Anne Walters Robertson

Claire Dux Swift Distinguished Service Professor of Music and the Humanities in the College; Dean, Division of the Humanities
PhD, Yale University, 1984

Anne Walters Robertson writes on subjects ranging from the plainchant of the early church to the Latin and vernacular polyphony of the late middle ages. In her work, liturgical and secular music, and often the interactions of the two, mirror theological and courtly ideas and shape the development of medieval spirituality and personal devotion, architecture, institutional identity, and politics. The theme of French royal culture also winds its way through Robertson’s books, which focus on the history of music at the cathedral of Reims, where the kings of France were crowned, and the music and liturgy of the abbey of St-Denis of Paris, where the kings were buried. Her research on fourteenth-century polyphony points to the fundamental roles of local musical dialect in understanding Philippe de Vitry’s life and music, and of mystical theology in illuminating the compositions of Guillaume de Machaut. More recently, she has studied the symbolic and folkloric aspects of the seminal masses and motets of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, as the title of her article, “The Savior, the Woman, and the Head of the Dragon in the Caput Masses and Motet,” suggests. Reflecting her early training in piano performance and her love of the music of Debussy, Ravel, and Messiaen, Professor Robertson’s teaching also includes music of fin-de-siècle France. Throughout her career, she has been involved in the work of the broader University and the professional organizations, serving as Deputy Provost for Research and Education (2001-4) and Chair of the Music Department (1992-98, Winter 2008) at Chicago, and as Co-Chair of the OPUS Campaign of the American Musicological Society (2005-9) and President of the American Musicological Society (2011-2012).

Robertson is the first scholar to win all three awards of the Medieval Academy of America: the Haskins Medal (2006), the John Nicholas Brown Prize (1995), and the Van Courtlandt Elliott Prize (1987). Another trio of prizes, bestowed by the AMS, includes the H. Colin Slim Award (2007), the Otto Kinkeldey Award (2003), and the Alfred Einstein Award (1989). In 2007, the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association presented her with the Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal. She has received grants and fellowships from the George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation (1996-97), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (1992), the American Philosophical Society (1990), the National Endowment for the Humanities (1990, 1986-87, 1985), the American Council of Learned Societies (1988, 1986), the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music (1982 83), the Fulbright Program (France, 1981 82), and the American Association of University Women (honorary, 1982). Robertson became a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2008 and a member of the American Philosophical Society in 2015.

Selected Works

  • Guillaume de Machaut and Reims: Context and Meaning in his Musical Works. Cambridge University Press, 2002 (Haskins Medal and Otto Kinkeldey Award). Paperback reprint, 2007.
  • The Service Books of the Royal Abbey of Saint Denis: Images of Ritual and Music in the Middle Ages. Oxford Monographs on Music. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991 (John Nicholas Brown Prize).
  • “The Man with the Pale Face, the Shroud, and Du Fay’s Missa Se la face ay pale,” Journal of Musicology 27 (2010), 377-434.
  • “The Savior, the Woman, and the Head of the Dragon in the Caput Masses and Motet,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 59 (2006), 537-630 (H. Colin Slim Award).
  • “From Office to Mass: The Antiphons of Vespers and Lauds and the Antiphon Before the Gospel in Northern France,” Opus Dei: The Divine Office in the Latin Middle Ages: Methodology and Source Studies, Regional Developments, Hagiography - Written in Honor of Professor Ruth Steiner, ed. Margot E. Fassler and Rebecca A. Baltzer (Oxford, 2000), 300-23.
  • “Local Chant Readings and the Roman de Fauvel,” Fauvel Studies: Allegory, Chronicle, Music and Image in Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS français 146, ed. Margaret Bent and Andrew Wathey (Oxford, 1998), 495-524.
  • “Which Vitry? The Witness of the Trinity Motet from the Roman de Fauvel,” Hearing the Motet: Essays on the Motet of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, ed. Delores Pesce (Oxford, 1997), 52-81.
  • “Remembering the Annunciation in Medieval Polyphony,” Speculum 70 (1995), 275 304.
  • “The Mass of Guillaume de Machaut in the Cathedral of Reims,” Plainsong in the Age of Polyphony, ed. Thomas Kelly, Cambridge Studies in Performance Practice 2 (Cambridge, 1992), 100 39.
  • Benedicamus Domino: The Unwritten Tradition,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 41 (1988), 1 62 (Alfred Einstein Award).
  • “The Reconstruction of the Abbey Church at Saint Denis (1231 81): The Interplay of Music and Ceremony with Architecture and Politics,” Early Music History 5 (1985), 187 238 (Van Courtlandt Elliott Prize).
Affiliated Departments and Centers: Committee on Medieval Studies, Department of Music, France Chicago Center