I am assistant professor of musicology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Currently, I am writing a book-length cultural history of the Second World War as seen through the eyes of the Polish and Polish-Jewish musicians who were uprooted by it. I ask how the politics of friendships—the shifting relationships and alliances among the leaders of this musical community—can help reveal the long-range impacts of trauma on post-conflict musical cultures. Committed to interdisciplinary inquiry, my work is in dialogue with cultural history, music analysis, Eastern European studies, and Holocaust and genocide studies.
My scholarship has been supported by fellowships from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, the Polin Museum for the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, and the Beinecke Foundation. I have presented findings from my research at invited lectures on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as at multiple annual meetings of the American Musicological Society and the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.
In addition, my research has led to collaborations with international scholarly communities and performers. A highlight of this work was the scholarship and performance festival “Forbidden Songs,” which featured six US premieres of works by Roman Palester and the (re)premiere of Poland’s first postwar feature film, Zakazane piosenki, with new English subtitles.
My interest in how music maps social change has led to research in fields including the history of technology, improvisation studies, and sound studies. I have written about how changing conceptions of amateurism provided a sounding board for Chopin and about how the advent of print capitalism restructured notions of improvisational creativity. Extending these interests into the present-day, I have designed and taught a course that treats improvisation as a window into contested notions of multiculturalism in recent U.S. history as a Randel Teaching Fellow in the Cornell Department of Music.
Before receiving my PhD from Cornell University, I studied at the Center for Polish Language and Culture at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków on a fellowship from the Kosciuszko Foundation and the Polish Ministry of Education. I hold a BA with Highest Honors from Swarthmore College, and I studied cello performance at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.