Elaine Rochelle Sisman (born January 20, 1952) is the Anne Parsons Bender Professor of Music at Columbia University. The author of Haydn and the Classical Variation and Mozart: The 'Jupiter' Symphony and editor of Haydn and His World, 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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
Sisman has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies. 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.
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."
Works by Sisman
- ed. Haydn and His World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997)
- Mozart: The "Jupiter" Symphony No. 41 in C major, K. 551 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993)
- Haydn and the Classical Variation (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993)
- "After the Heroic Style: Fantasia and Beethoven's 'Characteristic' Sonatas of 1809," Beethoven Forum 6 (1997)
- "Genre, Gesture, and Meaning in Mozart's 'Prague Symphony,'" in Mozart Studies 2 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997)
- "Pathos and Path?ique: Rhetorical Stance in Beethoven's Piano Sonata in C minor, Op.13," Beethoven Forum 3 (1994)
- "Brahms and the Variation Canon," 19th-Century Music 14 (1990), 132-53
- "Haydn's Theater Symphonies," Journal of the American Musicological Society 43 (1990)
- "Small and Expanded Forms: Koch's Model and Haydn's Music," The Musical Quarterly 68 (1982)
- "Elaine R. Sisman Wed To Martin S. Fridson". The New York Times. 1981-06-15. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
- Somfai, László (1995). "Review of Haydn and the Classical Variation". Notes. 51 (3): 912–914. doi:10.2307/899295.
- 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.