Lydia Goehr

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Lydia Goehr
Institutions Columbia University, Freie Universität, UC Berkeley
Main interests
History of aesthetic theory, philosophy of music, philosophy of art

Lydia Goehr is a Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University.[1] Her research specialties include the philosophy of music, aesthetics, critical theory, the philosophy of history, and 19th- and 20th-century philosophy. Goehr was born in London, on January 10, 1960. She is the daughter of the composer Alexander Goehr and granddaughter of Walter Goehr. She received her Ph.D. from Cambridge University, where her dissertation on the ontology of music was supervised by Bernard Williams.[2] In addition to her permanent appointment at Columbia, Goehr has accepted a number of visiting appointments, including a position as Visiting Ernest Bloch Professor at UC Berkeley's music department in 1997, as the visiting Aby Warburg Professor at the University of Hamburg in 2002-2003, as a Visiting Professor at the Freie Universität in Berlin in 2008, and as a visiting professor in the Fu-Berlin SFB Theater und Fest in 2009.[1]

Goehr has written three books, co-edited a fourth, and has published numerous articles in the philosophy of music. Her first book, The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works: An Essay in the Philosophy of Music (Clarendon Press, Oxford), was published in 1992, and has since been translated into Greek, Chinese and Italian. Her second book, A Quest for Voice: On Music, Politics, and the Limits of Philosophy (Clarendon Press, Oxford), is based on the Bloch Lectures, delivered at the University of California, Berkeley in 1997. Her third book, published in 2008, is Elective Affinities: Musical Essays on the History of Aesthetic Theory (Columbia University Press).

Goehr's work focuses on the history of aesthetic theory, attempting to understand the relational nature of norms and power dynamics with the structure that confines them and regulates their practice.[3] Most of her work has focused on the musical arts, and some of it has explored the complicated and often hostile relationship between the various arts, and between the arts and philosophy and religion.[3] She has also engaged with ideas about the legitimacy of war from a critical theory standpoint, although not an explicitly feminist one,[3] as well as dealt with the philosophy of history and the history of philosophy.

Goehr has received several awards for her research as well as for her teaching of undergraduate students and mentoring of graduate students. She has been a recipient of the Getty and Guggenheim Fellowships.[4][5] In 2012, Goehr was awarded the H. Colin Slim Award by the American Musicological Society.[6] In 2009/2010, Goehr received a Lenfest Distinguished Columbia Faculty Award. In 2005, Goehr was a winner of the Columbia University Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching.[7]


  1. ^ a b "Lydia Goehr | Department of Philosophy". Columbia University. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  2. ^ Arthur Jacobs, et al. "Goehr." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 30 Mar. 2013 <>
  3. ^ a b c DesAutels, Peggy. "Lydia Goehr: November 2013". American Philosophical Association. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  4. ^ "Guggenheim Fellowships". Guggenheim Foundation. Retrieved 2013-12-14. 
  5. ^ "The American Philosophical Association's Committee on the Status of Women". APA. Retrieved 2013-12-14. 
  6. ^ "American Musicological Society". AMA. Retrieved 2013-12-14. 
  7. ^ "Columbia University Presidential Teaching Awards". Columbia University. Retrieved 2013-12-14. 

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