1. Faculty

Rachel Vandagriff

Music History and Literature


  • PhD, University of California, Berkeley
  • MA, University of California, Berkeley
  • BA, Princeton University, magna cum laude

Awards and Distinctions

  • Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor
  • Nicholas C. Christophilis Prize
  • Finalist, Wiley Housewright Dissertation Prize

What is your hometown?

Oakland, CA

What are your favorite recordings?

Budapest Quartet: Bartók Quartets; Miles Davis: Kind of Blue.

What are you passionate about outside of music?

Reading physical newspapers, The New Yorker, and fiction; swimming, running, and hiking; drawing and painting in watercolor.

Who were your major teachers?

Richard Taruskin, Sheli Nan, and amazing high school and middle school teachers.

What is a favorite quote that you repeatedly tell students?

That is not a stupid question. There are no stupid questions. (Not a quote, but true statements.)

What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later?

“What can I do to begin this assignment/study for this task?”

What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?

When I took a music history and singing class with Anonymous Four (in college).

What was a turning point in your career?

Either when I taught music history for the first time or when I landed on my dissertation topic.

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?

Writing something, somewhere, or photography.

If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Only THREE?! Bach, Schumann, Beethoven.

From a music history perspective, what year and city are most important to you?

New York City, 1964.

What are your academic publications?

"A History of Perspectives on The Occasion of our 50th Anniversary," Perspectives of New Music 50 (1/2): 2012; "“Perspectives and the Patron: Paul Fromm, Benjamin Boretz, and Perspectives of New Music” Journal of the Royal Music Association (Fall, 2017).

What is your unrealized project?

There are so many, but I'm working to realize them.