William Rothstein
Position: Professor, Music
Program: Music (Ph.D./D.M.A)
Campus Affiliation: Graduate Center|Queens College
Phone: 212-817-8596
Degrees/Diplomas: Ph.D. in Music Theory from Yale University
Research Interests: Schenkerian analysis, theories of musical rhythm, analysis of nineteenth-century opera, history of music theory

William Rothstein studies Western art music of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. His specialties include the theories and analytical method of Heinrich Schenker, the theory and analysis of musical rhythm, and the analysis of nineteenth-century Italian opera.

William Rothstein started in music as a pianist and earned his undergraduate degree in composition. His principal teachers were Ernst Oster and Allen Forte. Before coming to CUNY, he taught music theory at Amherst College, Oberlin College, and the University of Michigan. His early publications focus primarily on the music of Beethoven and Chopin and the analysis of musical rhythm. More recently, he has published several articles on Italian opera from Rossini to Verdi. He recently completed a book on this subject.

Professional Affiliations and Memberships
Society for Music Theory

Courses Taught
Intermediate Schenkerian Analysis, Advanced Schenkerian Analysis, History of Theory 1600-1950, Rhythm in Tonal Music, Analysis of Opera


  • “‘All That Is Solid Melts into Air’: Schumann’s Overture to Manfred.” In Explorations in Schenkerian Analysis, ed. David Beach and Su Yin Mak. University of Rochester Press, 2016. Pages 155–76.
  • “Tonal Structures in Bellini.” Journal of Music Theory 56, no. 2: 225–83.
  • “Metrical Theory and Verdi’s Midcentury Operas.” Dutch Journal of Music Theory 16, no. 2: 93–111.
  • “Riding the storm clouds: Tempo, rhythm, and meter in Beethoven’s ‘Tempest’ Sonata.” In Beethoven’s ‘Tempest’ Sonata: Contexts of Analysis and Performance, ed. Pieter BergĂ©, Jeroen d’Hoe, and William Caplin. Leuven: Peeters, 2009. Pages 235–71.
  • “National Metrical Types in Music of the 18th and Early 19th Centuries.” In Communication in eighteenth-century music, ed. Danuta Mirka and Kofi Agawu. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Pages 112–59.
  • “Common-tone tonality in Italian Romantic opera: An introduction.” Music Theory Online 14, no. 1. 
  • “On Implied Tones.” Music Analysis 10/3 (1991): 289–328. 
  • “Rhythmic Displacement and Rhythmic Normalization.” In Allen Cadwallader, ed., Trends in Schenkerian Research. New York: Schirmer Books, 1990. Pages 87–113. 
  • “Heinrich Schenker as an Interpreter of Beethoven's Piano Sonatas.” 19th-Century Music 8, no. 1 (1984): 3–28.