James W. Rogers Professor of Music, Director of Musicology
Eleonora (Nora) Beck has published widely on the subject of Italian medieval and Renaissance music and art, including her new book Boccaccio and the Invention of Musical Narrative, as well as Singing in the Garden: Music and Culture in the Tuscan Trecento and Giotto’s Harmony: Music and Art in Padua at the Crossroad of the Renaissance. Also a writer of fiction, Nora published Fiammetta, which won Honorary Mention in the Writers Digest International self-published book competition. In 2007, the American Musicological Society named Nora Master Teacher of the AMS, only the third professor to receive this recognition. In 2000 she received the Graves Award from Pomona College for outstanding teaching in the humanities and in 1998 she was named Lewis & Clark College Professor of the Year. Nora was inducted into the Columbia University Athletics Hall of Fame, October 18, 2012, for playing basketball. In 2013 Nora released Strange Land, a recording of her original compositions. Nora was selected to participate in a week-long seminar on Teaching European Art in Context in the summer of 2016 sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges. Published in Imago Musicae, her newest article uncovers the identity of the piece the Mozarts perform on the keyboard in the Mozart Family Portrait. Nora writes program notes for the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Nora continues to fight for human rights. A dual citizen, Nora brought her family to Italy during the scholastic year 2013-2014 for her sabbatical research into Renaissance music in the archives of Bologna. Her family was denied visas because Italy does not recognize same-sex marriage. Nora found an attorney in Italy to help them and after many twists and turns, like the road that climbs to her ancestral home of Gressoney, her case was presented before the Italian supreme court in 2016. She and her daughter travelled to Rome in February 2016 for the verdict. She was interviewed in the Italian press and on Italian TV. In 2018 the Bologna Court of Appeals rendered a verdict, which allows her daughter to become an Italian citizen.
In Bologna she studied painting with Antonio Postacchini, in order to better understand music’s relationship to art. One of her paintings was accepted for publication in five2one magazine. It is entitled Alone and Pensive, after a madrigal by Monteverdi. Nora’s photographs appear in literary journals, including Sinister Wisdom and HCE Review.
Ph.D. 1993, M.Phil. 1991, M.A.1989 Columbia University, B.A. 1983 Barnard College