Cynthia Verba has long devoted her scholarship to the rich musical debates of the French Enlightenment, with many of the issues revolving around the composer-theorist Jean-Philippe Rameau, as both subject and participant in the debates. While her earlier book,Music and the French Enlightenment: Reconstruction of a Dialogue, 1750-1765 (Oxford Clarendon Press, 1993), closely examines the nature of the arguments in the Rameau-centered debates, her current work shifts the emphasis to Rameau’s musical practice, focusing on his concept of musical expression and how it is manifested in his own tragedies. Additional publications include a chapter in The Enlightenment World (Routledge Press, 2004), as well as articles and reviews in the Cambridge Opera Journal,Journal of the American Musicological Association, The Journal of Musicology, and the Journal of Modern History. She has been a Fellow at the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College and a recipient of a National Foundation for the Humanities Summer Grant.
Verba’s scholarly activities have their counterpart in her administrative activities at Harvard University, where she has served as Director of Fellowships in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for the past two and a half decades. During most of that time she also held a position as music lecturer in Harvard Extension, teaching courses in music history to a more general student body.