Photo by Pascal Perich

Hello, welcome to my website. Here you’ll be able to learn about me and my career. You’ll also find links to some of my publications and performances. Should you wish to contact me, don’t hesitate to do so via the “contact” tab of this website. Feel free to follow me on Twitter at @philewell, and if you’re wondering how to pronounce my name, click here.

I am a professor of music theory at Hunter College of the City University of New York, where I am the Director of Graduate Studies in the Music Department. I am also on the faculty of the CUNY Graduate Center. My research specialties include race studies in music theory, Russian music theory, Russian opera, modal theory and history, twentieth-century music theory, and hiphop and popular music—see the “research” tab above for links to some of my work. As a public music theorist my scholarship has been featured in Adam Neely’s YouTube channel, the BBC, Die Zeit, the New York Times, the New Yorker, and WQXR’s Aria Code, among other outlets—see the “media” tab above for more feature stories concerning my work. You can also read about my race scholarship in “Music Theory and the White Racial Frame,” and my six-part blog, “Confronting Racism and Sexism in American Music Theory.”

My monograph, On Music Theory, and Making Music More Welcoming for Everyone, will appear with the University of Michigan Press’s Music and Social Justice series in Spring 2023. I am also under contract at W. W. Norton to coauthor a new music theory textbook, The Engaged Musician: Theory and Analysis for the Twenty-First Century, which will be a modernized and inclusive textbook based on recent developments in music theory pedagogy, with a projected publication date in 2023. I am the series editor for the Oxford University Press book series, Theorizing African American Music, which launched in Fall 2022.

My BA in Music is from Stanford University, where I studied cello with Stephen Harrison and music theory with Leonard Ratner. My MM in cello performance is from Queens College (CUNY), where I studied cello with Barbara Mallow and music theory with Carl Schachter. I also have a certificate in cello performance from the St. Petersburg (Russia) Conservatory, where I studied with Anatoly Nikitin, and a PhD in music theory from Yale University, where I wrote a dissertation on Alexander Scriabin as an advisee of Allen Forte. Finally, I studied music theory, as a visiting student, with Yuri Kholopov at the Moscow Conservatory.

I frequently give lectures, workshops, interviews, and keynotes—don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss a potential collaboration. And thanks for visiting my website!

Selected Honors and Awards

Yale University, Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal, October 10, 2022. Presented by the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association, “The Wilbur Cross Medal is the highest honor that Yale Graduate School bestows on its alumni. It was established in 1966 to honor scholars for outstanding achievements resonant with those of Dean Cross during his multifaceted career as academic, professor, and state governor” (from the announcement).

Atlantic Center for the Arts, Mentoring Artist-In-Residence, May 15 to June 4, 2022. Former such ACA artists have included, for instance, Merce Cunningham, Allen Ginsberg, Elvin Jones, Audre Lorde, Pauline Oliveros, and Robert Rauschenberg.

Longy School of Music of Bard College, Commencement Speaker, May 14, 2022.

Dartmouth College, the Leonard J. Reade Distinguished Lecture in Music and Racial Justice, May 6, 2022.

University of Houston, the Martha Suit Hallman Lecture in Music, April 11, 2022.

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Carolina Symposia in Music and Culture, the James W. Pruett Keynote, April 9, 2021.

American Council of Learned Societies, Susan McClary and Robert Walser Fellow, 2020–2021.

City University of New York, CUNY Graduate Center Award for Excellence in Mentoring, 2020–2021.

University of Pacific, Virtual Scholar in Residence, Conservatory of Music, 2020–2021.

Hunter College, Presidential Award for Excellence in Creative Work, 2019–2020.

City University of New York, Felix Gross Award, in recognition of outstanding research in the humanities or sciences, for the article “Rethinking Octatonicism: Views from Stravinsky’s Homeland” (Music Theory Online 18.4), February 2013.