April Greenan

April Greenan
  • Music
  • Academic Degrees

    • B.M., M.A., University of Utah
    • Ph.D., University of Maryland at College Park
  • Areas of Expertise

    • Music and neuroscience
    • Music and medicine
    • 18th-century art music
    • Racism in American music

A musicologist, Dr. April Greenan served for 12 years as the founding director of McKay Music Library at the University of Utah. In 2002 she met mega-savant, Kim Peek, on whom the title character of the movie “Rain Man” was based and discovered that he processed much of his thinking through an expansive database of music. With Kim, she appeared in several internationally broadcast documentaries as he began to play the piano and exhibit extraordinary cognition of musical patterns and structure. Her work with Kim led to an intense interest in the new integration of music and neuroscience as well as the ancient collaboration of music and medicine. She recently spoke on using music as medicine at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

Greenan’s work in historical musicology is based primarily in western art music of the 18th century. She examines the conventions of improvisation and ornamentation during the Classical era, how these conventions shaped phrase and formal structure, and how performers used them rhetorically to communicate with their audiences. She is the author of the article on Eingänge–improvised passages that present recurring thematic material–in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, and she edited the musical examples of the first English translation of J.A. Hiller’s treatise of 1780, “Anweisung zum musikalisch-zierlichen Gesange” [Treatise on Vocal Performance and Ornamentation] published by Cambridge University Press.

She is currently working on a biography of Francis Hopkinson, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence; a personal friend of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson; an inventor who improved the design of the harpsichord; and a composer. It is highly likely that Hopkinson designed the American flag. Greenan contributed the article on Hopkinson to The Encyclopedia of the American Enlightenment, to be published in 2014.

Greenan’s secondary area of musicological research centers on music in the United States, on the social ramifications of multiple music traditions coexisting in American communities, and on the relentless racism in our country that is continuously reflected in our music.