Alexander Stefaniak

Alexander Stefaniak

Interim Chair of Music
Associate Professor of Musicology
Director of Graduate Studies
PhD, Eastman School of Music
BM, Baldwin-Wallace College
research interests:
  • Nineteenth-century Music
  • Virtuosity
  • Piano Culture
  • Romantic Aesthetics
  • Music Criticism
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    • Washington University
      CB 1032
      One Brookings Drive
      St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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    Professor Stefaniak’s research focuses on piano culture and performance during the nineteenth century. He teaches courses on topics ranging from eighteenth-century opera to the twentieth-century culture of “classical music."

    Alexander Stefaniak received his PhD from the Eastman School of Music in 2012 and joined the faculty of Washington University that year. His research explores how virtuoso instrumentalists developed performing and compositional strategies to embody (indeed, to capitalize upon) the aspirations articulated in nineteenth-century writings on musical aesthetics. Stefaniak’s publications have used the activities of Clara and Robert Schumann as windows onto the broader landscape of piano virtuosity, particularly within Austro-German contexts. His first book, Schumann’s Virtuosity, draws upon a wide range of methodologies—from archival research to music analysis—to explore Robert Schumann’s multifaceted critical and compositional engagement with virtuosity. He has recently published articles about Clara Schumann’s engagement with popular pianism, concepts of interiority, and beliefs about interpretation and the musical work.  He is currently at work on a monograph about Clara Schumann’s ascendency as an authoritative performer of canonic repertoire, titled Becoming Clara Schumann: Performing Strategies and Aesthetics in the Culture of the Canonic Tradition. Stefaniak will complete this project as a Faculty Fellow at Washington University’s Center for the Humanities.

    Selected Publications


    Becoming Clara Schumann: Performing Strategies and Aesthetics in the Culture of the Canonic Tradition. In preparation.   

    Schumann’s Virtuosity: Criticism, Composition, and Performance in Nineteenth-Century Germany. Indiana University Press, 2016.

    • Awarded an AMS 75 PAYS subvention
    • See reviews in Nineteenth-Century Music Review (Dec. 2017) and American Music Teacher (June-July 2017)


    “Remaking the Canon in their Own Images: Creative Writing Projects in the Music History Classroom.” Journal of Music History Pedagogy 9, no. 2 (2019): 195-214.
    “Clara Schumann and the Imagined Revelation of Musical Works.” Music & Letters 99, no. 2 (2018).
    “Clara Schumann’s Interiorities and the Cutting Edge of Popular Pianism.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 70, no. 3 (2017).
    Review of Nigel Cliff, Moscow Nights: The Van Cliburn Story. In The Common Reader (2017).
    “Robert Schumann, Serious Virtuosity, and the Rhetoric of the Sublime.” Journal of Musicology 33, no. 4 (2016).


    Selected Courses


    Beethoven in His Time and Ours
    Mozart: Humor, Science, Politics, Music (Cross-listed with Comparative Literature)
    Music History II: The Invention of Classical Music (Writing Intensive Course)
    Romantic Revolutions in European Music and Culture (Cross-listed with Comparative Literature)


    Music in the Romantic Period
    Introduction to Musicological Research
    Virtuosity Studies