H. ROBERT COHEN is a specialist of nineteenth-century music and musical life. His research—which focuses on music criticism, the staging of opera, musical iconography, and the press—has brought to light many new archival resources including collections of French staging manuals, Italian figurini, and a wealth of musical iconography.
Cohen is the author or editor of several volumes: The Original Nineteenth-Century Staging Manuals for Ten Parisian Operatic Premières (); La Critique musicale d’Hector Berlioz I (–) (), with Yves Gérard; The Original Staging Manuals for Twelve Parisian Operatic Premières (); One-Hundred Years of Operatic Staging in France (), with Marie-Odile Gigou; and, Les Gravures musicales dans L’Illustration de à (3 vols.) (–). His articles have appeared in numerous journals and congress reports (including 19th-Century Music, Revue de musicologie, Acta Musicologica, Fontes Artis Musicae, XIIth and XVth Congress Reports of the International Musicological Society), and in collected volumes (La Recezione di Rossini ieri e oggi, Opera e Libretto III, La Musique à l’époque romantique, Opera & Libretto I, Music in Paris in the 1830s, Verdi’s Macbeth: A Sourcebook, Da Rossini a Verdi, Immagini del Teatro Romantici). Cohen is also responsible for establishing the series La Vie musicale en France au dix-neuvième siècle / Musical Life in Nineteenth-Century France (Pendragon Press), the journal Periodica Musica, and the critical edition of Berlioz’s music criticism.
As Founder and Director of RIPM, Cohen conceived of the undertaking, contributed to the creation of RIPM’s Editorial Guidelines, the development of its computer-based compiling and printing programs, the establishment of RIPM’s network of institutions and collaborators in some twenty countries, numerous funding initiatives, and the production of RIPM in Print, RIPM Online and RIPM on CD-ROM. From the start and throughout the years, he has been supported in his efforts by his friends and colleagues Marcello Conati, Richard Kitson and Christoph-Hellmut Mahling.
Cohen studied philosophy and literature (B.A.) and musicology (M.A., Ph.D.) at New York University while at the same time pursuing a career as a clarinetist. He has taught at the Université de Paris, Université Laval, the University of Amsterdam, and the University of British Columbia, and has lectured throughout North America and Europe. From to he was Professor of Music at the University of Maryland, where he also directed the Center for Studies in Nineteenth-Century Music. In he was named Professor Emeritus, an honor bestowed by his colleagues.
He has received numerous research awards from the governments of the United States, Canada, Québec, and France, and, in was decorated “Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” by the French government for his “contribution to French culture.” In , and in , respectively, the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives, and Documentation Centres; and the International Musicological Association bestowed upon him the title of Honorary Member.