Professor - Musicology
Richard Semmens, PhD, is professor of music history, specializing in music and dance of the baroque period.
Semmens received both a BMus (1973) and MMus (1975) from the University of British Columbia, and was awarded a PhD in musicology from the early music performance program at Stanford University in 1980. He has taught at Western since 1979.
Semmens has offered a wide range of courses in music history, including topics in medieval, Renaissance, 17th- and 18th-century music, earlier musical notations, and performance practices. As well, he directs the Faculty’s Early Music Studio, a student ensemble specializing in the historically informed performance of music from the late 16th to late 18th centuries on copies of period instruments.
Semmens focuses his research on the theory and practice of music and dance of France and England. He is particularly interested in the social institutions that nurtured music-making and dance practices. In 2005, he was selected to present the Selma Jeanne Cohen International Dance Scholarship lecture by the Fulbright Association. He was named a Faculty Scholar in Music for the period 2006-08.
"Étienne Loulié and the New Harmonic Counterpoint,” Journal of Music Theory 28/1 (1984), 73‑88.
"Dancing and Dance Music in Purcell's Operas," in Michael Burden, ed., Performing the Music of Henry Purcell (Oxford University Press, 1996), 180-196.
“‘La Furstenberg’ and ‘St Martin’s Lane’: Purcell’s French Odyssey,” Music & Letters, 78/3 (1997), 337-349.
“Branles, Gavottes and Contredanses in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries,” Dance Research 15/2 (1997) [issued 1998], 35-62.
The bals publics at the Paris Opera in the Eighteenth Century (New York: Pendragon, 2004), 216pp.
“Sure John Rich could read: but could Lun dance?” Lumen 31 (2012), 155-168.