Dr. Samuel J. Breene

Samuel Breene
Department, Office, or School
Department of Music, Theatre and Dance
  • Professor

Samuel Breene is a music historian and violinist, with a specialization in Baroque and Classical performance practice. The recipient of Javits, Mellon, and NEH Fellowships, his scholarly work focuses on Mozart’s chamber music, approached from the perspective of Enlightenment culture. Other research interests include the American string band tradition and intersections of music and science. At Rhode Island College, he teaches courses in music history, as well as General Education and Honors courses on interdisciplinary topics. In the performance area, he has served as faculty coach for chamber music and orchestra, and in 2010, he established the Early Music Ensemble. Open to all instrumental and vocal majors, the ensemble has developed a strong community presence through public performances across Rhode Island. He is also a member of the Hope Collective for Early Music, a RIC faculty ensemble that offers free concerts, classroom demonstrations, and outreach events.


Lawrence University Conservatory of Music, B.M. in Music History and Violin Performance
Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Germany, Advanced Performance Studies
Duke University, A.M. in Performance Practice (baroque violin)
Duke University, Ph.D. in Musicology


FYS 100 The Power of Sound: Exploring Emotion in Music
HONR 264 Music and Medicine: Historical and Cultural Perspectives
MUS 164-03 Early Music Ensemble
MUS 205 Music History and Literature I
MUS 206 Music History and Literature II
MUS 311 Music of the Baroque
MUS 312 Music of the Classical Era
MUS 313 Music of the Romantic Period
MUS 314 Twentieth-Century Music
MUS 360/560 Senior/Graduate Seminar in Music Literature
PFA 461 Senior Seminar in the Performing Arts

Sample Professional Activity

“Sounding Manuscripts: Seventeenth-Century Music for Violin and Theorbo,” Council on  Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Mellon Fellows Symposium, “Looking Forward to the Past: The Future of Global Archival Research,” St. Louis, May 2022.

Consultant on Period Performance (1880s) and Background Actor/Sideline Musician: Leader of Dance Orchestra, HBO’s The Gilded Age, Season One, filmed on location, Newport, January–March 2021.

Violinist with the Providence Baroque Chamber Orchestra, resident ensemble of Museum Concerts of Rhode Island, established 2018.

“Deep Roots: An Old-Time Fiddle and Banjo Demonstration,” in conjunction with the exhibition American Folk Art, Lovingly Collected, Worcester Art Museum, July 2015.

“The Instrumental Body in the Age of Mozart: Science, Aesthetics, and Performances of the Self.” Early Music 42.2 (May 2014): 231–47.

“Mozart as Humanitarian: On the Poetics of Chamber Music,” public lecture at the Mostly Mozart Festival, Lincoln Center, New York, August 2013.

“Self, Sound, and World: Listening to Mozart’s Travels,” research fellowship at the NEH Summer Institute, “Music and Travel in Europe and the Americas, 1500–1800,” Newberry Library, Chicago, July–August 2013.

Violinist with Musicke’s Cordes, resident ensemble of Early Music Missouri, with invited concerts at universities, historic sites, libraries, and religious venues across the United States, established 2013.