Robert Hopkins

Robert Hopkins
Robert Hopkins

Chair, Associate Professor of Music

Schambach Center 209

Robert Hopkins' research interests include the evolution of the barbershop quartet style of singing, analysis of codas in the works of 19th-century composers, and changes in sonata form in instrumental works during the 19th century. Hopkins is very active in the Barbershop Harmony Society and served as president in 2004-2005. He performs in a barbershop quartet and directs a barbershop chorus. Several of his arrangements have been published by the Barbershop Harmony Society.

Hopkins earned his master's degree and doctorate in music history and theory from the University of Pennsylvania. His dissertation provided the basis for his book, Closure and Mahler's Music.

Recent Courses Taught

Masterpieces of Western Music
Music in Europe and America, 1600 to 1900
Theories of Music: Fundamentals
Theories of Music: Counterpoint and Harmony
Theories of Music: Musical Forms
Topics in Music: Bernstein's Candide

Research Interests

  • Closure in music
  • Codas and their function in sonata-form movements
  • Musical parameters and the perception of musical form
  • Critical and structural analysis of the music of Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms and Mahler
  • Barbershop quartet music and style


  • The Christian A. Johnson Enhanced Teaching Award, 2015
  • The Samuel and Helen Lang Prize for Teaching, 2014
  • The Contemporary A Cappella Society of America named his co-authored arrangement of “Fit As a Fiddle / For Me and My Gal Medley,” as performed by Riptide, to be the best barbershop song of 2001
  • The Contemporary A Cappella Society of America named his arrangement of “I’m Beginning to See the Light,” as performed by Michigan Jake, to be the best barbershop song of 2000.
  • First Place - Bryn Mawr Chapter, SPEBSQSA “Joy of Barbershopping” arrangement competition for "Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland/I Love You Truly" medley, 1992
  • Margaret Bundy Scott Fellowship, Hamilton College, 1988
  • Fellowships, University of Pennsylvania, 1976-78 and 1981

Selected Publications

  • “Multifunctional Codas in Sonata-Form Movements by Schubert” in Musical Implications: Essays in Honor of Eugene Narmour (Pendragon Press, 2013).
  • “Responding to Changes in Audience and Culture: The Barbershop Quartet Style Fifty Years After The Music Man,” in process.
  • “Form in the First Movement of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony,” in Perspectives on Gustav Mahler (Ashgate Press, 2004).
  • Closure and Mahler’s Music (University of Pennsylvania Press, July 1990).

College Service

  • Faculty Secretary, 2006-08
  • Committee on Academic Policy, 1991-94, 2000-03, and 2014-present
  • Committee on Academic Standing, 1991-94 (chair)
  • Chair of the Department of Music, 1995-98
  • Administrator of the Hamilton College Jazz Archive, 1995-98
  • Associate dean of students for academic affairs, 1991-94
  • Acting chair of the Department of Music, fall 1990

Professional Affiliations

  • American Musicological Society
  • Society for American Music
  • Barbershop Harmony Society (Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America, Inc.)

Appointed to the Faculty: 1983

Educational Background

Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
M.A., University of Pennsylvania
B.A., Oberlin College

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