Dr Yvonne Liao

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, Faculty of Music; Early Career Fellow, TORCH | The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities; Postdoctoral Associate in the Humanities, St Cross College

BA (Oxon), MA (SOAS), MA (Columbia), PhD (KCL)


Music, colonialism, postcolonial studies and decolonial epistemologies; music and global history; music historiography ‘beyond’ Europe and the twentieth century; archives and music research; public history and policy


Yvonne is a music historian, whose latest research, and book project, is concerned with (querying) colonial music history in twentieth-century China. She rejoined the Faculty in 2017, having read Music as an undergraduate at Christ Church from 1999 to 2002 and graduated First Class. She is also an Early Career Fellow at TORCH and a Non-Stipendiary Postdoctoral Associate in the Humanities at St Cross College. In addition to MA degrees from SOAS University of London and Columbia, Yvonne worked at Naxos and Universal Music Hong Kong before returning to research in 2012, completing in 2016 a PhD in Musicology at King’s College London, on music and municipality in Shanghai of the 1930s and 1940s. The thesis, for which archival sources in Chinese, English, French and German were examined anew, was given 1st Honorary Mention for the International Musicological Society’s first Outstanding Dissertation Award in 2018. An article developed from the thesis was published in The Musical Quarterly in 2016, and awarded The Royal Musical Association’s Jerome Roche Prize for the best journal article by an early career scholar in 2016–17. Following the award, she delivered a keynote address at The Royal Musical Association 2019 Research Students’ Conference.

At the Faculty, Yvonne supervises a range of of dissertations and teaches two MSt electives: Music and Global History (2018–19) and, Archives and Music Research (2019–20). Elsewhere, she is a co-organizer of the American Musicological Society Global Music History Study Group; an Early Career representative and member of the TORCH Management Committee (2019–20); and an external PhD supervisor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. A keen advocate of musicology as an intersectional collaborative practice in the humanities, and a hub for public history and policy, Yvonne co-founded with three historians, an anthropologist and a fellow musicologist the TORCH-funded interdisciplinary network, Colonial Ports and Global History (CPAGH). For details of the network, including its mission and past and upcoming activities in the context of the Oxford-Berlin Partnership, visit https://torch.ox.ac.uk/cpagh

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Liao, Y. ‘Post/Colonial Bach.’ In Rethinking Bach, edited by Bettina Varwig. Oxford University Press, forthcoming.

Liao, Y. ‘“A Foreign Cosmopolitanism”: Treaty Port Shanghai, Ad Hoc Municipal Ensembles, and an Epistemic Modality.’ In Music History and Cosmopolitanism, edited by Derek Scott, Anastasia Belina-Johnson, and Kaarina Kilpiö. Routledge, 2019.

Liao, Y. ‘Empires In Rivalry: Opera Concerts and Foreign Territoriality in Shanghai, 1930–45.’ In Operatic Geographies: The Environment of Opera and the Opera House, edited by Suzanne Aspden, 148–61. University of Chicago Press, 2019.

Liao, Y. ‘“Die gute Unterhaltungsmusik”: Landscape, Refugee Cafés, and Sounds of “Little Vienna” in Wartime Shanghai.’ The Musical Quarterly 98/4 (2016): 350–94.

Other Publications

Liao, Y. ‘“Chinatown” and Global Operatic Knowledge.’ Review Article on Nancy Yunhwa Rao, Chinatown Opera Theater in North America (University of Illinois Press), Cambridge Opera Journal, forthcoming.



Twitter @yyj_liao