Jonathan Lee

Assistant Professor of Music
University of Las Vegas

Jonathan Rhodes Lee received his PhD in the history and literature of music in 2013 from the University of California, Berkeley. His primary research interests lie in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Jonathan’s dissertation, “Virtue Rewarded: Handel’s Oratorios and the Culture of Sentiment,” explores the relationship between Handel’s late vocal music and the sentimentalism and sensibility that were so much a part of English life of the period. Scholars have traced sentimentalism’s roots to both secular sources (particularly the “moral sense” philosophy established by the third Earl of Shaftesbury) and to sacred ones (the Latitudinarian attitudes of eighteenth-century Anglicanism), and they have noted its effects in philosophy, religion, the arts, and even medical science. This “culture of sentiment” thus captivated broad audiences in the early years of this decade, precisely the period when Handel abandoned opera for dramatic oratorio.  This genre’s English libretti, biblical stories, and virtuous themes provided ideal material for moralizing librettists of sentimental persuasions. Yet musicology has largely passed over its influence on Handel’s last great works. Jonathan’s research begins to address this lack by drawing connections between oratorio, contemporary drama, gendered concepts of virtue, and religious sentimentalism. His current projects are broadening focus, turning to questions of music and masculinity in the eighteenth-century. Jonathan is also in the early stages of new projects on film music, particularly regarding animation and abstract film and the relationship between intellectual property and film scores.

Jonathan has forthcoming publications for Theatre Notebook (2014) and A-R Editions (2014), and he has presented his research at the international conferences of the American Musicological Society and the American Handel Society. He is the recipient of the 2013 New Scholars Prize from the Society for Theatre Research (U.K.), and from 2010-2013 he was the Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fellow at UC Berkeley. He is also an active harpsichordist and early keyboard technician.