Music historians focus on music and musical life in the western tradition, placing particular emphasis on musical genres (e.g. masses and motets, symphonies and string quartets) and styles as well as musical institutions, musical thought, and the accomplishments of individual composers. Music history asks questions about historical change and development—why do musical styles change, why do some genres flourish in the sixteenth century and others in the nineteenth? It seeks answers to these questions within a broad socio-cultural context that involves the study of religious, political, social, and intellectual transformations that have defined the western experience.
All undergraduate students in the music department take a three-semester survey of western musical history and choose an upper-division topical course (the choices include an introduction to non-western music) that has a required enhanced writing component. A Bachelor of Arts degree with an emphasis in Music History is designed for those students who wish to prepare for admission to a graduate program in music history, or simply to increase their knowledge through more intensive study. Graduate degrees offered in UConn's Department of Music include the Master of Arts degree in music history and a joint theory-history Ph.D. degree. For further information on the graduate programs, please see the Handbook for Graduate Music Students.