Roe-Min Kok

Academic title(s): 

Associate Professor, Music History/Musicology

Department Chair, Music Research

Music Research
Music History/Musicology
Contact Information
514-398-4400 Ext 089403
Email address: 
roe-min.kok [at]
Department Chair

BMus University of Texas at Austin
MA Duke University
PhD Harvard University



My interests lie primarily in identifying and analyzing specific cultural frameworks through which music is/was created, received, understood, and discussed, with the premise that culture-specific elements are inherent, even inescapable, in any work of art. I studied musicology, ethnomusicology and cultural anthropology, receiving my Ph.D. with a dissertation about representations of romantic childhood in Robert Schumann's music, which contextualized close analyses of primary sources within the social and cultural history of childhood (supervisor: Christoph Wolff). With Susan Boynton, I edited Musical Childhoods and the Cultures of Youth (2006). Rethinking Schumann, a collection of eighteen new essays showcasing Anglo-American approaches to Schumann studies, appeared with Oxford University Press in January 2011. Currently I am working on a monograph about domestic music in nineteenth-century Germany with the support of a three-year Standard Research Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and preparing an edition of Kreisleriana Op. 16 for the Robert Schumann New Critical Edition. My research and supervision areas include Robert and Clara Schumann, German romantic discourse and constructions of childhood, gender studies, history of the family, and music education in postcolonial and globalized contexts.



Editorial Board, Journal for the History of Childhood and Youth; Co-Chair, American Musicological Society Committee for Cultural Diversity; Interdisciplinary Initiatives Committee, German Studies Association; Implementation Committee, Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas, McGill University; Corresponding Member for Canada, Centre for the History of Music in Britain, the Empire and Commonwealth (University of Bristol, U.K.). Past Member-at-Large and Nominations Committee Member of the Council of the American Musicological Society.

Conferences and Colloquia

American Musicological Society, International Musicological Society, International Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music, Society for Ethnomusicology, Royal Musical Association, Gesellschaft für Musikforschung; themed conferences in Italy, Greece, Germany, U.K., and U.S.A; invited colloquia in U.S.A., U.K., Germany, and Switzerland.


Standard Research Grant, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (2010-2013); British Academy Visiting Fellowship (2007); Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst Summer Fellowship, Cornell University (2007); Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Conference Grant, British Council, and German Consulate-General Travel Grants for the international conference “New Paths: Robert Schumann, 1848-1856” (McGill University, September 2006).



Rethinking Schumann, ed. Roe-Min Kok and Laura Tunbridge. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Musical Childhoods and the Cultures of Youth, ed. Susan Boynton and Roe-Min Kok. Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 2006.


“Robert Schumann’s Choral Music,” in Nineteenth-Century Choral Music, ed. Donna Di Grazia.      Routledge Studies in Musical Genres. New York: Routledge, 2013. 150-68.

         Surveys Schumann’s choral works with emphasis on compositional-stylistic changes over the course of his career, including detailed analytical commentary about four little-known works: Op. 33 (1840), Op. 55 (1846), Op. 108 (1849), and Op. 112 (1851).

“Music for a Postcolonial Child: Theorizing Malaysian Memories,” in Musical Childhoods and the Cultures of Youth, eds. Susan Boynton and Roe-Min Kok. Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 2006. 89-104. Reprint 1: In Learning, Teaching, and Musical Identity: Voices across Cultures. Ed. Lucy Green. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011. 73-90. Reprint 2: “‘Vom fremden Ländern und Menschen … .’ Western Classical Music, Colonialism and Identity Formation: A Case-Study in Southeast Asia.” In Musik und kulturelle Identität. Bericht des XIII. Internationalen Kongresses der Gesellschaft für Musikforschung 16.–21.9.2004 in Weimar. Ed. Detlef Altenburg and Rainer Bayreuther. 3 vols. Vol. 1, 498-505. Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2012.

         The multicultural Muslim nation and ex-British colony Malaysia is the twentieth-century setting for the author’s memories of learning piano under a music education system run by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Using postcolonial and cultural theories, the author analyzes her autobiographical narrative, revealing how musical activity undertaken in a specific time and place was the result of interconnections between ethnicity, class, nation and empire, and tracing their impact on the formation of cultural identity among young children in postcolonial settings.

 “Who was Mignon? What was she? Popular Catholicism and Robert Schumann’s Requiem für Mignon Op. 98b,” in Rethinking Schumann, eds. Roe-Min Kok and Laura Tunbridge. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. 88-108.

            Examines ambivalent reviews of Schumann’s Requiem für Mignon against the backdrop of mid-nineteenth-century Rhineland, arguing the work’s reception was colored by the popular revival of Catholicism and the position within this milieu of a troubled young girl’s tragic death.


“Negotiating Children’s Music: New Evidence for Schumann’s ‘Charming’ Late Style.” Acta musicologica LXXX/1 (2008): 99-128.

            Publishers’ correspondence at the Biblioteka Jagiellónska in Krakow, Poland, lost since World War II, offers new, detailed evidence about external influences on Schumann’s late style. The article focuses on how  publisher Julius Schuberth negotiated with Schumann over titles, genres, and musical styles in Ballscenen Op. 109 and Drei Clavier-Sonaten für die Jugend, Op. 118 (1853). 

“Falling Asleep: Schumann, Lessing and Death in a Wunderhorn Lullaby.” Studien zur Wertungsforschung 48 (2007): 236-72.

            Argues that Op. 78/4, “Wiegenlied am Lager eines kranken Kindes” is Schumann’s transformative response to a painting illustrating the lullaby, “Schlaf, Kindlein, schlaf!” in a collection of children’s poems published in 1849. Via musical means, Schumann creates a musical actualization of Death masked as Sleep, a representation advocated by Lessing in Wie die Alten den Tod gebildet (1769).

“Of Kindergarten, Cultural Nationalism and Schumann’s Album for the Young.The World of Music 48/1 (2006): 111-33.

            Evaluates Schumann’s Album for the Young within the context of the revolutionary Kindergarten movement in Vormärz Germany. I argue that the Album contains elements of cultural nationalism influenced by the contemporary pedagogical concepts of Friedrich Froebel, founder of the Kindergarten.


“Cortot’s Kreisleriana, in Schumann interpretieren, ed. Jean-Jacques Dünki and Anette Müller. Sinzig: Studio Verlag, forthcoming. In English.

            Touted as “the most authoritative interpreter of Schumann” in his heyday, Alfred Cortot (1877-1962) left behind two recordings and an edition of Kreisleriana, Op. 16. I analyze the Swiss-French pianist’s materials for insights into his strategies for editing, performing and teaching music by Schumann.


“Schumann im anglophonen Kontext,” in Robert Schumann: Persönlichkeit, Werk und Wirkung: Bericht über die Internationale Musikwissenschaftliche Konferenz vom 22. bis 24. April 2010 in Leipzig, ed. Helmut Loos. Leipzig: Gudrun Schröder Verlag, 2011. 434-42. In German; English version available.

            This essay tracks Anglo-American scholarly work on Robert Schumann from 1860 to 2010, noting the consistent presence of biographies from the beginning, with genre-specific monographs and graduate dissertations/ theses becoming common from the 1960s onwards. Piano music and Lieder remain popular topics while translations of primary sources from German to English have tapered off.

“Family and Gender in Imaginative Children's Music.” Instrumental Music and the Industrial Revolution: International Conference Proceedings, Cremona, 1-3 July 2006. Eds. Roberto Illiano and Luca Sala. Bologna: Ut Orpheus Edizioni. Ad Parnassum Studies 5, 2010. 269-277.

            Argues that Schumann’s innovative children’s music was influenced by not just changes in the concept of children and childhood between the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, but also parallel changes in middle-class family life resulting from the Industrial Revolution.

“Märchen-Musik,” in Übergänge: Zwischen Künsten und Kulturen, Internationaler Kongress zum 150. Todesjahr von Heinrich Heine und Robert Schumann. Eds. Henriette Herwig, Volker Kalisch, Bernd Kortländer, Joseph A. Kruse and Bernd Witte. Stuttgart and Weimar: J.B. Metzler, 2007. 337-46. In German.

            Explores similarities in social references, structure and aesthetics between Schumann’s music on the theme of childhood and the Grimm Brothers’ Kunstmärchen (literary fairy tales).


Neue Robert Schumann Ausgabe III/1/4: Klavierwerke 4. Kreisleriana Op. 16. Mainz: Schott, forthcoming.

Felix Mendelssohn: Herr Gott, dich loben wir. First edition. Stuttgart: Carus-Verlag, 1996 (reprinted 2008).


“Klaviermusik (Gattung, musikalische)”; “Hilary Hahn”; “Liza Lim”; “Midori”; “Younghi Pagh-Paan”; “Miki Yui” in Lexikon Musik und Gender, ed. Annette Kreutziger-Herr and Melanie Unseld. Kassel and Stuttgart: Bärenreiter Metzler, 2010. 226-28, 276, 340-41, 368-69, 425-26, 533-34. In German.

“Fantasie C-Dur op. 17,” in Robert Schumann: Interpretation seiner Werke, ed. Helmut Loos. Laaber, Germany: Laaber-Verlag, 2006. Vol. 1, 99-105. In German.