The scholarly study of theory at Mannes has been significant to the tradition and reputation of the school from its beginnings, particularly in its looking at the main developments of the past 400-500 years through Schenkerian analysis as an integrating force for musical performance. Since Heinrich Schenker's student Hans Weisse began teaching Schenkerian analysis at Mannes in 1931, Mannes faculty continue to infuse Schenkerian theory into their intellectual approach.
Our theory faculty includes distinguished theorists like Carl Schachter and Robert Cuckson. Mannes faculty regularly present papers in major conferences, and many graduates go on to doctoral studies and jobs both in the field and in academia. Professor Lynne Rogers, former president of the Society of Music Theory and an expert on Stravinsky, leads the department.
Mannes students are taught to observe and go deeply into the form of the music they play, from the unfolding of motivic design to the array of harmonies that lead toward cadences. For example, if studying a piece, students learn to ask, "What is important? What is core? What is the moment of illumination?" This emphasis on directionality and the attempt to reach "musical goals" in music speaks to a larger insight into the role of the musician as an expert storyteller, a conveyor of ideas and emotions to an audience built on a deep understanding of every aspect of a piece. Every Mannes student works at this dimensional awareness to approach musical events as an attempt to reveal the art and meaning of a composition in the moment. This requires thorough preparation.
Within a close-knit community of theorists and performers, Mannes' Master of Music program in Theory, offers a thorough grounding in theory; analysis, including Schenkerian analysis, for which Mannes is internationally known; pedagogy; musicianship, which incorporates advanced dictation, keyboard skills, score reading, and reading in all clefs. Beyond this standard curriculum, students in the program in theory have ample opportunity to develop their own interests in the field, through a combination of graduate seminars and independent study with faculty mentors, and to prepare for doctoral work.
The vibrancy of music theory study at Mannes is enhanced through extracurricular events, including the Techniques of Music Distinguished Scholars Lecture Series, the biennial Graduate Student Conference, the septennial Mannes International Schenker Symposium, and other, more informal scholarly activities. Experience in tutoring is available through a limited number of graduate assistantships to the Techniques of Music Department and other means.