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The Department of Music Theory, including the affiliate areas of Ear-Training and Keyboard Studies, strives to intensify the musicianship of conservatory students and provide the required skills for a profound and concentrated understanding of music.

In George Peabody’s charge to the original trustees of the institute, he sought “to furnish that sort of instruction, under able teachers, in the theory and higher branches of music, for which there has heretofore been no provision, and which students have been obliged to seek abroad.” The current Department of Music Theory continues to realize this original vision.

The faculty in the Department of Music Theory is comprised of scholars, composers, and performers following in the tradition of such distinguished Peabody music theory faculty as Danish composer Asger Hamerick, first director of the Conservatory (1871) and professor of music theory; Otto Ortmann, pioneer in the psychology of music and director of Peabody; the renowned pedagogue and composer Nadia Boulanger (music theory faculty, 1942-43); and composers Elliott Carter (music theory faculty, 1946-47) and Henry Cowell (1951-56).

Students at Peabody work closely with the Music Theory Department in their three-year undergraduate curriculum, graduate seminar classes, and advising towards their doctorates.

Department Leadership

Joel Puckett

Joel Puckett is one of the most performed composers in America. His music, hailed by the Washington Post as visionary, has been performed by the leading artists of our day and is consistently recognized by organizations such as the American Composers Forum, BMI, etc,

Clinton Adams

A native of Hartford, Connecticut, Clinton Adams has been a member of the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory since 1983. Adams studied piano with Raymond Hanson, Artur Balsam, Fernando Laires, and Nina Svetlanova.

Patricia Sayre Graham

Patricia Sayre Graham earned a BM at Lawrence Conservatory of Music, where she earned the Performer's Prize. Ms. Graham went on to earn an MM at Peabody Conservatory, where she studied with Ellen Mack and Walter Hautzig.

Mark Janello

An active composer, performer, and scholar, Mark Janello has served on the theory faculty since 2002. His areas of specialization include counterpoint, temporality in music, and historical improvisation.