Area of Study
Email Address

Robert Hopkins' research interests include the analysis of codas in the works of 19th-century composers, changes in musical forms in instrumental works during the 19th century, and the evolution of the barbershop quartet style of singing. Hopkins is very active in the Barbershop Harmony Society and served as president in 2004-05. 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

The Art of Active Listening
From Bach to Bartók
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

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 Career Achievement Service Award, 2018
  • Barbershop Harmony Society Hall of Fame, 2017
  • 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.

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

  • Chair of the Department of Music, 1995-98 and 2019-20
  • Faculty Parliamentarian, 2017-present
  • Committee on Academic Standing, 2018-present
  • Search Committee for Vice President of Communications, 2018-19
  • European Studies Committee, 2017 (chair)
  • Long-term Planning Committee, 2014-15 (chair)
  • Advising Assessment Committee, 2013-14 (chair)
  • Faculty Secretary, 2006-08
  • Committee on Academic Policy, 1991-94, 2000-03, and 2014-17
  • Committee on Writing, 1988-90 (chair)
  • Administrator of the Hamilton College Jazz Archive, 1995-98
  • Associate dean of students for academic affairs, 1991-94

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


Educational Background

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

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