Margot Fassler

Faculty, Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Music History and Liturgy, Director of the Program of Sacred Music, Professor of Musicology and Ethnomusicology

PhD, Cornell University
MPhil, Cornell University
MA, Syracuse University

542A O'Neill Hall of Music and Sacred Music

Margot Fassler, Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Music History and Liturgy, is renowned for her work at the intersection of musicology and theology and is a specialist in sacred music of several periods.  At Notre Dame she holds joint appointments in Music and in Theology, and she is a fellow in the Medieval and Nanovic Institutes.  Before coming to Notre Dame in 2009, Fassler spent a decade as director of the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University, where she held the Robert Tangeman Chair of Music History.  Her book Gothic Song (2nd edition, Notre Dame Press, 2011), won both the John Nicolas Brown Prize of the Medieval Academy of America and the Otto Kinkeldey Prize of the American Musicological Society. Her interdisciplinary approach is demonstrated in her most recent book, The Virgin of Chartres: Making History through Liturgy and the Arts (Yale University Press), a study informed by close work with architecture.  The book has won both the Ace Mercers' International Book Award (for a book on art and religion) and the 2012 Otto Gründler Book Prize (for a book in medieval studies).  Fassler has just completed a textbook on medieval music, Music in the Medieval West (with anthology) for a new series published by W. W. Norton. Her new work on Hildegard of Bingen is completely interdisciplinary in nature, combining study of liturgy, theology, music, drama, and the visual arts, and includes a digital model based on the treatise Scivias. It is supported by both a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Digital Innovation Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies.

In addition to her work as a historian, Fassler is a documentarian, who has made films engaging communities of song within ritual contexts. Completed films include “Work and Pray,” about the Benedictine nuns who sing Gregorian chant at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, CT, and “You Can’t Sing it For Them,” about African-American gospel music at Messiah Baptist Church in Bridgeport, CT. Next to be completed will be “Where the Hudson Meets the Nile,” about a program developed at St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Jersey City, NJ, for teaching the ancient Coptic chant to their American-born young people.

Prof. Fassler is a frequent lecturer, nationally and internationally. She has been a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, and a Luce Faculty Fellow in Theology. She is active in the North American Academy of Liturgy, the Society for Oriental Liturgy, the Society for Ethnomusicology, and the American Musicological Society, where she has recently been named to a new committee on music and technology; she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.  Fassler is the Principal Investigator for a new grant (nearly $1.9 million) from the Lilly Endowment, “Recovering Christian Heritage through Sacred Music: A Model for Partnership.”  She was the co-author of a new Mellon grant to Notre Dame ($400,000.00) for the production of Sacred Music Drama.  Conductor Carmen-Helena Tellez is the Principal Investigator for this innovative work