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Dora Hanninen

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Professor, Music Theory
Division Coordinator, Music Theory & Composition

(301) 405-5467

1110F The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
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B.A., University of Virginia M.A., Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester Ph.D., Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester

Research Expertise

Music Theory & Composition

Dora A. Hanninen is a music theorist whose work engages broad questions in the theory and philosophy of music analysis, such as the nature and interpretation of musical sound; segmentation; repetition, association, and categorization; and multimodality in music analysis, with regard to visual images and musical movement. Her analytic writings have focused on twentieth-century and contemporary music including music by Babbitt, Cage, Feldman, Morris, Nancarrow, Riley, Swift, Webern, and Wolpe. Professor Hanninen regularly teaches courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Graduate offerings have included Critical Concepts in Music Theory, Musical Movement and Music Analysis, Theory in Analysis, Theory and Analysis of Atonal and Twelve-tone Music, Analysis of Twentieth-Century Works by American Composers, Performance and Analysis (co-taught with Prof. James Stern), and Theories of Rhythm, Meter, and Temporality. In 2020, she was awarded a Teaching Innovation Grant from the University of Maryland to retool and redesign a course for the online environment and collaborate with faculty colleagues to ensure continuity and quality of instruction in the core theory curriculum during the COVID pandemic.

In 2010 Dr. Hanninen received the Society for Music Theory’s Outstanding Publication Award for “Associative Sets, Categories, and Music Analysis” (Journal of Music Theory 48/2, 2004). Her book, A Theory of Music Analysis: On Segmentation and Associative Organization, was published by the University of Rochester Press in December 2012 and has received reviews in the Journal of Music Theory, Music Theory Online, and Notes. Other writings include "Orientations, Criteria, Segments: A General Theory of Segmentation for Music Analysis" (Journal of Music Theory 45/2, 2001); "A Theory of Recontextualization in Music: Analyzing Phenomenal Transformations of Repetition (Music Theory Spectrum 25/1, 2003), "Association and the Emergence of Form in Two Works by Stefan Wolpe" (The Open Space Magazine 6, 2004), "Feldman, Analysis, Experience" (Twentieth-Century Music 1/2, 2004), " 'What is about, is also of, also is': Words, Musical Organization, and Boretz's Language ,as a music Part I, 'Thesis'" (Perspectives of New Music 44/2, 2006); "Species Concepts in Biology and Perspectives on Association in Music Analysis" (Perspectives of New Music 47/1, 2009); “What Words Cannot Express (Music Does)” (Music Theory Spectrum 34/1, 2012); “Regarding Music and Apperception: Locating ‘Sound’ in Tonal and Post-tonal Contexts” (in Organized Sound, edited by Christian Utz, 2013); “Asking Questions / Making Music: Listening, Analysis, and Cage” (Music Theory Online 20/2/4, June 2014); “Nature and Music in Robert Morris’s Indoor Music: On strange flowers, occasional storms” (Perspectives of New Music 52/2, 2014); and “Images, Visualization, and Representation” (in Oxford Handbook of Critical Concepts in Music Theory, edited by Steven Rings and Alexander Rehding, published online in 2018, print in 2019). Her most recent work focuses on musical movement and music analysis, as in “Musical Feels,” presented at the Society for Music Theory 43rd Annual Meeting (its first-ever virtual meeting) in November, 2020.

Dr. Hanninen has presented invited talks at various universities around the United States, as well as at national, international, and regional meetings of the Society for Music Theory, Biennial International Conference on Twentieth-Century Music, Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic, Music Theory Society of New York State, New England Conference of Music Theorists, Music Theory Midwest, Stefan Wolpe Society, Music & Nature Symposium, and New Music Festival at Bowling Green State University. She has served on program committees for the Society for Music Theory and the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic (the latter also as Program Chair); on the editorial boards of Music Theory Spectrum, the Journal of Music Theory, Music Theory Online, Theory and Practice, and Intégral; and as co-editor of a special issue of Perspectives of New Music. A former Vice President of the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic, she was President of the Society for Music Theory from 2015–2017.