W. Anthony Sheppard

W. Anthony Sheppard

Marylin & Arthur Levitt Professor of Music

Bernhard Music Center Rm 41
At Williams since 1996


B.A. Amherst College (1991)
M.F.A. Princeton University (1993)
Ph.D. Princeton University, Music (1996)

Areas of Expertise

20th- and 21st-century music
Cross-cultural influence, Exoticism, Globalization
20th-century opera and music theater
Film music analysis
American music history
Vocal Timbre

Teaching Areas
Musics of the Twentieth Century
Popular Music: Revolutions in the History of Rock
Music and Film
Introduction to Japanese Music and Theater
Introduction to Twentieth-Century Music
Verdi and Wagner
Opera Since Einstein
Music in Modernism
Music in the Global Cold War
Senior Seminar: Music and Language
Senior Seminar: Timbre
Musics of Asia
Words and Music in the 60s and 70s: Dylan, Mitchell, Lennon/McCartney
American Pop Orientalism
Words and Music by Bob Dylan
The Broadway Musical
Hearing Race in America, 1890-1955
Music in Asian American History



Hearing Race in America, 1890-1955 (not offered 2024/25)

MUS 141 / THEA 141 LEC

(not offered 2024/25)


American Pop Orientalism (not offered 2024/25)


Timbre (not offered 2024/25)

Scholarship/Creative Work


Beyond the Bandstand: Paul Whiteman in American Musical Culture, editor and contributor (University of Illinois Press, forthcoming 2024)

Sondheim in Our Time and His, editor and contributor (Oxford University Press, 2022)

Extreme Exoticism: Japan in the American Musical Imagination (Oxford University Press, 2019)

Revealing Masks: Exotic Influences and Ritualized Performance in Modernist Music Theater (University of California Press, 2001)


“The Male Siren: Countertenor Voices in Contemporary Opera,” forthcoming

“Compelled by the Primitive in Cinematic Dance,” forthcoming

“Integration and Segregation in Whiteman’s Music Television, 1948-1955” and “Introduction: Naming and Placing Whiteman,” forthcoming in Beyond the Bandstand: Paul Whiteman in American Musical Culture (University of Illinois Press, 2024)

“Finishing the Line: Wit, Rhythm, and Rhyme in Sondheim,” and “Introduction: Our Sondheim,” in Sondheim in Our Time and His (Oxford University Press, 2022), 1-11; 391-416

“Allusion in the Composition of Contemporary Opera,” Cambridge Opera Journal, 33, 3 (2022)

“Learning from Bartók: The Promises and Perils of a Globalized Music History,” in Listening Across Borders: Musicology in the Global Classroom, eds. James A. Davis and Christopher Lynch (Routledge, 2022), 85-100

“Morality and Meaning in Lady Gaga’s Vocal Masking,” in Un/Masking: Reflections on a Transformative Process, eds. Anna Baccanti, Franziska Link, Johanna Spangenberg, Antonia Stichnoth (Berlin: Neofelis Verlag, 2021), 207-238

“Puccini und der Exotismus,” in Puccini Handbuch, ed. Richard Erkens (Stuttgart: Metzler/Bärenreiter, 2017): 144-58

“Puccini and the Music Boxes,” Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 140, 1 (Spring 2015): 41-92. (Scroll down for sound clips below.) Available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02690403.2015.1008863

“Exoticism,” in The Oxford Handbook of Opera, ed. Helen Greenwald, Oxford University Press, 795-816.

“Global Exoticism and Modernity,” in The Cambridge History of World Music, ed. Philip V. Bohlman, (Cambridge University Press, 2013), 606-633

“The Persistence of Orientalism in the Postmodern Operas of Adams and Sellars,” in Representation in Western Music, ed. Joshua Walden, (Cambridge University Press, 2013), 267-86

“Tan Dun and Zhang Yimou Between Film and Opera,” Journal of Musicological Research 29, 1 (January 2010)

“Blurring the Boundaries: Tan Dun’s tinte and The First Emperor,” Journal of Musicology 26, 3 (Summer 2009)

“Continuity in Composing the American Cross-Cultural: Eichheim, Cowell, and Japan” Journal of the American Musicological Society 61, 3 (Fall 2008)

“Cinematic Realism, Reflexivity and the American ‘Madame Butterfly’ Narratives,” Cambridge Opera Journal 17, 1 (2005)

“Representing the Authentic: Tak Shindo’s ‘Exotic Sound’ and Japanese American History,” ECHO 6, 2 (2005)

“An Exotic Enemy: Anti-Japanese Musical Propaganda in World War II Hollywood,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 54, 2 (Summer 2001)

“Bitter Rituals for a Lost Nation: Partch’s Revelation in the Courthouse Park and Bernstein’s Mass,” The Musical Quarterly 80, 3 (Fall 1996)

Online and Multimedia Publications:

“Harry Partch and Japan,” New York City Japan Society, December 2007
watch video

Lecture at the Library of Congress, October 2010, “American Musical Modernism and Japan,”
watch video

“Music Box as Muse to Puccini’s ‘Butterfly’,” The New York Times, June 2012
read article

Webcourse on Nico Muhly’s opera “Dark Sisters” for OPERA America, June 2012
view sample

“Puccini’s Music Box?,” PBS program “State of the Arts,” December 2012
watch video

Lecture for the Berkshire Symphony performance of “The Rite of Spring,” March 2013
watch video

“Pop Orientalism: Tin Pan Alley to Taiwan Today,” lecture for the TEDx conference at Williams College, January 2014
watch video

“The Magical Power of ‘Let It Go’,” video discussion of the song and film sequence in Frozen, March 2014
watch video

“Words and Music: The Songs of John Harbison,” with Harbison, Schwartz, Glück, and Fisher, April 2014
watch video

“Exploring the Songs of Frozen,” with Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, June 2014
watch video

Lecture on Indian Ragamala painting and music (brief excerpt), Williams College Museum of Art, October 2014
watch video

Folksong sources in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Met Opera Guild Podcast episode 84 (2017)

Lecture on Adès’s The Exterminating Angel, Met Opera Guild Podcast episode 85 (2017)

Lecture on Muhly’s Marnie, Met Opera Guild Podcast episode 115 (2018)

Lecture on Glass’s Akhnaten, Met Opera Guild Podcast episode 141 (2019)

“Morality and Meaning in Vocal Masking,” Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Munich, July 2019
watch video

Lecture on Aucoin’s Eurydice, Met Opera Guild Podcast episode 191 (2021)

Lecture on Puts’s The Hours, Met Opera Guild Podcast episode 210 (2022)

Audio examples for “Puccini and the Music Boxes”

Audio for Example 3 Excerpt of recorded performance by Mirella Freni; Herbert von Karajan, cond.; Vienna Philharmonic. London 417 577-2, 1974/1987.

Audio for Example 4 Excerpt of recorded performance by Maria Spacagna; Charles Rosekrans, cond.; Hungarian State Opera House Orchestra. Vox Classics VOX4 7525, 1996.

Audio for Example 6 Excerpt of recorded performance by Luciano Pavarotti; Herbert von Karajan, cond.; Vienna Philharmonic. London 417 577-2, 1974/198.


Awards, Fellowships & Grants

Irving Lowens Book Award, Society for American Music, 2021
Music in American Culture Award, American Musicological Society, 2020
John Hyde Teaching Fellowship for “excellence in teaching,” Williams College, 2020-2023
ACLS Susan McClary and Robert Walser Fellowship in Music Studies, 2019
H. Colin Slim Award, American Musicological Society, 2016
Membership, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton NJ, 2011
American Philosophical Society Sabbatical Fellowship, 2007-2008
ASCAP Deems Taylor Award, 2006
Kurt Weill Book Prize (biennial), Modern Language Association, American Musicological Society, American Society for Theatre Research, and Kurt Weill Foundation, 2003
NEH Fellowship recipient, 2003-2004
Alfred Einstein Award, American Musicological Society, 2002
NEH Summer Stipend recipient, 2002
Phi Beta Kappa, Amherst College, 1991

Professional Affiliations

Series Editor, AMS Studies in Music, Oxford University Press, 2016-2022 

Editorial Board Member, Cambridge Opera Journal, 2016-

Editor-in-Chief, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 2014-2016

Director-at-Large, Board of the American Musicological Society, 2011-2013