See all Profiles
Headshot photo of Matthew Franke

Matthew Franke, PhD (He/him)

Master Instructor – Coordinator of Music History

  • Department of Music
  • College of Fine Arts


Dr. Matthew Franke joined the Department of Music in 2015. Prior to coming to Howard, he taught music history at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia. He holds a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2014).

He teaches courses in music history. Dr. Franke is responsible for the music history sequence for majors and minors (MUSC 010, 011, and 012), as well as advanced courses for music history majors. The chief general education courses he teaches are Introduction to Music (MUSC 100) and Global Popular Music (MUSC 110). In Spring 2022, he received an Outstanding Teaching Award from the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts.

Much of his research focuses on nineteenth-century French opera, especially the music of Jules Massenet and Georges Bizet. He has published articles in a number of scholarly journals, and contributed to the award-winning volume and companion website Carmen Abroad. Currently, he is working on a new project focused on the music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

He curates of the List of Open-Access Music Journals, which is the single largest online collection of freely-accessible scholarship on music. You can find the database on his personal site.

Dr. Franke is active participant in conferences and colloquia. He has presented research papers at national meetings of the American Musicological Society, the Society for American Music, the International Congress on Medieval Studies, and the Biennial Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music, as well as at international conferences in Italy, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland. 

Education & Expertise



University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


University of Puget Sound


Music History, Musicology, Music Appreciation, Classical Music, Opera



MUSC 010: Music History I

This is the first semester the Department's history sequence for music majors and minors. It's got loads of exciting connections to the ways we make music today, including some of the earliest surviving music theory and musical notation. The timeframe is roughly from "Antiquity" to 1680; in geographic terms, the music studied largely derives from cultures on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. A unique feature of this course is its emphasis on basic Medieval modal theory, which is different from the type you study in jazz. Success in this course requires regular attendance and preparation.

MUSC 011: Music History II

This is the second semester in the Department's history sequence for majors and minors. This class focuses on the years 1680 to 1880, which saw the rise of "common practice" harmony and tonal practice, and the origins of many musical concepts we still employ today. Much of the music from this period still forms the core of the modern classical repertoire, including well-known musicians such as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, and Verdi. This is also an exciting period in terms of black music history, as we have notated music by composers such as Ignatius Sancho, the Chevalier De Saint-Georges, and Blind Tom. Success in this class requires regular attendance and participation.

MUSC 012: Music History III

This is the third semester in the Department's history sequence for majors and minors. This is a survey of musical developments in the twentieth century--which means that this class includes discussion of jazz, rock, blues, and related traditions. Success in this class requires regular participation and attendance.

MUSC 100: Introduction to Music

This is a Division A music appreciation course. No prior musical experience is required to excel in this class, but expect to listen to a lot of interesting music in new ways.

MUSC 110: Global Popular Music

Love Afrobeat, reggae, Kpop, or Indian film songs? Or are you wondering why American artists are constantly mining other cultures' music for new sounds and beats? This might be the Division A class for you. Success in this class requires preparation--that means listening to the music and having a grasp of the readings--before you come to class. 




19th-century French and Italian opera; Jules Massenet; Georges Bizet; Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco



Outstanding Teaching Award, 2022

Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts, Howard University

Junior Faculty Writing and Creative Works Summer Academy Fellowship, 2020

Howard University


Related Articles

“Italian Style and National Stereotypes in Les Pêcheurs de perles.” Opera Journal 56 no. 2 (2023), 1–25.


Exoticism is an important concept for understanding depictions of foreign cultures in opera. However, the concept has been used too broadly to describe some music that is really a form of pastiche. Fundamentally, exoticism misrepresents other cultures, but pastiche (as I am using the term) provides an accurate, recognizable version of them. To prove this point, I explore Georges Bizet’s pastiche of Italian musical styles in Les Pêcheurs de perles, an opera whose critical afterlife in English has largely focused on its exoticism. Drawing on Bizet’s correspondence, and on contemporary reviews that clearly distinguish between exoticism and Italian pastiche, I argue that Bizet’s music reflects nineteenth-century constructions of Italian national character and his own troubled relationship with contemporary Italian opera. Ultimately, these findings refine our understanding of the ways that Bizet, and other nineteenth-century composers, depicted cultural difference in opera.

"Rewriting Carmen through Two Songs by Tosti and Tirindelli," Acta Musicologica 94 no. 2 (2022), 210 - 226.

Bizet’s Carmen continues to provoke and disturb audiences for its frank depiction of a crime of passion. Yet it shocked operagoers in the 1880s and 1890s for a different reason: Carmen’s continued defiance of Don José, even up to the point at which he murders her. Enrico Panzacchi’s poem, which depicts a penitent Carmen who begs Don José’s forgiveness for her mistreatment of him, directly speaks to audiences’ frustration with the opera. Musical settings by Francesco Paolo Tosti and Pier Adolfo Tirindelli refer directly to Carmen’s music from the opera, including the famous “Habanera,” and attempt to purge it of its sensual appeal. Both Tosti’s and Tirindelli’s songs seem to have enjoyed some success with amateur audiences, suggesting that this music, by enacting her repentance in the salon, provided a way for middle-class people to safely enjoy Carmen’s transgression of bourgeois values on the stage.
Thus these songs document a way in which middle-class audiences re-interpreted Carmen to fit their worldview.

"Open-Access Music Journals and the Possibility of Global Dialogue," College Music Symposium 61 no. 2 (2021), 24–40.


Musicians increasingly operate in a global community connected by the internet that has affected performance, composition, and listening habits. Similarly, there is a growing trend of publishing scholarly research “open access,” meaning it is online for anyone to read at no cost. Open-access advocates have argued that open access makes possible a global community of scholarship. However, few studies have measured the impact of open-access scholarship and whether it has actually realized the dream of a truly global discourse. To answer this question, this article presents a comprehensive survey of trends in open-access music scholarship by examining 189 open-access music journals. Ultimately, the data suggests that although open-access music journals have made a great deal of research available to a global audience, the journals themselves reflect economic and cultural power imbalances in global academic culture; a majority of open-access music journals are based in either Europe or the United States. Consequently, open-access journals have created an echo chamber in which largely Western perspectives dominate, and in which other perspectives are muted. The article closes with recommendations about how open-access music journals can help realize their potential for global discourse.

Read online for free

“The Harp, the Lied and Ossianic Narratives in Massenet’s Werther.” Nineteenth-Century Music Review 18 no. 3 (2021), 455–74.



The climactic scene in Massenet's opera Werther – as in Goethe's novella – occurs when Werther reads a poem by Ossian. The air resembles a German lied, with a rippling harp accompaniment that may be a reference to other Ossianic settings. Steven Huebner has suggested that the lied reference is meant to create a sense of German local colour in the opera. However, little work has been done to explain why Massenet would have chosen to set an Ossianic text in the style of a German lied.

The current article addresses this question by considering the references to specific German lieder by Schumann and Schubert heard by early critics in the Ossian reading. The subsequent discussion explores the French reception of German lieder and Massenet's personal knowledge of Schubert and Schumann's music. These references to Schumann, Schubert and Ossian expose a complex set of intertextual relationships between Massenet's opera and other Ossianic music, the characters in Massenet's opera and their milieu, and Massenet's depiction of German music and culture.

Despite Huebner's well-chosen criticisms of Massenet's depiction of the German setting, I argue that the lied and its harp accompaniment are dramatically meaningful gestures that highlight Werther's Ossianic character arc throughout the opera, hinting at his sentimentality, weakness, and non-normative masculinity in relation to nineteenth-century gender stereotypes. This interpretation, following Massenet's own account of the opera's genesis, prioritizes the Ossian reading as the crux of the drama. The resulting analysis demonstrates the audible influence of Schumann and Schubert on Werther, and Massenet's musical approach to the Ossianic tropes of nature, decay and fate.

Read online for free (pre-print)

Read online (official publication)