Vincent Benitez, associate professor of music theory, joined the Penn State School of Music faculty in 2005 and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in music theory and analysis, and applied lessons in organ. He holds the Ph.D. degree in music theory from Indiana University, where he wrote his dissertation on Olivier Messiaen's opera Saint François d'Assise, and the D.M.A. degree in organ performance from Arizona State University, where he wrote his doctoral thesis on an analysis of the musical-rhetorical figures in J. S. Bach’s Orgelbüchlein and their implications for performance. He also holds the M.M. degree in music theory and composition from Arizona State University, and the B.M. and M.M. degrees in organ performance from the University of North Texas. He currently serves as vice-chair of the SMT Interest Group on Improvisation.
As a music theorist, Benitez specializes in music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with research interests that include musical aesthetics, serialism, set theory, and voice leading in post-tonal music, particularly as they relate to Oliver Messiaen. Benitez is finishing a book on Messiaen’s opera, Saint François d'Assise (1975–83), for which he was appointed a Resident Scholar for the spring 2010 semester at Penn State’s Institute for the Arts and the Humanities. He is the author of Olivier Messiaen: A Research and Information Guide (Routledge, 2008), widely acknowledged as the standard bibliographic resource on the composer. He has published articles on Messiaen in Proceedings (online) from the Sacre Celebration: Revisiting, Reflecting, Revisiting, York University, Toronto; Music Analysis; Messiaen the Theologian (Ashgate, 2010); the Dutch Journal of Music Theory; the Journal of Musicological Research; the fourth volume of the Poznan Studies on Opera (Theories of Opera, 2004); Music Theory Online; and the College Music Symposium. Benitez has also published reviews of books devoted to Messiaen in Performance Practice Review, MLA NOTES (six separate reviews), and the Indiana Theory Review. Cathy Peters of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation-Radio National interviewed Benitez for her program on Messiaen’s Quatuor pour le fin du Temps: “Into the Music: Transcending Time – Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time.” ABC aired the program on July 12, 2008, and repeated it on May 5, 2012.
Benitez has presented his research on Messiaen at numerous national and international music conferences, which include, among others, papers delivered (or to be delivered) at (1) the 2014 National Convention of the American Guild of Organists, Boston, MA; (2) the 2013 National Meeting of the Society for Music Theory, Charlotte, NC; (3) the Eighth Biennial International Conference on Music Since 1900, Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool, UK; (4) the 2012 National Meeting of the American Musicological Society, New Orleans, LA; (5) the 2012 Perspectives of Musical Improvisation Conference, University of Oxford, England; (6) the 2012 Meeting of the International Musicology Society, Rome, Italy; (7) the VII European Music Analysis Conference, Rome, Italy; (8) the Messiaen 2008 International Centenary Conference, Birmingham, England; (9) the 2005 Dublin International Conference on Music Analysis, Dublin, Ireland; and (10) the Fourteenth Nordic Musicological Congress, Helsinki, Finland.
Benitez has additional research interests in the analysis of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century music, the history of music theory, and popular music. He has published articles and reviews on these topics in The Album: A Guide to Pop Music’s Most Provocative, Influential, and Important Creations (Praeger); The American Organist, BACH, Diapason, GAMUT, the Indiana Theory Review, and the Rivista di Analisi e Teoria Musicale (forthcoming). In July of 2013, Benitez presented a paper on the music of Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello at the International Conference on Analyzing Popular Music (PopMAC), University of Liverpool. In May of 2013, he participated in a special panel discussion on improvisation by presenting a paper focusing on thoroughbass as a means for teaching improvisation at the ICASP Summit on Improvisation Pedagogy and Community Impact, University of Guelph, Canada. The previous year Benitez presented a paper on Buxtehude as harmonist at the 15th International Baroque Music Conference, University of Southampton, England. He is the author of The Words and Music of Paul McCartney: The Solo Years (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2010). His interest in the music of the Beatles has resulted in a popular online Gen Ed course on their music that he has written for non-music majors.
Benitez has studied organ with Marilyn Keiser, Larry Smith, Michael Corzine, Robert Clark, Charles S. Brown, and Donald Willing and has played recitals throughout the country. In March of 2012, he had the opportunity to play the historic Cavaillé-Coll organ (dating from 1869) at Messiaen’s church, the Église de la Sainte-Trinité, Paris for two hours. Lastly, he has also studied composition with Randall Shinn, Glenn Hackbarth, William Latham, and Merrill Ellis.
Personal website: www.personal.psu.edu/vpb2/Vincent_Benitez_Personal_Web_Site.html
A biography and bibliography of the life and works of the French composer.
Routledge Publishing, 2007
In The Album: A Guide to Pop Music’s Most Provocative, Influential, and Important Creations, ed. James E. Perone, 147–56; 275–85. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2012.
In Poznan Studies on Opera. Vol. 4, Theories of Opera,
ed. Maciej Jablonski, 363-411.
Poznan, Poland: Publishing House of the Poznan Society for the Advancement of the Arts and Sciences, Section of Music and Fine Arts, Publication of the Committee for Musicology, vol. 16, 2004.