The music history faculty at Manhattan School of Music includes eminent musicologists, distinguished composers, and active performers. As a service department, the music history department makes courses available to students in all degree programs in all majors. The School does not confer degrees in music history.
The department offers a variety of courses both introductory and advanced. There are survey courses by period (Music in the Middle Ages & Renaissance, Music in the Baroque, Classic & Romantic Music, Music in the 20th Century), genre courses (History of Jazz, Non-Western Music, History of Opera, History of Chamber Music, History of the Symphony), composer courses (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Verdi, Mahler, Duke Ellington), literature courses (Organ Literature, Piano Literature, English & American Vocal Literature, German Vocal Literature, French Vocal Literature), and special topics courses (Music in America, Russian Music, The 1920s, Performance Practice, Operas of Strauss and Berg and Britten).
Unique to Manhattan School of Music is the undergraduate Unified Core Curriculum, which was initiated by the music history department in 1994. During the freshman and sophomore years, students in the classical division immerse themselves in the Unified Core Curriculum, a sequence of courses especially designed to unify, coordinate, and integrate basic studies in music theory, music history, and the humanities. The core sequence includes seminars in which students actively participate through discussion and writing and lecture classes in which concepts of theory, music history, and the progression of Western civilization are described. The Unified Core Curriculum prepares the undergraduate student to take specialized elective courses in the junior and senior years.
The music history department has been chaired since 2010 by musicologist Jeffrey Langford.