Skip to main content

Mark Evan BondsCary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor Emeritus

Mark Evan Bonds (Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor Emeritus) retired in 2023. He received a B.A. in music and German from Duke University in 1975; an M.A. in musicology from the Universität Kiel (West Germany) in 1977; and a Ph.D. in musicology from Harvard University in 1988. He taught at Boston University before joining the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1992. His research interests include music of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, particularly instrumental music, aesthetic theory, and the intersections of music and philosophy. He has received fellowships in support of his research from the NEH, the ACLS, the National Humanities Center, the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), and the Austrian Science Foundation (FWF). His most recent books are The Beethoven Syndrome: Hearing Music as Autobiography and Beethoven: Variations on a Life, both published by Oxford University Press in 2020. While a Fellow at the National Humanities Center in 2021–22, he completed work on a new book, Music’s Fourth Wall and the Rise of Reflective Listening.

Scholarly Books

Beethoven: Variations on a Life. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020

The Beethoven Syndrome: Hearing Music as Autobiography. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020.

Absolute Music: The History of an Idea. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. Russian translation (Moscow: Delo, 2020).

Music as Thought: Listening to the Symphony in the Age of Beethoven. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006. Translations into Spanish (Barcelona: Acantilado, 2014) and Japanese (Tokyo: Artes, 2015).

After Beethoven: Imperatives of Originality in the Symphony. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996.

Wordless Rhetoric: Musical Form and the Metaphor of the Oration. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991. Japanese translation: Tokyo: Ongaku No Tomo Sha, 2018.


Listen to This. 4th ed. Hoboken, NJ: Pearson, 2017. A music appreciation textbook for general undergraduates, with a major online component. 1st ed. 2009.

A History of Music in Western Culture. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice-Hall, 2013. A textbook for undergraduate music majors, with an accompanying two-volume anthology of scores and a set of 14 CDs. 1st ed. 2003.

A Brief History of Music in Western Culture. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice-Hall, 2004. Chinese translation: Beijing: Pearson Education Asia and Peking University Press, 2006.

Book Chapters

“Expression.” In The Oxford Handbook of Western Music and Philosophy, 705–22. Ed. Tomás McAuley, Nanette Nielsen, Jerrold Levinson. New York: Oxford University Press, 2021.

“Heart to Heart: Beethoven, Archduke Rudolph, and the Missa Solemnis.” In The New Beethoven: Evolution, Analysis, Interpretation, 228–43. Ed. Jeremy Yudkin. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2020. (Eastman Studies in Music)

“Hanslick and Leibniz.” In Hanslick im Kontext: Perspektiven auf die Ästhetik, Musikkritik und das historische Umfeld von Eduard Hanslick / Perspectives on the Aesthetics, Musical Criticism, and Historical Setting of Eduard Hanslick, 21–30. Ed. Alexander Wilfing, Christoph Landerer, and Meike Wilfing-Albrecht. Vienna: Hollitzer, 2020.

“Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: Revolutionary Ideals in Narratives of the ‘Farewell’ Symphony.” In Joseph Haydn & die “Neue Welt”: Musik- und Kulturgeschichtliche Perspektiven, 283–301. Ed. Walter Reicher and Wolfgang Fuhrmann. (Eisenstädter Haydn Berichte, 11). Vienna: Hollitzer, 2019.

“Turning Liebhaber into Kenner: Johann Nikolaus Forkel’s Lectures on the Art of Listening, ca. 1780–1785.” In The Oxford Handbook of Music Listening in the 19th and 20th Centuries, 145-62. Ed. Christian Thorau and Hansjakob Ziemer. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018.

“The Court of Public Opinion: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven.” In Beethoven und andere Hofmusiker seiner Generation, 7-24. Ed. Birgit Lodes, Elisabeth Reisinger, and John D. Wilson. (Schriften zur Beethoven-Forschung, vol. 29: Musik am Bonner kurfürstlichen Hof, vol. 1). Bonn: Beethoven-Haus, 2018.

“Beethoven, Friedrich Schlegel und der Begriff der Unverständlichkeit.” In Utopische Visionen und Visionäre der Kunst: Beethovens “Geistiges Reich” Revisited, 127-37. Ed. William Kinderman. Vienna: Verlag der Apfel, 2017.

“Aufführungen: Die Musikfeste als Multiplikatoren.” In Das Beethoven-Handbuch, vol. 1: Beethovens Orchestermusik und Konzerte, 416-33. Ed. Oliver Korte and Albrecht Riethmüller. Laaber: Laaber-Verlag, 2013.

“Beethoven’s Shadow: The Nineteenth Century.” In The Cambridge Companion to the Symphony, 329-43. Ed. Julian Horton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Foreword to Rethinking Hanslick: Music, Formalism, and Expression, vii-ix. Ed. Nicole Grimes, Siobhán Donovan, and Wolfgang Marx. Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2013.

“Essência e efeito: Quatro momentos na história da teoria da música.” Trans. Rodolfo Coelho de Souza. In Intersecçõnes da Teoria e Análise Musicais com os Campos da Musciologia Histórica, da Composição e das Práticas Interpretativas, 15-26. Ed. Rodolfo Coelho de Souza. Ribeirão Preto, Brazil: Universidade de São Paulo, Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letra de Ribeirão Preto, 2012.

“Listening to Listeners.” In Communication in Eighteenth-Century Music, 34-52. Ed. Danuta Mirka and Kofi Agawu. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

“Rhetoric versus Truth: Listening to Haydn in the Age of Beethoven.” In Haydn and the Performance of Rhetoric, 109-28. Ed. Sander Goldberg and Tom Beghin. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007. Winner of the American Musciological Society’s Ruth A. Solie Award for “a collection of musicological essays of exceptional merit.”

“Ästhetische Prämissen der musikalischen Analyse im ersten Viertel des 19. Jahrhunderts, anhand von Friedrich August Kannes ‘Versuch einer Analyse der Mozart’schen Clavierwerke’.” In Mozartanalyse im 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhundert, 63-80. Ed. Gernot Gruber. Laaber: Laaber-Verlag, 1999. Republished in Das Mozart-Handbuch, vol. 7: Mozart neu entdecken: Theoretische Interpretationen seines Werks, 63-81. Ed. Gernot Gruber and Siegfried Mauser. Laaber: Laaber-Verlag, 2012.

“Haydn’s ‘Cours complet de la composition’ and the ‘Sturm und Drang’.” In Haydn Studies, 152-76. Ed. Dean Sutcliffe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

“The Symphony as Pindaric Ode.” In Haydn and his World, 131-53. Ed. Elaine Sisman. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997.

Essays In Journals

“‘Wozzeck’s Worst Hours’: Alban Berg’s Presentation Copy of Wozzeck to Eduard Steuermann.” Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association 76/4 (2020): 527–34.

“Irony and Incomprehensibility: Beethoven’s ‘Serioso’ String Quartet and the Path to the Late Style.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 70/2 (2017): 285-356.

“Synopsis” and “Reply to My Critics” in a Book Symposium on my Absolute Music: The History of an Idea (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), British Journal of Aesthetics 57/1 (2017): 67-69, 97-101.

“Aesthetic Amputations: Absolute Music and the Deleted Endings of Hanslick’s Vom Musikalisch-Schönen.” 19th-Century Music 36 (2012): 1-23.

“Selecting Dots, Connecting Dots: The Score Anthology as History.” Journal of Music History Pedagogy 2 (2011): 77-91.

“Symphonic Politics: Haydn’s ‘National Symphony’ for France.” Eighteenth-Century Music 8 (2010): 9-19.

“The Spatial Representation of Musical Form.” Journal of Musicology 27 (2010): 265-307.

“Replacing Haydn: Mozart’s ‘Pleyel’ Quartets.” Music & Letters 88 (2007): 201-25.

“Idealism and the Aesthetics of Instrumental Music at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 50/2-3 (1997): 387-420.

“The Sincerest Form of Flattery? Mozart’s ‘Haydn’ Quartets and the Question of Influence.” Studi musicali 22 (1993): 365-409.

Sinfonia anti-eroica: Berlioz’s Harold en Italie and the Anxiety of Beethoven’s Influence.” Journal of Musicology 10 (1992): 417-63.

“Haydn, Laurence Sterne, and the Origins of Musical Irony.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 44 (1991): 57-91.

“The Albert Schatz Opera Collections in the Library of Congress: A Guide and a Supplemental Catalogue.” Notes 44 (1988): 655-95.

“Gregorian Chant in the Works of Mozart.” Mozart-Jahrbuch 1980-83, pp. 305-10.

“Die Funktion des ‘Hamlet’-Motivs in ‘Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre’.” Goethe-Jahrbuch 1979, pp. 101-10.

Entries In Reference Sources

“Sonata Form,” “Monothematicism,” and “Fausse Reprise.” The Oxford Companion to Haydn, ed. David Wyn Jones. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

“Symphony: 19th Century.” The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed. London: Grove, 2000.


David B. Dennis, Beethoven in German Politics, 1870–1989 (New Haven and London, 1995). Journal of Modern History 70 (1998): 236–38.

Carl Dahlhaus, Ludwig van Beethoven: Approaches to his Music (Oxford, 1991). Journal of Musicological Research 14 (1994): 139–44.

Claus Bockmaier, Entfesselte Natur in der Musik des achtzehnten Jahrhunderts (Tutzing, 1992). Notes 51 (1994): 121–22.

Carl Dahlhaus, Schoenberg and the New Music (Cambridge, 1987). Notes 45 (1988): 276–77.


Music’s Fourth Wall and the Rise of Modern Listening.

Editorial Work

Advisory Board Member, Revista Música (Saõ Paulo), 2012–
Advisory Board Member, Journal of Music History Pedagogy, 2011–14
Editorial Board Member, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 2010–13
Editorial Board Member, Beethoven Forum, vols. 10–14, 2002–07
Editor-in-Chief, Beethoven Forum (University of Nebraska Press, Univesity of Illinois Press), vols. 7-9 (1996-2002).

My research interests range widely but focus primarily on the period between 1750 and 1910. In terms of repertory, I have published primarily on the music of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and on the genre of the symphony after Beethoven. In broader terms, I am interested in the history of changing concepts about the basic nature of music. Four of my five books to date have examined philosophical and aesthetic premises foundational to the perception of music at various periods in the past. My effort, in all of these books, has been to offer a perspective on music history based less on changes in musical style and more on changing perceptions of the nature of music itself.

In Wordless Rhetoric: Musical Form and the Metaphor of the Oration (1991), I examined the understanding of music as a language, a conceptual metaphor that flourished throughout the eighteenth century. In Music as Thought: Listening to the Symphony in the Age of Beethoven (2006), I focused on the period between ca. 1780 and 1820 and the emerging belief that purely instrumental music could function as vehicle of philosophical ideas. And in Absolute Music: The History of an Idea (2014), I surveyed the history of the idea of form as the essence of music, without direct regard to expression, beginning with Pythagoras but with emphasis on the period between ca. 1850 and 1945.

My most recent monograph, The Beethoven Syndrome: Hearing Music as Autobiography (2020) examines the perception of instrumental music as a vehicle of self-expression. Precisely because they lack words or visible images, sonatas, symphonies, and the like have long been perceived as a privileged venue for the expression of emotions. But whose emotions? Whose “voice” do we hear in music? The composer’s? Western responses to these questions have changed radically and more than once since the eighteenth century. Enlightenment critics viewed expression as a calculated, objective construct. But through a convergence of philosophical, cultural, and economic changes around 1830, composers began to write—and listeners began to hear—music as a form of wordless autobiography that revealed its creator’s innermost self, and Beethoven’s music was a major catalyst for this change. The “New Objectivity” and high modernism of the twentieth century, however, rejected subjectivity and re-embraced the ideal of objective expression. The tendency to hear life-as-works and works-as-life nevertheless retains a powerful hold on the Western imagination. The Beethoven Syndrome surveys these changing concepts of music as an expression of the creative self.