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Dr. Wayne Heisler


Professor of Historical and Cultural Studies in Music

Area Coordinator of Historical and Cultural Studies in Music
Coordinator of Bachelor of Arts in Music degree program
Music Building 216

Ph.D., Musicology, Princeton University
Visiting Fulbright Fellow, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, Germany
M.M., Musicology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
B.A., Music (Piano), DePaul University

Dr. Wayne Heisler is Professor of Historical and Cultural Studies in Music at The College of New Jersey, where his recent and active courses are:

  • HON 370: An Era of Opportunity and Crisis: The 1960s (with Professor David Venturo, Department of English)
  • MUS 353: Music from 1750 to 1945
  • MUS 355/WGS 307/HON 270: Gender, Sexuality, and Pop Music in the 1980s
  • MUS 452: Music from 1945 to the Present (Writing Intensive)
  • MUS 455: Issues in Music Performance Studies (Music Performance Capstone, Writing Intensive)
  • MUS 494: Bachelor of Arts in Music Capstone (Writing Intensive)

Dr. Heisler’s research and teaching interests embrace both “art” and popular musics from the 19th to 21st centuries, including opera, dance, and musical theater; collaborations between composers and choreographers; Gustav Mahler; Richard Strauss; historiography; and gender and sexuality in music and dance performance.

Dr. Heisler’s work has appeared in the Journal of the American Musicological SocietyThe Musical QuarterlyThe Opera QuarterlyDance Chronicle, and The Grove Dictionary of American Music (2nd ed.), among other places. His book The Ballet Collaborations of Richard Strauss was published in 2009 as part of the University of Rochester Press’s Eastman Studies in Music series. Dr. Heisler’s conference presentations include the American Musicological Society, Dance Studies Association, German Studies Association, International Musicological Society, North American British Music Studies Association, Royal Music Association (UK), Society of Dance History Scholars, and the Society for American Music. He has been awarded grants from the German-American Fulbright Commission, Germanistic Society of America/Fulbright IIE, and the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD).

Dr. Heisler’s service to the field includes as Reviews Editor for The Opera Quarterly from 2014–2021; he is also on the Editorial Board of OQ. His service to TCNJ has included Coordinator of the Honors Program (2016-2017) and Department of Music Chairperson (2017-2020).

Dr. Heisler studied piano in Chicago with Dmitry Paperno and Melody Lord. His performance activities have included music of the late twentieth century, especially aleatoric and “minimalist” compositions, as well as gamelan.

Representative Publications


The Ballet Collaborations of Richard Strauss, Eastman Studies in Music (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2009).

Choreographing Song in the Twentieth Century (in progress).

Articles and Essays:

“Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal’s Dance Me and the Posthumous Theater of Leonard Cohen.”  “Theatricality and the Challenge of Definition,” Naxos Musicology International, January 6, 2021:

“Kate Smith, ‘God Bless America’ and Our Reckoning with Pedestals.” Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), May 1, 2019:

“Are ‘Works’ Enough?”  In Proceedings of Opera and Performance: Taking Stock and Looking Ahead, Department of Culture and Aesthetics, University of Stockholm, 30 June–2 July 2017, The Opera Quarterly: Performance + Theory + History 35, nos. 1-2 (2019): 135-38.

“Prestige Management: Die Operetta als Schachfigur” [German translation by Anna Kampen and Wayne Heisler Jr.].  In Kunst der Oberfläche: Operette zwischen Bravour und Banalität, Proceedings of the Operettensymposium, Komische Oper Berlin, 31 January–2 February 2015, edited by Bettina Brandl-Risi, Clemens Risi, and Komische Oper Berlin, 53–57.  Leipzig: Henschel Verlag, 2015.

“A Note from the Guest Editor” and “Elisabeth Schumann and Richard Specht: Strauss before Sixty” (the latter with Laura Tunbridge), The Opera Quarterly: Performance + Theory + History, themed issue entitled “Strauss despite Strauss,” guest edited by Wayne Heisler Jr., 31/4 (2015): 195–98 and 273–88.

“Dancing Lieder Singing,” in Colloquy: Studying the Lied: Hermeneutic Traditions and the Challenge of Performance, Journal of the American Musicological Society 67/2 (Summer 2014): 557–64.

“Antony Tudor’s Dark Elegies and the Affirmation of Mahler’s Body, 1937–1947,” Dance Chronicle 36/2 (2013): 172–95.

“Kitsch and the Ballet Schlagobers,” The Opera Quarterly: Performance + Theory + History 22/1 (Winter 2006): 38–64.

“‘To drive away all cloudy thoughts’: Heinrich Kröller’s and Richard Strauss’s 1923 Ballettsoirée and Interwar Viennese Cultural Politics,” The Musical Quarterly 88/4 (Winter 2005): 594–629.

“What Fun? Whose Fun? Cyndi Lauper (Re) Covers ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’,” ECHO: a music-centered journal 6/1 (Spring 2004):

Chapters/Essays in collected volumes:

“From TV to LP to Cassette Tape: MTV’s Rock ‘n Roll To Go (1985) and a Teenage Boy’s Self-Discovery in the Midwest.”  In The Adolescentia Project: Essays on Music, Adolescence, and Identity, eds. Mary Beth Ray and Carrie Teresa (in process; manuscript submitted May 2022).

“‘Mothers aren’t sexy,’ ‘What is that you’re wearing?’, ‘What’s it like to be in an all-girl band?’: Memoirs as Histories of 1980s Music Industry Sexism.”  In Women’s Rock Memoirs: Music, History, and Life-Writing, eds. Cristina Garrigós and Marika Ahonen (New York: Oxford University Press [under contract]).

“Choreographing Mahler Songs at the Centenary.”  In Musicology and Dance: Historical and Critical Perspectives, eds. Davinia Caddy and Maribeth Clark, 231–58 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2020).

“Recipe and Indigestion.” In The Art of Whipped Cream for the American Ballet Theatre, by Mark Ryden, 14–26 (New York: Cernunnos, 2020).

“Reconciling the ‘Three Graceful Hellenic Sisters’: Wagner, Dance, and ‘Song-Ballets’ Set to Richard Strauss’s Vier Letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs),” in The Total Work of Art: Foundations, Articulations, Inspirations, eds. David Imhoof, Margaret Eleanor Menninger, and Anthony Steinhoff, German Studies Association Spektrum Series, 133–56 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2016).

“Prestige Management: Die Operetta als Schachfigur” [Operetta as Pawn; German translation by Anna Kampen and Wayne Heisler Jr.], in Kunst der Oberfläche: Operette zwischen Bravour und Banalität, Proceedings of the Operettensymposium, Komische Oper Berlin, 31 January–2 February 2015, edited by Bettina Brandl-Risi Clemens Risi, and Komische Oper Berlin, 53–57 (Leipzig: Henschel Verlag, 2015).

“Choreographing Schumann,” in Rethinking Schumann, eds. Roe-Min Kok and Laura Tunbridge, 329–56 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).

“Maturity and Indecision in the Early Works,” in The Cambridge Companion to Richard Strauss, ed. Charles Youmans, 42–55 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

Recent presentations:

“Bridging Music and Dance Studies through Glen Tetley’s Pierrot lunaire (1962).” “Music and Heterogeneity in Ballet,” sponsored by the Dance and Music Working Group, Annual Gathering of the Dance Studies Association, Vancouver, October 2022.

“‘Show me slowly what I only know the limits of’: Music-Dance Relationships in Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal’s Dance Me.” “Stretches, Leaps, Turns: Experiments in Music-Dance Relationships,” Music and Dance Study Group, Annual Meeting of the American Musicological Society, Minneapolis, November 2020.

“Bigger than Germont; Or, the Operatic Canon as Codependency.” YOST: Y | Opera | Studies Today, Conference on “Developing New Opera in the Age of #MeToo,” Yale University Department of Music (via Zoom), May 2020.