Graduate Research Colloquium: Patrick Mackie in conversation with Prof. Laura Tunbridge


Professor 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. In 2020 she was elected to the Academia Europaea. 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.

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 about contemporary music (Bernhard Lang, Thomas Adès, Cassandra Miller). 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. In 2020 Viking published Beethoven: A Life in Nine Pieces, named by The Times as one of the books of the year, and awarded ‘Best Composer Biography’ by Presto Books.

Laura is a founder member of the Oxford Song Network and has been a TORCH Knowledge Exchange Fellow, working with the Oxford Lieder Festival on Unlocking late Schumann. She is also a founder member of the Women’s Song Forum. She regularly gives pre-concert talks (including for Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Halle, the BBC Philharmonic, the BBC Proms, the Oxford Lieder Festival, and the Southbank Centre), writes programme and liner notes (Wigmore Hall, Barbican, Chandos, Delphian, all that dust) and book reviews (The Oldie, Times Literary Supplement) and appears on the radio (Record Review, Music Matters, Composer of the Week, In Our Time, Start the Week, In Business, Front Row). 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 (Music and Travel; Love Songs: The Past 900 Years co-taught with Prof. Leach) and core seminars (Aesthetics, Music Theory and Analysis). The topics of Laura’s recent and current doctoral students range from Schubert, the Schumanns, and Richard Strauss to Japanese art-song, German operetta-film, music in the novels of Dickens and Tolstoy, and medievalism in contemporary opera. She has also been a mentor for postdoctoral awards from the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust.

About the series:
The Colloquia feature leading figures, as well as younger scholars, from across the world. They present their research in papers on all kinds of music-related topics. Graduate students Marinu Leccia and Judith Valerie Engel organise the series. Presentations are followed by a discussion and virtual drinks reception. Free and open to all Music Faculty students and members. If you would like more information, please email or