In his dissertation work, Zac Stewart (matriculated 2016) is constructing a counter-narrative of mid-century French music between 1940 and 1958 by exploring a tradition of retrospective operas by composers like Milhaud and Poulenc parallel to but distinct from the neoclassicism and avant-garde serialism of the era. He seeks to expand conventional music-historical perspectives by examining this widely disseminated but rarely studied repertoire, and by providing musical interpretations that respond to and illuminate the particular cultural and geopolitical situation of France during and after the Occupation, and in the early Cold War. In doing so, he joins other scholars working to repertorially broaden and geopolitically re-focus our understanding of this diverse and tumultuous period.
Originally from the high desert of central Oregon, Zac holds an M.Phil. from the University of Cambridge for his dissertation entitled “Vaughan Williams’ Anti-Heroic Symphony,” funded by a Dr. Herchel Smith Fellowship. Prior to that, he earned a B.A. at Williams College, where he was awarded the Shirley Stanton Prize in Music and Highest Honors in Music for his undergraduate thesis on the choral symphony in the nineteenth century. Zac spent his third year at Williams as a visiting undergraduate at the University of Oxford under the auspices of the Williams-Exeter Programme. Other areas of focus include relationships between music and text, global music histories, material studies, and queer musicology; he further maintains keen interests in early music and a variety of non-western musics.