marxist Humanist Organization


  • “Pitch, Tone, and Note,” forthcoming, Oxford Handbook of Critical Terms in Music Theory (2018)
  • “Bloch’s Hopes and Adorno’s Thorns,” forthcoming, Theory and Practice (2018)
  • “Aspects of Analysis,” forthcoming, Music Theory and Analysis (2018)
  • Review of Nicholas Wolterstorff, Art Rethought, forthcoming, the Philosophical Review
  • “A Hopeful Tone: Bloch, Music, and the Revolutionary Imagination,” forthcoming, 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
  • 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