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Cities of Music: Vienna & Nashville

October 24, 2020 @ 9:00 am - 12:30 pm

Note: This event was originally scheduled for Saturday, May 16.

This virtual event is organized by Carolina Public Humanities. For the most updated information and to RSVP, please visit their event and registration page.

Cities usually become influential because of their economic or political prominence in national histories, but they can also become famous symbols for cultural and artistic creativity. This seminar focuses on two very different cities that share a reputation for exceptional musical cultures. Since the post-1780 era of Mozart and Schubert, Vienna has been known as a city of great classical composers, and twentieth-century Nashville became equally prominent as the center of country music and the Grand ole Opry. This Dialogues seminar will analyze how these two “cities of music” attracted creative composers and performers by developing institutional networks that sustained a distinctive musical culture. The program will include musical interludes as well as historical perspectives to explain how two cities came to be known as major centers of European and American music.

Schedule of Topics & Speakers


Viennese Music of Laughter and Tears from Romanticism to Modernism
Robert Buxton, Lecturer in Piano, Department of Music


Nashville and the Cultural Meaning of Country Music
Jocelyn Neal, Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Term Professor of Music and Adjunct Professor of American Studies


Why do Cities Become Centers and Symbols of Musical Creativity?
A panel discussion with our speakers

Robert Buxton is a lecturer (piano) in the UNC-CH Department of Music. He seeks to bring music from the past to life for people today through performing and teaching. Robert completed a D.M.A in Piano Performance at the University of North Texas in 2018, where he also received an M.M., studying with Vladimir Viardo. Previously, he studied with Solomon Mikowsky at the Manhattan School of Music, where he received a B.M. degree, and attended the Precollege. He has performed as a soloist and chamber musician; in New York, at Symphony Space, the YIVO institute, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, The Spanish Consulate, and Steinway Hall, in Europe, at the Scuola di Musica in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana (Lucca, Italy), and the Maison Erard (Amsterdam, Netherlands), and in Japan, in Sakata, Yamagata Prefecture, Kyoto, and Tokyo. Interviews and recordings of his playing have been featured on major classical radio stations in New York and Kyoto. In 2018, Robert performed solo recitals at the Governors Club and Carol Woods in Chapel Hill NC, and a fundraiser recital at Monumental United Methodist Church in Portsmouth, VA. He performs weekly solo and chamber lecture-recitals at retirement homes and schools, aiming to bring live classical music to a wider audience.

Jocelyn Neal is Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Term Professor of Music and Adjunct Professor of American Studies at UNC-CH. She received a BA in music from Rice University in 1993, an MA from the Eastman School of Music in 1995, and a PhD in music theory from the Eastman School of Music in 2002. Her primary areas of research are commercial country music and American popular music, following on her dissertation (titled “Song Structure Determinants: Poetic Narrative, Phrase Structure, and Hypermeter in the Music of Jimmie Rodgers”). Dr. Neal teaches music theory, analysis, and popular music courses; her research addresses commercial country music, rhythm and meter, and dance/music interactions in popular music. She was a Fellow at the Mannes Institute for Advanced Studies in Music Theory (2005 and 2008). She has served as chair of the Popular Music Group for the Society of Music Theory, as a member of the editorial boards for the academic journal Music Theory Spectrum and Music Theory Online, and as co-editor of Southern Cultures (2009-2014). Dr. Neal regularly presents her research at national conferences on American music, popular music, music theory, and cultural studies. She served as Director of the Center for the Study of the American South at UNC from 2012-2013. She is also a series co-editor for Tracking Pop, a popular music book series from the University of Michigan Press, and serves on the College Board’s AP Music Theory Development Committee.


October 24, 2020
9:00 am - 12:30 pm


FedEx Global Education Center
301 Pittsboro St
Chapel Hill, NC 27514 United States
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