Kirsten Paige is a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. She studied first at the University of Chicago (B.A. in Music History & Theory, 2011) and the University of Cambridge (M.Phil. in Music, 2012), before coming to the University of California, Berkeley to pursue a Ph.D. in Music History and Literature (2018). In general, Kirsten's work explores intersections of sound, politics, and scientific thought and practice in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries -- particularly in Germany -- though her interests also include opera studies; environmental history and ecocriticism; the history of technology and design; the history of medicine; and media and sound studies. She has presented papers at the annual meetings of the American Musicological Society, Royal Musical Association, and German Studies Association, among other national and international conferences. Kirsten's work has been published in journals including The Cambridge Opera Journal, MLA Notes, and European Romantic Review; her article -- "'Art and Climate,' Parsifal, and the Atmospheric Politics of Wagnerian Theater" -- was recently accepted by Opera Quarterly.
While Kirsten's dissertation considers the influence of nineteenth-century ideas about climate, environment, and atmosphere on Wagner's artistic theories and practices, her book project ("Richard Wagner's Political Ecology") will bridge sound, media, and science and technology studies to explore Wagner’s redefinition of operatic spectacle and spectatorship around nineteenth-century material and cultural histories of nature. The book’s final chapters will ask how this aesthetic paradigm shaped twentieth-century philosophies of music and communicative media, from Nietzsche and Adorno to R. Murray Schaeffer and John Durham Peters.
Kirsten's second book project ("Sounding the Forest: Open-Air Opera in German-Speaking Europe, 1848-1945”) will examine the history of outdoor opera in German-speaking Europe and its role in defining modern German identity in relation to nature. This project will argue that this institution was designed to immerse listeners in the social influences of folkloric narratives, national sounds, and the climate of the Romantic forest to instill völkisch values in spectators as they sat outdoors breathing deeply and listening closely.
Also a serious practicing musician, Kirsten studied double bass for five years at the Juilliard School of Music's Preparatory Division, starting at age 13. Her major teacher was the late Homer Mensch. She has performed in orchestras around the world including the Britten-Pears Young Artists Programme at the Aldeburgh Festival, Banff Music Center Orchestra, New York String Orchestra Seminar, National Symphony Orchestra/Kennedy Center Fellows' Orchestra, Tanglewood Institute, Zermatt Festival Academy Orchestra with the Berlin Philharmonic's Scharoun Ensemble, and the Jeunesse Musicales International Young Artists Orchestra. She won the University of Chicago's Concerto Competition in 2010.