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Music Major Paul Koenig '14 Awarded Beinecke Scholarship for Graduate School

Paul Koenig '14

Junior Paul Koenig has been awarded a highly selective Beinecke Scholarship. He is one of just 20 juniors to receive the scholarships, which provides $30,000 for study toward a doctorate degree in humanities, arts or social sciences, as well as $4,000 to help with the costs of applying to, visiting and moving to graduate school.

A music major at Pomona, Koenig plans to use the scholarship to enroll in a PhD program in music theory followed by a career in academia. "I can’t imagine a better profession than professorship," says Koenig. "My hope is that I’ll be able to share my passion for music, along with insight that affords my students access to new dimensions of hearing and understanding."

Koenig’s own music career began 15 years ago when he was inspired to take piano lessons after hearing a recording of Glenn Gould’s interpretation of The Well-Tempered Clavier. He’s since studied jazz piano for 10 years and took classical piano lessons for five years. He also plays the trombone in the Pomona College Orchestra and in a brass quartet.

At Pomona College, Koenig found a musical community that reinvigorated his love of music and exposed him to new areas, including participating in live performances of Western classical music. An advanced music theory course with Professor Joti Rockwell was his introduction to serious music scholarship. "If reintroduction to the Classical [music] tradition had broadened my view, this contact with music scholarship unfolded previously unimaginable vertical layers," says Koenig. "The depth of these authors’ insight and their extraordinary ability to share it with readers drew me toward the scholarly endeavor and convinced me of its power and relevance.

"Several of my main research interests also owe their genesis to this course,” he adds. “Our study of metrical dissonance led me to wonder how theorists characterize the relationship between small-scale rhythm and large-scale form, and our discussion of Riemannian harmonic analysis and John Coltrane’s masterpiece ‘Giant Steps’ instilled a desire to further explore acoustically and mathematically informed theories of harmony."

Momentum from that course propelled him to a Summer Undergraduate Research Project conducting a formal and motivic analysis of each movement of Brahms’s four symphonies, under the guidance of Professor Eric Lindholm. “By synthesizing these analyses,” explains Koenig, “I attempted to characterize Brahms’s mature symphonic style and to illustrate the ways in which the composer recast a Classical genre in accord with the Romantic ethos. His current research project involves the function of silence, in the form of tutti rests, in the symphonies.

In addition to his music studies at Pomona, Koenig has been an Upward Bound tutor and an active member of the student group Pomona for Environmental Activism and Responsibility (PEAR). A resident of Everett, WA, he is the son of Elizabeth Koenig and David Booker, also of Everett.

The Beinecke Scholarships are intended “to encourage and enable highly motivated students to pursue opportunities available to them and to be courageous in the selection of a graduate course of study.”

Koenig is considering graduate programs at Yale University, McGill University, the University of Indiana-Bloomington, the City University of New York, and New York University. He is Pomona’s third Beinecke Scholar in the last four years following Caress Reeves '12 and Christopher Fiorello '11.

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