Andrew Mead

After 30 years as a SMTD professor of music theory, Andrew Mead retired in May 2013. A renowned music scholar, Mead’s articles have appeared in Music Theory Spectrum, Perspectives of New Music, The Journal of Music Theory, Theory and Practice, and elsewhere. He was chair of the Department of Music Theory from 1995-2004.


“Andrew Mead retires as one of the field's most influential experts on twelve-tone music, the manifold qualities of fully chromatic music more generally and the musics of Schoenberg, Babbitt, and Carter especially,” said Walter Everett, professor of music theory. “Andy made strong commitments to the rich mentoring of students in all programs at all levels, and to clarity of communication. Our thoughts of his ready smile and incisive wit will long outlast his departure.”


Mead began his academic career as an organist at Oberlin University but changed his major to composition before transferring to Yale, where he obtained his BM. He chose Princeton for graduate and doctoral degrees in composition after attending a lecture and performance by Milton Babbitt, who taught there. At Babbitt’s request, Mead later wrote An Introduction to the Music of Milton Babbitt, a book published in 1994 by Princeton University Press.


An accomplished composer, Mead received the Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Institute/Academy of Arts and Letters. Recent works include a song cycle and a number of saxophone pieces. When asked to describe his music he said, “I like to think of it as lyrical, highly emotionally charged, and demanding but rewarding.”


Mead returned to organ playing in recent years to fill the role of organist at his church after its pipe organ was refurbished. “There was this whole new opening in my life,” he said, regarding his renewed organ studies under Marilyn Mason, which in turn led to him teaching classes on organ literature for the organ department.


In the fall of 2013, Mead will begin another new chapter of his life when he becomes a senior professor of music theory at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.