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Sabine Feisst

Sabine Feisst

Professor, School of Music, Dance and Theatre, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts


School of Music
Arizona State University
PO Box 870405
Tempe, AZ 85287-0405


  • Senior Global Futures Scholar, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory
  • Professor, School of Music, Dance and Theatre, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts


Sabine Feisst is Evelyn Smith Professor of Musicology (School of Music), Senior Sustainability Scholar (Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory), and Faculty Honors Advisor (Barrett The Honors College) at Arizona State University. She holds a PhD in Musicology from the Free University of Berlin and served on the faculty of Bard College and the University of Notre Dame before joining ASU. Her research interests focus on the music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, ecocriticism, acoustic ecology, migration studies, and improvisation.

Feisst’s publications include the books Schoenberg’s Correspondence with American Composers (Oxford UP 2018), Schoenberg’s New World: The American Years (Oxford UP 2011) and Der Begriff “Improvisation” in der neuen Musik (Studio Verlag 1997). Schoenberg’s Correspondence with American Composers was considered a “major contribution to Schoenberg scholarship” and Schoenberg’s New World won the prestigious Irving Lowens Book Award of the Society for American Music and was called “a pioneering work of revisionist scholarship.” Her volume on improvisation was praised as “an invaluable addition to the music history literature on experimental music.” She also published Schoenberg’s Early Correspondence, co-edited and translated into English with Ethan Haimo (Oxford UP 2016). She is currently editing the nine-volume set Schoenberg in Words with Severine Neff for Oxford University Press. Feisst authored over 50 articles and book chapters in such journals as Archiv für Musikwissenschaft, The Musical Quarterly, and the Journal of the Arnold Schönberg Center. She contributed forty encyclopedia entries to The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians II, The New Grove Dictionary of American Music II, and Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, among other reference works.

Feisst is currently preparing a monograph on music inspired by deserts in the American Southwest and editing the Oxford Handbook of Ecomusicology. With Garth Paine, she is co-directing ASU’s Acoustic Ecology Lab which features such research streams as EcoRift, EcoSonics, Sound Walks and the large-scale Listen(n) Project combining artistic and scientific research, innovative technology, community workshops, and socially embedded art activities.

 Through the Acoustic Ecology Lab, she collaborates with researchers from other disciplines at ASU (Architecture, Arts Media and Engineering, College of Health Solutions, Global Institute of Sustainability, School of Life Sciences and School of Social Transformation) and at universities in Austria, Denmark and Germany.

Feisst has presented her research in the United States, in Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia at conferences of such organizations as the International Musicological Society, American Musicological Society, Society for American Music, and the Gesellschaft für Musikforschung. She has served as keynote speaker and been invited to speak at symposia, university seminars and music festivals.

Feisst has been awarded research fellowships, grants and publication subventions from the American Musicological Society, Avenir Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, The Mannes Institute for Advanced Studies in Music Theory, and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. In 2014 she was chosen as one of five ASU professors to receive the Defining Edge Research Award in the Humanities and Literature.

In 2019 she was awarded the School of Music’s Evelyn Smith Professorship to

conduct research in ecomusicology and to develop new community-engagement based classes on music in the Southwestern desert and borderlands.

Her ASU course topics include music and sustainability, experimental music, improvisation, music and the visual arts, music and film, German modernism, migration studies, Baroque music and performance practice. A nominee for several teaching awards, including the ASU Parents Association Professor of the Year award, her graduate students have presented their research at national and international conferences.

She is the U.S. editor of the Contemporary Music Review and on the editorial board of the Ecomusicology Review. She was a fellowship referee for the NEH and regularly reviews manuscripts for academic presses and journals.


  • PhD, Musicology, Free University of Berlin, 1995
  • Erstes Staatsexamen für das Lehramt an Gymnasien (equals Masters), French LIterature, Goethe Universität, 1990
  • Erstes Staatsexamen für das Lehramt an Gymnasien (equals Masters), Music Education, Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, 1987


Journal Articles


Feisst, S. 2016. Music and ecology. Contemporary Music Review 35(3):293-295. DOI: 10.1080/07494467.2016.1239383. (link )

Feisst, S. 2016. The American Southwest as muse: Maggi Payne's sonic desertscapes. Contemporary Music Review 35(3):318-335. DOI: 10.1080/07494467.2016.1239384. (link )


Feisst, S. M. 2014. Animal ecologies: Laurie Spiegel's musical explorations of urban wildlife. Social Alternatives 33(1):16-22. (link )


Feisst, S. M. 2007. Komponieren mit urbanen Klängen. Die U.S.-amerikanische Komponistin Annie Gosfield. MusikTexte 115:5-15.


Feisst, S. M. 2005. Der US-amerikanische Komponist Ingram Marshall. MusikTexte 105:21-36.

Feisst, S. M. 2005. Zur Bedeutung der Improvisation für von John Cage. MusikTexte 106:63-71.


Feisst, S. M. 2002. Zur Rezeption von Schönbergs Schaffen in Amerika vor 1933. Journal of the Arnold Schoenberg Center 4:281-291.


Feisst, S. M. 2001. Klanggeographie – Klanggeometrie. Der U.S.-amerikanische Komponist John Luther Adams. MusikTexte 91:4-14.


Feisst, S. M. 2000. Serving two masters: Leonard Rosenman's music for films and the concert hall. 21st Century Music 7(5):19-25. (link )


Feisst, S. M. 1999. Arnold Schoenberg and the cinematic art. The Musical Quarterly 83(1):93-113. (link )


Feisst, S. M. 1998. Henry Cowell und Arnold Schönberg - eine unbekannte Freundschaft Sabine Feisst. Archiv für Musikwissenschaft 55(1):57-71. DOI: 10.2307/930957. (link )



Feisst, S. M. ed. 2018. Schoenberg's Correspondence with American Composers. Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780195383577.


Feisst, S. M. 2011. Schoenberg's New World: The American Years. Oxford University Press. Nre York, NY. ISBN: 0195372387.


Feisst, S. 1995. Der Begriff 'Improvisation' in der neuen Musik. Studio. ISBN: 978-3895640346.

Book Chapters


Feisst, S. M. 2016. Negotiating freedom and control in composition: Improvisation and its offshoots, 1950 to 1980. Pp. 206-229 In: Lewis, G. E. and B. Piekut eds., The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisatin Studies. Vol 2. Oxford University Press. New York, NY. ISBN: 978-0199892921.

Feisst, S. 2016. Negotiating nature and music through technology: Ecological reflections in the works of Maggi Payne and Laurie Spiegel. Pp. 245-257 In: Allen, A. S. and K. Dawe eds., Current Directions in Ecomusicology: Music, Nature, Environment. Routledge. New Yoek, NY. ISBN: 978-1138804586.


Feisst, S. M. 2014. 11. Represence of Jewishness in German music commemorating the Holocaust since the 1980s: Three case studies. Pp. 222-242 In: Fruhauf, T. and L. E. Hirsch eds., Dislocated Memories: Jews, Music, and Postwar German Culture. Oxford University Press. New York, NY. ISBN: 978-0199367481.


Feisst, S. 2012. Music as place, place as music: The sonic geography of John Luther Adams. Pp. Chapter 2 In: Herzogenrath, B. ed., The Farthest Place: The Music of John Luther Adams. Northeastern University Presss. Boston, MA. ISBN: 978-1555537630.

Feisst, S. 2012. Schoenberg and America. Pp. 285-309 In: Frisch, W. ed., Schoenberg and His World. Princeton University Press. Princeton, NJ. ISBN: 9780691048611.

Feisst, S. M. 2012. The city as muse: Annie Gosfield's New York city soundscapes. Pp. 80-86 In: Klotz, S. ed., Musik – Stadt: Traditionen und Perspektiven urbaner Musikkulturen. Gudrun Schroder Verlag.


Feisst, S. M. 2010. Schoenberg in the United States reconsidered: A histographic investigation. Pp. 102-126 In: Bodek, R. and S. Lewis eds., The Fruits of Exile: Central European Intellectual Immigation to America in the Age of Fascism. University of South Carolna Press. Columbia, SC. ISBN: 978-1570038532.

Feisst, S. 2010. Schoenberg reception in America, 1933–51. Pp. 247-257 In: Shaw, J. and J. Auner eds., The Cambridge Companion to Schoenberg. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge. DOI: 10.1017/CCOL9780521870498.019.


Feisst, S. M. 2009. Arnold Schoenberg in America reconsidered: A historiographic investigation. Pp. 409-426 In: Blazekovic, Z. and B. Dobbs Mackenzie eds., Music's Intellectual History. RILM. ISBN: 978-1932765052.

Feisst, S. M. 2009. Echos of Pierrot Lunaire in American music. Pp. 173-192 In: Wright, J. K. ed., Schoenberg's Chamber Music, Schoenberg's World. Pendragon Press. ISBN: 978-1576471302.

Feisst, S. M. and B. Nettl. 2009. John Cage and improvisation: An unresolved relationship. Pp. 38-51 In: Solis, G. ed., Musical Improvisation: Art, Education and Society. Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. ISBN: 978-0252034626.


Feisst, S. M. 2008. Arnold Schoenberg -- modernist or romanticist?. Pp. 196-208 In: Lussier, M. and B. Matsunaga eds., Engaged Romanticism: Romanticism as Praxis. Cambrdige Scholars Publishing. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. ISBN: 978-1847189141.


Feisst, S. M. 2006. Edgar Varese, ecuatorial. Pp. 170-177 In: Riethmüller, A. ed., Handbuch der Musik im 20. Jahrhundert, 12 Bde., Bd.2, Die Ausbreitung der neuen Musik 1925-1945. Vol 2. Laaber Verlag. ISBN: 978-3890074221.

Feisst, S. M. 2006. Leonard Bernstein, Symphony No. 1 ‘Jeremiah'. Pp. 293-298 In: Riethmüller, A. ed., Handbuch der Musik im 20. Jahrhundert, 12 Bde., Bd.2, Die Ausbreitung der neuen Musik 1925-1945. Vol 2. Laaber Verlag. ISBN: 978-3890074221.

Feisst, S. M. 2006. Olivier Messiaen, Quatuor pour la fin du temps. Pp. 277-283 In: Riethmüller, A. ed., Handbuch der Musik im 20. Jahrhundert, 12 Bde., Bd.2, Die Ausbreitung der neuen Musik 1925-1945. Laaber Verlag. ISBN: 978-3890074221.

Feisst, S. M. 2006. Varese and his New York choruses. Pp. 257-263 In: Meyer, F. and H. Zimmermann eds., Edgar Varese: Composer, Sound Sculptor, Visionary. Boydell & Brewer. Woodbridge, Suffolk. ISBN: 978-1843832119.


Feisst, S. M. 1999. Part IV Schoenberg and America. Pp. 288-311 In: Frisch, W. ed., Schoenberg and His World. Princeton University Press. Princeton, NJ. ISBN: 978-0691048611.



Paine, G., V. S. Berisha, H. Rowe, K. Hoefer, A. P. Singh, S. Puranam, S. M. Feisst and S. J. Hall. 2018. EcoSonics – Psychoacoustic diversity modeling for environmental management in McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Poster presented at the 20th Annual CAP LTER All Scientists Meeting and Poster Symposium, Jaunary 5, 2018, Skysong, Scottsdale, AZ. (link )

Blog Posts


Feisst, S. 2002. Losing control: Indeterminacy and improvisation in music since 1950 [Blog Post]. Retrieved from link