Ruth HaCohen

Ruth HaCohen


Ruth HaCohen (Pinczower), born in Jerusalem, is the Artur Rubinstein Professor of Musicology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and since 2013 the Head of the School of the Arts there and since April 2014 also the Director of the Martin Buber Society of Fellows in the Humanities and Social Sciences. She is the 2012 winner of the Otto Kinkeldey Award by the American Musicological Society for the most distinguished book in musicology *The Music Libel Against the Jews * (Yale 2011) and the first Polonsky Prize for Creativity and Originality in the Humanistic Disciplines for the same book.

She is a member of the Steering Committee of the Balzan Research Project: “Towards a global history of music” (Director: Prof. Reinhard Strohm) and in the Advisory Committee of the Polyphony Foundation in Nazareth (organization whose purpose is to bridge the divide between Arab and Jewish communities in Israel by creating a common ground where young people come together around classical music).
Ruth HaCohen graduated in musicology and Jewish thought and received her PhD in Musicology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1992). She is the author of books and articles that explicate the role played by music in shaping and reflecting wider cultural and political contexts and processes. Her points of departure are historical, aesthetic and semiotic, deploying as well theories from psychology, anthropology and critical thought. Her interpretative approach is comparative, referring to literary and visual art forms, viewing her subject matters in relation especially to religions, secularization and ideational and cultural trends. Her work extends from baroque music to modern one, with a special emphasis on opera, oratorio, and song, dealing also with the relations between Ashkenazi-Jewish and Christian music. Among subjects she has investigated are the cultural uses of “noise” and “harmony”; strategies of signification in baroque and classical music and in Wagner’s work; the rise of Sympathy as a cultural paradigm in baroque music and theory and its later repercussions. She also wrote about poetic and religious layers in Israeli folk song, and on various aspects in Arnold Schoenberg’s work.
Her recent publications include:

• The Music Libel Against the Jews by Yale University Press 2011 ( )
• Tuning the Mind: Connecting Aesthetic Theory to Cognitive Science (Transaction, 2003 with Ruth Katz; "Between Noise and Harmony: The Oratorical Moment in the Musical Entanglements of Jews and Christians" (Critical Inquiry 2006).
• She had recently completed the book *Composing Power, Singing Freedom: Overt and Covert Connections between Music and Politics in the West*, submitted to Van Leer and Hakibutz Hameuchad, in Hebrew (with Yaron Ezrahi).

Ruth HaCohen was the Chair of the Department during 2001-4 and again during 2012-13, and the Head of the PhD Honors Program in the Humanities during 2008-9. She has lectured in numerous national and international conferences and institutes including UNAM, México City; Duke, Princeton and Johns Hopkins University; Einstein Forum, Potsdam; the University of Oxford, Vienna, Amsterdam and others. Ruth HaCohen was a visiting scholar as St. John College Oxford, in 1996-7 and a fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin in 2004-5. She was invited as a distinguished scholar to Brown Humanity Center in Spring 2008, and was a guest professor at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin in Summer 2009. Between 2008-2011 she belonged as a Senior Fellow to the research group “The Interpretive Imagination: Connections between Religion and Art in Jewish Culture in its Contexts” at Scholion, Interdisciplinary Research Center in Jewish Studies at the Hebrew University. During 2011-12 she stayed as a visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and was granted a residency at the Rockefeller Foundation in Bellagio.