Deane L. Root

  • Professor, Emeritus


American Music, Music in Culture, Popular Music, American Musical Theater, Lexicography.


As a teacher and mentor, I have helped prepare students for the highest levels of success in research, writing, speaking, and engagement with music as part of local and global cultures.  Students whom I have mentored have achieved productive and distinguished careers in academia, cultural institutions, and the private sector on six continents. 

My research has been devoted primarily to making original source materials accessible and opening new areas of scholarship within the music history of the United States.  I have published on nineteenth-century popular music and musical theater, research resources throughout American history, and using songs from historical social and cultural contexts in education.  As a staff editor for The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1980) I helped introduce its popular music coverage.  My monograph on American Popular Stage Music 1860-1880 (1977) was the first musicological study of nineteenth-century musical theater in the United States, and my 1994 Garland Publishing series offered scholarly editions of 48 representative musical-theater works, including full scripts and music. 

My work as an administrator has furthered those goals.  I was founding Director for the Center for American Music, part of the University Library System; in addition to being the world repository for music, recordings, and research on Stephen Foster, America's first professional songwriter, the Center has been a national leader in developing educational initiatives with music as primary sources.  My projects there include a scholarly symposium and special issue of the journal American Music devoted to Foster, and the educators' guide to historic American song, Voices Across Time.  I helped to create the journal American Music, and as President of the scholarly association now known as the Society for American Music I sought to recognize the leadership of women scholars, attract scholars of color, and interact with scholarly organizations through the American Council of Learned Societies.

As Editor in Chief since 2009 of Grove Music Online (Oxford University Press), the successor to The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, I have helped guide its transition from a print to an online reference work through programs to incorporate areas of emerging research, enhance multimedia content, update existing content, and work more closely with area experts and scholarly societies.  Major projects include expanding coverage of under-researched musicians and musical practices including women and gender, music of Hispanic and Portuguese-speaking peoples worldwide, and global perspectives.

My service to scholarly and cultural non-profits focuses particularly on expanding capacity and strengthening planning.

Recent courses

  • Music in society (graduate and undergraduate)
  • American music history (graduate and undergraduate)
  • Senior seminar (undergraduate music majors), on current popular song
  • Musicology proseminar (graduate)
  • Musicology seminar (graduate) - topics included Issues in Earlier American Popular Music Studies, The Formation of Musical Institutions in 19th-century America, and Public Facing Musicology

Selected Publications

“Stephen Foster,” in Oxford Bibliographies in Music, ed. Kate van Orden (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020), co-authored with Codee Spinner

Special Issue of American Music, vol. 30 no.3 (2013), devoted to Stephen Foster, co-edited with Mariana Whitmer

“Toward a History of the 19th-Century American Orchestra,” introductory essay, American Orchestras in the 19th Century, ed. John Spitzer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012)

“Performing Foster,” chapter 12 in Music, American Made: Essays in Honor of John Graziano, ed. John Koegel (Sterling Heights, MI: Harmonie Park Press, 2011)

Emily’s Songbook: Popular Music in 1850s Albany, co-edited with Mark Slobin, Katherine Preston, Jim Kimball (Madison, WI: A-R Editions, 2011)

“The Music of Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” in Uncle Tom’s Cabin & American Culture: A Multi-Media Archive, dir. Stephen Railton, University of Virginia (June 2007)

“The Myth-Story of Stephen C. Foster, or Why His True Story Remains Untold,” American Music Research Center Journal 15 (2005) 1-18 (revised from 1 (1991) 20-36)

Voices Across Time: American History Through Music, project director and author with Susan K. Donley, Kathryn Miller Haines, and Mariana S. Whitmer (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 2004; rev. 2, 2006)

“Forgery in the Music Library: A Cautionary Tale,” with [other authors], in Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association 60:4 (2004) 865-892

Nineteenth-Century American Musical Theater, 16 volumes, series editor (New York: Garland Publishing, 1994)

"The Stephen Foster–Antonin Dvorak Connection," in Dvorak in America, ed. John C. Tibbetts (Portland OR: Amadeus Press, 1993)

The Music of Stephen C. Foster: A Critical Edition, edited with Stephen Saunders (Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990)

Music of American Theater, editor, special issue of American Music journal, II/4 (1984)

The Music of Florida Historic Sites (Tallahassee: The Florida State University School of Music, 1983)

American Popular Stage Music 1860-1880.  (Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press, 1981/1983)

Resources of American Music History, with D.W. Krummel, Jean Geil, and Doris J. Dyen (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1981)

"The Pan American Association of Composers (1928-1934)," Yearbook for Inter-American Music Research, 8 (1972) 49-70

Selected Papers

Keynote address, Stephen Foster Symposium, Ritsumeikan University, Tokyo, Japan, December 7, 2013

“The Sonic Century of Susan B. Anthony,” University of Rochester, NY, March 21, 2013

“The Historiography of 19th-Century American Orchestras,” The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel, November 30, 2010

“Voices Across Time: The Impact of Women During the American Revolutionary Era,” National Council for History Education, Pittsburgh, April 22, 2005

”Discovering American History through Music,” keynote address, Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies annual meeting, Allentown, Pennsylvania, October 10, 2002

“Strategies of Community Building in Stephen Foster’s Songs,” keynote address, National Conference on Music of the Civil War Era, Shepherd College, West Virginia, April 13, 2002

"Voices Across Time, a Model Education Project for a Scholarly Society," American Council of Learned Societies, Denver, Colorado, November 1998

"Stephen Collins Foster: Man and Myth," American Studies Association, Pittsburgh, November 1995

"American Songs and Songwriters of the Civil War Era," Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Great Performers Series, October 26, 1994

"Politics and Myth in the Case of Stephen Foster," Sonneck Society annual meeting, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, March, 1992

"Archival Resources in the Music Library: Realia and Memorabilia," Music Library Association, Minneapolis, 1988

"Music of the American Theatre," American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts, 1985

"Music of Florida Historic Sites," Sonneck Society, Tallahassee, Florida, 1985

"The Black Crook and the Role of Music in 19th-Century American Spectacle," American Musicological Society, Washington, 1976


Lifetime Achievement Award, Society for American Music, 2018

Project Director for Voices Across Time, 1995– , an educational resource allowing secondary-school teachers of social studies and language arts to use music effectively in their classrooms

President, Sonneck Society for American Music, 1989-93

Delegate of the Sonneck Society for American Music to the American Council of Learned Societies, 1996-99

President, Calliope–The Pittsburgh Folk Music Society, 2012–15; Treasurer, 2007-12, 2015-19

President, Gateway to the Arts in Pittsburgh, 2000-2003

President, Greater Pittsburgh Museum Council, 1987-89

President, Friends of the Music Library, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, 1994-97

National Endowment for the Humanities peer review panels, 1990–

Elected Member, American Antiquarian Society, 2004–

Alternate representative of the American Musicological Society to the National Recording Preservation Board, 2001-2006

Co-director, NEH Summer Teaching Institute: Voices Across Time: Teaching American History Through Music, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2013

Consultant on numerous documentary films on American musical theater, Stephen Foster, and other American topics

Appeared on PBS documentaries on Stephen Foster and Antonin Dvorak

Society for American Music, Distinguished Service Citation, 2000

Education & Training

  • PhD, University of Illinois, 1977

Faculty Groupings

Core Faculty

Main Department Affliliation


Other Department Positions

Director, Center for American Music (retired)
Fletcher Hodges, Jr. Curator, Center for American Music (retired)
Editor in Chief, Grove Music