• Frederick R. Selch Assistant Professor of Musicology
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Education

  • PhD, Yale University
  • MA, MPhil, Yale University
  • MSt, Oxford University
  • BA, Williams College

Biography

James O’Leary specializes in popular music and opera, and currently focuses his research on Broadway musicals of the 1940s. He investigates the ways in which composers have strategically and self-consciously projected aesthetic hierarchies (high art versus popular, highbrow versus lowbrow) to intervene in political debates during World War II and the early Cold War. He has presented his work at a number of conferences including annual meetings of the American Musicological Societyat the Society for American Music, and at the Sorbonne.

In addition to his written work, O'Leary has lectured for the Metropolitan Opera and has worked as a pianist, music director, and arranger for the Yale School of Drama, the American Repertory Theater Oberon Stage, and the Williamstown Theater Festival. At Oberlin, O’Leary teaches music history surveys in 19th-century European music and American music, as well as more specialized courses on topics including popular music; Fin-de-Siècle music in Germany, France, and Austria; music philosophy; and organology.

O'Leary's professorship draws upon the Frederick R. Selch Collection of American Music History.

Publications

Exit Right, Singing (New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2016).

“Se non è amore, è propaganda comunista: Finian’s Rainbow (1947) e il musical politico postbellico,” in It’s burning, brothers! It's burning! Protest, Jazz and Politics, ed. Luca Lévi Sala (Bologna: Ut Orpheus, forthcoming 2015).

Oklahoma!, ‘Lousy Publicity,’ and the Politics of Formal Integration in the American Musical Theater,” Journal of Musicology 31, no. 1 (winter 2014), 139-182.

Yolanda Kondonassis, Ravel: Intimate Masterpieces (Oberlin Music, 2013), liner notes.

“Seven Lively Arts,” You’ve Got Something: A Cole Porter Companion, ed. Don Randel, Matthew Shaftel, Susan Forscher Weiss (forthcoming, 2015).

“A Guide to The Enchanted Island,” Metropolitan Opera Educator Guides, December 2011.