Professor Gwynne Kuhner Brown is a musicologist, pianist, and mbira player with a special passion for American concert music of the 20th century. She graduated from Puget Sound in 1995 with a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance, having studied with Dr. Duane Hulbert. She went on to receive an master’s degree in music theory from Indiana University and a Ph.D. in music history from the University of Washington. Her doctoral dissertation on George Gershwin's masterpiece, Porgy and Bess, led her to an ongoing investigation of the African-American musicians who were Gershwin's inspirations and contemporaries, including Eva Jessye and Hall Johnson. She is near completion of a book on the life and works of William Levi Dawson (1899-1990): famed director of the Tuskegee Institute Choir, creator of widely admired arrangements of religious folk songs such as "Ezekiel Saw de Wheel" and "Balm in Gilead," and composer of the unjustly obscure Negro Folk Symphony. She has presented her scholarship at national meetings of the American Musicological Society and the Society for American Music. Her writing has been published in the Journal for the Society of American Music and in Blackness in Opera (University of Illinois Press, 2012). She enjoys teaching a wide range of music courses at Puget Sound for majors and nonmajors alike, including jazz history, women in music, and world music. She was Puget Sound’s 2013 recipient of the President’s Excellence in Teaching Award.
"Having received an outstanding liberal arts education at Puget Sound myself, it's a joy to return and work with the engaged and inquisitive students here. In classes for music majors and non-majors alike, I value an approach to music that includes a variety of perspectives, including the aesthetic, historical, cultural, social, and analytical."