Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu

Dr Keith Chapin


Keith Chapin Position: Senior Lecturer Email:
Telephone: +44(0)29 208 70925
Fax: +44(0)29 208 74379
Extension: 70925
Location: 37 Corbett Road (Annexe), Room 1.11

A native of Fairbanks, Alaska, Keith Chapin developed early interests in music, languages and literature, and the sciences. He studied at Yale University, earning both a BA in music and a MM in viola performance. During this time, he studied viola with Jesse Levine and chamber music with the Tokyo Quartet. He earned his PhD at Stanford University with a dissertation entitled ‘From Tone System to Personal Inspiration: The Metaphysics of Counterpoint in 18th and Early 19th-Century Germany’. Before coming to Cardiff University in 2011, he taught at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (2001-2002), Fordham University (New York City, 2002-2007), and the New Zealand School of Music (Wellington, 2008-2011). He has continued to perform intermittently as a chamber musician.

He has published widely on issues of aesthetics and the history of music theory between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries, and has focused in particular on the aesthetics of counterpoint, the German musical appropriation of French literary classicism, and the music criticism of E. T. A. Hoffmann. He has given pre-performance lectures at the San Francisco Opera and was a regular contributor on the programme Upbeat for Radio New Zealand Concert.

He has served as Editor of Eighteenth-Century Music, Associate Editor of 19th-Century Music, and as a member of the editorial board of Acta musicologica. He currently sits on the editorial boards of Eighteenth-Century Music and 19th-Century Music.

He has been elected as Ordinary Member of Council of the Royal Musical Association. His term will run for three years from the 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2015.

He has taught a variety of courses on seventeenth and eighteenth-century music history, as well as advanced courses combining analysis and aesthetics with such focuses as Mozart’s string quartets, eighteenth-century definitions of sublimity, and early twentieth-century performance style (e.g., Furtwängler and Klemperer).

Keith is currently the School of Music's Erasmus and International Exchance Programme Coordinator.



Speaking of Music: Addressing the Sonorous, ed. Keith Chapin and Andrew Clark. New York: Fordham University Press, 2013.

Musical Meaning and Human Values, ed. Keith Chapin and Lawrence Kramer. New York: Fordham University Press, 2009.

Book Chapters, Journal Articles and Published Papers

"Learned Style and Learned Styles." In Oxford Handbook of Topic Theory, edited by Danuta Mirka. New York: Oxford University Press, [forthcoming, 2014].

"Classicism/Neo-Classicism." In Ideas in the Aesthetics of Music, edited by Stephen Downes. London and New York: Routledge, [forthcoming, 2013/2014].

"Visuality Challenged and Transformed in Late 18th-Century Writings on Music." In Late Eighteenth-Century Music and Visual Culture, edited by Cliff Eisen and Alan Davison. Turnhout: Brepols, [forthcoming, 2013].

"Bach's Silence, Mattheson's Words: Professional and Humanist Ways of Speaking of Music." In Speaking of Music: Addressing the Sonorous, edited by Keith Chapin and Andrew Clark. New York: Fordham University Press, [forthcoming, 2013].

Temporal Modes and Symbolic Stakes: Strict Composition in Early Nineteenth-Century Europe.” In Alexandre Pierre François Boëly (1785–1858), ses contemporains et le style sévère, ed. Jeanne Roudet [forthcoming]

'Le contrepoint et ses logiques tonales au tournant du dix-neuvième siècle'. In Regards sur la tonalité / Perspectives on Tonality, ed. Henri Gonnard. Sampzon: Delatour France, 2013. 197-210.

‘“A Harmony or Concord of Several and Diverse Voices”: Autonomy in 17th-Century German Music Theory and Practice’. International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music 42, no. 2 (2011).

‘Counterpoint: From the bees or for the birds? Telemann and early eighteenth-century quarrels with tradition’. Music & Letters 92, no. 3 (2011), 377-409.

‘Time and the Keyboard Fugue’. 19th-Century Music 34, no. 2 (2010), 186-207.

‘Sublime Experience and Ironic Action: E. T. A. Hoffmann and the Use of Music for Life’. In Musical Meaning and Human Values, ed. Keith Chapin and Lawrence Kramer. New York: Fordham University Press, 2009. 32-58.

‘Scheibe's Mistake: Sublime Simplicity and the Criteria of Classicism’. Eighteenth-Century Music 5, no. 2 (2008), 165-177.

‘Labor and Metaphysics in Hindemith’s and Adorno’s Statements on Counterpoint’. In Apparitions: New Perspectives on Adorno and Twentieth-Century Music, ed. Berthold Hoeckner. London: Routledge, 2006. 19-40.

‘Classicist Terms of Sublimity: Christian Friedrich Michaelis, Fugue, and Fantasy’. Ad parnassum: A Journal of Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century Instrumental Music 4, no. 8 (2006), 115-139.

‘Strict and Free Reversed: The Law of Counterpoint in Koch's Musikalisches Lexikon and Mozart's Zauberflöte’. Eighteenth-Century Music 3, no. 1 (2006), 91-107.

‘Lost in Quotation: The Nuances behind E. T. A. Hoffmann’s Programmatic Statements’. 19th-Century Music 30, no. 1 (2006), 44-61.

‘The Grammar of Musical Subjectivity: Two Versions of Counterpoint in Early Romantic Literature’. European Romantic Review 13 (2002), 153-60.

Other Output

Keith Chapin has published reviews and reports in Eighteenth-Century Music and Ad parnassum: A Journal of Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century Instrumental Music. He has translated both primary and secondary sources from German into English.


Keith Chapin is currently at work on two book projects. The first (The Cultures of Counterpoint in Eighteenth-Century Germany) is on the relationship between the aesthetics of counterpoint and German learned musicians’ attempts to reconceive their professional roles over the course of the eighteenth century. The second (Types of Musical Sublimity in the Eighteenth-Century) describes the different ideals of sublimity in circulation during the long eighteenth century and elaborates on their musical implications and manifestations. He is also at work with Andrew Clark (Fordham University) on a second co-edited book entitled Speaking of Music. This book examines the ways that scholars in different disciplines speak about music.

Other publication projects include commissioned book chapters on the ‘topic’ of the learned style in the eighteenth-century, on classicism and neo-classicism, and on music theory and visual culture in late eighteenth-century Germany.

Research Papers, Public Lectures and Performances


'The Neo-Classical and the Rhetorical Sublime: Gellert’s and C. P. E. Bach’s Musical Renditions of Gellert’s Geistliche Oden und Lieder (1757)', American Musicological Society, Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA, November 7-10, 2013

'Collisions of Sublimities: The Case of Gellert’s Geistliche Oden und Lieder (1757)', departmental colloquia at the University of Birmingham (13 November 2012), Kings College London (5 December 2012), the University of Bristol (29 January 2013), Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (2 May 2013), International Centre for Research on the Eighteenth Century, Martin-Luther-Universität-Halle-Wittenberg (7 May 2013), Universität zu Köln (14 May 2013), and Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main (15 May 2013).

'Collisions of Sublimities: The Case of Gellert’s Geistliche Oden und Lieder (1757)', Sublime et musique religieuse de Lalande à Haydn, Poitiers, France, 10 November 2012

'Counterpoint and Nature: Strategies of Legitimation in the Long Eighteenth Century', 19th Congress of the International Musicological Society, Rome, 1-7 July 2012

‘Musical Lightning Bolts: Longinus’s Examples, Boileau’s Simplicity, and the Eighteenth-Century Sublime’: University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand, 6 April 2011.

‘Counterpoint and Visual Culture in Early Eighteenth-Century Germany’: University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, 26 February 2010.

Haydn, Time, and Mood’, Joseph Haydn: Forms of Expression: New Zealand School of Music, Wellington, New Zealand, 22-24 May 2009.

‘The Escape from Enlightenment: The Limits of Music Theory in the Eighteenth Century’, Speaking of Music: Fordham University, New York, 22-23 February 2009.

‘New Directions: Temporal Modes of the Strict Style in the early Nineteenth Century’, Alexandre Pierre François Boëly, ses contemporains et le style sévère: Université Paris Sorbonne (Paris IV), Paris, France, 5-6 December 2008.

‘The Rhythm of Counterpoint and the Representation of Time: Bach, Haydn, and the Et vitam venturi Fugue in the Missa in tempore belli’: Schweizerische Musikforschende Gesellschaft, Basel, Switzerland, 18 November 2008; Université-François-Rabelais, Tours, France, 13 November 2008; American Musicological Society, Annual Meeting, Nashville, TN, 9-12 October 2008.

‘From Absolute Music to Music of the Absolute: The Aspiration of Music to Language’, Joint Conference of the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism and the British Association of Romantic Studies: Bristol, England, 26-29 July 2007.

‘Styles, Types, and the Aura of Beethoven's Instrumental Music’, 18th Congress of the International Musicological Society: Zurich, Switzerland, July 11-15, 2007.

‘Sublime Experience and Ironic Action: E. T. A. Hoffmann and the Use of Music for Life’, Musical Meaning and Human Values: A Colloquium with Lawrence Kramer: Fordham University, New York, 4-5 May 2007.