Jordan College of Fine Arts
School of Music

Dr. James R. Briscoe - professor of music, music history, coordinator of music history

Briscoe Class 3

Professor James Briscoe's teaching emphasizes music history in America and Europe from the  19th century through the contemporary. His highest recognition, in his opinion, came at Butler when students named him Outstanding Teacher of the Year at the University. He advises a campus group interested in politics.

In Venice in summer 2009 for the renowned Venice Biennale, he presented a lecture-recital with pianist Anna Briscoe on "'Earthian Music' for Piano by Tania León: A Transnational Arc," remarking the significant cultural statement of that Cuban American composer at the International Conference on Music in Society. He spoke by invitation at The Juilliard School of Music in 2008 on "Vitalizing Music History Teaching," at the International Musicological Society in Osaka, Japan, on "Music at the 1889 Paris Exposition," and on Franck's relation to Debussy at the International Symposium on César Franck in Liège, Belgium, commemorating the centenary of Franck's death.  He speaks yearly at either the national meeting of the American Musicological Society or that of the College Music Society, such as the recent paper on music history teaching "Toward a New Paradigm: Music History as Ethnomusicology."  He has served as a national officer of both societies.

Briscoe Class 2

In 2012 Dr. Briscoe's writing "Debussy in Daleville: Toward Modernist Hearing in the U.S." appeared in the collection Debussy Perspectives through Oxford University Press. A national leader and scholar in pedagogy, in fall 2009 he edited and published the collection Vitalizing Music History Teaching through the College Music Society and Pendragon Press. The book stems from his three years leading the Music History area of the College Music Society, from the 2006 CMS "Institute on Music History Teaching" at Butler, and from the 2008 Institute at Juilliard.  In 2004 the New Historical Anthology of Music by Women appeared through Indiana University Press, and was hailed internationally: "Through Briscoe's efforts, we have seen the last generation of music majors without training in contributions by women composers. His was a heroic venture." (Susan McClary)  He also has writtenClaude Debussy: A Guide to Research (Garland), and prepared critical performance editions of Debussy's Twenty-Four Preludes for Piano (Schirmer) and the two-volume critical score of Claude Debussy: 62 Songs (Hall Leonard), called by the front-running journal Notes of the Music Library Association "...essential to anyone with a stake in Debussy's songs."

His Contemporary Anthology of Music by Women, also through Indiana University Press, was noted as "the first of its kind...a valuable resource for students and teachers, men and women." Another fundamental study and a first, Debussy in Performance (Yale Press), was praised by the London Times for its "abundant documentation and sensitive readings," and by the American Music Teacheras "scholarly and well-documented.... It will change the way you view Debussy's scores."  Articles on women composers and on Debussy have appeared in 19th-Century Music, The College Music Symposium, Musical Quarterly, Music and Letters, The Journal of Musicology, Music Review (London) Fontes Artis Musicae (International Music Library Association, Frankfurt), La Revue belge de musicology (Belgian Musicology Review, Brussels), and Review Musical de Canada (Montréal). Briscoe wrote 11 entries in the New Grove Dictionary of Music.  He initiated and will direct, in June 2014, a study tour to Paris of the College Music Society: Paris, the Conservatoire, and 21st-Century Advanced Music Teaching.

Dr. Briscoe graduated with a BMus degree in Cello from the University of Alabama, and earned both Master of Arts and PhD degrees in Historical Musicology from the University of North Carolina. He has received research and teaching grants from the Government of France, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Danforth Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, Butler University, the International Research and Exchange Fund, and the Indiana Humanities Council.

Anna Briscoe, his wife, is Adjunct Professor of Piano at Butler and pianist for the Indianapolis Children's Choir, and she has recitalized on every continent but Antarctica. Their daughters are the pride of their lives: Madeleine Briscoe Smith (Butler 2007) is Annual Fund Director at Franklin College in Indiana, and Rochelle (Xavier of Cincinnati 2011) is a Social Worker for Family Functionality in Denver.

(317) 940-9248
jbriscoe@butler.edu