Professor Daniel Grimley

Douglas Algar Tutorial Fellow in Music at Merton College; Professor of Music; Deputy Head of Humanities

MA, PhD (Cantab)


Music, landscape, cultural geography, ecocriticism and the environmental humanities. Scandinavian Music (Grieg, Sibelius, Carl Nielsen) and English music (Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Delius).


I am currently the Deputy Head of Humanities. My role is to support the Head of Division, Prof Karen O’Brien, in providing leadership for the Humanities at Oxford, to offer strategic oversight of the Division’s research activities (including innovation and knowledge exchange), and to lead preparations for the Division’s return in the REF2021. I have previously served 3 years as Associate Head of Division (Research), and I chair the management committee of The Oxford Centre for Research in the Humanities (TORCH).


My own work is focused on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century music, especially in Scandinavia (Grieg, Sibelius, Carl Nielsen) and England (Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Delius). Drawing widely on analytical, historical and critical theoretical models, my research examines landscape both as a medium of representation or description and as a mode of embodiment or performance. I am concerned with the ways in which particular landscapes shape our responses to music and sound, and equally the extent to which our sense of landscape and environment responds to patterns or fields of acoustic perception.

In my first monograph, Grieg: Music, Landscape and Norwegian Identity (Boydell, 2006), I developed a critical reappraisal of cultural nationalism through analysis of the role which music and landscape played in the formation of Norwegian identity in the nineteenth century. In my second, Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism (Boydell, 2011), considered landscape as part of a complex engagement with musical modernism, in dialogue with received traditions of identity, structure and narrative. My third, Delius and the Sound of Place (Cambridge University Press, 2018), examines the role of place in selected works, including ‘On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring’, Appalachia and The Song of the High Hills, reading place as a creative and historically mediated category in his music. Drawing on archival sources, contemporary art and literature, and more recent writing in cultural geography and the philosophy of place, this is a new interpretation of Delius’ work, from which he emerges as one of the most original and compelling voices in early twentieth-century music.

My Delius research also included the collation (with Dr Joanna Bullivant) of a comprehensive scholarly online catalogue of his works, and the rediscovery of the original draft of his String Quartet (1916), including the world premiere recording of the first version of ‘Late Swallows’ with the Villiers String Quartet for Naxos. In conjunction with Joanna Bullivant, Kevin Page and David Lewis, I explored new digital ways for promoting Delius’s music, funded by an AHRC Follow-On Award, part of which is available via the British Library’s Discovering Music site. Our work has won accolades from the British Library (Research Labs award, 2018) and Oxford (Vice-Chancellor’s Public Engagement with Research award, 2019).

I was Principal Investigator of the interdisciplinary research network Hearing Landscape Critically, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, between 2012 and 2016, and in 2011 I was Scholar-in-Residence at the Bard Music Festival, for which I edited a volume with Princeton University Press. I was one of the editors of the leading peer-review journal Music & Letters (Oxford University Press) for over 8 years, and then an associate editor of The Musical Quarterly until 2019. I currently serve on the editorial board of the Journal of the American Musicological Society and I am an advisory member of the editorial boards of the Danish Yearbook of Musicology and Svensk Musiktidsskrift Online. I am a member of the AHRC Peer Review College and I sit on the board of OU Innovation. In 2019, I was appointed a Visiting Professor at the University of Copenhagen.

I was educated at a state comprehensive school in Kent, and benefitted from the County Music Service (including Kent Youth Orchestra). I am committed to access and outreach, and to supporting academically talented students from all backgrounds who merit a place at Oxford. I teach broadly across the undergraduate curriculum, especially music theory and analysis, topics in music history post-1700, nineteenth-century symphony, and issues in contemporary music and performance. I have supervised 12 doctoral theses to completion, and my graduate students have researched a wide variety of topics in music history and theory post-1700. I hold a postgraduate certificate in teaching in higher education from the University of Nottingham, and in 2016 I won the award for best Postgraduate Supervisor from the Oxford University student’s union.




Dr Daniel Grimley
Faculty of Music,
St Aldates,
Oxford OX1 1DB

Tel.: +44 (0)1865 276125