Professor Jonathan Cross

Professor of Musicology; Student and Tutor, Christ Church

BA (Bristol), PhD (London), MA, DLitt (Oxon), MAE, FRSA


Research interests in 20th- and 21st-century music, especially Stravinsky and Birtwistle; spectral music; modernism; theory and analysis.


Jonathan Cross joined the Oxford Faculty of Music in 2003, where he is Professor of Musicology, and Student and Tutor in Music at Christ Church. He was previously Lecturer at the University of Sussex and Lecturer, later Reader, at the University of Bristol. He is also Research Associate in the research team Analyse des pratiques musicales at IRCAM, Paris.

He has written, lectured and broadcast widely on issues in twentieth-century and contemporary music, and in theory and analysis. His publications include the highly acclaimed The Stravinsky Legacy (Cambridge University Press, 1998); a comprehensive study of the work of Harrison Birtwistle (Faber and Faber, 2000); and an edited companion to the music of Stravinsky (Cambridge, 2003). His monograph on Birtwistle’s landmark opera The Mask of Orpheus was published in 2009 (Ashgate/Routledge; paperback edition 2019). He was Associate Editor (1994–99) and Editor (2000–2004) of the journal Music Analysis, and currently serves on the Editorial/Advisory Boards of Music Analysis, Tempo, Analysis in Context (Leuven Studies in Musicology) and Circuit–musiques contemporaines. He is also an Associate Editor and Member of the Editorial Board of Grove Music Online (Oxford University Press). His biography of Stravinsky (in the ‘Critical Lives’ series of Reaktion Press) appeared in September 2015. His current work focuses on issues in musical spectralism, which has resulted in, among other things, two international conferences in Oxford and Paris, a series of papers and articles in English and French, and a guest-edited journal issue dedicated to ‘spectral thinking’. He is working on a study of the music of Tristan Murail for Éditions Contrechamps.

He has supervised doctoral projects on, among other topics, modernity and Marxism, minimalism 1960–2001, British music and politics 1930–45, Stravinsky’s pianism, Russian émigré musicians in Paris, music and melancholy, Britten’s stage works, the intersection of popular and modernist musics in Britain, Hindemith’s theory, early Webern, and composition. His supervisees have gone on to hold academic positions in the UK, elsewhere in Europe, and further afield.

He speaks frequently at international events, most recently in Austria, Belgium, China, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Serbia, South Africa, Switzerland and the USA. Aside from his academic work, he is committed to giving talks on a broad range of musical topics that engage with the interests of the wider public, including recently at English National Opera, the Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne Opera, BBC Proms, Singapore International Festival of Arts, Aldeburgh Festival, Festival Messiaen au Pays de la Meije, South Bank Centre, Barbican Centre, Wigmore Hall, New Music Scotland, Gresham College London, and for the Orchestre national de l’Île-de-France, and the Scottish Chamber, BBC Symphony, BBC Scottish and London Symphony Orchestras. He was Series Consultant to the Philharmonia Orchestra’s 2016 Stravinsky: Myths and Rituals series (which won the Sky Arts Award for classical music in 2017), and is a frequent presenter and curator of programmes for the London Sinfonietta. In 2021 he produced a series of podcasts with Stravinsky’s publisher Boosey & Hawkes to mark the 50th anniversary of the composer’s death. He also appears regularly on BBC Radio 3 and writes for Opera magazine.

He offers undergraduate lecture courses in Expressionism, music in Vienna 1900–1935, music after 1945, musical experimentalism, Stravinsky, and musical analysis. He also teaches a seminar in theory and analysis as part of the MSt programme. Tutorial teaching includes topics in music history (18th to 21st centuries), analysis, and musical thought and scholarship. In 2018 he established and co-convenes the Oxford Seminar in Music Theory & Analysis.

He has held visiting positions at the Orpheus Institute Ghent, Cornell University, Ircam, and the Paris Conservatoire (CNSMDP). In 2015 he was elected a Member of Academia Europaea (the Academy of Europe).



The Stravinsky Legacy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998)
‘an ambitious undertaking’ (Journal of Music Theory)

Harrison Birtwistle: Man, Mind, Music (London: Faber & Faber/Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000)
‘thoughtful, illuminating, accessible’ (Daily Telegraph)

(ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Stravinsky (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003)
‘a valuable guide for music students and scholars’ (Slavonic & East European Review)

Harrison Birtwistle: The Mask of Orpheus (Farnham & Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2009)
‘subtle, informative and provocative’ (Tempo)

Igor Stravinsky (London: Reaktion, 2015)
‘absolutely essential, a model of its kind’ (Classical Music)


‘Lines and Circles: on Birtwistle’s Punch and Judy and Secret Theatre’Music Analysis, 13/2-3 (1994), 203–25

‘Birtwistle’s Secret Theatres’, in C. Ayrey & M. Everist (eds.), Analytical Strategies and Musical Interpretation (Cambridge: CUP, 1996), 207–25

‘Modernism and the Challenges to Music Theory’, in W. Gruhn & H. Möller (eds), Wahrnehmung und Begriff (Kassel: Gustav Bosse Verlag, 2000), 35–56

‘Compositori e istituzioni in Inghilterra’, in J.-J. Nattiez (ed.), Enciclopedia della musica, Vol. 1: ‘Il Novecento’ (Turin: Giulio Einaudi, 2001), 471–91

‘Fünf Orchesterstücke op. 16’, in G. Gruber (ed.), Schönberg – Interpretationen seiner Werke (Laaber: Laaber Verlag, 2002), vol. 1, 216–28

‘Composing with Numbers: Sets, Rows and Magic Squares’, in J. Fauvel, R. Flood & R. Wilson (eds), Music and Mathematics: From Pythagorus to Fractals (Oxford: OUP, 2003), 131–46

‘Music Analysis in Britain Today: a Personal View’, Musiktheorie, 18/4 (2003), 297–301

‘Writing about Living Composers: Questions, Problems, Methods’, in P. Dejans (ed.), Identity and Difference: Essays on Music, Language and Time (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2004), 9–40

Modernism versus Tradition, and the Traditions of Modernism’Muzikologija/Musicology: Journal of the Institute of Musicology of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, 6 (2006), 19–42

‘Paradise Lost: Neoclassicism and the Melancholia of Modernism’, in M. Milin and D.Despic (eds), Rethinking Musical Modernism (Belgrade: Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, 2008), 55–64

‘Le mythe, le modernisme, la mémoire: les relations entre musique, texte et drame dans The Mask of Orpheus de Harrison Birtwistle’, in G. Ferrari (ed.), La parole sur scène : voix, texte, signifié (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2008), 11–24

‘Stravinsky’s Petrushka: modernising the past, Russianising the future; or, how Stravinsky learned to be an exile’, in Pauline Fairclough (ed.), Twentieth-Century Music and Politics: Essays in Memory of Neil Edmunds (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012), 23–35

‘Rewriting The Rite: creative responses to Le Sacre du printemps’, in Hermann Danuser and Heidy Zimmerman (eds), Avatar of Modernity: The Rite of Spring Reconsidered (London: Boosey & Hawkes, 2013), 198–218

‘Stravinsky in exile’, in Tamara Levitz (ed.), Igor Stravinsky and his World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013), 1–17

Reflecting on Birtwistle at 80’, Tempo, vol. 68, issue 270 (2014), 85-7

‘Some thoughts on Stravinsky’s “Apotheosis”’, in Massimiliano Locanto (ed.), Igor Stravinsky: Sounds and Gestures of Modernism (Speculum Musicae, 25) (Turnhout: Brepols, 2014), 224–30

‘Of shadows and mirrors: reflections on Birtwistle in the new millennium’, in David Beard, Kenneth Gloag and Nicholas Jones (eds), Birtwistle Studies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 293–303

‘How do you make an opera without a narrative? Journeying with Ulysses and Outis’, in Giordano Ferrari (ed.), Le théâtre musical de Luciano Berio, Vol. 2, ‘De Un re in ascolto à Cronaca del Luogo’ (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2016), 201–221

Modernisme, tradition, paysage, communauté: le monde musical de Peter Maxwell Davies’ (‘biographie’, ‘parcours de l’oeuvre’ & ‘ressources’) for Ircam ‘Brahms’ contemporary music documentation database/website (pub. Dec 2016)

‘Geschichten vom Wiederzählen’ [‘Tales of retelling’ – on transcription and arrangement in the 20th and 21st centuries], in Simon Obert and Heidy Zimmermann (eds), Re-Set: Rückgriffe und Fortschreibungen in der Musik seit 1900 (Mainz: Schott/Paul Sacher Stiftung, 2018), 15–29

Introduction: spectral thinking’, Twentieth-Century Music, 15/1 (February 2018), 3–9 doi: 10.1017/S1478572218000038 (published online 26 April 2018)

Musical spectra, l’espace sensible, and contemporary opera’, Twentieth-Century Music, 15/1 (February 2018), 103–24 doi: 10.1017/S1478572218000087 (published online 26 April 2018)

‘Du spectre musical à l’espace théâtral: le cas de La Métamorphose (2011) de Michaël Levinas’, in H. Demoz et al (ed.), L’Espace “sensible” de la dramaturgie musicale (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2018), 375–86

‘Paris, Art Deco, and the spirit of Apollo’, in Graham Griffiths (ed.), Stravinsky in Context (Cambridge: CUP, 2020), 80–89


Video interview with Simon Russell Beale on Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex, Philharmonia Orchestra Podcasts (September 2008)

Pre-concert talk on Stravinsky Orpheus for Scottish Chamber Orchestra, City Halls, Glasgow (March 2011)

Outis: comment faire un opéra sans récit?’, Le théâtre de Luciano Berio V, Université Paris VIII/Centre de documentation de musique contemporaine at the Cité de la Musique, Paris (November 2012)

Shadows and mirrors: Birtwistle in the new millennium‘, Poetry, Music, Drama: The Creation of Contemporary Opera, Institute of Musical Research, University of London (January 2013)

Stravinsky hits Paris’, lecture at Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, as part of The Rest is Noise Festival (February 2013)

A beginner’s guide to serialism’, lecture at Royal Festival Hall, London, as part of The Rest is Noise Festival (March  2013)

Britten, Stravinsky, and the idea of the classical past’, lecture at Gresham College London as part of the City of London Festival 2013 (July 2013)

Landscapes of melancholy: a tree of strings’, Hearing Landscape Critically, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa (September 2013)

Listen to this! Politics and Spirituality in Music‘, lecture at Royal Festival Hall, London, as part of The Rest is Noise Festival (November 2013)

De la science au mysticisme: “corps sonore” ramiste et métaphysique dans Body Mandala de Jonathan Harvey‘, Le savant et le praticien, IRCAM, Paris (November 2014)

‘Order and randomness’, Humanities and Science, TORCH, Oxford (February 2015)

Stravinsky: Myths and Rituals (2016) produced by the Philharmonia Orchestra, including ‘Stravinsky’s Journeys’ and ‘Neoclassicism and Myth’. See also the Philhamonia’s dedicated ‘Stravinsky’ website.

Franchir les seuils. Espace, temps, modernisme … et musique spectrale’, séminaire recherche IRCAM, Paris (July 2016)


Christ Church



Professor Jonathan Cross
Faculty of Music, St Aldates, Oxford OX1 1DB

telephone +44 (0)1865 276130