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My biography, which follows, is really interesting! I could go on and on. But out of consideration for the reader, especially for those busy individuals who may have obligations elsewhere on the 'net, I will just hit the major contours, especially the ups.

I first saw the light of day in Portland, Oregon—a city that, give or take a few miles, lies between San Francisco and Seattle on the West Coast of the United States. I had a musical childhood, studying the pianoforte (!) and pipe organ, and playing popular as well as classical music. I completed high school early in order to join the U.S. Navy so that I could contribute to the victorious conclusion of WW II. After that, I played professionally for awhile, then decided (at age 19) to head east to New York, and have been a resident of the eastern part of the country ever since.

Some time after arriving in New York City I decided to try higher education, enrolled in Columbia University, and graduated summa cum laude, an event that encouraged me to continue along academic lines rather than in professional music. At that time I also encountered music theory, in the form of Heinrich Schenker's writings, and decided to pursue studies in that direction. The necessity to make a living, which has hindered many a promising intellectual career, drew me to teaching, and I taught at Columbia Teachers College and the Mannes School of Music before being appointed to the faculty of the Yale University School of Music. With the exception of one year at M.I.T. I have been at Yale ever since, and am now associated with the Department of Music as Battell Professor of the Theory of Music, Emeritus, the oldest chair in music at Yale. My interests in music and music theory are quite broad, as will be evident from my bibliography, which comes next. Like my biography, this is very impressive in its entirety, but I have been advised, by persons more experienced than I in this connection, that an abbreviated version would be more palatable to those who might intentionally visit this website and especially to those who might bumble on to it accidentally.


Allen Forte is Battell Professor of Music Theory Emeritus in the Department of Music, Yale University, where he was instrumental in initiating the Ph.D. program in music theory. He received his bachelor's, master's, and doctorate from Columbia University in New York City. His publications include some twelve books and eighty articles, published in Journal of Music Theory, Music Theory Spectrum, Music Analysis, Perspectives of New Music, and Journal of the American Musicological Society, reflecting his interest in pitch-class set theory, the study of avant-garde music of the twentieth century, principally that of the Second Viennese School and the music of Olivier Messiaen, Schenkerian analysis, and other aspects of music theory. In addition, he has written about and recorded music of the classic American popular song repertoire. His 1958 monograph on the development of diminutions in American jazz was the first detailed analytical study of that repertoire. Professor Forte was founding President of the Society for Music Theory and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. During his tenure at Yale, Professor Forte advised seventy-eight Ph.D. dissertations. In 2000 Yale established an endowed professorship in his name, the Allen Forte Professorship of Music Theory.