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Dr. Ellen Exner is a specialist in music of the eighteenth century, specifically music of the Bach family. After receiving undergraduate degrees from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in Music History as well as Russian Language and Literature (both cum laude), Exner went on to receive an M.A. in Music History from Smith College and then a Ph.D. in Historical Musicology from Harvard University.

Exner is actively engaged with baroque repertory as both a scholar and a performer on historical oboes. She has published critical editions of music by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (Passion According to St. Luke (1779) for the Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: Complete Works Edition) and Gottfried August Homilius (Carus, Stuttgart). Her research appears in journals such as Early Music, Eighteenth-Century Music, and BACH: Journal of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute. Recent publications include essays on Bach and Parliament Funkadelic’s Bernie Worrell (“Certifying J. S. Bach’s Interplanetary Funksmanship or What Bach meant to Bernie Worrell”, in Bach Perspectives 13, ed. Laura Buch (Univ. of Illinois Press, 2020)) and a book chapter that re-contextualizes Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s 1829 Berlin performance of Bach’s Passion according to St. Matthew (Rethinking Bach, ed. Bettina Varwig (Oxford University Press, [2021]). Exner is currently working on a guide to Bach’s Passion according to St. Matthew (BWV 244) for Oxford University Press. A book co-authored with Dr. Geoffrey Burgess on Bach’s oboe music is also in progress.

Prof. Exner is Vice President of the American Bach Society. An award-winning teacher, she has taught courses on baroque music as well as the history of art song by invitation at Boston University, Harvard University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Following three years as Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina School of Music, she joined the full-time Music History faculty at New England Conservatory in 2015. She currently resides in Philadelphia with her husband, the Telemann scholar Steven Zohn, and their two sons.

B.A. in Russian Language and Literature cum laude, B.M. in Music History cum laude, University of Massachusetts at Amherst; M.M. in Music History, Smith College; Ph.D. in Historical Musicology, Harvard University.

Professional Affiliations

  • Vice President of the American Bach Society
  • American Musicological Society: Council Member

Featured Publications

  • J. S. Bach’s Passion According to St. Matthew. Commissioned by The American Bach Society for its new series ABS Guides (Oxford University Press, under contract).
  • “Rethinking 1829” in Rethinking Bach, ed. Bettina Varwig (New York: Oxford University Press, [2021]).
  • “What Bach meant to Bernie Worrell” for Bach Perspectives 13: Bach Reworked—Parody, Transcription, Adaptation, ed. Laura Buch  (Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 2020).
  • “The Godfather: Georg Philipp Telemann, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and the Family Business” in BACH: Journal of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute, Vol. 52 (May 2016).
  • “Editorial: “Written by Mrs. Bach?”” in Bach Notes, No. 22 (Spring 2015): 6.