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Benjamin Steege

Associate Professor, Music, Columbia University

Chair, Music Humanities, Columbia University

Governing Board Member, SOF/Heyman, Columbia University (2022–Present, ex-officio)

Headshot of Benjamin Steege

Benjamin Steege joined the Department of Music in 2012, having previously taught at Stony Brook University. He studies theoretical discourses around music in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with particular attention to the history of science, the history of listening, and phenomenology. His research has been supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

Steege’s first book, Helmholtz and the Modern Listener (Cambridge University Press, 2012), thematized the collision between orthodox music-theoretical knowledge and the experimental modes of observation developed in new laboratory environments of the mid-nineteenth century. It won the Emerging Scholar Award from the Society for Music Theory. His second book, An Unnatural Attitude: Phenomenology in Weimar Musical Thought (University of Chicago Press, 2021), asks what it meant to adopt a critical stance toward the authority of naturalistic knowledge about music in the German interwar period. He recently discussed the latter book with Dr. Eamonn Bell on the New Books Network podcast.

He is currently working on three new projects: a translation of musical writings by the philosopher Günther Anders; The Oxford Handbook of the Phenomenology of Music, which he is co-editing with Jonathan De Souza and Jessica Wiskus; and a new book exploring the history of the very idea of "musical value."

In his role as Chair of Music Humanities, Professor Steege serves as an ex officio member of the Governing Board of the Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities. Elected Board members serve three-year, non-renewable terms: terms that exceed three years are served ex officio.