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Department of Music

Organisational unit: Department

Organisation profile

Music is one of the most multi-faceted disciplines in the Arts and Humanities. Research in Music encompasses Composition, Music History and Performance, and Bristol recognises all these fields as being of equal importance. Our composers are Professor John Pickard (Director of Composition and Applied Musicology; Director of CHOMBEC - Centre for the History of Music in Britain, the Empire and Commonwealth), Michael Ellison and Neal Farwell, and studio work is supported by Jonathan Scott. John Pickard specialises in orchestral, instrumental and choral music, Michael's recent ensemble and orchestral music explores the interaction of Western and Middle Eastern musical cultures (especially Turkish) and Neal works in a range of media, including acoustic ensemble, tape, live electronics and installation.

Our music historians cover a wide range of specialisms, from film studies, jazz and hip-hop to medieval chant. Emma Hornby is a chant scholar working with manuscripts from the 10th to the 13th centuries; her prime interests are in oral transmission and performance practice. Justin Williams is a musicologist who specializes in popular music studies, in particular, hip-hop and jazz and has recently written a monograph on musical borrowing in hip-hop. Guido Heldt is a specialist in two major fields: English music in the first half of the 20th Century and in film studies. Professor Stephen Banfield has written books on Gerald Finzi, English song, Jerome Kern and Stephen Sondheim; he was the founder and first Director of CHOMBEC and is currently working on an annotated anthology of newspaper readings from around the British world, 1763-1901 and a social history of music in the west country from the late 17th century. Glyn Jenkins is an expert in the music of Bach and Baroque keyboard music and John Pickard is General Editor of the Elgar Complete Edition. Pauline Fairclough’s chief interests are in Soviet music and culture, and she has written and edited several books on Shostakovich. Our teaching fellow, David Allinson, is a choral performance specialist and early music editor, with a special interest in Renaissance sacred music, especially Tudor.

All our research-active staff are internationally-recognised scholars prominent in their chosen fields. We all speak at conferences, publish books and articles, review books and music and (if composers) receive international commissions and performances

Research and the RAE

Bristol has been recognised as one of the very best music departments in the last two Research Assessment Exercises. In the most recent exercise (2008), 85% of our work was rated 'internationally excellent' or 'world leading', with the remainder judged to be nationally or internationally recognised in terms of 'originality, significance and rigour'.

Major areas of research

  • Music and cultural transfer; transnationality and colonialism
  • Reception studies
  • Music and totalitarianism
  • Music, film and theatre (opera studies, the American and British musical, film music)
  • Music as performance (historical performance practice; medieval oral transmission)
  • British Music
  • Composition, both acoustic and studio

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Contact information

Victoria Rooms
Queens Road
United Kingdom