Suzannah Clark, AKC, BMus, MMus, MFA, MA, PhD, is Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music and in 2019 was named Harvard College Professor. Since 2017, she has also served on the faculty at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Canada during the summer program “Evolution: Quartet.” From 2016–2019, Clark was Chair of the Department of Music. Before joining Harvard in 2008, she taught at Oxford University and was a Tutorial Fellow at Merton College for eight years. Prior to her faculty position at Oxford, she was a Junior Research Fellow and British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at Merton College. She completed her undergraduate and master’s degrees at King’s College London and graduated with an MFA and PhD from Princeton University.
Clark specializes in the music of Franz Schubert, the history of music theory, and medieval vernacular music of the 12th and 13th centuries. Her book Analyzing Schubert (Cambridge University Press, 2011) challenges a century of music-theoretical approaches to Schubert’s songs and instrumental music. She presents a new theoretical paradigm for analyzing Schubert’s harmonic and melodic soundscape, a paradigm rooted in late 18th- and early 19th-century thought. In a series of subsequent articles, Clark has extended her theoretical model to the music of Schumann, Brahms, and Liszt.
Clark is currently at work on a book, Quirks in Tonality: Aspects in the History of Tonal Spaces, which focuses on the theories of Gottfried Weber, Arthur von Oettingen, and Heinrich Schenker. She is especially interested in the insights that their diagrams of tonal space provide about changing conceptions of modulation, key relations, and diatonicism versus chromaticism. She uses these insights to demonstrate new ways of understanding and hearing some of the most famous passages in the symphonic, chamber, and song repertoire of the nineteenth century.
Clark’s interest in the invention of vernacular polyphony and monophonic song in the 12th and 13th centuries centers on habits of citation, intertextuality, and the hermeneutics of melodic and contrapuntal design. While the music of this repertoire has traditionally been seen as little more than a melodic cloaking of the words, Clark argues for a hermeneutics of the sonic material. Her landmark essay on this topic in Plainsong and Medieval Music has been widely cited since its publication in 2007.
Her interest in how theorists invoke concepts of nature to shape their theories was first articulated in her PhD thesis and led to a conference that she co-organized at Merton College entitled “Music Theory’s Nature.” This culminated in her first co-edited volume with her colleague Alexander Rehding, Music Theory and Natural Order from the Renaissance to the Early Twentieth Century (Cambridge University Press, 2001; pbk 2005). Her other co-edited volumes include: Music in Time: Phenomenology, Perception, Performance (Harvard Publications in Music, 2016) with Alexander Rehding and Citation and Authority in Medieval and Renaissance Musical Culture: Learning from the Learned (Boydell & Brewer, 2005) with Elizabeth Eva Leach.
Clark has held fellowships from the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (Germany), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Canada), British Academy (UK), Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK), the National Humanities Center in North Carolina (USA), where she was the William J. Bouwsma Fellow, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (USA), where she was the Edward T. Cone Member, and the American Council of Learned Societies (USA).
Clark has served as President of the New England Conference of Music Theorists (NECMT), and she has delivered keynotes at its sister conferences: Music Theory Society of New York State (MTSNTS), West Coast Conference of Music Theory and Analysis (WCCMTA), and Music Theory Midwest (MTMW). She delivered the keynote at the UK’s Society for Music Theory annual conference in 2019. In 2019, she was named the Music-Theorist-in-Residence of the Dutch-Flemish Society for Music Theory, delivering a series of seven lectures on Haydn, Schubert, Liszt, and the history of music theory. In 2017, she delivered the Robin Orr Lecture in Cambridge University on the theme “Cupid’s Arrow and the Conventions of Medieval Song.”
From 2014 to 2016, Clark served as Reviews Editor of the Journal of the American Musicological Society. She has served on the editorial boards of Music Analysis and Music Theory Spectrum and is currently on the advisory board for Music Analysis and Nineteenth-Century Music Review. She has previously served as member-at-large on the Executive Board and Chair of the Publication Awards Committee for the Society for Music Theory (SMT) and on Council for the American Musicological Society (AMS), as well as in other capacities for both the SMT and AMS.
At Harvard, Clark teaches courses primarily in music theory, but also in historical musicology. At the graduate level, her courses include: Schenkerian Analysis (MUS 222r), Neo-Riemannian Theory (MUS 223r), Current Trends in Music Theory (MUS 221r), Quirks in the Major-Minor System (MUS 220r), Theory and Analysis of Sonata Forms (MUS 230r), and Music during the first hundred years of the construction of the Notre-Dame Cathedral (MUS 231r). At the undergraduate level, she has taught courses on Tonal Analysis (MUS 151), Tonal Counterpoint (MUS 156), Theory II: The Classical Style (MUS 150a), the Sacred and Profane in the Thirteenth-Century Motet (MUS 191r), and a Freshman Seminar "Musical Jokes from the Middle Ages to the Present Day." In 2014, the Art Career Project named Clark amongst the “15 Notable Art Professors in Boston.” As mentioned above, she was named Harvard College Professor in 2019, which "recognizes particularly distinguished contributions to undergraduate teaching and creating a positive culture of teaching in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences."
Throughout her career, Clark has enthusiastically championed educational and outreach programs, from the high-school level to postdocs and the general public. At Harvard, she was co-chair of the Committee on General Education in the lead-up to the 2019 launch of the new Program in General Education, which is the cornerstone of the Harvard College curriculum. While at Oxford, she headed Merton College’s postdoctoral Junior Research Fellowship competition in the Sciences, Arts, and Social Sciences. For 5 years, she directed the Music Program of the Oxford Sutton Trust Summer School for first-generation university-bound students and high-school students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. As the Fellow in Music at Merton College, Clark was integral in establishing the new Choral Foundation at Merton College, which launched in the fall of 2008. An important part of her vision for Merton’s mixed-voice Chapel Choir was that it would offer a musical opportunity to women, as well as men, that would rival the centuries-old all-male Choral Foundations at Oxford and Cambridge. Having co-founded the Merton Choir with Peter Phillips, the Director of the Tallis Scholars, she now regularly hosts pre-concert talks with Peter Phillips during the Tallis Scholars’ annual concerts in the Boston Early Music Festival.