Amy Bauer

Ph.D., Yale University, 1997, M.M. University of Wisconsin, Madison, B.M. St. Norbert College

Amy Bauer's research focuses on twentieth-century music, especially the music of György Ligeti, spectral music, and issues surrounding the reception and analysis of contemporary music.

She has published on the music of Ligeti, Messiaen, Carlos Chávez, David Lang, contemporary opera, the television musical, and on issues in the reception and theory of modernist music. In addition she has given papers at national and international conferences on the music of Miles Davis, Mary Lou Williams, and cross-cultural issues in twentieth century music. Her monograph Ligeti's Laments: Nostalgia, Exoticism and the Absolute (Ashgate, Nov. 2011) provides a critical analysis of the composer's works, considering both the compositions themselves and the larger cultural implications of their reception. She both synthesizes and challenges the prevailing narratives surrounding the composer's long career and uses the theme of lament to inform a discussion of specific musical topics, including descending melodic motives, passacaglia and the influence of folk music. But Ligeti 'laments' in a larger sense; his music fuses rigour and sensuality, tradition and the new and influences from disparate high and low cultures, with a certain critical and ironic distance, reflected in his spoken commentary as well as in the substance of his music. The notions of nostalgia, exoticism and the absolute are used to relate works of different eras and genres, along with associated concepts of allegory, melancholy, contemporary subjectivity and the voice.

Prior to joining the faculty at UC Irvine Bauer taught at Washington University, West Chester University, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Research Interests

György Ligeti, spectral music, psychoanalysis, cross-cultural influence in music, interdisciplinary approaches to music analysis, critical theory, popular music and jazz theory.


Undergraduate music theory and analysis, graduate analysis, critical theory and philsophy of music, various  topics in post-1945 music, rhythmic theory, Schenkerian analysis, history of theory, cross-cultural influences in music, world music, theory of non-Western music, readings in contemporary music theory.

Upcoming lectures

“Listening Between Darkness and Light: the Materiality of the Visual in Post-Spectral Orchestral Music," Spectralisms: an International Conferrence, Oxford University March 15–16, 2017

"Spectral Aesthetics and ecological listening in the music of Helena Tulve," The 9th European Music Analysis Conference, Strasbourg, June 1–July 1, 2017

Selected Publications


Rootedness and Cosmopolitanism: Ligeti’s Cultural Identities, edited by Amy Bauer and Márton Kerékfy (Routledge, in press)

Ligeti's Laments: Nostalgia, Exoticism and the Absolute (Ashgate, 2011)

Articles and book chapters:

"Gender," with Beate Kuschke, Plurale Analyse, Ariane Jeßulat, Oliver Schwab-Felisch,  Jan Philipp Sprick, and Christian Thorau, eds.
(Bärenreiter und Metzler, forthcoming)

“Modernist Opera and the Failure of Language,” in The Ashgate Research Companion to Modernism in Music, Björn Heile and Charles Wilson, eds. (Farnham, UK: Ashgate, forthcoming)

"Genre as émigré: the return of the repressed in Ligeti's Second String Quartet," Ligeti’s Cultural Identities, edited by Amy Bauer and Márton Kerékfy (Routledge, in press)

“The mysteries of Selma, Alabama”: re-telling and revelation in David Lang’s The Difficulty of Crossing a Field,” In Search of the ‘Great American Opera’: tendenzen der americanischen Musicheaters, Gregory Herzfeld and Frédéric Döhl (Münster and New York: Waxman-Verlag, 2016)

Canon as agent of revelation in the music of Ligeti,” in Contemporary Music and Spirituality, Sander van Maas and Robert Sholl, eds. (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2016)

Nonrepetition and Personal Style in the Solis and Inventions,” Carlos Chávez and His World, Leonora Saavedra, ed. (Princeton University Press, 2015),

Singing Wolves and Dreaming Apples: The Cosmopolitan Imagination in Ligeti’s Weöres Songs,” Ars Lyrica, vol. 21 (2012), 1–39.

"The Cosmopolitan Absurdity of Ligeti’s Late Works," Contemporary Music Review 31/2-3 (2012): 163–76.

Philosophy Recomposed: Stanley Cavell and the Critique of New Music,”Journal of Music Theory, 54.1 (2010): 77–92.

The ‘Other’ of the Exotic:  Balinese Music as ‘Grammatical Paradigm’ in the Music of Ligeti,” Music Analysis 27/ii-iii (2009), 1-36.

“’Give Me Something to Sing About’: intertexuality in Once More With Feeling," Sounds of the Slayer: Music and Silence in Buffy and Angel, edit by Paul Attinello and Vanessa Knights (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2009), 209-34.

The Impossible Charm of Messiaen’s Chronochromie,” Messiaen Studies,Robert Sholl, editor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 154-67.

"Tone-color, movement, changing harmonic planes: Cognition, Constraints and Conceptual Blends in Modernist Music," The Pleasure of Modernism: Intention, Meaning, and the Compositional Avant-Garde, Arved Ashby, editor, (Rochester: Eastman Studies in Music, 2004), 121–52.

"'Composing the Sound itself;' Secondary Parameters and Structure in the Music of Ligeti," Indiana Theory Review, Volume 22, no. 1 (Spring 2001), 37-64.


György Ligeti: Of Foreign Lands and Strange Sounds, ed. by Louise Duchesneau and Wolfgang Marx (The Boydell Press, 2011), Music and Letters, vol. 94/4, 709-12.

Rachel Beckles Willson, Ligeti, Kurtág, and Hungarian Music during the Cold War), (Cambridge University Press, 2007), Music and Letters 90/2 (2009),307-10.

György Ligeti: Music of the Imagination (Faber and Faber, 2003), twentieth-century music, Vo. 2, No. 2, (September 2005), 302-309.

Capriccio Nr. 1 /Invention /Capriccio Nr. 2 for piano (1947-48), and Ricercare per organo (1953) by György Ligeti, MLA Notes (March 1995)



Associate Professor
Music Theory
CAC 3043