Marva Duerksen

Associate Professor of Music, Women's and Gender Studies; Coordinator, Musicianship

Marva Duerksen is Associate Professor of Music at Willamette University where she teaches Musicianship and Music History, and courses in Women’s and Gender Studies. Her research, teaching, and performing interests focus on music by women composers and women poets, with special emphasis on the vocal music of American composer, Libby Larsen and more recently, on musical settings of American poet Emily Dickinson. In spring 2008, with funding from the University of Oregon’s Center for the Study of Women in Society, Duerksen and soprano Ann Tedards, from the University of Oregon, presented recitals of Larsen’s music at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Bowdoin College, and Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. In 2009 she released with Tedards a CD on the MSR Classics label, WomanSpirit: Songs by Libby Larsen. In January 2013, with soprano Christine Elder, Duerksen recorded Larsen’s Me, a song cycle based on the autobiography of Brenda Ueland. The recording, for which Larsen served as producer, is available through cdbaby. In 2015, she presented with Christine Elder a recital highlighting Dickinson settings by composer Lori Laitman, and Langston Hughes settings by A Ricky Ian Gordon. Recent scholarly presentations—“Reading and Hearing Emily Dickinson: Poetic and Musical Prosody in Art-Song Settings 1920-1980,” and “Proleptic Rhetoric and Survival of the ‘Self’: Composers On Dickinson’s “I heard a Fly buzz”—apply literary analysis  to composers’ musical settings of Dickinson.     

Duerksen holds a Bachelor of Music (with greatest distinction) from Brandon University, a Master of Music from the University of Alberta, and a Ph.D. in Music Theory from the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York. For her doctoral studies, Duerksen was awarded a prestigious Gilleece Fellowship as well as a doctoral fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. For her Master’s Degree in piano performance, Duerksen studied with Stéphane Lemelin; in her doctoral work, Leo Treitler, Richard Kramer, Joseph Straus, and Joel Lester were her primary teachers. Before coming to Willamette in 2001, she taught basic and advanced music theory at Queens College, City College, and Hunter College, all of the City University of New York, and at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where she served as Visiting Professor of Music Theory.