music

Nicholas Chong

Assistant Professor, Musicology

Nicholas Chong joined the Rutgers faculty in Fall 2017, having previously served as TOMS Core Faculty Fellow and Lecturer in the Core Curriculum at Columbia University. At Columbia Chong taught “Contemporary Civilization,” a “great books” seminar for undergraduates covering chronologically diverse texts in political philosophy, intellectual history, and social thought.

As a musicologist, Chong specializes in the music of the late Classical and Romantic eras in Germany and Austria. In his teaching and research, he focuses in particular on the relationship of the creation and reception of musical works to religious, political and intellectual history. His secondary interests include the history of sacred music across historical periods, as well as aesthetics and the philosophy of music.

Chong completed his PhD in historical musicology at Columbia University in 2016, under the supervision of Elaine Sisman. His dissertation, “Beethoven’s Catholicism: A Reconsideration,” argues that both Beethoven and his religious music, especially the Missa Solemnis,were more heavily influenced by Catholic theological ideas than is usually thought. Calling into question longstanding assumptions in Beethoven studies, this project draws heavily on scholarship outside of musicology, especially recent research into what revisionist historians call the German Catholic Enlightenment, to construct a more complete and historically coherent context for understanding the composer’s religious works.  Chong has presented portions of his dissertation research at various conferences, including the national meeting of the American Musicological Society, and in an invited talk at Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music. He is currently working on revising his dissertation for publication as a book, and also plans to undertake further research on the complex role of religion in German Romantic musical aesthetics. In addition to his work on Beethoven, Chong has published a journal article on the musical quotations in the Act II Finale of Mozart’s Don Giovanni (Current Musicology, Fall 2011).

In the broader musicological community, Chong serves as secretary of the Greater New York chapter of the American Musicological Society. In addition to his musicological training, he holds a master of music degree in orchestral conducting from the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, and his conducting experience includes a professional engagement with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra in Michigan. 

Born in Singapore to Malaysian parents, Chong attended high school in Melbourne, Australia, before coming to the United States.