Biography

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Jonathan Weiss is a composer, sound designer, musicologist, and performer from Boston, Massachusetts.

Image, Jonathan Weiss wearing an orange button-down and a gray sweater, smiles and looks into the distance, one arm rested on a table

At Yale College, Jonathan has studied under Kathryn Alexander, Nathan Roberts, Konrad Kaczmarek, and Jeanine Tesori. He has collaborated with musicians and groups including Jennifer Beattie, Anna Zhong, Room to Spare, Epongue Ekille, Jacob Miller, Charnice Hoegnifioh, and Noremi.

In 2020, he won an ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Award. His compositions have been performed at venues including The Green Room 42, the Atlantic Music Festival, and a masterclass with Hilary Hahn.

Recently Jonathan composed the soundtrack for Jeffrey Steele’s senior thesis production of Black N Blue Boys / Broken Men, a show about the impacts of generational trauma on young men. In addition, Jonathan is passionate about connecting to young people with disabilities; he serves as his older brother Luke’s music therapist and produces for the organization Hear Your Song.

Erika Anclade sings “A Girl Who Loves Frogs,” which Jonathan produced and composed for.

A budding musicologist and a student of Ardis Butterfield at Yale, Jonathan has been most fascinated with complicating people’s notions of what medieval music and culture can and cannot be. His paper “Sick of Love: Poor Prospects for Love-Sick Men in Three Subversive Medieval Lyrics” considers three medieval love lyrics that reverse the trope of a noble knight wooing a demure, lowborn girl. Most recently, Jonathan transcribed and reinterpreted the oldest extant English love song, Byrd one brere, and argued the music could have had a far more lively and raucous texture than other interpretations have allowed.

Jonathan’s particular interest in the Middle Ages began with his discovery of the folktale of Melusina. A hybrid half-fairy, half-human creature, Melusina defies our expectations of what medieval woman were like. Breaking away from her servile domestic life on an isolated mountain, Melusina became a renowned warrior, a builder of great Gothic castles, and a mother of ten children, most of whom were disabled. Jonathan is composing a musical about this magical matriarch’s life story.

In the summer of 2023, Jonathan used several Yale grants to research Melusina’s origins at sites in Germany, Luxembourg, France, and the UK. He analyzed medieval depictions of her image in churches and castles and interviewed several scholars in the pays de Mélusine region of France. Two of Jonathan’s Melusina songs, “Wilt or Wander?” and “Curse Versus Love,” will be read in Spring 2024 by the Yale Symphony Orchestra.

In 2023, Jonathan was selected as an inaugural recipient of the Chauncey Fellowship, a program of the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. After graduation, Jonathan will use the Chauncey to volunteer in New Haven and finish orchestrating his musical about Melusina.

A view from inside the Bock Casemates. As Luxembourg legend has it, Melusina and her husband Siegfried, the founder of Luxembourg, once dwelled here.