Benjamin A. Steege

Visiting Scholar
Visiting Scholars are established scholars, as evidenced by significant publications and broad academic experience, spending a fixed term as guests at the MPIWG for research purposes. They may be externally funded or receive a Research Fellowship from the MPIWG.
Max Planck Research Group (Epistemes of Modern Acoustics)
PhD, Assistant Professor of Music, Columbia University
July 1, 2017 to September 30, 2017

Benjamin Steege is Assistant Professor of Music at Columbia University. He completed his PhD at Harvard University in 2007 and was on the music faculty at Stony Brook University until 2011.

Steege studies theoretical discourses around music in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with particular attention to intersections with the history of science, as well as problems involved in the historicization of hearing and listening. His research has been supported by fellowships from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2010–11), the National Endowment for the Humanities (2014–15), and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University (2014–15). His monograph, Helmholtz and the Modern Listener (2012), thematized the collision between orthodox music-theoretical knowledge and the experimental modes of observation developed in new laboratory environments of the mid-nineteenth century. It won the Emerging Scholar Award from the Society for Music Theory in 2014. He is currently working on a book, Music and the Limits of Psychology, 1910–1960, which asks what it meant for musical thinkers, pedagogues and practitioners to adopt a skeptical stance toward the ascendant authority of psychological knowledge, especially in the context of the Weimar Republic and its legacies.

Selected publications

Steege, B. A. (2017). Antipsychologism in interwar musical thought: two ways of hearing debussy. Music & Letters, 98(1), 74-103. doi:

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Steege, B. A. (submitted). Between race and culture: hearing japanese music in berlin.

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Steege, B. A. (2011). Janáček's chronoscope. Journal of the American Musicological Society, 64(3), 647-687. doi:10.1525/jams.2011.64.3.647.

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Steege, B. A. (2012). Helmholtz and the modern listener. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Steege, B. A. (2015). Acoustics. In D. Novak, & M. Sakakeeny (Eds.), Keywords in Sound (pp. 22-23).

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