Skip to main content

Music history, archiving and heritage

Music history, archiving and heritage

Our expertise in music history stretches from early music to the 21st century, across European and global traditions.

We interrogate the musical past using a range of methodologies, including cultural and intellectual history, music analysis, performance history, scholarly editing, and the study of material culture. We offer new historiographical perspectives on western music and its periodization, and we critically interrogate notions of ‘heritage’ in indigenous musical cultures. 

We collaborate with major UK research libraries to build digital archives of musical sources including the RISM UK database of musical sources, and Early Music Online (a digitisation project with the British Library). Our research project A Big Data History of Music has shown new ways in which music libraries can use their catalogue records to unlock access to, and enable analysis of, their collections. Our staff edit the journals Early Music and Music & Letters, and we host conferences such as Making Musical Works in Early Modern Europe 1500-1700.

Our lively community of postgraduates working in historical musicology have frequent reading groups, seminars, and research training offered by projects such as Musical-Cultural Exchange in Early Modern Europe. Our commitment to partnerships is shown by collaborative PhD studentships with the British Library and the Foundling Museum.


Mark Berry examines the intellectual, aesthetic and political contexts of German music, notably Wagner, and also opera from Mozart to the present day. 

Julie Brown researches the cultural histories of 20th-century music, including that of Schoenberg and Bartók, as well as extensive archival and practice-based investigations into the contexts and practices of silent film performance. 

Stephen Downes investigates the history and aesthetics of music of the 19th and 20th centuries, particularly the music of Central and Eastern Europe (notably Poland), addressing repertory or topics marginalised by dominant historical and critical discourses. 

Julian Johnson’s work explores the nature of musical modernism (especially in Mahler, Webern, and Debussy) but also challenges the wider periodisation of music history through ideas of subjectivity, time, and nature.

Tina K. Ramnarine investigates the place of music in global histories, including heritage and ecological music histories in northern Europe, and a study of Sibelius’s Violin Concerto within histories of musical transmission and virtuosity.

Stephen Rose uses methods from social history and the study of material culture to research German and English music between 1550 and 1750, including musical print cultures, musical transmission across borders, and questions of musical authorship.

Henry Stobart’s work on Bolivian culture includes interdisciplinary investigations of the contested understandings of cultural heritage in the region. 

Samantha Blickhan: ‘Translating Sound, Then and Now. The Palaeography and Transmission of Insular Song c.1150–1300’ 

Lizzy Buckle: ‘Concerts, commerce and charity in Georgian London’, collaborative PhD with the Foundling Museum

Katie Cattell: Schubert, Adorno and Heidegger

David Curran: ‘Music and Meaning in Three Works by Hector Berlioz: Harold en ItalieLa Damnation de Faust, and Les Troyens

Clémence Destribois: ‘Between Theory and Practice: Aspects of Pitch Organization in North Italian Ensemble Instrumental Music, ca. 1610-1670’

Sean Dunnahoe: ‘English and German influences in the production of music-liturgical manuscripts in Sweden up to the 13th century’

Caroline Lesemann Elliott: musical practices of exiled English nuns in late 17th-century France and the Low Countries

Frieda van der Heijden: ‘Or Ai Ge Trop Dormi: A Study of the Unfinished F-Pn fr. 12786’

Richard Hollingdale: The 16th-century Bergreihen

Louisa Hunter-Bradley: Christoph Plantin as publisher of polyphonic music

Christopher Kimbell: ‘“Honour Your German Masters?”: Tradition, Community, and Nationhood in Richard Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Matthew Laube: ‘Music and confession in Heidelberg, 1556–1618’

Ester Lebedinski: ‘Roman Vocal Music in England, 1660-1710: Court, Connoisseurs and the Culture of Collecting’

Richard Mecarsel: aspects of Wagner’s Ring

Micah Anne Neale: ‘”The Fiddling Footman”: The Sociology of Music-Making among Servants in Britain during the Long Eighteenth Century’

Alexander Norman: pedagogical manuscripts and French performance practices in Purcell’s England

Elena Pons: ‘Arranging the Canon: keyboard arrangements, publishing practices and the rise of the musical classics, 1770-1810’

James Ritzema: ‘The Printing and Publication of Sacred Music in England, 1603-1649’, collaborative PhD with the British Library

Nigel Springthorpe: ‘The Lives and Works of Johann George Roellig and Johann Christian Roellig’

Roya Stuart-Rees: ‘Ancient music’ and the rise of the amateur connoisseur in the long eighteenth century

Laura Ventura Nieto: ‘Controlling and Fashioning the Sounding Body. Italian Depictions of Women Making Music, c.1520-1650’

Explore Royal Holloway

Get help paying for your studies at Royal Holloway through a range of scholarships and bursaries.

There are lots of exciting ways to get involved at Royal Holloway. Discover new interests and enjoy existing ones

Heading to university is exciting. Finding the right place to live will get you off to a good start

Whether you need support with your health or practical advice on budgeting or finding part-time work, we can help

Discover more about our 21 departments and schools

Find out why Royal Holloway is in the top 25% of UK universities for research rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’

Royal Holloway is a research intensive university and our academics collaborate across disciplines to achieve excellence.

Discover world-class research at Royal Holloway

Discover more about who we are today, and our vision for the future

Royal Holloway began as two pioneering colleges for the education of women in the 19th century, and their spirit lives on today

We’ve played a role in thousands of careers, some of them particularly remarkable

Find about our decision-making processes and the people who lead and manage Royal Holloway today