Dr. Molly Barnes

Musicologist, Teacher, Performer


My research primarily concerns issues of musical taste and the formation of cultural hierarchies in the West during the nineteenth century.

My current book project (based on my PhD dissertation), tentatively titled Old World Harmony, New World Democracy:  American Idealism and the European Musical Inheritance, 1830-1870, explores mid-nineteenth-century American perceptions of the relationship between Western art music and the ideal of democratic egalitarianism.

Other research interests include the musical culture of German immigrants to the United States in the nineteenth century; music and social theory in the twentieth century, particularly the thought of Adorno and the Frankfurt School; 1960s psychedelic music in the U.S. and the U.K.; chamber music as a social phenomenon in the nineteenth century; and many other topics.

My 2021 article in Nineteenth-Century Music Review and my 2016 dissertation are available for download.

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John Sullivan Dwight (1813-1893), American music critic and Transcendentalist, and a figure of abiding interest to me.