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Leta Miller

Professor Emerita of Music

Musicologist Leta Miller specializes in 20th-century American music. Her latest book (2024) deals with the history of segregation in the American Federation of Musicians. A 2011 book on music and politics in San Francisco in the early 20th century built on her numerous publications dealing with avant-garde contemporary composers; she thereafter extended those interests into biographies of Pulitzer Prize winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis and Chinese-American composer Chen Yi. Miller's earlier publications dealt with the sixteenth-century chanson and madrigal, music and science in the 17th and 18th centuries, and the music of C.P.E. Bach. Among the courses she teaches at UCSC are music history from the middle ages through the baroque, a history of music theory from the Greeks through Rameau, a history of the string quartet, and a cross-cultural seminar on East Asian influences on European and American composers. She has received an Eminent Professor award and an outstanding teacher award from the UCSC Arts Division.

Research Interests: 

Leta Miller's recent research focuses on mid-twentieth-century music in the United States. She has published two books on composer Lou Harrison, as well as a critical edition of his works in Music in the United States of America (MUSA). Since 2000, she has also published about two dozen articles on Harrison, John Cage, Henry Cowell, Charles Ives, and various aspects of music in San Francisco in the journals American Music, Twentieth-Century Music, the Journal of Musicology, Musical Quarterly, the Journal of the American Musicological Society, the Journal of the Society for American Music, the Black Music Research JournalCalifornia HistorySouth Dakota History, and numerous essay collections. Her article on John Cage and Henry Cowell won the Lowens Award from the Society for American Music for the best article on an American music topic in 2010. Miller's latest book, Union Divided: Black Musicians' Fight for Labor Equality, has just been published by the University of Illinois Press in 2024. It deals with segregation in the musicians' union, a complex situation resulting from requests for separate organizations by Black musicians themselves in their aspiration to secure meaningful and well-paid employment in the early–mid twentieth century. An earlier book, Music and Politics in San Francisco: From the 1906 Quake to the Second World War, was published in 2011 by the University of California Press. Miller's biography of composer Aaron Jay Kernis appeared in 2014 (University of Illinois Press); and her biography of Chinese-American composer Chen Yi, coauthored with J Michele Edwards was published in 2020 (University of Illinois Press). Earlier publications dealt with the sixteenth-century chanson and madrigal, music and science in the baroque, and the flute music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.  As a performer, Miller has been featured on nearly twenty published solo recordings on renaissance, baroque, and modern flute. She has been awarded five recording grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Copland Fund, and three research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. From 2008 to 2011 she was editor of the Journal of the Society for American Music

291 Music Center
Office Hours: 


Mon. & Wed. 10-11:30AM

Selected Publications: 

Books and Critical Editions:


Leta E. Miller. Union Divided: Black Musicians' Fight for Labor Equality. University of Illinois Press.




Leta E Miller and J. Michele Edwards. Chen Yi. University of Illinois Press.




Leta E. Miller, Aaron Jay Kernis. University of Illinois Press.




Leta E. Miller, Music and Politics in San Francisco: From the 1906 Quake to the Second World War. University of California Press. (See Left Column for Full Article)




Leta E. Miller and Fredric Lieberman, Lou Harrison. University of Illinois Press.




Leta E. Miller and Fredric Lieberman, Composing a World: Lou Harrison, Musical Wayfarer. University of Illinois Press.

(Paperback, revised edition of the 1998 Oxford University Press book).




Leta E. Miller and Fredric Lieberman, Lou Harrison: Composing a World. New York: Oxford University Press.


Leta E. Miller. Lou Harrison: Selected Keyboard and Chamber Music, 1937-1994. In Music in the United States of America. Madison, WI: A-R Editions and the American Musicological Society.




Leta E. Miller, ed. Lou Harrison, The Perilous Chapel. New York and Hamburg: Peer International.


Leta E. Miller, ed. Gioseppe Caimo: Madrigali and Canzoni for Four and Five Voices. In Recent Researches in the Music of the Renaissance, vols. 84-85. Madison: A-R Editions.




Leta E. Miller and Albert Cohen. Music in the Royal Society of London, 1660-1806. Detroit Studies in Music Bibliography, 56. Detroit: Information Coordinators.




Leta E. Miller, ed. Chansons from the French Provinces (1530-1550). Vol. 2: The Northern Region. Berkeley: Musica Sacra et Profana.




Leta E. Miller, ed. Thirty-Six Chansons by French Provincial Composers (1529-1550). In Recent Researches in the Music of the Renaissance, vol. 38. Madison: A-R Editions.




Leta E. Miller, ed. Chansons from the French Provinces (1530-1550). Vol. 1: Lyon. Berkeley: Musica Sacra et Profana.




Cohen, Albert and Leta E. Miller. Music in the Paris Academy of Sciences, 1666-1793. Detroit Studies in Music Bibliography, 43. Detroit: Information Coordinators.


Articles and Reviews:



“Philanthropy as Cultural Outreach: Phoebe Hearst and Music in Lead, South Dakota.” South Dakota History 47/3 (Fall 2017):  256–287 




“Practical Idealism: The Musical Philanthropy of Phoebe Apperson Hearst.” Journal of the Society of American Music 10/4 (Nov 2016): 383–421.




“Opera As Politics: The Troubled History of San Francisco’s War Memorial Auditorium.” California History 92/4.




Articles in New Grove American Music, second edition: “Scavarda, Donald”; “Cacioppo, George”; “Smith, Catherine”; “Harrison, Lou”; “ONCE”; “Hertz, Alfred” 



“American Federation of Musicians.” In Encyclopedia of African American Music, ed. Emmett G Price III. Santa Barbara: Greenwood Press, 2011: vol. 1, p. 15–18.


“‘The Multitude Listens with the Heart’: Orchestras, Urban Culture, and the Early Years of the San Francisco Symphony.” In Music, American Made: Essays in Honor of John Graziano, ed. John Koegel 161–90. Harmonie Park Press,  2011.    



Elmer Keeton and His Bay Area Negro Chorus: Creating an Artistic Identity in Depression-Era San Francisco.” Journal of Black Music Research 30/2 (Fall 2010): 107–40.



"Playing with Politics:  Crisis in the San Francisco Federal Music Project" (with Catherine Parsons Smith).  California History 86, no. 2 (March 2009): 26-47 and 68-71



"Segregation and the San Francisco Musicians' Union." Journal of the Society for American Music 1, no. 2 (May 2007): 161-206. View the article as a PDF file (©2007 Society for American Music). Visit the Cambridge Journals Online website.



"Henry Cowell and John Cage: Intersections and Influences, 1933-1941." Journal of the American Musicological Society 59, no. 1 (Spring 2006): 47-111.



"Lou Harrison and the Aesthetics of Revision, Alteration, and Self-Borrowing." Twentieth-Century Music 2, no. 1 (Mar 2005): 1-29.


"The Cowell-Ives Relationship: A New Look at Cowell's Prison Years." (with Rob Collins). American Music 23/4 (Winter 2005): 473-492.



"Experimentierfreudiges Umfeld: John Cage in Seattle (1938 bis 1940)," MusikTexte 106 (August 2005): 31-45. (A German translation, with slight abridgment, of "Cultural Intersections: John Cage in Seattle")



"ONCE and Again: The Evolution of a Legendary Festival." Essay in booklet accompanying Music from the ONCE Festival, 1961-1966, New World Records 80567-2, pp. 13-104.


"Lou Harrison." Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart.



"Method and Madness in Lou Harrison's Rapunzel." Journal of Musicology 19, no. 1 (Winter 2002): 85-124.


"Cage, Cunningham, and Collaborators: The Odyssey of Variations V." Musical Quarterly 85, no. 3 (Fall 2001): 545-67.


"Cage's Collaborations." In Cambridge Companion to Cage (Cambridge University Press, 2002): 151-68.


"Henry Cowell and Modern Dance: The Genesis of Elastic Form." American Music, 20:1 (Spring 2002): 1-24.


"Cultural Intersections: John Cage in Seattle (1938-40)." John Cage: Music, Philosophy, and Intention, 1933-50, (Garland: Fall 2000): 45-82.



"Lou Harrison," New Grove Dictionary of Music, 2nd edition.




"Dark Fairy Tales and Obscure Legends: Autobiography in the Operas of Lou Harrison." Opera Journal (September 1999): 3-42.


"The Art of Noise: John Cage, Lou Harrison, and the West Coast Percussion Ensemble." Perspectives on American Music, 1900-1950 (New York: Garland, 2000): 215-63.


"Lou Harrison and the American Gamelan" (coauthored with Fredric Lieberman). American Music 17/2 (Summer 1999): 146-78.




"C.P.E. Bach's Instrumental Recompositions: Revisions or Alternatives?" Current Musicology 59/1995: 5-47.




"C.P.E. Bach and Friedrich Ludwig Dülon: Composition and Improvisation in Late Eighteenth Century Germany." Early Music XXIII/1 (Feb. 1995): 65-80.




"C.P.E. Bach's Sonatas for Flute." Journal of Musicology XI #2: 203-49.




"Structural Ornamentation in C.P.E. Bach's Sonatas for Flute and Continuo." Studies in the History of Music, vol. 3: The Creative Process (New York: Broude Bros.), 107-28.




Review of Clark, Stephen L., ed., C.P.E. Bach Studies; and Helm, E. Eugene, Thematic Catalogue of the Works of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. In Notes47 no. 3 (March 1991): 743-47.




"John Birchensha and the Early Royal Society: Grand Scales and Scientific Composition." Journal of the Royal Musical Association 115 #1: 63-79.




Review of Mary Chan and Jamie C. Kassler, Roger North's Cursory Notes of Musicke. In Annals of Science, May 1988: 321-22.




"Rameau and the Royal Society of London: New Letters and Documents." Music and Letters 66 #1: 19-33.


Recent Compact Disc Recordings: 



Paul Nauert: A Distant Music. New World Records 80769-2. (L. Miller, flute, P. Nauert, piano, in two works, Flight Path and Soaring).



Lou Harrison: Music for Orchestra, Ensemble, and Gamelan. Nimbus NI2571 (Re-release of Solstice, Ariadne, and Canticle No. 3)



Lou Harrison: In Retrospect. New World 80666-2 (Re-release of the First Concerto for Flute and Percussion and Solstice.)



Lou Harrison: In Memory. Kleos Classics KL5141. (Includes re-release of New Moon)



Drums Along the Pacific (Harrison, Canticle No. 3). New Albion Records NA122.


Lou Harrison: Works 1939-2000. Mode Records 122.




Dancing with Henry: New Discoveries in the Music of Henry Cowell.Mode Records 101.




Unknown Lives: Music by Hi Kyung Kim ("Instant Breath" for solo flute). Centaur CRC 2462.




La Musique de Germaine Tailleferre (including Partita and Concertino for Flute and Piano, L. Miller, flute). Helicon HE1048.



Antonio Vivaldi: Soprano Cantatas (Randall Wong, male soprano; Linda Burman-Hall, harpsichord; Leta Miller, baroque flute, et al.) Helicon HE 1032.




Lou Harrison: Rapunzel(containing: Air for the Poet, Rapunzel, Songs in the Forest, and Air in g minor). Leta Miller, flute, et al.; Nicole Paiement, conductor. New Albion Records NA 093 CD.




Josef Bodin de Boismortier: Music for 1-4 Flutes. Leta Miller, Susan Bishop, Louise Carslake, Herbert Myers, baroque flute; Linda Burman-Hall, harpsichord; John Dornenburg, viola da gamba. Musical Heritage Society 518312Z.




New Music for Early Instruments. Leta Miller, flutes, Linda Burman-Hall, harpsichord, et al. Musical Heritage Society 513988A.


Claude Debussy: Chansons de Bilitis and other French Chamber Works. Leta Miller, flute; Dan Levitan and Phyllis Schlomovitz, harps; Nicole Paiement, conductor and narrator; with the Ensemble Nova. Musical Heritage Society 513903F




Lou Harrison: Birthday Celebration. Nicole Paiement, director; Leta Miller, flute; et al. Musical Heritage Society 513616L (compact disc) and 313616W (cassette).




Germaine Tailleferre: Images, et al. Nicole Paiement, conductor/director. Intrada 11 58582 (reissued on Helicon)


Les Plaisirs d'amour: Sixteenth-Century Chansons from the French Provinces. University of California, Santa Cruz chamber singers with Rafi Renaissance flute consort (Leta Miller, Louise Carslake, Susan Bishop, and Herbert Myers). Nicole Paiement, director. Intrada 11 58522.




Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: Four Sonatas for Flute and Keyboard. Leta Miller, Baroque flute; Linda Burman-Hall, fortepiano; Robert Strizich, Baroque guitar. Musical Heritage Society 513258L and 313258W (compact disc and cassette); also Intrada 11 58512 (1993).




Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: Six Sonatas for Flute and Continuo (The Earlier Sonatas). Leta Miller, Baroque flute; Linda Burman-Hall, harpsichord; Roland Hutchinson, viola da gamba. Centaur Records CRC 2087.



Lou Harrison: Solstice, Canticle #3, Ariadne, A Summerfield Set. Leta Miller, flute and ocarina; Nohema Fernández, piano; William Winant, percussion; with assisting artists; Dennis Russell Davies, conductor. MusicMasters MMD 60241.


Education and Training: 
B.A. with great distinction (music): Stanford University, 1969
M.M. (music history): Hartt College of Music, 1971
Ph.D. (musicology): Stanford University, 1978