Faculty/Staff Directory

Kurt Ellenberger

Photo of Kurt Ellenberger


Professor of Music, Frederik Meijer Honors College

HON 123


Field of Study


Dr. Ellenberger teaches a wide array of music-related courses in the Honors College, including:


  1. “American Music in the American Century” (online only): In this course, we study various styles of American music in the 20C including folk, jazz, classical, blues, pop, rock, country, and other genres.
  2. “Music, Culture, and Aesthetics” (in-seat only): This course studies classical music, jazz, and pop music from both a cultural and aesthetic perspective.
  3. “Jazzin’ the Culture” (online and in-seat): This course studies jazz history which starts with the music of the slaves in the 1800s, and continues with Blues, Ragtime, and the many other jazz styles leading to the modern era.
  4. “Rockin’ the Culture” (online and in-seat): This course will study the history of Rock and the American culture in which it developed.
  5. “The Music Business” (in-seat only): This course studies the music business in all of its facets—copyrights, contracts, publishing, etc.
  6. “Music and Science” (in-seat only): This course studies the intersection of music and science throughout the ages—from the Ancients through Kepler, Newton, and Descartes, to the modern era, we will see the profound influence that music has had on the development of science.
  7. Live.Learn.Lead - "Western Civilization and the Muse": This is an Honors Sequence for first year students that studies the history of Western Civilization from the Reformation until the modern day, along with the classical music that was created during that time.


Bachelor of Arts, Music Major, University of Windsor (Canada)

Master of Music, Theory and Composition, University of Northern Colorado

Doctorate of Musical Arts, Composition, University of Texas at Austin



Kurt Ellenberger is a pianist, composer, and author whose work includes music for a wide range of ensembles. His writings include a jazz theory book, other pedagogical writings, and many essays that appear in his arts blog entitled Also Sprach FraKathustra, which is published by The Huffington Post–Arts and Culture. He has recorded on Innova Recordings, Ghostly International, and Challenge-A Records (the Netherlands), among others, and has been hailed as "a gifted pianist who combines the lyricism of Bill Evans with the energy of Keith Jarrett." He is a member of the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble, whose recent recordings of Terry Riley’s “IN C: Remixed” and Steve Reich’s “Music for 18 Musicians” have been featured in The New York Times, as well as in many of the nation’s leading publications, including The New Yorker. Ellenberger is a faculty member in the Frederik Meijer Honors College at Grand Valley State University, where he has been teaching since 1999. He is also a Fulbright Scholar who taught in Austria at the Kunstuniversität Graz (University of the Arts in Graz) and serves as artistic advisor on the Board of Trustees for the city of Mannheim, Germany.


  1. Dr. Ellenberger’s website features most of his music available for download or streaming.
  2. Dr. Ellenberger’s personal blog, Also Sprach FraKathustra, features writing on music, culture, and other topics.
  3. Dr. Ellenberger is a contributor to HuffPost “Arts and Culture” where most of his blogs from his personal website are featured.

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