Estelle Joubert

Associate Professor, Musicology; Cross-Appointment, European Studies


Related information

Fountain School of Performing Arts

Phone: 902.494.1826
Fax: 902.494.2801
Mailing Address: 
Room 523, Dalhousie Arts Centre, 6101 University Avenue
PO Box 15000, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
Research Topics:
  • Musicology
  • Eighteenth-century music
  • Opera and political theory
  • Mozart studies
  • Opera and digital technology
  • Music in the global early modern period


  • ARCT (Piano Performance)
  • BMus (Toronto)
  • MA (Toronto)
  • DPhil (Oxford)

Research & Creative Activity

Estelle Joubert received her DPhil from Oxford as a Clarendon scholar in 2007, was a SSHRC postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Toronto from 2007-2009 and joined Dalhousie in 2009. Her research interests include opera and Enlightenment political thought; opera’s engagements with the history of sensation and neurophysiology; music in the global seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; opera and digital technology; computational musicology, especially graph databases. She has given conferences papers and invited lectures on these topics in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Italy, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Japan. Her forthcoming book, German Opera and the Politics of Sensation, 1750-1815, traces opera’s engagements with political debates such as human equality, civil freedom, the abolition of torture and modern systems of justice from the Enlightenment to the Napoleonic era. This study places opera at the heart of a growing discourse in government studies, cognitive neuroscience and the history of sensation, challenging predominant neo-Kantian paradigms that privilege reason, and affirming sentiment in political decision-making in the eighteenth-century and today.

Joubert is also principal investigator for a large-scale team-run project entitled Opera and the Musical Canon, 1750-1815 funded by a SSHRC Insight Grant, which includes a computational component entitled ‘Visualizing Operatic Fame’. This graph database (powered by neo4j and using Cypher as query language) visualizes relationships between people (composers, singers, publishers) and operatic objects (scores, reviews, images), offering a nuanced ‘picture’ of how operatic fame was generated prior to 1800. Her teaching has been recognized by the Teaching Award of the American Musicological Society, the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Teaching Prize, and the Innovative Course Design Prize of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

Joubert has served as assessor for various research granting agencies, including SSHRC, FRQ (Fonds de recherche du Québec), DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), and FWF (Austrian Science Fund). She held a Balzan International Research Visitorship at the Faculty of Music, University of Oxford (Trinity term 2014) and was a Visiting Research Scholar at the Department of Music, UC Berkeley for 2015-2016. In 2017 she was elected DAAD Research Ambassador for Dalhousie and she currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Mozart Society of America.

Selected Publications

  • “German Opera in Mozart’s Vienna,” in Cambridge Companion to The Magic Flute, ed. Jessica Waldorff, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, under contract).
  • “Analytical Encounters: Global Music Criticism and Enlightenment Ethnomusicology,” in Studies on a Global History of Music ed. Reinhard Strohm, (New York and London: Routledge, 2018), 42-60. 
  • "Performing Sovereignty, Sounding Autonomy: Political Representation in the Operas of Maria Antonia of Saxony," Music & Letters 96/3 (2015), 344-389.  Runner-up for the Westrup Prize at Oxford University Press.
  • Maria Antonia of Saxony and the Emergence of Music Analysis in Opera CriticismCambridge Opera Journal, 25/1 (2013), 37-73.
  • “Public Perception and Compositional Response: The Changing Role of the da capo aria in Hiller's Singspiele”, Musica e Storia, 2011 [cover date 2008], 651-664.
  •  “Genre and Form in German Opera” in Cambridge Companion to Eighteenth-Century Opera, A. DelDonna and P. Polzonetti, ed., Cambridge University Press, 2009, 184-201.
  •  “New Music in the Office of Thomas Becket from the Diocese of TrierPlainsong and Medieval Music, 18/1, April 2009, 33-60.
  •  “Songs to Shape a German Nation: Hiller's Comic Operas and the Public SphereEighteenth-Century Music 2006 3/2.  Reprinted in Essays on Opera, 1750-1800 ed. John Rice, in Ashgate Library of Essays in Opera Studies, 6 vols., 2010, 329-348.

Selected Awards and Honours

  • 2015-2018 SSHRC Insight Grant, Principal Investigator ($154,850), Opera and the Musical Canon, 1750-1815
  • 2017-2018 Burgess Research Award Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Dalhousie
  • 2017 SSHRC Connections Grant, Principal Investigator, Opera’s Canonic Entanglements
  • 2015 DAAD Faculty Research Grant, Principal Investigator, Humboldt University, Berlin
  • 2014 Balzan International Research Visitorship, Faculty of Music, University of Oxford.
  • 2010-2011 John M. Ward Fellow in Music and Dance, Houghton Library, Harvard University
  • 2007 Osgood prize University of Oxford for ‘New Music in the Office of Thomas Becket in Trier’, now published in Plainsong and Medieval Music
  • 2007 DAAD (Deutsche Akademischer Austausch Dienst) fellowship on ‘Operatic States: Imagining Community in Music Drama’ led by Arthur Groos at Cornell University