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René Rusch

Academic Title(s): 

Assistant Professor

Contact Information
514-398-4400 Ext. 094577
Email Address: 
rene [dot] rusch [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Music Research
Music Theory

PhD University of Michigan, Music Theory


René Rusch is assistant professor of music theory at the Schulich School of Music, McGill University. She graduated with honors in piano performance from Lawrence University and completed her Ph.D. in music theory at the University of Michigan.

In addition to specializing in the music of Franz Schubert, Rusch’s research interests include 19th-century chromaticism, Schenkerian theory, and jazz theory. Her papers often adopt an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing from philosophy, literary theory, and historiography. Rusch has presented her research at several conferences, including the Society for Music Theory’s regional meetings (MTMW; MTSNYS) and Annual Meeting (2011); the Seventh International Conference on Music Since 1900 at Lancaster University, UK; “Thanatos as Muse? Schubert and Concepts of Late Style” in Maynooth, Ireland; the Biennial International Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music; the New England Conference of Music Theorists (NECMT); “Tonality in Perspective” at King’s College in London. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Music Theory, Music Analysis, Music Theory Online, Journal of the Society for Musicology in Ireland, and Intersections.

Rusch received the Arthur J. Komar Award from Music Theory Midwest in 2006 for a paper presentation derived from her thesis “Imagining Tonal Spaces: Conceptions of Hierarchy, Chromaticism, and Social Constructs in Schubert’s Music.” In 2011, she was awarded a research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Rusch has also won first prize in several piano competitions, including the Music Teachers National Association’s Performance Competition and the National Federation of Music Clubs’ District and Regional Competitions. She is currently serving on the SMT-Jazz Award Committee and on the editorial board of Intégral.




Rusch regularly teaches Schenkerian Theory and Analysis, 19th-century Theory and Analysis, 20th-Century Theory and Analysis, and graduate seminars in Music Theory (“Tonality and Form in Schubert’s Music”; “Music and Narrative”; “Schubert and Beethoven”; “Analysis and Performance”). She has also taught Proseminar in Music Theory and Tonal Counterpoint.

Selected Publications: 

Articles and reviews:

"Crossing Over with Brad Mehldau's Cover of Radiohead's 'Paranoid Android': The Role of Jazz Improvisation in the Transformation of an Intertext." Music Theory Online 19/4 (2013). Forthcoming.

“Schenkerian Analysis, Neo-Riemannian Theory, and Late Schubert: A Lesson from Tovey.” Journal of the Society for Musicology in Ireland 8 (2012– 13).

“Between Homage and Critique? Schubert’s Sonata in C minor, D. 958, and Beethoven’s Thirty-Two Variations in C minor, WoO 80.” Music Theory Online 19/1 (2013).

“Schubert’s Drei Klavierstücke, D. 946, nos. 1 and 2 and the Case of the Crossed-Out C Section.” Journal of Music Theory 56/1 (Spring 2012): 53–86.

“Rethinking Conceptions of Unity: Schubert’s Moment Musical in A-flat Major, D. 780 (op. 94), no. 2.” Musical Analysis 30/1 (2011): 58–88.

Book review of Ryan McClelland, Brahms and the Scherzo: Studies in Musical Narrative.” Intersections. Burlington: Ashgate 30/2 (2010): 127–30.


“Louis Spohr: Double String Quartet, Op. 65, No. 1.” Repertoire & Opera Explorer. Münich: Musikproduktion Höflich, 2010.

“Paul Graener: Symphonietta for Strings and Harp.” Repertoire & Opera Explorer. Münich: Musikproduktion Höflich, 2008. Translated to German by Bradford Robinson.