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Clifton, Keith

Professor - Musicology



Dr. Keith Clifton joined the CMU faculty in August 2002. He teaches all levels of undergraduate and graduate music history and courses in popular music, world music, and opera history. Prior to his CMU appointment, he held faculty positions in Arkansas, Iowa, and Illinois.​ 

Dr. Clifton’s musicological work centers on twentieth-century France and the United States, with particular emphasis on Maurice Ravel and Les Six. His principal research areas include opera, American music, popular music, and gender studies. Widely published with nearly sixty scholarly contributions to his credit, his articles and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Grove Dictionary of American Music (2nd edition), Notes, Fontes Artis Musicae, College Music Symposium, The Opera Journal, The Journal of Singing, The Reader’s Guide to Music History, The Journal of Musicological Research, Canadian University Music Review, H-France, The Encyclopedia of the Romantic Era, LGBTQ America Today, and Madonna's Drowned Worlds. He is a regular consultant for academic publishers and music-related articles in regional, national, and international media, including, Investor’s Business Daily, Semana, The Baltimore Sun, and The Dallas Morning News.

Clifton’s longstanding interest in American song culminated in a 2008 book for Scarecrow Press titled Recent American Art Song: A Guide. This book, the first to examine in detail post-1980 American classical song, has been positively reviewed in several venues and is considered a standard reference source on its subject. He also served as co-editor of the critical edition of Maurice Ravel’s Fugue in F Minor (c. 1897), an overlooked early work that received its world premiere in 2010. Clifton was later interviewed about the piece for a special program on the Big Ten Network (available for viewing on You Tube under the title “Revealing Ravel”). 

Professor Clifton has presented numerous lectures, academic papers and posters at conferences including national meetings of the American Musicological Society (2002, 2010, 2012), the Society for American Music (2011), International Musicological Society congresses in Belgium and Switzerland (2002, 2007), the Songs Across the Americas Festival in Bolivia (2003), the Bach Festival in Peru (2005), the National Association of Teachers of Singing (2006), Feminist Theory and Music (2003), national meetings of the College Music Society (2005, 2007, 2009), the Chicago Civic Orchestra, the Midland Symphony Orchestra, and the Elderhostel program. 

​In addition to his work as a musicologist, Dr. Clifton is an active vocal coach and performer of opera, art song, and choral music. He served as tenor section leader at Winnetka (IL) Congregational Church from 1993–1998, and has performed as a soloist and choral singer for several American choirs and festivals in Europe, Great Britain, and South America. P​rofessional memberships include the American Musicological Society, where he served on the national Committee on Cultural Diversity, the Society for American Music, and the College Music Society, where he serves as 2013 national program chair and Vice President/ President-Elect of the Great Lakes Chapter. Strongly committed to teaching, Dr. Clifton has been a multiple nominee and finalist for the CMU Excellence in Teaching Award and currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Journal of Music History Pedagogy. His former students are enrolled in or have completed advanced degrees at programs across the United States and abroad.


Recent Scholarships

Clifton, Keith E. "Ibert, Chaliapin, and Pabst's Adventures of Don Quixtote." Paper presented at Opera and Popular Culture, Texas Christian University, February 2020.

Clifton, Keith E. "The "Liturgical" Symphony and Honegger's Postwar Rehabilitation." Paper presented at Les Six at 100, Princeton University. January 2020.

Clifton, Keith E. "Poulenc's Babar and the Rebirth of Lifestyle Modernism" Article for Journal of Musicological Research 38, no. 2 (2019).

CMU Type C Research and Creative Endeavors Grant for archival research on 20th century French music undertaken at Rice University and University of Texas at Austin, March 2017.

"Claude Debussy" for "A-R Online Music Anthology." Madison, WI: A-R Editions, 2018.

More about Keith Clifton

Ph.D: 1998, Northwestern University
MM: 1993, Northwestern University
BMus: 1990, University of Texas - Austin
• Twentieth-century French & American Music (esp related to art song, popular music, & the works of French composers Ravel & Poulenc)

Courses Taught

• Music History I, II, & III
• Historical Topics I & II
• Rock & Roll Seminar
• Sem in World Music
• Inde​pendent Study
• History of Opera
• Sem/Music of a Selected Composer