Lydia Goehr

Title | Organization: 
Professor | Columbia University

Lydia Goehr is Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. In 2009/2010 she received a Lenfest Distinguished Columbia Faculty Award, in 2007/8 The Graduate Student Advisory Council (GSAC)'s Faculty Mentoring Award (FMA), and in 2005, a Columbia University Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching. She is a recipient of Mellon, Getty, and Guggenheim Fellowships, and in 1997 was the Visiting Ernest Bloch Professor in the Music Department at U. California, Berkeley, where she gave a series of lectures on Richard Wagner. She has been a Trustee of the American Society for Aesthetics and is a member of the New York Institute of the Humanities.  In 2012, she was awarded the H. Colin Slim Award by the American Musicological Society for an article on Wagner's Die Meistersinger.

In 2002-3, she was the visiting Aby Warburg Professor in Hamburg and a fellow at the Wissenschaftskollegzu Berlin. In 2005-6, she delivered the Royal Holloway-British Library Lectures in Musicology in London and the Wort Lectures at Cambridge University. In 2008, she was a Visiting Professor at the FreieUniversität, Berlin (Cluster: "The Language of Emotions") and in 2009, a visiting professor in the FU-Berlin SFB Theater und Fest.

Lydia Goehr is the author of The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works: An Essay in the Philosophy of Music (1992; second edition with a new essay, 2007, with translations in Greek and Chinese); The Quest for Voice: Music, Politics, and the Limits of Philosophy [essays on Richard Wagner] (1998); Elective Affinities: Musical Essays on the History of Aesthetic Theory [essays on Adorno and Danto] (2008), and co-editor with Daniel Herwitz of The Don Giovanni Moment. Essays on the legacy of an Opera (2006). She has written many articleson the work of Theodor W. Adorno, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Arthur Danto. She offers courses in the history of aesthetic theory, the contemporary philosophy of the arts, critical theory, and the philosophy of history. Her research interests are in German aesthetic theory and in particular in the relationship between philosophy, politics, history, and music. With Gregg Horowitz, she is series editor of ColumbiaThemes in Philosophy, Social Criticism, and the Arts, Columbia University Press. She is presently writing a book on the place of music in the age-old contest of the arts.

Professor Goehr leads the Faculty-Students Aesthetics Group which meets weekly during the semester and welcomes students and faculty from many disciplines, from Columbia and the New York area.

Areas of Specialization: 

Philosophy of Music; Aesthetics; Critical Theory; Philosophy of History; 19th- and 20th-Century Philosophy.

Articles / Publications: 


1992  The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works: An Essay in the Philosophy of Music, Clarendon Press, Oxford; pbk 1994; translations into Greek [2005], Chinese [2009]. 2007 second edition with new Introduction “His Master’s Choice” by Lydia Goehr and preface by Richard Taruskin.

1993 editor, Aesthetics: Past and Present. A Commemorative Issue Celebrating 50 Years of the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism and the American Society for Aesthetics, Special Issue, JAAC, 51:1.

1998 The Quest for Voice: Music, Politics, and the Limits of Philosophy, Clarendon Press, Oxford UK and U. of California Press, pbk 2002.

2006 with Daniel Herwitz, eds. The Don Giovanni Moment. Essays on the Legacy of an Opera Columbia University Press; pbk 2008.

2008 Elective Affinities: Musical Essays on the History of Aesthetic Theory, Columbia University Press; pbk 2011.



“Being True to the Work,” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 47: 55-67 (JSTOR)


“Modernity: A World Without Eyebrows,” Human Studies, 13: 173-85.

“The Power of the Podium,” The Yale Review 79/3: 365-381.


“Concepts, Open” in Hans Burkhardt and Barry Smith, eds., Handbook of Metaphysics and Ontology, Munich: Philosophia Verlag.


“Writing Music History,” History and Theory 31/2: 182-199 (JSTOR).


“Music has no Meaning to Speak of: On the Politics of Musical Interpretation,” in Michael Krausz, ed., The Interpretation of Music: Philosophical Essays, Oxford: Clarendon Press: 177-190.

“The Institutionalization of a Discipline: A Retrospective of The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism and The American Society for Aesthetics, 1939-1992,” in Goehr, ed., Aesthetics: Past and Present 51:2: 199-121 (JSTOR).


“Political Music and the Politics of Music,” in Philip Alperson, ed. The Philosophy of Music, Special Issue, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 52:1: 99-112 (JSTOR).


“Schopenhauer and the Musicians: An inquiry into the sounds of silence and the limits of philosophizing about music,” in Dale Jacquette, ed., Schopenhauer, Philosophy, and the Arts, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 200-228.


“Music and Musicians in Exile: The Romantic Legacy of a Double Life,” in R. Brinkmann and C. Wolff, eds., Driven into Paradise. The Musical Migration from Nazi Germany to the United States, Berkeley: University of California Press: 66-91.

Review Essay of Roger Scruton’s The Aesthetics of Music, Journal of the American Musicological Society 52/2, 398-409.


“On the Problems of Dating or Looking Backward and Forward with Strohm,” in M. Talbot, ed., The Musical Work: Reality or Invention, Liverpool University Press, 231-246 (a collection following a conference discussing my Imaginary Museum of Musical Works).


“Philosophy of Music,” The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. S. Sadie (also part-entry on musicology).

“Radical Modernism and the Failure of Style: Philosophical Reflections on Maeterlinck-Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande,” Representations74. Philosophies in Time: 55-82 (JSTOR).

“Jewish Life and Culture, c.1912,” Schoenberg, Pierrot Lunaire Project, Ian Bent, ed. (website) Columbia University.


“In the Shadow of the Canon,” Musical Quarterly 86/2:307-328 (JSTOR).

“The Dangers of Satisfaction. On Songs, Rehearsals, and Repetition in Wagner’s Die Meistersinger,” in N. Vazsonyi, ed., Wagner’s Meistersinger. Performance, History, Representation, University of Rochester Press, 56-70; also: hrsg. Otto Kolleritsch, Die Musik als Medium von Beziehungsbefindlichkeiten. Mozarts und Wagners Musiktheater im aktuellen Deutungsgeschehen, Studien zur Wertungsforschung 40, Wien/Graz: Universal Edition, 128-145.

“Art and Politics,” in J. Levinson, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics, Oxford University Press: 471-485.


“Adorno, Schoenberg, and the Totentanz der Prinzipien. In 13 Steps,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 56/3: 595-636 (JSTOR).

“Juliette fährt nach Mahagonny oder eine Kritische Betrachtung der surrealistischen Oper,” Vorträge aus dem Warburg Haus, Bd. 7, hrsg. Wolfgang Kemp, u.a., Berlin: Akademie Verlag: 167-212.

“Abgebrühte Desillusioniertheit. Mahagonny als die letzte kulinarische Oper,” Ästhetik und Allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft48/2: 251-272.

“Gegen die Vögel. Theodor W. Adorno über Musik, Konzept und dialektische Bewegung,” hrsg. Christoph Metzger, Conceptualisms in Musik, Kunst, und Film, Berlin: Akademie der Künste: 97-114.

“Im Schatten des Kanons,” Kunst - Fest - Feier, eds. Hermann Danuser und Herfried Münkler, Schliengen: Edition Argus: 125-146.


“Dissonant Works and the Listening Public,” T. Huhn, ed., Cambridge Companion to Adorno, Cambridge University Press: 222-247.

“Adorno, Schoenberg, und der Totentanz der Prinzipien. In 13 Stufe,” Wolfram Ette, et. al, eds. Adorno in Widerstreit. Zur Präsenz seines DenkensFrankfurt: Karl Alber: 256-288.


“Understanding the Engaged Philosopher,” T. Carman and Mark B. N. Hansen, eds. Cambridge Companion on Merleau-Ponty, Cambridge University Press: 318-51.

“Philosophical exercises in repetition: on music, humor, and exile in Wittgenstein and Adorno,” Karol Berger and Anthony Newcomb, eds., Music and the Aesthetics of Modernity, Harvard University Press: 311-340.

“Doppelbewegung. Die musikalische Bewegung der Philosophie und die philosophische Bewegung der Musik,” Axel Honneth, ed. Dialektik der Freiheit, Frankfurt: Suhrkamp: 279-317.

“Reviewing Adorno. Public Opinion and Critique,” an introductory essay for revised edition of Adorno’s Critical Models. Interventions and Catchwords, Columbia University Press: xiii-lvi.

“Para los pájaros/Contra los pájaros. Las narrativas de Danto y Adorno (y Cage) sobre el arte moderno”, en F. Pérez Carreño (ed.): Estética después del fin del arte. Ensayos sobre Arthur Danto, Madrid: Machado Libros: 147-184.

“Undoing the Discourse of Fate. The Case of Der Fliegende Holländer,Opera Quarterly, 21/3: 1-22.

Juliette fährt nach MahagonnyOr A Critical Reading of Surrealist Opera,” Opera Quarterly, 21/4: 647-674.

“Il concetto di musica dopo il 1800,” for J.-J.-Nattiez, et. al., eds, Enciclopedia della musica 5. L’unita della musica, Torino: Einaudi: 699-716.


“Explosive Experimente und die Fragilität des Experimentellen. Adorno, Bacon, und Cage,” Spektakuläre Experimente, Praktiken der Evidenzproduktion im 17. Jahrhundert, eds. Helmar Schramm, Ludger Schwarte, and Jan Lazardzig, Berlin/ New York: De Gruyter: 477-506.

Doppelbewegung: The Musical Movement of Philosophy and the Philosophical Movement of Music,” in J. Hermand and G. Richter, eds., Sound Figures of Modernity: German Music and Philosophy, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press: 19-63.

“The Ode to Joy. Music and Musicality in Tragic Culture,”Frederik Schiller und der Weg in die Moderne, ed. Walter Hinderer, Würzburg: Königshausen und Neumann, 2007: 559-590.

Entries on “Adorno” and “Benjamin” for the revised edition Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

“Film Music: Doubling, Dissonance, and Displacement,” Das Double, ed. Victor I. Stoichita, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag: 319-344.

“As narrativas modernistas de Danto e Adorno (e Cage):” Ensaios sobre musica e filosofia, eds. Rodrigo Duarte e Vladimir Safatle, Associacao Editorial Humanitas (Portugese).

“Über Fortschritt und den musikalischen Werkbegriff. Bemerkungen zu Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf’s ‚Über Zeit und Geschichte in der Musik,’“ in Kunst, Fortschritt, Geschichte, eds. C. Menke and J. Rebentisch, Berlin: Kulturverlag Kadmos: 107-119.


‘“Confessions of the Commonplace,” Internet Conference on Danto’s Transfiguration of the Commonplace, organized by B. Soucek, J. Neufeld, M. Gal.

“Afterwords,” Introductory essay to Arthur Danto’s Narration and Knowledge (including his Analytical Philosophy of History): Columbia University Press: xix-lxii.

“Afterwords, An Introduction to Arthur Danto’s Philosophies of History and Art” History and Theory 46: 1-28 (JSTOR).

“For the Birds/Against the Birds: The Modernist Narratives of Danto, Adorno (and Cage),” Daniel Herwitz and Michael Kelly, eds. Action, Art, History: Engagement with Arthur Danto, New York, Columbia University Press: 43-73.

Per gli uccelli/contro gli uccelli: narrazioni moderniste sulla fine dell’arte,”Revisita di Estetic, 35/2: 189-222.

“‘Three Blind Mice.’ Goodman, McLuhan und Adorno über die Kunst der Musik und des Hörens im Zeitalter der globalen Transmission,” in C. Wulf, et. al. ed., Die Künste im Dialog der Kulturen. Europa und seine muslimischen Nachbarn, Berlin, Akademie Verlag: 220-246.


“Hardboiled Disillusionment. Mahagonnyas the last culinary opera,” Cultural Critique 68: 3-37 (JSTOR).

Amerikamüde/Europamüde. On the Very Idea of American Opera,” Opera Quarterly 22 (3-4): 398-432.

“Musikdrama,” S. L. Sorgner, et. al. eds. Wagner und Nietzsche. Kultur-Werk-Wirkung. Ein Handbuch.Reinbek b. Hamburg: Rowohlt (German): 215-248.

“‘Three Blind Mice.’ Goodman, McLuhan and Adorno on the Art of Music and Listening in the Age of Global Transmission,” New German Critique, 35/2: 1-31 (JSTOR).

“Heil wem? Katharina: Wasted Art or the Art of Waste,” Angst vor der Zerstörung : der Meister Künste zwischen Archiv und Erneuerung. Berlin: Theater der Zeit, Recherchen 52, eds. Stephan Jöris, Sebastian Reus, Clemens Risi, Robert Sollich: 247-259.


“From Opera to Music drama: Nominal Loss, Titular Gain,” Andreas Dorschel, ed., Studien zur Wertungsforschung, Vienna/Graz; also in Wagner and His World, ed. Thomas S. Grey, NJ: Princeton University Press: 87-122.

“Kunst und Politik,” Handbuch der politischen Philosophie und Sozialphilosophie, hrsg. S. Gosepath, W. Hinsch, & B. Rössler, Berlin: De Gruyter: 692-97.

Aida and the Empire of Emotions. On Adorno, Said, and Kluge,” Current Musicology 87: 133-160.

“Normativity without Norms,” Review Essay of Andrew Bowie’s Music, Philosophy and Modernity, European Journal of Philosophy 17: 597–607.

“Agon und Hybris in Politik und Kunst,” in Erziehung und Demokratie Europäische, muslimisch und arabische Länder im Dialog, eds. Christoph Wulf, Jacques Poulain, Fathi Triki: 99-118.


“Perspectivism without Perspective or Philosophy without Art. Standing on the Stage with Nietzsche's Gay Science,” retitled by editor as “Philosophy without Art,” New Nietzsche Studies 8:1/2: 34-57.


“Canned Laughter. Response to Daniel Leech Wilkinson,” Journal of Royal Musicological Association 135/1: 63-66.

“Perspektivismus ohne Perspektive oder: Philosophie ohne Kunst. Mit Nietzsches fröhlicher Wissenschaft auf der Bühne stehen,” Gertrud Koch, ed. Perspektive - Die Spaltung der Standpunkte, Fink: 29-48.

“How to do more with words. Two views of (musical) ekphrasis,” British Journal of Aesthetics 50 (4): 389-410.


“’—wie ihn uns Meister Dürer gemalt!’ Contest, Myth, and Prophecy in Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg,“ JAMS 64/1, 51-118 (JSTOR). AWARDED COLIN SLIM PRIZE (see under prizes).

Разорванные струны, расчлененные тела. Примерные тезисы по поводу воплощения и развоплощения музыки. (Broken Strings, Dismembered Bodies. Paragonal Theses on the Embodiment and Disembodiment of Music) inRussian edition, ed. Christoph Wulf: 164-198.


“’Other pictures we look at,—his prints we read.’ Danto reading Lamb reading Hogarth on the Art of the Commonplace,” for Danto and his Critics, ed. Mark Rollins. Revised edition, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell: 84-108.

“How To Do More With Words
. Zwei Konzeptionen musikalischer Ekphrasis,”Die Sinnlichkeit der Künste: Beiträge zur ästhetischen Reflexivität,usw. Georg Bertram, Daniel Martin Feige and Frank Ruda: 87-114.

Tres ratones ciegos: Goodman, McLuhan y Adorno sobre el arte de la música y del escuchar en la época de la transmisión global,” Enrahonar. Quaderns de filosofia 49: 121-154.

Diotimin koutek/Performing Philosophy. Interviewed by Robert Roreitner forNomádva Slovo (Czech republic): 48-57.

“Oper: Agon und Paragone,” Basler Jahrbuch für Historische Musikpraxis33: 21-37.


“Opern für Auge und Ohr. Versuch einer bürgerlichen Geschichte des Telefons,“ in Georg Möhr and Johann Kreuzer, eds.,Vom Sinn des Hörens.Beiträge zur Philosophie der Musik,Königshausen & Neumann: 153-181; forth as “The Diva on the Telephone,”in Karen Hansen, ed., Technologies of the Diva. Cambridge University Press.

“The Pastness of the Work,” Arthur Danto, Library of Living Philosophers, La Salle, Open Court Press.

“איךלעשותעודעםמילים: שתיתפיסותשלאֶקְפְרָסיסמוזיקלי[ =“How to do more with words. Two views of (musical) ekphrasis,” in אוזןרואה, עיןשומעת: עלהקשריםביןצליללתמונהבאמנות= ed. Yael Kadudi, Ear Sees, Eye Hears: On the Interconnections among Sound and Picture in Art, Jerusalem: Magnes.

With Boris Gasparov: “The Music of Language and the Language of Music,” for Colloquy on Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Journal of the American Musicological Association.

“The Concept of Opera,” Oxford Handbook of Opera, ed. Helen Greenwald, OUP.

“Improvisation Impromptu, or, what to do with a broken string,” George Lewis and Ben Piekut, eds. Oxford Handbook on Improvisation.

“Der Agon des Improvisierens – auf Gerissenen Saiten. 
Zu einer Theorie von Passung und Witz,” Konturen des Kunstwerks. Zur Frage von Relevanz und Kontingenz, eds. Frédéric Döhl, Daniel Martin Feige, Thomas Hilgers, Fiona McGovern, Wilhelm Fink Verlag, München.

Submitted: “’All art aspires to the condition of music,’ except the art of music.”

Colloquium Coordinators