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Jessica Waldoff received her Ph.D. in 1995 from Cornell University where she studied with James Webster, Neal Zaslaw, and Don Michael Randel, specializing in the music of the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-centuries. Her studies at Cornell, including the dissertation year, were supported by a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, a Cornell Sage Graduate Fellowship, and several smaller awards. She received her B.A. summa cum laude with majors in English and Music from Amherst College , where she was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
An internationally recognized scholar of Eighteenth-Century and Opera Studies, Professor Waldoff’s work is marked by an interest in the intersection of literature and music and in literary approaches to music. Her Cornell dissertation, “The Music of Recognition in Mozart’s Operas,” draws on literary theory to explore both recognition as a topic and recognition scenes in these works.
Professor Waldoff’s publications include “The Music of Recognition: Operatic Enlightenment in ‘The Magic Flute’” (Music & Letters, 75/2 (), “Operatic Plotting in Le nozze di Figaro,” jointly authored with James Webster (in Wolfgang Amadè Mozart: Essays on his Life and his Music, ed. Stanley Sadie [Oxford University Press, 1996]), “Don Giovanni: recognition denied” (in Opera Buffa in Mozart's Vienna, eds. Mary Hunter and James Webster [Cambridge University Press, 1997]), and “Sentiment and Sensibility in La vera costanza” (in Haydn Studies, ed. W. Dean Sutcliffe [Cambridge University Press, 1998]).
Her current projects include an essay on Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte for the new Mozart Compendium forthcoming from Oxford University Press, a paper on the topic of the sentimental in late eighteenth-century Italian opera, and a larger study on recognition and enlightenment in Mozart's operas.
Prof. Waldoff has given lectures at Cornell University , New York University, the Peabody Conservatory at the Johns Hopkins University , the University of Texas at Austin , and Oxford University . She has also presented papers at the annual meetings of the American Musicological Society and the Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, and at many other musical, literary, and interdisciplinary conferences.
Professor Waldoff teaches the History of Western Music sequence for Music Majors, several upper level electives, including courses on Beethoven, Mozart, Opera, and Musicology, and a number of introductory level courses in music appreciation for non-majors. She also directs the Music Colloquium Series with the assistance of the Student Advisory Council.