I joined Royal Holloway Music Department in 2005, after enjoyable but brief spells of employment in Liverpool and Nottingham. I am now Reader in Musicology and Theory there. With Julian Rushton I am General Editor of the Cambridge University Press book series ‘Music in Context’, and I am a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Badiou Studies. This page gives details of my professional life; a biographical note is offered here.
My work so far has focused on an examination of music’s cultural, personal, and interpersonal significance in the last two centuries. It draws extensively on philosophical, cultural, and social theory and the explanatory resources of music theory. From the start my work has engaged particularly with the philosophy of Martin Heidegger. More recently, this has been supplemented by critiques of the sexual, political, and economic subject – particularly the work of Karl Marx, Judith Butler, Alain Badiou, and Slavoj Žižek – and an explicitly Leftist perspective, all of which have become increasingly important. There is always a musical focus, which so far has been a broadly defined modernism, including twentieth-century symphonic music and opera in Britain (particularly Elgar, Walton, Britten, and Vaughan Williams), and the operas of Wagner and Strauss.
My current PhD students are working on aesthetics in fin-de-siècle Britain, hermeneutics in Schubert, and questions of modernist historiography and interpretation in twentieth-century British and European music. I warmly welcome enquiries from potential PhD students in any of my areas of scholarly interest, in both theory and repertoire.
I have five books in print, the most recent of which is The Quilting Points of Musical Modernism. It is my fourth book to be published by Cambridge University Press, the others being a monograph, Edward Elgar, Modernist (2006), which was shortlisted for the Lewis Lockwood Award of the American Musicological Society, and two co-edited essay collections. The first, co-edited with Julian Rushton, is Elgar Studies (2007); the second, co-edited with Jim Samson, is An Introduction to Music Studies, a textbook for new undergraduates written by RHUL staff. My second single-authored book is a life-and-works study of Elgar for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, Elgar: an Extraordinary Life, which was published in 2007, Elgar’s sesquicentenary. I have contributed articles and reviews to journals including 19th-Century Music, Music Analysis, Music & Letters, the Cambridge Opera Journal, and the Musical Times, and I periodically write opera and book reviews for the Times Literary Supplement.
Recent articles and book chapters in print or press consider correspondences between medieval narrative structures and Wagner’s music for the Ring, children in operas by Strauss and Britten, and a polemical study of Britten’s problematic opera, The Rape of Lucretia. Current research includes an analytical study of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung as well as a monograph on ideology in Britten’s operas. See my list of publications for further details.
I became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2008. My teaching at Royal Holloway has included courses in theory and analysis at undergraduate and postgraduate levels (‘Analyzing Western Art Music’ for second years, ‘Special Study: Theory and Analysis’ for third years, and the MMus course ‘Techniques of Theory and Analysis’), a module in early nineteenth-century music for the first-year ‘History of Music I’, another on late nineteenth-century music for the second-year ‘History of Music II’, optional second- and third-year undergraduate courses on Elgar and Wagner’s Ring, and the compulsory MMus course, ‘Skills in Advanced Musical Studies’. I also convene the courses in theory and analysis dissertations for third-year undergraduates and MMus students.
Current PhD students
Information on my current PhD students and their interests can be found here.
I am responsible for the maintenance of the Golden Pages and a moderator of the musicological mailing lists ‘Central and Eastern European Music’, ‘Euromusicology’, ‘Iberian and Latin American Music’, ‘Medieval and Renaissance Music’, ‘Musical Aesthetics’, ‘Nineteenth-Century Music’, ‘Suppressed Music’, and the umbrella ‘Musicology-All list’. Conference or job announcements may be emailed to me directly.