Peter J Mercer-Taylor

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Professor: Musicology and School of Music Director of Graduate Studies

Peter Mercer-Taylor, Professor of Musicology, earned his B.A. (1988) from Amherst College and his M.A. and Ph.D. (1995) from the University of California, Berkeley. He previously taught humanities and popular culture in the interdisciplinary honors college of Valparaiso University, joining the University of Minnesota faculty in 2001.

Mercer-Taylor's scholarship has been divided between the19th-century German classical tradition“”Felix Mendelssohn in particular“”and contemporary popular music, including the work of the Bangles, Elvis Costello, Bill Staines, and R.E.M. He has spoken at numerous conferences and symposia, and been interviewed on NPR and BBC Radio 2. Mercer-Taylor’s articles have appeared in a range of journals, including 19th-Century Music, Popular Music, Journal of the Society for American Music, Musical Quarterly, Music & Letters, and Journal of Musicology. He is the author of The Life of Mendelssohn (Cambridge University Press, 2000) and the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Mendelssohn (2004), and he is currently at work on a book on the impact of European classical music on 19th-century American hymnody.

Educational Background & Specialties


  • Felix Mendelssohn
  • history of popular American music and culture
  • 19th century Romantic German music
  • music history 1750 - 1900
  • American hymnology
  • "Listening for the 'Still Small Voice' of Mendelssohn's Domestic Elijah": Mercer-Taylor, Peter, The Journal of Musicology, (forthcoming).
  • "Mendelssohn and the Legacy of Beethoven's Ninth: Vocality in the 'Reformation' Symphony": Mercer-Taylor, Peter, ed. Jürgen Thym , University of Rochester Press, Mendelssohn, the Organ, and the Music of the Past: Constructing Historical Legacies, (forthcoming).
  • "'The Calliope crashed to the ground': Linear and Cyclic Time in Manfred Mann's Earth Band's 'Blinded by the Light'": Mercer-Taylor, Peter, Music Theory Spectrum, 35/2 1-19, 2013 (forthcoming).
  • "Mendelssohn in Nineteenth-Century American Hymnody": Mercer-Taylor, Peter, 19th-Century Music, 32 235-83, 2009.
  • "Between Hymn and Horror Film: How Do We Listen to Cradle of Filth?": Mercer-Taylor, Peter, ed. Eric Christianson and Christopher Partridge, Equinox, The Lure of the Dark Side: Satanism and Western Demonology in Popular Culture, 39-59, 2009.
  • "Beyond 'the Herald Angels': Recovering Mendelssohn the Hymnodist": Mercer-Taylor, Peter, CrossAccent: The Journal of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, 17/2 19-35, 2009.
  • "Bill Staines's 'Bridges' and the Art of Meta-Folk": Mercer-Taylor, Peter, The Journal of the Society for American Music, 1/7 423-52, 2007.
  • "'Stupid, stupid signs': Incomprehensibility, Memory, and the Meaning (Maybe) of R.E.M.'s 'Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite'": Mercer-Taylor, Peter, The Musical Quarterly, 88/3 456-86, 2005.
  • "Mendelssohn and the Institution(s) of German Art Music": Mercer-Taylor, Peter, ed. Peter Mercer-Taylor, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Companion to Mendelssohn, 11-25, 2004.
  • Cambridge Companion to Mendelssohn. Mercer-Taylor, Peter, Cambridge University Press, Editor, 2004.
  • The Life of Mendelssohn. Mercer-Taylor, Peter, Cambridge University Press, 2000.
  • "Two-and-a-Half Centuries in the Life of a Hook": Mercer-Taylor, Peter, Popular Music & Society, 23/2 1-16, 1999.
  • "Songs from the bell jar: autonomy and resistance in the music of The Bangles": Mercer-Taylor, Peter, Popular Music, 17/2 187-204, 1998.
  • "Rethinking Mendelssohn's Historicism: A Lesson from St. Paul": Mercer-Taylor, Peter, Journal of Musicology, 15/2 208-29, 1997.
  • "Unification and tonal absolution in Der Freischütz": Mercer-Taylor, Peter, Music & Letters, 78/2 220-32, 1997.
  • "Mendelssohn's 'Scottish' Symphony and the Music of German Memory": Mercer-Taylor, Peter, 19th-Century Music, 19/1 68-82, 1995.