Peter Smith

Professor of Music Theory

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518 O'Neill Hall of Music
Notre Dame, IN 46556

Professor of Music Theory

Research Interests

  • the instrumental music of Brahms and related composers
  • 19th-century chamber music, theories of musical form and expression
  • Schenkerian analysis, "core" theory and analysis


Peter H. Smith, professor of music and former department chair (2013–19) and DUS (2007–13 and 1999–2001), earned his Ph.D., M.Phil., and M.A. degrees in music theory from Yale University. While at Yale, he was a recipient of the prestigious Whiting Dissertation Fellowship. He also holds M.M. and B.M. degrees in viola performance from The Juilliard School, where his principal teacher was the famed Viennese violist Paul Doktor.

Smith’s research interests include the instrumental music of Brahms and related composers, Schenkerian approaches to analysis, and theories of musical form and expression. In addition to numerous articles on these topics, he has written about them in a book, Expressive Forms in Brahms’s Instrumental Music: Structure and Meaning in His Werther Quartet, and a co-edited essay collection, Expressive Intersections in Brahms: Essays in Analysis and Meaning, both published by Indiana University Press.

Smith is a past president and vice president of the American Brahms Society and continues his longstanding service on the board of directors of that organization. He began a three-year term as editor-in-chief of Music Theory Spectrum in July of 2020 and serves on the editorial board of Theory and Practice. He delivered the inaugural lecture for the Oxford University Seminar in Music Theory & Analysis (2018) and has presented his research as an invited guest lecturer and at numerous conferences across the USA and internationally, including as far afield as Durham (UK), Leuven (Belgium), Tallinn (Estonia), Moscow, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Taipei.