Robert S. Hatten

Robert Hatten

Professor Emeritus of Music Theory

Robert S. Hatten is recently retired as Marlene & Morton Meyerson Professor in Music at The University of Texas at Austin, where he has taught music theory since 2011. He served as President of Society for Music Theory in 2017-19 and President of the Semiotic Society of America in 2008. Dr. Hatten’s first book, Musical Meaning in Beethoven: Markedness, Correlation, and Interpretation (1994) was co-recipient in 1997 of the Wallace Berry Award from the Society for Music Theory. His second book, Interpreting Musical Gestures, Topics, and Tropes: Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert (2004) helped launch the book series “Musical Meaning and Interpretation” (Indiana University Press), for which he served as general editor until 2020, shepherding the publication of over 35 books. His latest book, A Theory of Virtual Agency for Western Art Music, appeared in the series in 2018. Illustration and performance at the piano inform his current research, including explorations of texture and expressive meaning in the Bach keyboard partitas, and enrichments of melos in two late nocturnes of Chopin.


“A Speculative Hermeneutics for Music Analysis and Interpretation,” Musical Quarterly 104:1-2 (2021), 1-21 (Special issue in honor of Leo Treitler on his 90th birthday, ed. Judith Lochhead and Vera Micznik).

“Teaching ‘Performance and Analysis’: A One-Semester Course at The University of Texas,” in Musical Performance in Context: A Festschrift in Celebration of Doctoral Education at the Sibelius Academy, ed. Juha Ojala and Lauri Suurpaa (Helsinki: Sibelius Academy DocMus Research Publications 17, 2021), 199-221.

“Les degrés de narrativité en musique,” in Narratologie musicale. Topiques, théories et strategies analytiques, ed. Marta Grabocz (Paris: Hermann, 2021), 205-19. (with Maria Lúcia Machado Pascoal, Cristina Capparelli Gerling, Flavio Santos Pereira, Diósnio Machado Neto, Guilherme Sauerbronn de Barros, and Paulo de Tarso Salles)

“A Conversation with Robert Hatten about A Theory of Virtual Agency for Western Art Music,” Musica Theorica 5:2 (2020), 48-73 (Journal of the Brazilian Society for Music Theory and Analysis). (with Ann K. Gebuhr),

“The Inspiration of Krzysztof Penderecki: A Personal Retrospective from the United States,” Teoria Muzyki 16 (2020), 75-81 (Krakow: Academy of Music); reprinted in Indiana Theory Review 37 (2021), 151-57.

“Fundamental Concepts for the Semiotic Interpretation of Musical Meaning: A Personal Journey,” in The Routledge Handbook of Music Signification, ed. Esti Sheinberg and William P. Dougherty (London: Routledge, 2020), 89-98. (with Eloise Boisjoli)

“Topics,” (invited encyclopedia entry) in The Cambridge Haydn Encyclopedia, ed. Caryl Clark and Sarah Day-O’Connell, 376-82. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019.

“The Voice in My Life,” in Singing: The Timeless Muse: Essays on the Human Voice, Singing, and Spirituality, ed. Darlene Wiley, 90-109. Inside View Press, 2018. 


Contact Information

Research Areas

Semiotics/Hermeneutics of Music and Musical Meaning: Gesture, Topics, Tropes, Virtual Agency, Emotion, Narrativity

18th–19th-century music: Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Brahms


Doctor of Philosophy
Indiana University

Master of Music 
Indiana University

Bachelor of Music 
Baylor University