James A. Grymes

Jay Grymes
Professor of Musicology
Robinson 331C

Faculty Research Connections Profile

Dr. James A. Grymes is an internationally respected author and lecturer who has received prestigious awards for both his scholarship and his teaching. He regularly appears as a public speaker all over the country, in venues such as the United Nations Headquarters, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference, and the historic 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL. He has been interviewed by national print and broadcast media including Entertainment Weekly, the Mitch Albom Show, Mysteries at the Museum, the New York Times, ABC News, and CNN. Dr. Grymes has contributed essays to the Huffington Post and the Israeli music magazine Opus, and has written program and liner notes for organizations such as the Edinburgh International Festival, Albany Records, Hyperion Records, and Naxos Records. He is the Scholarship and Research Editor of the College Music Symposium: Journal of the College Music Society, one of the oldest and most comprehensive research journals in the field of music.

Dr. Grymes is the author of Violins of Hope: Violins of the Holocaust—Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Mankind's Darkest Hour (Harper Perennial), a book that composer John Williams describes as "a work of research and scholarship that forms one of the most moving chronicles in the history of Western music." A stirring testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of music, Violins of Hope tells the remarkable stories of violins played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust, and of the Israeli violinmaker dedicated to bringing these inspirational instruments back to life. Violins of Hope won a National Jewish Book Award and has inspired several other works, including Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer's song cycle Intonations: Songs from the Violins of Hope.

Dr. Grymes is also a leading authority on the Hungarian musician Ernst von Dohnányi (1877-1960), a forgotten hero of the Holocaust resistance who was later falsely accused of Nazi war crimes. Dr. Grymes is the author of Ernst von Dohnányi: A Bio-Bibliography (Greenwood Press), the editor of Ernst von Dohnányi: A Song of Life (Indiana University Press) and Perspectives on Ernst von Dohnányi (Scarecrow Press), and the co-editor of The "Last Romantic" in His Own Words: Ernst von Dohnányi's Selected Writings and Interviews (forthcoming from Oxford University Press) with Hungarian musicologist Veronika Kusz. Dr. Grymes's articles on Dohnányi have appeared in scholarly journals such as Acta Musicologica, Hungarian Quarterly, Music Library Association Notes, and Studia Musicologica.

He has presented papers on a wide variety of topics from the medieval period through the present, including research on gender studies and world music, at regional, national, and international conferences hosted by organizations such as the American Musical Instrument Society, American Musicological Society, American String Teachers Association, Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccherini, College Music Society, College Orchestra Directors Association, Holocaust Educational Foundation of Northwestern University, Institute for Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and Society for Ethnomusicology.

A recipient of Teaching Awards from the American Musicological Society and the UNC Charlotte College of Arts and Architecture, Dr. Grymes has introduced his pedagogical innovations at national conferences hosted by the American Musicological Society, the Association for Technology in Music Instruction, the College Music Society, the National Association of Schools of Music, and the National Symposium on Music Instruction Technology. His writings on the pedagogy of music history and appreciation have appeared in Pop-Culture Pedagogy in the Music Classroom (Scarecrow Press) and the Journal of Music History Pedagogy.

Dr. Grymes is Professor of Musicology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he is an affiliate faculty member in the Holocaust, Genocide, & Human Rights Studies program and a member of the Honors Faculty. His undergraduate students at UNC Charlotte regularly present research they conduct under his mentorship at the UNC Charlotte Undergraduate Research Conference, earning prizes such as the Arts & Design Oral Presentation Award, the Honors College Award for Arts & Humanities, and the Atkins Library Undergraduate Research Award for Arts/Architecture/Humanities. His students have also presented papers at the State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research & Creativity Symposium, the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the College Music Society, the Southeast Chapter of the American Musicological Society, and the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. A number have matriculated to graduate school, earning master's degrees in fields such as musicology and library science.

From 2013 to 2018, Dr. Grymes served as the Chair of the Department of Music, during which time he oversaw initiatives that led to the expansion and diversification of the music faculty, curriculum, and student body. During his tenure as Chair, the Department of Music gained five new faculty positions and increased the percentage of women and minorities on the full-time music faculty by more than 40%. In addition to leading the initiative to create the "Pride of Niner Nation" Marching Band, Dr. Grymes established a Gospel Choir, a World Drumming Ensemble (in collaboration with the Department of Dance), and a Musical Theatre Workshop (in collaboration with the Department of Theatre). He introduced new curricula in Composition, Elective Studies, and Jazz Studies, and collaborated with the Departments of Dance and Theatre to create a Certificate in Musical Theatre. Music major enrollment grew by more than 60% over the five years he served as Chair, including a 30% increase in the percentage of students from historically underrepresented backgrounds. During Dr. Grymes’s tenure as department chair, UNC Charlotte secured accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music for the first time in institutional history.

Dr. Grymes holds a baccalaureate degree in Music Education from Virginia Commonwealth University and a master's degree in Music Performance (bassoon) from The Florida State University. While a graduate student at Florida State, Dr. Grymes was a member of Albany (GA) and Tallahassee Symphony Orchestras and played professionally throughout the southeast, including performances with the Alabama and Jacksonville Symphony Orchestras. Dr. Grymes also earned a master's degree in Musicology, a Certificate in Early Music, and a Ph.D. in Musicology from Florida State, where he taught courses in music appreciation, music literature, music history, and bassoon. Florida State has recognized his contributions to the field of musicology with a Faculty Citation for Distinguished Achievement in Scholarly Research in Music.