Master of Music (MM) in Historical Performance

The Master of Music in Historical Performance program at Boston University provides a training ground for students pursuing performance and teaching careers either as instrumentalists on period instruments or as singers specializing in music of the 16th–18th centuries. Through performance practice seminars, instruction in period performance and thorough bass realization, coached chamber music ensemble participation, and various performance opportunities both within and outside of the school, students develop a sensibility and repertoire of techniques that enable them to marry historical information with musical intuition. The city of Boston, long a world center for early music performance, serves as a supportive backdrop in developing student careers. Boston University’s resources—its libraries, facilities, and faculty—offer students rich support in the pursuit of their studies. Additionally, MM candidates enjoy professional-level performance opportunities in many local groups as well as mounting their own public performance projects.

Learning Outcomes

At the completion of the program, students are expected to demonstrate:

  • Performance techniques and skills in the area of concentration.
  • Broad music-historical knowledge with a particular focus on the 16th–18th centuries.
  • Knowledge and skill in related fields such as music theory, musicology and ethnomusicology, and pedagogy.
  • Superior proficiency in verbal communication of musical ideas and concepts.
  • Capacity for artistic growth and skills for navigating the professional world.

Degree Requirements

The Master of Music degree is granted upon successful completion of a program of study, a comprehensive review, and terminal projects appropriate to the student’s field of specialization. Students must complete a minimum of 32 semester credits with grades no lower than B– in graduate-level coursework. The 12 credits of required applied lessons must be taken over four semesters of study, with no more than 4 credits per semester. No more than 2 credits of extra applied lessons may be applied to the degree as elective credits. Students must take at least 6 credits combined in music theory and musicology. Approved music elective courses may include ME, MH, MP, and MT courses numbered 500 and higher. PDP courses, e.g., tennis, dancing, or yoga, do not count as approved music electives for graduate students. Students in all Master of Music programs must pass comprehensive examinations in their area. These examinations are normally given in the fourth or final semester of study. All degree requirements must be completed within five years of the date of matriculation.

Students in Master of Music programs who are interested in pursuing a double major should speak with the chairs of both intended areas of study and then consult with the Director of Graduate Studies to work out details of the combined programs. A petition to the Graduate Studies committee is required for approval.

Proficiency Examinations

All entering Master of Music students are required to take a proficiency examination in the area of music theory. The examination is administered online before the start of classes. Incoming students are notified of the exam dates and contents in advance and are responsible for taking it by the specified deadline. Exam results are used for purposes of advisement and may establish prerequisite or required coursework. Material covered in this examination is commonly presented in most undergraduate degree programs in music. No retakes of the exam will be permitted.

Required Courses

Any deficiencies identified by the proficiency exams must be addressed as soon as possible, regardless of whether or not the student plans to take other courses in these areas. Students may not take advanced graduate courses in a particular area OR graduate until all deficiencies have been addressed. Prerequisite and other required courses may include:

  • CFA MH 401 Graduate Music History Review
  • CFA MT 401 Graduate Music Theory Review
  • CFA MT 601 Analytical Techniques 1
  • CFA MT 602 Analytical Techniques 2

Historical Performance Program Outline

ML 503–06, 545–50, 555–58, 591–92 Applied Music 12 cr
MP 781–82 Performance Practice Seminar 4 cr
MP 581–82 Continuo 2 cr
MP 609 Baroque Chamber Music 4 cr
MT 601 or MT 602 Analytical Techniques 1 or 2 3 cr
Course in Musicology (MH) (600 level or higher) 3 cr
Course in MH or MT (600 level or higher) 3 cr
Graduate Music electives (non-keyboard) 1 cr
Total 32 cr

Terminal Projects

Two recitals are required, each containing a minimum of 60 minutes of music.

Master of Music Comprehensive Reviews

A satisfactory comprehensive review or examination is required for graduation. The faculty in each major area determines standards for this review and its format, and conducts the evaluation. In each case, the comprehensive review concentrates on the major area and other related fields. Unsatisfactory performance on this review may require remedial work and/or a repetition of the review after counseling with the student’s advisor.