Dr Reuben Phillips

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow; College Lecturer, St Hugh’s College

BA (Oxon), MMus (London), MA, PhD (Princeton)


Reuben Phillips is a musicologist with research interests in Austro-German music and culture of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. His postdoctoral project considers the nineteenth-century music library as a place of creativity and ‘bookish’ forms of musical experience by providing a material history of the library belonging to the composer Johannes Brahms. This study will explore Brahms’s personal collection of books, manuscripts and scores, now held in the archive of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, while reflecting on the idea of Brahms’s library and its complex roles in the gathering and ordering of knowledge and the preservation of culture. The project situates Brahms’s distinctive mode of musical creativity in the context of his interactions with objects of musical literacy —particularly collected editions, theoretical treatises, miniature scores, and autograph manuscripts. By considering the afterlife of Brahms’s collection from the early twentieth century to the present, the investigation will also use Brahms’s remarkable library to contemplate the shifting significance of the material musical archive in our digital age.


Reuben was awarded a PhD from Princeton University in 2019 and his dissertation was supported by a research grant from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst and the Karl Geiringer Scholarship of the American Brahms Society. He has been the recipient of a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung in Berlin, a Library Fellowship from Edinburgh University’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, and an Edison Fellowship from the British Library. With Nicole Grimes (University of California Irvine) he is co-editing the essay collection Rethinking Brahms that is under contract with Oxford University Press. Reuben’s secondary research interests include the writings of the Edinburgh-based music scholar Donald Francis Tovey, Schenkerian analysis, and the exhumation and reburial of composers in late nineteenth-century Vienna.


Peer-reviewed articles

‘Between Hoffmann and Goethe: The Young Brahms as Reader’, Journal of the Royal Musical Association (forthcoming).


‘Exhumations, Honorary Graves, and the Fashioning of Vienna’s Self-Image as the “City of Music”’, The Musical Quarterly 102 (2019): 303–49.


Book reviews and conference reports

Brahms’ Schubert-Rezeption im Wiener Kontext edited by Otto Biba, Gernot Gruber, Katharina Loose-Einfalt and Siegfried Oechsle’, Music & Letters 100 (2019): 562–5.


Johannes Brahms: Die Lieder. Ein musikalischer Werkführer by Matthias Schmidt’, Music & Letters 98 (2017): 143–4.


Brahms in the Home and the Concert Hall: Between Private and Public Performance edited by Katy Hamilton and Natasha Loges’, Book Review, Notes 73 (2016): 94–8.


Brahms Among Friends: Listening, Performance, and the Rhetoric of Allusion by Paul Berry’, Notes 72 (2016): 556–8.


‘Performing Brahms in the 21st century’, Early Music 43 (2015): 721–2.


Contact Details

Dr Reuben Phillips

Faculty of Music

St Aldate’s