Women at the Piano 1848–1970
Musicologist, historian, pianist, documentary filmmaker, and distinguished professor, Pasler has published widely on new American and French music, interdisciplinarity, interculturality, race, gender, and radio. In recent years, her work on why music mattered in Third Republic France has expanded to music, new media, and governance in the French colonial and postcolonial culture, 1860s-1960s, with particular emphasis on Africa and Vietnam.
Pasler’s wide-ranging and perceptive approaches to musical biography, history, and especially music and its effects on society and culture challenge readers to rethink assumptions about important contemporary issues, including the complexity and
dynamism of national and colonial identities and the economics of power. Her article, “The Utility of Musical Instruments in the Racial and Colonial Agendas of Late Nineteenth-Century France,” Journal of the Royal Musical Association Vol. 129, No. 1 (Spring 2004), won the Colin Slim award from the American Musicological Society for the best article in 2005 by a senior scholar. In recent years, she has published four books: Writing through Music: Essays on Music, Culture, and Politics (Oxford University Press, 2008); Composing the Citizen: Music as Public Utility in Third Republic France (University of California Press, 2009), winning an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for the best book on classical music (2010); Saint-Saëns and his World (Princeton University Press, 2012), as editor and author; and La République, la musique et le citoyen, 1871-1914, Bibliothèque des histoires (Paris: Editions Gallimard, March 2015). The latter received the Prix de l’essai, Fondation Singer-Polignac, Paris (March 2016).
Research on music and French colonialism has taken her to Vietnam, Tunisia, Senegal, Morocco, and most recently Madagascar, each for multiple long séjours. Early funding came from the National Humanities Center (2006-07), the Institut d’études avancées in Nantes, France (January-June 2010), the National Endowment for the Humanities (2010-11), and the CAORC (2015-16). A fellowship from the ACLS (2016-17) supported writing a book on Colonial Ethnographies of Music and New Media, 1860s-1960. Currently, she is principal investigator of an advanced grant from the European Research Council, “The Sound of Empire in 20th-c. Colonial Cultures: Rethinking History through Music” (2019-2024), Paris.
Pasler has presented at international conferences in Australia, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Japan, Morocco, Senegal, Switzerland, and the UK. Earlier she was honored by three NEH fellowships, a Senior Fellowship, Stanford Humanities Center. In 2003-2004 she was Mather Visiting Professor at Case Western Reserve University; in winter 2008, Visiting Professor at UCLA ,and in 2011, Directeur d’études at the EHESS (Paris).
Her video documentaries have received film festival awards and were shown at the Association for Asian Studies and American Anthropological Society. Berkeley Media is distributor.
Among numerous professional activities, at UC San Diego in 1982 she organized the International Stravinsky Symposium; in Paris at the CNRS in 1983-84, she helped found the Centre d'information et de documentation "Recherche Musicale;" and in fall 1994, with Philip Brett, she ran a resident research group at the UC Humanities Research Center, "Retheorizing Music." She has served on numerous program committees, including for the 16th International Congress of the International Musicological Society (London, August 1997) and in 2001-2004 for national meetings of the American Musicological Society, chairing this committee in 2003-2004. She has also served as a founding member of the Editorial Boards for Women and Music and Music Research Annual, member of the Advisory or Editorial Boards of 19th-Century Music, Music Humana (Korea), Journal of Musicological Research, Revue de musicologie (Paris), on various committees of AMS and SEM, and on the Board of Directors of the Pauline Oliveros Foundation and of the UC Humanities Research Institute. In 2011-12, she was scholar-in-residence of Bard Music Festival, Saint-Saëns and his World, New York (2012). Pasler was also series editor of AMS Studies in Music (Oxford University Press) for the American Musicological Society and is founding President of the "Friends of the Museum of Black Civilizations" in Dakar, Senegal.