College of Music

University of Colorado Boulder

Daphne Leong

Associate Professor of Music Theory
Imig Music Building N131

Mailing Address:
301 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309

Daphne Leong is Associate Professor of Music Theory and Chair of the Theory and Composition Department.

Her research interests include rhythm, analysis and performance, and the music of 20th  and 21st century composers, particularly Béla Bartók. Her publications appear in Journal of Music Theory, Intégral, Theory and Practice, Music Theory Online, Gamut, and Acta Musicologica, as well as in edited collections. Representative articles are “Humperdinck and Wagner: Metric Spaces, States, and Symmetries,” Journal of Music Theory (2007);  Leong and McNutt, “Virtuosity in Babbitt’s Lonely Flute, ”Music Theory Online (2005); and “Metric Conflict in the First Movement of Bartók’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, Theory and Practice (1999), for which she received the Young Scholar Award of the Theory Society of New York State.  

She has presented papers at the national conferences of the Society for Music Theory, the International Conference Bartók’s String Quartets: Tradition and Legacy, the International Conference on Music and Gesture, the International Conference of the Center for Romanian Studies; a keynote at Indiana University’s Special Symposium on Performance and Analysis; as well as invited papers and lecture-recitals at the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts, Brăiloiu Institute of Ethnography and Folklore in Bucharest, University of Kansas, Texas Tech University, and other national and international venues.

She has twice been a Fellow at the Mannes Institute for Advanced Studies in Music Theory (in “Rhythm and Temporality” and “Transformational Theory”), and has undertaken source studies at the Sacher Institute in Basel, Switzerland, the Bartók Archives in Budapest, the Hungarian Ethnographic Museum in Budapest, and the Brăiloiu Institute of Ethnography and Folklore in Bucharest.

Leong is also an active pianist and chamber musician, performing in recent years in the United States, Canada, England, Romania, and Hong Kong. Her repertoire ranges from Bach to premieres of current music; three recent concert programs are May Treacherous Marbles (written for her), Ravel Ma Mère l’Oye, Messiaen Visions de l’Amen (2008); Mozart Quintet for Piano and Winds in Eb, Schoenberg Sechs kleine Klavierstücke Op.19, Mozart Quartet for Piano and Strings in Eb (2006); and the complete Chopin Études Op.25. In fall 2013 she premiered Morris's Clear Sounds among Hills and Waters (dedicated to her), on a program that included Andriessen’s Hout and Shende’s Throw Down or Shut Up! Her principal teachers were David Burge, Douglas Humpherys, and Robin Harrison.

Leong has received numerous accolades for her teaching, including the 2013 Excellence in Teaching Award of the University of Colorado Boulder Faculty Assembly.

She serves on the Publication Awards Committee of the national Society for Music Theory, having just completed a term on its Executive Board. She also acted as Program Chair of the Nancarrow Centennial Online Symposium (2012), and was founding chair of the “Performance and Analysis” Interest Group of the SMT. She serves on the Editorial Board of Intégral.

Leong holds a Ph.D (music theory), M.A. (music theory), and M.Mus. (piano performance) from the Eastman School of Music.

Online publications:

Leong, Daphne and David Korevaar. “The Performer’s Voice: Performance and Analysis in Ravel’s Concerto pour la main gauche,” Music Theory Online 11/3 (September 2005)

Leong, Daphne and Elizabeth McNutt. “Virtuosity in Babbitt’s Lonely Flute,” Music Theory Online 11/1 (March 2005)

Leong, Daphne, with Daniel Silver and Jennifer John. “Rhythm in the First Movement of Bartók’s Contrasts: Performance and Analysis,” Gamut 1/1 (2008)

Leong, Daphne. “Webs and Snares: Multiple References in Babbitt’s Homily and Beaten Paths,” (Essay in Honor of Milton Babbitt) Music Theory Online 17/2 (July 2011)


Upcoming concerts: 


The quartet, consisting of John Gunther, saxophones, Patrick Sutton, guitar, Michael Tetreault, percussion, and Daphne Leong, piano, formed in 2013 to play cutting-edge new music. Its eclectic repertoire reflects the diverse backgrounds of its members. The quartet is named after its first collaboration, on Vineet Shende’s piece Throw Down or Shut Up!

Monday, May 5, 7:00 pm, DazzleJazz, 930 Lincoln St, Denver

A cutting-edge mix of avant-garde new music, jazz, and soul influences, this program features Clear Sounds among Hills and Waters for solo piano by Robert Morris (played against the backdrop of a 17th-century Chinese landscape scroll), Reich’s classic Clapping Music, Andriessen’s vibrant Hout, and Shende’s unmatchable Throw Down or Shut Up! It concludes with Riley’s improvisatory In C, played in collaboration with percussionist William Hill and members of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

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