Professor Laura Tunbridge

Professor of Music; Henfrey Fellow and Tutor, St Catherine's College

BA (Oxon), MA (Nottingham), MFA, PhD (Princeton)


Research interests in 19th and 20th-century music, particularly Robert Schumann, song, opera studies, reception history and analysis.


Laura Tunbridge joined the Oxford Faculty of Music in 2014, having previously been Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester (2004-2014) and Lecturer at the University of Reading (2002-2004). She read music at The Queen’s College, Oxford, and gained a M.A. from the University of Nottingham and a PhD from Princeton University. Her doctoral dissertation was on Robert Schumann’s music for Byron’s Manfred and the Szenen aus Goethes Faust. Laura has been a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University in New York and at the History of Listening Emmy Noether Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, and the recipient of grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Leverhulme Trust, and the British Academy. Editor of the Journal of the Royal Musical Association from 2013-2018, in 2017 she was elected to the Directorium of the International Musicological Society. From October 2019, Laura is the recipient of a three-year Major Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust for a new project, A Social and Sonic History of the String Quartet. Her book about Beethoven will be published by Viking in 2020.

Laura’s research has concentrated on German Romanticism, with a particular interest in reception through criticism, performance and composition. Schumann’s Late Style (Cambridge, 2007), considers the composer’s works from the 1850s, paying close attention to the way in which their interpretation and evaluation has been coloured by his biography. In her chapter in Rethinking Schumann (Oxford, 2011), Laura looked at representations of the composer’s mental illness in works by Wolfgang Rihm, Francis Dhomont, and Heinz Holliger and she has continued to write since about contemporary song and opera (Bernhard Lang, Thomas Adès). The Song Cycle (Cambridge, 2010) traces a history of the genre from the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries. It explores how ideas about song cycles have been shaped by performers and recording technology, and how song cycles have interacted with other genres: from symphonies and operas to popular music. Her third monograph, Singing in the Age of Anxiety: Lieder Performance in New York and London between the World Wars (Chicago, 2018), investigates vocal recitals in London and New York during the 1920s and 30s, examining transatlantic relationships, the politics of singing German-language song during the interwar period, the contexts for hearing lieder (from concert halls to vaudeville, ocean liners, luxury hotels and in the home), and the links between live concert practices and early recordings, radio and sound film.

Laura is a founder member of the Oxford Song Network<> and is a TORCH Knowledge Exchange Fellow, working with the Oxford Lieder Festival on Unlocking late Schumann<>. She regularly gives pre-concert talks (for Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Halle, the BBC Proms, the Oxford Lieder Festival, and the Southbank Centre), writes programme and liner notes (Wigmore Hall, Barbican, Chandos, all that dust) and book reviews (The Oldie, Times Literary Supplement) and appears on the radio (Record Review, In Our Time, Start the Week). Her recent teaching has included undergraduate courses on Richard Strauss and Representations of Women, The String Quartet after Beethoven, The Art of Song, Music Analysis and Criticism, and at Masters level, elective and core seminars. She has supervised doctorates on a range of topics, from Schumann to Strauss, song, interwar media, music and literature, and contemporary opera.

Selected Publications

Singing in the Age of Anxiety: Lieder Performance in New York and London between the World Wars (Chicago University Press, 2018).

The Song Cycle (Cambridge University Press, 2010).

Schumann’s Late Style (Cambridge University Press, 2007).

German Song Onstage, co-edited with Natasha Loges (Indiana University Press, 2020).

Rethinking Schumann, co-edited with Roe-Min Kok (Oxford University Press, 2011).

‘Exterminating the Recording Angel’, Opera Quarterly (2019): 1-14.

‘Constructing a Musical Nation: German-Language Criticism in the Nineteenth Century’. In The Cambridge History of Music Criticism, ed. Christopher Dingle (Cambridge University Press, 2019), 170-189.

‘Schumann’s Struggle with Goethe’s Faust’. In The Oxford Handbook of Faust in Music, ed. Lorna Fitzsimmons and Charles McKnight (Oxford University Press, 2019), 87-116.

‘Loving Mozart: Berhard Lang, “Ach, ich fühl’s” (Grace Moor), I Hate Mozart, Act I’, Cambridge Opera Journal 28 (2016): 271-275.

‘Versioning Strauss’, Nineteenth-Century Music 40:3 (2017): 283-300.

‘Saving Schubert: The Evasions of Late Style’. In Late Style and its Discontents, ed. Gordon McMullan and Sam Smiles (Oxford University Press, 2016), 120-130.

‘Singing against late style: The Problem of Performance History’. In Schubert’s Late Music in History and Theory, ed. Lorraine Byrne Bodley and Julian Horton (Cambridge University Press, 2016), 426-441.

‘Scarlett Johansson’s Body and the Materialization of Voice’, Twentieth-Century Music 13 (2016): 139- 152.

With Wayne Heisler, Jr., ‘Elisabeth Schumann and Richard Specht: Strauss before Sixty’, Opera Quarterly 31:4 (2015) 273-288.

‘”The soft hours of Sardanapalus”: Music and Effeminacy in Byron’s Seraglios’. In Ottoman Empire and European Theatre -Part III: Seraglios and Harems in Theatre, Opera, and Poetry from the Earliest Theatrical Sources to Lord Byron’s “Don Juan” (1819-1824), ed. Inge Praxl and Michael Hüttler (Vienna: Hollitzer, 2015), 281-296.

‘Reading Lieder Recordings’, Colloquy: ‘Studying the Lied: Hermeneutic Traditions and the Challenge of Performance’, Journal of the American Musicological Society 67:2 (2014), 555-560.

‘Opera and Materiality’, review-article in Cambridge Opera Journal 26: 3 (2014): 289-299.

‘Singing Translations: The Politics of Listening between the Wars’, Representations 123 (2013): 53-86.

‘Frieda Hempel and the Historical Imagination’, Journal of the American Musicological Society 66 (2013): 437-474.

‘Robert Schumann’. In The Wagner Encyclopaedia, ed. Nicholas Vazsonyi (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

‘Listening to Gerhardt through the Ages’. In Autorschaft-Genie-Geschlecht, ed. Suzanne Kogler and Kordula Knaus (Vienna: Böhlau, 2012), 179-194.

‘Deserted Chambers of the Mind (Schumann Memories)’. In Rethinking Schumann, ed. Roe-Min Kok and Laura Tunbridge (Oxford University Press, 2011), 395-410.

‘Schumann als “the Perfect Wagnerite”: Seine Rezeption in England um 1900’. In Robert Schumann. Persönlichkeit – Werk – Wirkung, ed. Helmut Loos (Laaber: Gudrun Schroeder, 2011), 424-433.

‘Schumann’s Orchestration for Das Paradies und die Peri and the Szenen aus Goethe’s Faust’, American Choral Directors Association Journal 51 (210): 8-17.

‘Schumann: A Lover’s Guide’, Review-article for Journal of the Royal Musical Association (2008).

‘The Piano Music II: Afterimages’. In The Cambridge Companion to Schumann, ed. Beate Perrey (Cambridge University Press, 2007), 203-232.

‘Weber’s Ghost: Euryanthe, Genoveva, Lohengrin’. In Music, Theatre and Politics in Germany: 1848 to the Third Reich, ed. Nikolaus Bacht (Ashgate, 2006), 9-29.

‘From Count to Chimneysweep: Byron’s Manfred in London Theatres’, Music and Letters 87 (2006): 212-236.

‘Schumann as Manfred’, Musical Quarterly 87 (2004): 546-569.

‘Schumann’s Manfred in the Mental Theatre’, Cambridge Opera Journal 15 (2003): 153-183.

Contact details

Faculty of Music

St Aldate’s



Tel: +44(0)1865 276 135