Photo of Professor Michael Spitzer

Professor Michael Spitzer

Professor of Music Music


    Personal Statement

    I am Professor of Music. I'm interested in how music intersects with other disciplines, from philosophy and psychology to biology and religion. My published writings range over Western music from chant to pop, as well as music of the world from a global and deep-historical perspective.

    As well as about 50 articles and chapters, I've written four monographs, each of which presents an overview of music from a different angle:

    1. Metaphor and Musical Thought (Chicago, 2004) explores how we conceptualise music through cognitive and historical theories of metaphor.
    2. Music as Philosophy: Adorno and Beethoven's Late Style (Indiana, 2006) uses Beethoven's music as a case-study of how to philosophise about musical style and structure.
    3. A History of Emotion in Western Music: A Thousand Years From Chant to Pop (Oxford, 2020) is the first book-length history of musical emotion published in any language.
    4. The Musical Human: A History of Life on Earth (Bloomsbury, 2021) is the first 'Big History' of music, blending global history, evolution, and comparative anthropology. It was serialised on BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week, read by Simon McBurney.

    After 20 years teaching at Durham University, I moved to Liverpool in 2010. I was President of the Society for Music Analysis for many years. In 2009, whilst at Durham, I founded a series of international conferences on music and emotion. I organised the International Conference on Analyzing Popular Music (Liverpool, 2013). As a popular music scholar, I specialise in indie (including Neutral Milk Hotel and Arcade Fire), and am currently working on Captain Beefheart.