René Rusch

Associate Professor of Music


René Rusch is an associate professor of music theory. Prior to joining the Department of Music Theory at U-M in 2015, she taught at the Schulich School of Music, McGill University, from 2007–15. In addition to specializing in the music of Franz Schubert, Rusch’s research interests include late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century harmony and form, and jazz theory. Her papers often adopt an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing from literary theory, philosophy, and historiography.

Rusch’s articles have appeared in the Journal of Music Theory, Music Analysis, Music Theory Online, and the Journal of the Society for Musicology in Ireland. She is currently completing her monograph, Schubert’s Instrumental Music and Poetics of Interpretation, which will be published by Indiana University Press in Fall 2023. Rusch has presented her research at refereed conferences, including the Society for Music Theory’s (SMT) annual and regional meetings, the New England Conference of Music Theorists, the Society for Music Analysis Conference, the European Music Analysis Conference, the Biennial International Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music, and the International Conference on Music Theory and Analysis. She has also been invited to share her work with students and colleagues at The City University of New York, Duke University, Michigan State University, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In March 2023, she will participate in the Robert Samels Visiting Scholar Program at Indiana University.

In 2006, Rusch received the Arthur J. Komar Award from Music Theory Midwest for a paper presentation derived from her thesis. In 2011, she was awarded a research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for her work on Schubert. She is the recipient of the 2014 Schulich School of Music Teaching Award at McGill University and was nominated twice for the Principal’s Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Rusch has also won first prize in several piano competitions, including the Music Teachers National Association’s Performance Competition and the National Federation of Music Clubs’ District and Regional Competitions.

Rusch has served on the editorial boards of Music Theory Online, Intégral, and Engaging Students: Essays in Music Pedagogy; the SMT-Jazz Award Committee; and the Program Committee for SMT. She has also served as Co-editor and Editor-in-chief of Music Theory Online. She will begin a three-year appointment on SMT-V’s editorial board in November 2022.

Selected Publications

“Capturing the Ineffable: Three Transcriptions of a Jazz Solo by Sonny Rollins.” With Keith Salley and Chris Stover. Music Theory Online 22, no. 3 (2016).

“Crossing Over with Brad Mehldau’s Cover of Radiohead’s ‘Paranoid Android’: The Role of Jazz Improvisation in the Transformation of an Intertext.” Music Theory Online 19, no. 4 (2013).

“Beyond Homage and Critique? Schubert’s Sonata in C minor, D. 958, and Beethoven’s Thirty-Two Variations in C minor, WoO 80.” Music Theory Online 19, no. 1 (2013).

“Schenkerian Theory, Neo-Riemannian Theory and Late Schubert: A Lesson from Tovey.” Journal of the Society for Musicology in Ireland 8 (2012–13): 3–20.

“Schubert’s Drei Klavierstücke, D. 946, Nos. 1 and 2, and the Case of the Crossed-Out C Section.” Journal of Music Theory 56, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 53–86.

“Rethinking Conceptions of Unity: Schubert’s Moment Musical in A-flat Major, D. 780 (Op. 94), No. 2.” Music Analysis 30, no. 1 (2011): 58–88.

Selected Presentations

“Contemporary Schubert Criticism, Musical Aesthetics, and Poetics.” 14th International Conference on Music Theory and Analysis: “Interdisciplinarity of Music Theory: Knowledge of Music Between History, Poetics, Theories of Criticism” (refereed). Belgrade, Serbia, October 7–9, 2022.

“Diatonic Indeterminacy and Double Returns in Schubert’s Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960.” Paper presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Music Theory (refereed). Columbus, OH, November 7–10, 2019.

“Historical Hermeneutics Revisited: Schubert’s Biography, Music Analysis, and the Narrative Impulse.” Invited guest lecture. Michigan State University, November 17, 2017.

“The Four-Key Exposition? Schubert’s Sonata Forms, the Fantasia, and Questions of Formal Coherence.” Paper presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Music Theory (refereed). Vancouver, BC, November 3–6, 2016. 

Current Projects

Schubert’s Instrumental Music and Poetics of Interpretation. Bloomington and Indianapolis:  Indiana University Press. Forthcoming, Fall 2023.

“Rethinking Self-referentiality in Schubert’s Setting of Platen’s ‘Die Liebe hat gelogen,’ D. 751 (op. 23, no. 1).” Book chapter in Perspectives on Contemporary Music Theory: Essays in Honor of Kevin Korsyn, edited by Bryan Parkhurst and Jeffrey Swinkin. London and New York: Routledge. Forthcoming.