Elaine Rochelle Sisman (born January 20, 1952) is an American musicologist. The Anne Parsons Bender Professor of Music at Columbia University, Sisman specializes in music, rhetoric, and aesthetics of the 18th and 19th centuries, and has written on such topics as memory and invention in late Beethoven, ideas of pathétique and fantasia around 1800, Haydn's theater symphonies, the sublime in Mozart's music, and Brahms's slow movements. She is the author of Haydn and the Classical Variation and Mozart: The 'Jupiter' Symphony and editor of Haydn and His World. Her monograph-length article on "variations" appears in the revised New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, and she is at work on studies of music and melancholy, of Don Giovanni, and of the opus-concept in the eighteenth century.

Elaine Rochelle Sisman
Born (1952-01-20) January 20, 1952 (age 72)
Academic background
Alma materPrinceton University
Harvard University
Academic work
InstitutionsUniversity of Michigan
Columbia University



Sisman studied piano at the Juilliard pre-college division. She graduated from Cornell University in 1972, studying with Malcolm Bilson and received her doctorate in music history at Princeton University in 1978.[1]



Sisman has taught at the University of Michigan and Harvard University, as well as Columbia University where she currently teaches, having joined the faculty in 1982.[2] Sisman served for six years as chair of Columbia's Department of Music (1999–2005).[3] She serves on the board of directors of the Joseph Haydn-Institut in Cologne, the Akademie für Mozartforschung in Salzburg, and the American Brahms Society, and is an editor of Beethoven Forum and associate editor of The Musical Quarterly and 19th-Century Music. She was President of the American Musicological Society in 2005–06.[4]

Sisman's work has been highly regarded. Reviewing Haydn and the Classical Variation, Laszlo Somfai wrote, "Elaine Sisman's excellent book will be a major inspiration for younger scholars and for the vast majority of readers in and outside English-speaking countries."[5]



Sisman has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities[2] and the American Council of Learned Societies. In 1983 she received the Alfred Einstein Award of the American Musicological Society for best article by a younger scholar. Columbia has honored her with its Great Teacher Award in 1992 and the Award for Distinguished Service to the Core Curriculum in 2000. In 2014 Sisman was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Selected publications


See also



  1. ^ "The Department of Music at Columbia University | Founded in 1896". Archived from the original on 2009-03-24. Retrieved 2009-02-18.
  2. ^ a b "Elaine R. Sisman Wed To Martin S. Fridson". The New York Times. 1981-06-15. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  3. ^ "Elaine Sisman". Department of Music, Columbia University: Full-Time Faculty. 22 April 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-12-21. Retrieved 2020-09-15.
  4. ^ "AMS Admin info". www.ams-net.org. Archived from the original on 2008-05-14.
  5. ^ Somfai, László (1995). "Review of Haydn and the Classical Variation". Notes. 51 (3): 912–914. doi:10.2307/899295. JSTOR 899295.
  6. ^ Brandenburg, Daniel (January 1999). "Sisman Elaine, ed. Haydn and His World. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1997. Pp. 474, musical examples. $55.00 cloth, $19.95 paper". Austrian History Yearbook. 30: 289–290. doi:10.1017/S0067237800016118. ISSN 1558-5255. S2CID 145317325.