James Wright completed a Ph.D. in 2002 at McGill University, where his dissertation on Schoenberg and Wittgenstein was awarded the Governor-General’s Gold Medal, the first time in McGill University’s history that this distinction had been conferred upon a musicologist. Dr. Wright’s primary research areas encompass music philosophy and aesthetics, music perception, film music, 20th-century music history, post-tonal music theory and analysis, dance and music, and the history of music theory.
His first book, Schoenberg, Wittgenstein, and the Vienna Circle (Bern: Verlag Peter Lang, 2006, 2nd ed’n 2007) received a Lewis Lockwood Award from the American Musicological Society. His second book, Schoenberg’s Chamber Music, Schoenberg’s World (Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2009), co-edited by Carleton Emeritus Professor Alan Gillmor, was described by reviewer Frank J. Oteri (Chamber Music America) as “a book that reveals that Schoenberg’s legacy lives on in his chamber music; a substantive volume that fills an important void.” His monograph They Shot, He Scored: The Life and Music of Eldon Rathburn (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019), examines the life and work of a fascinating and prolific Canadian composer who – in addition to producing a large catalog of orchestral and chamber works – wrote more than 275 film scores during a distinguished forty-year career as a staff composer with the National Film Board of Canada.
In 2022, James Wright celebrates the launch of a new book, co-edited by Alexis Luko (University of Victoria): Monstrosity, Identity, and Music: Mediating Uncanny Creatures from Frankenstein to Videogames (London & New York: Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2022), and will host an international conference titled “Music and Antifascism: Reflections on the Past and Possibilities in the Present” (https://musicandantifascism.wordpress.com/). His published compositions are listed at https://jkennethwright.com/compositions/.
In 2019, James Wright was named the University of Toronto Louis Applebaum Distinguished Visiting Professor in Composition.