Bohlman Web

Assistant Professor

Andrea F. Bohlman (Assistant Professor) is a historical musicologist whose research is centered on political stakes of music making in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Through her work, she asserts a place for music and sound in the cultural history of East Central Europe, particularly Poland. She is interested in the methodological challenges posed by the study of the recent past and committed to weaving together archival work, ethnomusicological methods, and close reading. Her research treats sound media as both a music historical archive as well as a documentary trail, making use of the toolboxes offered by sound and media studies. She is deeply invested in exploring the diverse musics that permeate musical cultures past and present, whether these are popular, sacred, art, or experimental. This interest in listening across and beyond boundaries is integral to her work on music and social movements, amateur sound media, and song festivals, for example. At UNC, she also integrates these interests and methodological fluencies to her teaching and advising.

Andrea Bohlman holds a B.A. from Stanford University, and an MMus from Royal Holloway, University of London. She earned her doctorate at Harvard University in 2012 after which she spent a year as an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Musicological Society (AMS50), and a Fulbright-Hays fellowship.

During the academic year 2016–17 she is on leave as a EURIAS Junior Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study in Berlin (Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin) with the support of a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Musical Solidarities: Political Action and Music in Late Twentieth-Century Poland (book manuscript in preparation)

Hanns Eisler (1898–1962): “In der Musik ist es anders, with Philip V. Bohlman. Jüdische Miniaturen, Stiftung Neue Synagoge, Centrum Judaicum Berlin. Berlin: Hentrich & Hentrich, 2012.

Articles and Book Chapters

“Rewind: Or, Rethinking the Phonographic Regime” (with Peter McMurray, under review)

“Lutosławski’s Refrains” (under review)

“Orienting the Martial: Mobility and the Nineteenth-Century Legion Song” (under review)

“Solidarity, Song, and the Sound Document.” Journal of Musicology (Vol. 33, No. 2 (Spring 2016), 232–69).

“Eisler on the Move: Situating Mobility in the Reisesonate,” with Florian Scheding. Music and Letters Vol. 96, No. 1 (2015), 77-98.

“‘Where I Cannot Roam, My Song Will Take Wing’: Polish Cultural Promotion in Belarus, 1988.” In Music and International History, 226-55. Edited by Jessica C.E. Gienow-Hecht. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2015.

“Doing the European Two-Step,” with Alexander Rehding. In Empire of Song: Spectacle and Politics in the Eurovision Song Contest, 281-97. Edited by Dafni Tragaki. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2013.

“‘Eurovision is Everywhere’: A Kaleidoscopic Vision of the Grand Prix,” with Ioannis Polychronakis. In Empire of Song: Europe and Nation in the Eurovision Song Contest, 57-77. Edited by Dafni Tragaki. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2013.

Reviews and Encyclopedia Entries

“Poland: Contemporary Performance Practice,” The SAGE Encyclopedia of Ethnomusicology, ed. Janet Sturman (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, forthcoming).

“Penderecki, Krzysztof.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Music. Ed. Bruce Gustafson. New York: Oxford University Press, 25 Feb. 2016,

Review of Johannes C. Gall, ed. Hanns Eisler: Alternative Filmmusik zu einem Ausschnitt aus The Grapes of Wrath; Filmmusik zu Hangmen Also Die. Notes Vol. 72, No. 2 (December 2015), 422–25.

Review of Horst Weber, I am not a hero, I am a composer”: Hanns Eisler in Hollywood. Notes Vol. 70, No. 3 (March 2014), 473-75.

“Acocella, Joan;” “Ardoin, John;” “Eichler, Jeremy;” “Kerner, Leighton;” and “Ross, Alexander.” The Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2nd edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Across my work I shape a place for music and sound in the cultural history of Eastern and Central Europe in the past two hundred years. I approach the musical communities, sonic media, and everyday life of the twentieth century with an ear toward resonances in contemporary practice, memory, and revival as a historian and experienced ethnographer. A concern with the intersection of political and musical agency is present throughout my writing on Poland, whether in the context of amateur singer-songwriters in social movements during the Cold War, the aesthetics of the twentieth-century avant-garde, or nationalist popular song in the nineteenth century. It also extends to secondary research areas: nationhood and migration in publications on the Eurovision Song Contest, for instance, the composer Hanns Eisler, or the legion song. Two large-scale projects provide a more detailed glimpse into the way my research brings broad questions about music’s social and material circulation to bear on local and intimate particularities.

Musical Solidarities: Political Action and Music in Late Twentieth-Century Poland 

I am in the final stages of preparing a monograph that marks the culmination of a long-term research interest in music and social movements during the Cold War. I focus on the roles music and sound played in cohering and interfering with political action in the Polish context, when in the 1980s the Solidarity movement galvanized the opposition to state socialism. In my book, I providing a model for understanding vernacular, art, and sacred musics within political debate over the course of a decade of intense political freedoms and restrictions. The research weaves together diverse repertories—singer-songwriter verses, religious hymns, large-scale symphonies, experimental music, and popular song—to challenge romantic visions of a global protest culture that place song and communitas at the helm of social and political change. While music offers a means of performing and commemorating the iconic Solidarity movement as unified, it also reveals dissonant discourses on citizenship, culture, and history.

Fragile Sound, Quiet History: Music and Unofficial Media in Communist Poland

A second book project builds upon the importance of cassette archives for my research on the 1980s and asks confronts the oft-neglected specificity of aural culture under communism. It is a study of the intersection of creativity and materiality across three vibrant amateur sound recording networks in late twentieth-century East Central Europe: (1) reel-to-reel recordings in the 1950s, (2) homemade records in the 1960s and 70s, and (3) cassette tapes in the 1980s. Responding to the material losses of the Second World War and the constraints of state socialism in Poland, untrained recordists and studio engineers took recourse to sound media to command agency. Bootleg culture boomed. Amateurs embraced the impermanence of these flimsy and malleable materials. Their reels, records, and tapes disseminated music outside of the commercial market to be copied, dismantled, or destroyed. They told stories to commemorate traumatic historical events silent in official histories. I explore how these individuals’ work issues a challenge to the assumption that recording is a tangible means to counter sound’s ephemerality.

I teach a variety of undergraduate courses that invite non-majors and majors alike to engage intensely with listening as a way of learning and knowing. In my lecture courses as well as in smaller classes, I cultivate a lot of in-class discussion and collaborative activities. Across my courses, I invite students to perform and create. I have also advised a number of undergraduate independent studies and theses on topics ranging from nineteenth-century music and landscape to string quartet pedagogy to North Indian music and improvisation.

Recent courses: Music History Since 1750 (MUSC 255), Music and Politics (MUSC 291), Music and Migration (MUSC 258), Magnetic Tape: History, Culture, Practice (MUSC 355)

Around the graduate seminar table, my courses build upon collective reading projects—either in a special topic or theoretical debate—toward substantial original research as well as opportunities for professional development (e.g. in the digital humanities and/or undergraduate pedagogy).

Recent topics: Resources and Methods of Musicology (MUSC 750); Cold War Music?: Political Action and Musical Life in East Central Europe; Sound Studies’ Music History