Carl Leafstedt

Carl  Stuart  Leafstedt , Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Music

Education   Subjects Taught

Ph.D. - Music, Harvard University

B.A. - Music and Chemistry, Williams College


Music History, Ancient Greece to the present

Twentieth-Century Opera

Music and Politics

Chamber Music

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Carl Leafstedt is a music historian who teaches general music history courses, a First Year Seminar on Music and Politics, and special topics courses on Tchaikovsky, Schubert, Symphonic Literature, and 20th-Century Opera.  A native of Sioux City, Iowa, he was a chemistry/music double major in his undergraduate years at Williams College, then went on to receive a Ph.D. in music history from Harvard University.  He has taught at Southwestern University, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Duke University.  He's been on the faculty at Trinity since 2001.  He was Chair of the Music Department from 2006-12.

Teaching Trinity students is such a pleasure. They're bright, capable, and talented in so many ways. I try to share my enthusiasm for music, and thinking about music, in class every day.

His research interests center on music of the 20th century, with emphasis on the music of Béla Bartók.  He is currently working on a book on Bartók's years in America, as well as editing the unpublished autobiography of composer Ernst Bacon, whose Emily Dickinson songs are much beloved by singers.  His book on Bartók's opera Duke Bluebeard's Castle, published by Oxford University Press, earned sufficient attention from the opera world to warrant re-publication in paperback form.  From 2005-7 he served as President of the Southwest Chapter of the American Musicological Society.  He has also been a member of the AMS Council.  A member of the Society for American Music, in 2008 he served as Chair of the Local Arrangements Committee for the Society's annual conference, held that year in San Antonio. 

Trinity's location in South Texas has broadened his interests to include much of the popular music of the area.  He recently wrote the subject article on "San Antonio" for the New Grove Dictionary of American Music (2012).  He is founding coordinator of Trinity University's Legends of Texas Border Music series, a project that pairs guest scholars with prominent musicians who have spent their careers making music in the culturally rich region of South Texas.

Publications (selected)

"San Antonio."  In The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, revised edition.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. 

"Bartók on Stage."  Program book essay for the Philharmonia Orchestra of London's 2011 festival, Infernal Dance: Inside the World of Béla Bartók.   k.  arte: Inside the World of B Inside the World of B Lond'ons, Wendell and Kent.  ics fi

"El Castell de Barbablava, op. 11." Published in the annual program book of the Barcelona Opera, Temporada d'opera, 2007-8, pp. 60-64. Barcelona, Spain: Amics del Liceu, 2007. Published simultaneously in Catalan and English.

"Asheville, Winter of 1943-44: Bela Bartók and North Carolina." The Music Quarterly 87/2 (Summer 2004): 219-58.

"Seven Doors Into a Soul." Program essay for the Royal Opera House's performances of Bartók's opera Duke Bluebeard's Castle at Covent Garden, London. March 2002.  Reprinted for Spring 2006 season.

"The Stage Works: A Portrait of Loneliness." In The Cambridge Companion to Bartók, edited by Amanda Bayley, 62-77. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (UK), 2001.

"Pelléas Revealed: The Original Ending of Bluebeard's Castle." In Bartók Perspectives, edited by Elliott Antokoletz, Victoria Fischer, and Benjamin Suchoff, 226-44. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Inside Bluebeard's Castle: Music and Drama in Bela Bartók's Opera. New York and London: Oxford University Press, 1999. Paperback edition 2003.

Conference presentations and lectures (selected)

"Victor Bator and the Early years of the American Bartók Archive: An Apprection."  International Musicological Colloquium to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Foundation of the Budapest Bartók Archives.  Szombathely, Hungary: International Bartók Seminar.  July 17, 2011. 

"Perennial Question, Invisible Answer."  Pre-concert lecture on the music of Elliott Carter and Charles Ives.  Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Carnegie Hall,  New York City.  Dec. 6, 2008.

"Creativity and Disease Entwined: The Mysterious Case of Béla Bartók's Final Illness, 1942-45."  Class of 1960 lecture, Williams College, Williamstown, MA.  April 1, 2008. 

Session Chair.  "Multi-Cultural Texas."  Annual meeting of the Society for American Music, San Antonio, TX.  Feb. 29, 2008.

"The Allure of the Unfinished: Béla Bartók's Viola Concerto (1945) and the Eternal Human Fascination with Incomplete Works of Art."  Baylor University, 23 October 2007, as part of a mini-Bartók festival.

"Ernst Bacon: America's Missing Modernist."  Trinity University Music Department faculty lecture.  April 20, 2007. 

"Music's Role in Contemporary American Politics."  Presented as part of Trinity University's 2005 Food for Thought lecture series.  March 2005.

"Boston, 1860: Middle Class Taste and the Ascendancy of America's Musical Athens."  Paper presented at the national meeting of the American Studies Association, Atlanta, November 2004. 

"Examining the Medical Reality of Bartók's Final Illness."  Paper presented at the biannual meeting of the Southwest Chapter of the American Musicological Society, Fort Worth, October 2002.  A revised version was given as an invited lecture at Oberlin College, March 2004. 

"A Dust-Bowl Porgy?  Ernst Bacon's A Tree on the Plains (1942) and Its Place in American Opera History."  Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for American Music, Lexington, KY, March 2002.  Also given in modified form at the University of Texas School of Music, April 2006. 

Community Involvement

He has served on the boards of the San Antonio Chamber Music Society and the San Antonio Symphony.  He is a founding board member for the San Antonio Chamber Choir, a group for which he currently serving as Board President.  At present he is also on the board of the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio.  He takes a lively interest in helping Trinity students pursue careers in music history or arts management.

Generosity Commission, St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 2011-present

With his wife Ann he served as Co-President of the South Texas chapter of the Williams College Alumni Association, 2001-7. 


His wife Ann is an attorney in San Antonio.  They have two sons, Wendell and Kent.

Dr. Carl Leafstedt

Contact Information
Department of Music
Trinity University
One Trinity Place
San Antonio, TX 78212