Amy Bauer

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. György Ligeti's Cultural Identities, ed. with Márton Kerékfy (Routledge, 2017), is the first book devoted to exploring the composer’s life and music within the context of his East European roots, revealing his dual identities as both Hungarian national and cosmopolitan modernist. She is currently co-editor (along with Liam Cagney and Will Mason) and contributor to the Oxford Handbook of Spectral Music (Oxford, 2023).

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, hisotry of rock, twentieth-century music history, readings in contemporary music theory.

Upcoming lectures

“Utopias and their Discontents: Ligeti’s reception history as modernist meta-narrative,” Ligeti 1923-2023: composition as invention, between memory and experimentation, “G. Verdi ” Conservatorio di Milano, 24-25 November.

Selected Publications


The Oxford Handbook of Spectral and Post-Spectral Music, edited by Amy Bauer, Liam Cagney and WIll Mason (Oxford, 2022-23)

György Ligeti's Cultural Identities, ed. with Márton Kerékfy (Routledge, 2017).Available in paperback and ebook.

Ligeti's Laments: Nostalgia, Exoticism and the Absolute (Ashgate, 2011). Available in paperback and ebook.

Articles, book chapters and reference guides:

“Theatricality, temporality and the listener in late modernism,” in Music, Sound, and Global Modernism: A Critical History, edited by Daniel Grimley and Sherry Lee (Cambridge, forthcoming)

"¡Unicamente La Verdad!: Camelia la Tejana’s Many Truths," in Opera in Flux, ed. Yayoi Uno Everett and Nicholas Stevens (University of Michigan Press, 2024)

“'This [Sounds like] a True Story': scoring the heightened reality of Noah Hawley’s Fargo,” in Scoring Peak TV: Music and Sound in Television’s New ‘Golden Age’, edited by Steve Halfyard and Nicholas Reyland (Palgrave Macmillan, 2024)

A space that already exists:  Ligeti’s recursive model of musical experience,” in „Ligeti – Raum – Interpretation,“ ed. (Berlin: Staatlichen Instituts für Musikforschung PK, forthcoming).

“Gender,”  coauthored with Beate Kuschke, Plurale Analyse, Ariane Jeßulat, Oliver Schwab-Felisch,  Jan Philipp Sprick, and Christian Thorau, eds. (Bärenreiter und Metzler, 2024)

“Utopias and their Discontents:  Ligeti’s reception history as modernist meta-narrative,” Studia Musicologica vol. 64/1–2 (2024).

"El Cajón del Mariachi: Schemata of a Vernacular Genre," coauthored with Luis Zambrano, Súmula: Revista de teoría y análisis musical, Vol. 1, Núm. 2, 2023.

“‘Are you dead, like us?’ The Liminal Status of the Undead in the Music of Ligeti,” Thanatos in Contemporary Music: From the Tragic to the Grotesque, edited by Bianca Tiplea Temes (Cluj Music Academy, 2022)

"An Explosive Confrontation: Messiaen and the Post-War Avant-Garde," in Messiaen in Context, ed. Robert Sholl (Cambridge, 2023)

"Electroacoustics, optics, and microtonal aesthetics in the music of Georg Friedrich Haas," coauthored with Landon Morrison, in The Oxford Handbook of Spectral and Post-Spectral Music (Oxford, 2023)

“‘Did Someone Say Post-Spectral?’ The Orchestral Imaginary in Millenial Works by Tulve, Dalbavie, and Haas," in Musical Waves: West Coast Perspectives on Pitch, Narrative, and Form, ed. Andrew Aziz and Jack Boss (Cambridge Scholars, 2022)

"Codes, constraints, and the loss of control in Ligeti’s keyboard works," in A Tribute to György Ligeti in his Native Transylvania, nos. 1–2, edited by Bianca Tiplea Temes and Kofi Agawu (Cluj Music Academy, 2020)

"A World in Constant Motion: Thomas Adès’ In Seven Days," in Adès Studies, ed.  Philip Stoecker and Edward Venn (Cambridge, 2021); winner of Society of Music Theory’s 2022 Outstanding Multi-Author Collection Award.

"The Sublime Object of Music Analysis," in The Sound of Žižek. Musicological Perspectives on Slavoj Žižek, ed. Mauro Fosca Bertola (Peter Lang: 2022)

"Automata in extremis: Mauro Lanza's sublime sound machines," Writing <–>Technology, Composers 1973–1983: Nuove Musiche, No. 5, ed. Giacomo Albert and Andrea Valle (2020)

Bauer, Amy. “György Ligeti.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Music. Ed. Kate van Orden. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020.

"Spectral Aesthetics and Ecological Listening in the Music of Helena Tulve," in The Oxford Handbook of Spectral and Post-Spectral Music (Oxford, 2021)

From Pulsation to Sensation: Virtuosity and Modernism in Ligeti’s First and Ninth Piano Etudes,” Contemporary Music Review 38:3 (2019).

Contemporary Opera and the Failure of Language” in The Routledge Research Companion to Modernism in Music, Björn Heile and Charles Wilson, eds. (Farnham, UK: Ashgate/Routledge, 2019), 427–53.

The Music of Helena Tulve, in Musicology Now, the American Musicological Society, March 29, 2018.

Introduction, and "Genre as émigré: the return of the repressed in Ligeti's Second String Quartet," György Ligeti's Cultural Identities, ed. with Márton Kerékfy (Routledge, 2017)

“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 Modernist Music: 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.

Reviews and Responses

Response to "Global Notation as a Tool for Cross-Cultural and Comparative Music Analysis" by Andrew Killick, Anaytical Approaches to World Music Journal (,

Seth Brodsky,  From 1989, or European Music and the Modernist Unconscious (University of California Press, 2017), Journal of the American Musicological Society Vol. 72 no. 1 (Spring 2019.), 260–66.

Yayoi Uno Everett, Reconfiguring Myth and Narrative in Contemporary Opera: Osvaldo Golijov, Kaija Saariaho, John Adams, Tan Dun (Indiana University Press, 2015), Music and Letters 99/3 (August 2018), 500–02.

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.

Richard Steinetz, 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)


UCI Course site

Music theory; Core faculty, History and Theory of Music PhD
Ph.D., Yale University, 1997, M.M. University of Wisconsin, Madison, B.M. St. Norbert College
(949) 824-6615
3043 Contemporary Arts Center (CAC)