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 & Columbia), PhD (KCL)


Music historiography, post/colonial studies and epistemic ethics; music, global history and local geography; western musical practices in China and historico-ethno/musicological approaches; intersections between history and the archive.


Yvonne rejoined the Faculty in 2017, having read Music as an undergraduate at Christ Church (1999–2002) and graduated with First Class. She worked at Naxos and Universal Music Hong Kong before returning to research in 2012. She completed her doctorate in 2016. In addition to her funded position at the Faculty as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, she is also an Early Career Fellow at TORCH, and a Non-Stipendiary Postdoctoral Associate in the Humanities at St Cross College.


Yvonne is a music historian, whose latest research is concerned with the phenomenon of multi-colonialism in China, in particular its archival, epistemological and historiographical implications. Her Leverhulme project—which has the working title ‘Dissonant Knowledge: Music and Colonialism in Shanghai, Tianjin and Hong Kong, 1900–2017’—examines, in situ and over time, the fraught but also multifaceted relationship between colonial knowledge production and musical values, with reference to such venues as civic halls, parks and churches. More broadly, the project explores the interpenetrations between music, global history and local geography.


Yvonne’s teaching has ranged from Issues and Topics in Western Music and Music History from the Middle Ages to c.1780 (King’s College London), Jazz on Film (King’s College London) to Arts in Context and Music Advocacy (Hong Kong Baptist University). In 2015 she co-organised a KCL-funded conference on music and the British empire. In 2016 she co-organised the LAHP study day ‘(Re)Configuring Sound and Space: Creative Practices and Critical Perspectives’. She has presented at annual meetings of the American Musicological Society, Royal Musical Association and the Society for Ethnomusicology, as well as in Asia, at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University and the University of Hong Kong. Upcoming talks include a keynote at the Royal Musical Association 2019 Research Students Conference. Her article in The Musical Quarterly was awarded the Royal Musical Association 2017 Jerome Roche Prize. New essays are forthcoming in the volumes Music History and Cosmopolitanism (edited by Derek Scott et al.), and, Rethinking Bach (edited by Bettina Varwig).



Liao, Y. ‘Empires In Rivalry: Opera Concerts and Foreign Territoriality in Shanghai, 1930–45.’ In Operatic Geographies, edited by Suzanne Aspden. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018.

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



Faculty of Music

St Aldate’s

Oxford OX1 1DB

Yvonne.Liao@music.ox.ac.uk | TORCH profile: http://torch.ox.ac.uk/yvonne-liao