James Loeffler

Associate Professor of History and Jewish Studies, University of Virginia

James Loeffler

As a historian, musicologist, and trained pianist, James Loeffler has been actively involved in Jewish music for the past decade as a scholar, critic, and performer. He served as Pro Musica Hebraica’s research director during its first seven years and is now the organization’s Resident Scholar. He is currently Associate professor of History and Jewish Studies at the University of Virginia, where he teaches modern Jewish history and culture.

A native of Washington, D.C., Loeffler was educated at Harvard College (A.B. 1996), the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (Dorot Foundation Fellow), and Columbia University (M.A. 2000 and Ph.D. 2006 in history). In 2003 and 2004 he was the recipient of a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship to Russia and Ukraine to document the forgotten history of Jewish music using the newly opened archives of the Former Soviet Union. His research has also been supported by grants from the Wexner Foundation Graduate Fellowship, the Center for Jewish History, and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture.

In 2005 he co-founded the Jewish Music Forum, a new national academic organization supported by the American Society for Jewish Music and the Center for Jewish History in New York. He has served as a music consultant to numerous organizations and institutions, including National Public Radio, Nextbook, and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. He is also a permanent research associate of the Jewish Music Research Centre at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Loeffler’s publications include scholarly articles on East European Jewish history, klezmer music, and the Yiddish language, the liner notes to the Grammy-nominated album, The Zmiros Project (Traditional Crossroads, 2002), and articles in The New Republic, The Jerusalem Report, and Haaretz newpaper. He is the author of The Most Musical Nation: Jews, Culture, and Modernity in the Late Russian Empire (Yale University Press), which has won several major prizes, including the 2010 American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) Deems Taylor-Béla Bartók Award for Outstanding Ethnomusicology Book and the 2010 Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies USC Book Prize in Literary and Cultural Studies.