Yale’s Music Department has lured two professors, including one of the nation’s foremost music theorists, to take on key positions in the department and fill voids in the music faculty.

The music theorist Richard Cohn, currently a professor at the University of Chicago, will be appointed to a tenured professorship at Yale. Gundula Kreuzer, a specialist in Italian opera of the 19th and early 20th centuries who is currently teaching at the University of Bristol in England, will move to New Haven to become an assistant professor of music.

A sought-after scholar in his field, Cohn will help cement Yale’s standing at the center of the modern music theory movement. With Cohn’s appointment, the department hopes to carry on the legacy of Allen Forte, who led Yale to prominence in the field when he taught at the University from 1959 to 2004, Music Department chairman Patrick McCreless said.

“Getting Richard Cohn is a way for us to really retain the preeminence that we have in that field,” McCreless said. “To get Cohn is a real coup because a number of universities have pursued him. It’s extraordinary that Yale was able to lure him away.”

Cohn holds an undergraduate degree in music history from Brown University and earned his Ph.D. at the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester. Cohn said that he gained experience teaching undergraduates for all six years of graduate school at Rochester and upon graduation accepted a position at the University of Chicago, where he has remained for the last 20 years.

When Cohn joined the music department at Chicago, it had only one other music theorist on the faculty: professor Robert Morgan. But shortly after Cohn moved to Chicago, Morgan came to Yale to teach.

Cohn said that he feels “pretty proud” of what he has accomplished at Chicago, most notably expanding the theory faculty from one to three and adding a position for one postdoctoral student. But he said the offer from Yale won him over.

“As far as the department goes, it’s been the center of activity in music theory since music theory became consolidated as an academic enterprise,” Cohn said of Yale. “It used to be that music theory was more of a service thing. One taught music theory; one didn’t have a whole program that did music theory research.”

At Yale, Cohn will teach graduate courses in music theory, a graduate seminar on Brahms as well as undergraduate courses in intermediate and advanced music theory. Kreuzer’s teaching schedule will include standard music history courses but also courses tailored to her own specialty of Italian opera and opera reception, McCreless said.

Kreuzer is currently completing her postdoctoral fellowship at Oxford University, where she received her doctorate. She is finishing a critical edition of the chamber music from the Italian composer Verdi.

The music faculty, which is divided roughly equally between music historians and music theorists, has had five open positions this year, and the department may make additional appointments in upcoming weeks, McCreless said.

Bee-Seon Keum ’05, a music major, said the appointments of Cohn and Kreuzer are important additions to the faculty.

“I think most music majors will be excited about these new recruits,” Keum said.