Thomas Sovík

Professor of Music Theory


Music History, Theory and Ethnomusicology

Contact Information

Office Location: 
Music Building
Office #: 

Dr. Sovík currently serves as Professor of Music Theory in the College of Music at the University of North Texas with a dual appointment as Director of Central European Studies & Exchanges.

Education: Dr. Sovík earned degrees at Ashland University (B.A. 1974) and the Ohio State University (M.A. 1975 & Ph.D. 1985). Most recently, after a 43-year hiatus in his seminary studies due to obligations to the academy and to military service, Dr. Sovík received his ordination with a specialization in apologetics and was appointed as an outside evaluator to the Czech Academy of Sciences in the disciplines of musicology, philosophy, ethics, and religious studies.

Appointment: After holding faculty positions at the University of Northern Iowa and with Yamaha Music International, he joined the UNT College of Music in 1987 and served as the first chair of the Division of Music History, Theory, & Ethnomusicology (1990-97). He held the position of Dean of Fine & Performing Arts at Mississippi University for Women (1998-99), returning to Dallas for surgery and therapy after being run down by a drunk driver, and thereafter served two additional terms as Division Chair at UNT.

Since his return to the University of North Texas, Dr. Sovík has been promoted to the rank of Full Professor, has received UNT's coveted 'fessor Graham award for his "Outstanding Teaching and Dedication to Students," and has been recognized as an "Outstanding Teacher of the Honors College."

Academics & Teaching: Dr. Sovík has authored numerous translations, articles, and papers on such disparate topics as university administration and management, the history of music theory, American popular music, technology applied to distance learning, traditional Japanese medicine, military history and ethics, and historical theology. He is a regular participant at international conferences and colloquia with over 200 academic presentations in the United States, Canada, Guatemala, and the Czech Republic and has presented keynote addresses at such gatherings as the Millennial Conference of Unitas Fratrum Scholars, the Southeast Conference of the College Music Society, and the UNT New Student Convocation.

Dr. Sovík's primary research field is the "History of Music Theory in Central Europe during the Medieval and Renaissance Eras." His most recent publications include "An American Theorist Reflects on a Quest of Quibbles (or) Don't Follow Us; You Don't Want to Go There," published in The Czech and Slovak Journal of the Humanities and "The Czech Baroque: Neither Flesh nor Fish nor Good Red Herring," published in a special edition of HARMONIA: Leoš Janáček: Life, Work, and Contribution.

His ongoing "30-year project" is the translation and commentary on Glaucidius of Moravia's The Arts of WarPeace, Leadership, and Governance, with Practical Instructions on How to Live Well and to be Loved Even by the Most Vile and Putrid of Your Enemies (c. 1558); a preliminary study of Dr. Sovík's work was published in Kosmas: Czechoslovak and Central European Journal.

As an academic advisor in the field of historical musicology, Dr. Sovík served as major professor for Dr. Luanne Fose's "The Musica practica (1482) of Bartolomeo Ramos de Pareia: A Critical Translation and Commentary" and for Dr. Devin Iler's "The Musicorum Libri Quattuor (1512) of Václav Philomathes: Translation, Commentary, and Contextualization."

Dr. Sovík is internationally recognized in the field of "Popular Music in American Culture," with enrollment in his popular music classes exceeding 1,700 students during the course of any academic year. These classes have been delivered in both the traditional and large-lecture classroom settings, as internet classes, and in both podcast and videocast formats, and in 2010 his course was purchased by McGraw-Hill Education for international distribution. Although in 2017 he decided to return exclusively to the traditional theory classroom, he remains active in the field with regular invitations to present lectures and seminars both within and beyond the borders of the United States.

Following "Women in Rock" in Women and Music in America Since 1900: An Encyclopedia (Oryx Press), his most recent publication in the field has been Popular Music in Our American Culture: Rethinking History through the Ears of Music (McGraw-Hill).

As an academic advisor in the field of popular music, Dr. Sovík served as major professor for Dr. Jeff Ensign's "Form in Popular Music since 1990: A Comprehensive Study of Top-40 Hits in the Past 20 Years."

As Director of Central European Studies: In 1990 Dr. Sovík founded the ongoing student-exchange program between the University of North Texas and multiple institutions in the Czech Republic and since that time has served as the Director of Central European Studies & Exchanges; our current exchange and activity partners include the Janáček Academy of Music & the Performing Arts (Brno), Masaryk University (Brno), and Palacký University (Olomouc).

To date, as tour director and organist, Dr. Sovík has led 36 visits to the Czech Republic; these visits have provided the opportunity for 1,428 faculty and students to offer 162 academic presentations and 117 concerts.

Dr. Sovík's short-term visitors from the Czech Republic have included composers Jindřich Feld, Ivo Medek, and Arnošt Parsch, flautist Arnošt Bourek, and the Children's Renaissance Collegium of the Pavel Křižkovský School for the Performing Arts.

In Spring 2004 Dr. Sovík coordinated a Texas-wide tour of the Czech historical dance company Mimi fortunae, made possible by a grant provided by the Czech Educational Foundation of Texas; subsequently, this organization established a substantial endowment to support a "CEFT Residency in Czech Music and Culture" at the University of North Texas.

The first fruit of that endowment was the November 2006 residency of the Wallinger Quartet, based in Prague; subsequently, the Petr Mička cimbalom orchestra toured the state of Texas with Dr. Sovík in October 2007; the University of North Texas was pleased to welcome Czech pianist Radoslav Kvapil as our resident artist in 2008; in 2010 the College of Music produced Smetana's opera Prodaná nevěsta (The Bartered Bride) with performances both on campus as well as across the state of Texas; in 2011 the College of Music hosted a Texas-wide tour of Czech children's artist Pavel Čech; in 2012, Dr. Sovík coordinated the Texas-wide tour of the Czech brass band Stříbrňanka; in 2013 Dr. Sovík coordinated the Texas-wide tour of the Czech brass band Moravská Jedenáctka; in 2015 he coordinated a Texas-wide tour of the Škampa String Quartet, based in Prague. Most recently, in Spring 2017 Dr. Sovík coordinated a second Texas-wide tour of the Czech brass band Stříbrňanka.

Using funds provided by the Czech Educational Foundation of Texas, in February 2013 Dr. Sovík coordinated a two-continent music festival and academic conference devoted to Czech composer Leoš Janáček that was co-hosted by the UNT College of Music and the Janáček Academy for Music and the Performing Arts (Brno, Czech Republic). In November 2015 Dr. Sovík coordinated a similar two-continent music festival and academic conference under the banner of Veselé Vánoce! (A Czech Christmas at the University of North Texas); the festival concluded with Dr. Sovík taking College of Music performers on a nine-city music and preaching tour of Texas, offering the keynote work of the festival, the Česká mše vánoční (Christmas Mass) by Czech composer Jakub Jan Ryba (1765-1815), with Dr. Sovík sitting as organist-conductor. A subsequent performance was given in Praha, Texas in December 2017. A third international festival and academic conference on Czech music is planned for November 2018, celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia.

In recognition of his efforts to promote Czech and Texas-Czech culture as a member of the UNT faculty, Dr. Sovík was awarded the Jan Amos Comenius Lifetime Achievement Award at a gala of music, dinner, and dance at the Czech Center Museum of Houston.

As Goodwill Ambassador of the University: As one of the institution's most dynamic personalities, for 17 years Dr. Sovík directed and served as emcee for the university's "Halloween Shake-&-Bake," the "Valentine's Day Walk-Off," "The $5 Vaudeville," and "The Mean Green Talent Show"—all produced by students enrolled in his popular music classes and open to all students of the university as well as to the entire DFW community.

Most recently, Dr. Sovík has been working with Sage Dining Services to provide traditional and non-traditional music performances and speakers for "ethnic cuisine days" (Italian, German-Czech, Mexican, African, Indian, Japanese, etc.) at private schools in the DFW metroplex.