Past projects

Towards a global history of music

A research programme in musicology – 2013-2017



Director: Reinhard Strohm

Deputy Director: Laurenz Lütteken

Reinhard Strohm, Emeritus Professor of Music at Oxford University, won the 2012 Balzan Foundation Prize for Musicology. He devoted half of the prize (CHF 375,000) to a scholarly programme in music, which supported the research of mid-career academics.


Studies on a Global History of Music. A Balzan Musicology Project

Ed. by Reinhard Strohm

London and New York: Routledge, 2018 (SOAS Musicology Series)

ISBN: 978-1-138-05883-5 (hbk)

ISBN: 978-1-315-16397-0 (ebk)

with contributions by:

Martin Stokes, David R. M. Irving, Estelle Joubert, Philip V. Bohlman, Jason Stoessel, Max Peter Baumann, Rinko Fujita, Oliver Seibt, Jin-Ah Kim, Keith Howard, Nicola Spakowski, Henry Spiller, Matthew Pritchard, Suddhaseel Sen, Leonardo J. Waisman, Tomasz Jeż, Melanie Plesch, Julio Mendívil, Roberto Kolb-Neuhaus, Juan Francisco Sans and Tina K. Ramnarine.

Studies on a Global History of Music, 2018

cover image: Guillaume de L’Isle, Mappe-Monde, amsterdam: Covens et Mortier, 1732. Map reproduction courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library.


Events in the academic year 2016-2017

The workshop Transcultural Music Traditions, organized under Reinhard Strohm’s Balzan research project Towards a Global History of Music, was held from 7 to 9 April at the Humboldt Universität in Berlin.

The workshop was introduced by a Keynote Lecture on 7 April, and involved two sessions: A Global View on Bach: Latin America and Asia in the 20th Century on 8 April, followed by a performance of the Asambura Ensemble, and Music, Media Geography, History on 9 April.

This was the last of the long series of international workshops, seminars and meetings that were distributed over the five years of of Reinhard Strohm’s highly articulated project, which has united six important academic institutions and a great number of researchers from all over the world, thus providing a global approach – both in terms of the project’s vastness and its depth – to the history of music, the fruit of different voices and points of view.


The Programme

In collaboration with six university departments of musicology, the award-winner Prof. Reinhard Strohm (University of Oxford)designed a programme entitled Towards a global history of music. This research programme was carried out in the academic years 2013-2017 by the Faculties/Departments of Music/Musicology at the following universities:

Humboldt University, Berlin;

The Hebrew University, Jerusalem;

King’s College, University of London;

University of Oxford;

University of Vienna;

University of Zurich.

The Programme Director, Prof. Reinhard Strohm, and the Deputy Director, Prof. Laurenz Lütteken, were supported by a Steering Committee mainly representing the

Music Departments of these universities. The programme also had an Advisory Board consisting of international specialists of musicology and ethnomusicology.

Research Co-ordinators:

Marie-Alice Frappat ( for London and Oxford; Angharad Gabriel-Zamastil ( for Vienna and Zurich.


The Research Question

Towards a global history of music aims to promote post-European historical thinking. The programme was not intended to create a global history by itself, but to explore, through assembled case studies, parameters and terminologies that are suitable to describe a history of many different voices.


Project Overview

The idea of a global history of music, which may be traced back to enlightenment forerunners, and has been reiterated in the 1970s by the music historian Leo Treitler, among others. The present situation in various branches of western musicology is characterised by specialisation – on European music history on the one hand, on ethnological or sociological fieldwork on the other. Research on specific musical cultures sometimes lacks comparative outreach or is insufficiently reflected in the wider discipline. The historical depth of other civilisations is often underrated by western scholarship, and a concern for the world’s musical past, shared with non-western speakers, is rarely visible.

Postcolonial critique has challenged the West’s self-ascribed position at the heart of world history. In the light of this challenge, how might a historical understanding of western music in the world proceed? How should it position, or justify itself? Who might be authorised to speak for, or against, it? What would ‘western music’ look like in an account of music history that aspired to be truly global?


Research visitors 2015-17:

Faculty of Music, University of Oxford

Dr Christina Richter-Ibañez (University of Tübingen, Germany): A global view on Bach

July-August 2016

Prof. Andrea F. Bohlman (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA): Music and Unofficial Media in Communist Poland

June-July 2017

Dr. Luis Velasco-Pufleau (University of Salzburg, Austria): European new music festivals and the emergence of an intercontinental history of contemporary art music

January-February 2016


Institut für Musikwissenschaft, Humboldt-Universität, Berlin

Dr Gabriela Currie (University of Minnesota, USA): Sounding Alexander’s legacy: the Gandharan nexus

May-July 2016


Department of Music, King’s College, University of London

Dr James Mitchell (Khon Kaen University, Thailand, and Monash University, Australia): The Rabbit and the Hound: A reassessment of the impact of western recording activities on non-western music traditions (1900-1950), using Siam/Thailand as a new case study

May-June 2016


Department of Musicology, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Dr Lisa Nielson (Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, USA): Concerning Music and Musical Instruments: A 15th century collection of anti-samāᶜ treatises


Institut für Musikwissenschaft, Universität Wien

Dr Barbara Titus (University of Amsterdam): The West in musical retrospect: South African maskanda music as historiography


Musikwissenschaftliches Institut, Universität Zürich

Dr Avra Xepapadakou (University of Crete, Greece): Western European opera and operetta companies touring in the south-eastern Mediterranean during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuriesApril-May 2017


Department of Musicology, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Dr Anna G. Piotrowska (Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland): Gypsy Music in European Culture. October-November 2015


Institut für Musikwissenschaft, Universität Wien

Dr Morag Josephine Grant (Independent researcher, Berlin, Germany): Martial music in global historical perspective. January-February 2016


Department of Music, King’s College, University of London

 Dr Margaret Walker (Queens University, Kingston, Canada): Orientalism and Exchange: The Indian “Nautch” as Musical Nexus. January-February 2016


Research visitors 2013-14:

Humboldt Universität Berlin:

Prof. Jonathan Goldman (Faculté de Musique, Université de Montréal, Canada) The Invention of a Gamelan Tradition in Avant-Garde Music, 1970-1995 

Dr Tobias Robert Klein (Humboldt Universität Berlin, Germany): Panafrica and the “Idea of Non Absolute Music”: An Exercise in the Global History and Aesthetics of Music

Prof Henry Spiller (University of California Davis, USA): Javanese and Sundanese music and dance in European historical reflections 


King’s College, University of London: 

Dr David R. M. Irving (School of Music, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia): Analogues of Antiquity: World Cultures, Ancient Greek Music, and Comparative Anthropologies, 1500–1800

Dr Suddhaseel Sen (Stanford University, USA): Intimate Strangers: Cross-Cultural Exchanges between Indian and Western Musicians 1880-1940


Faculty of Music, University of Oxford:

Dr Jason Stoessel (University of New England, Armidale, Australia): The role of the singing voice and concepts of song in encounters between Latin, Persian and Mongol cultures during the time of the Mongol Empire, 1206–1368

Prof. Estelle Joubert (Department of Music, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada): ‘Analytical Encounters’: Global Music Criticism and Enlightenment Ethnomusicology


Research visitors 2014-15:

Institut für Musikwissenschaft, Universität Wien:

Dr María Cáceres-Piñuel (Institut für Musikwissenschaft, Universität Bern, Switzerland): The International Music and Theatre Exhibition in Vienna 1892


Dr Tomasz Jeż (University of Warsaw, Poland): Music in the cultural strategies of Jesuits in Latin America (17th-18th centuries)


Department of Music, King’s College, University of London:  

Dr Jia, Shu Bing (Musicology Department, Central conservatory of Music, Beijing, China): The dissemination of Western music through Catholic missions in High Qing China, 1662-1795)


Faculty of Music, University of Oxford:

Dr Melanie Plesch (Department of Music, University of Melbourne, Australia): Towards an understanding of the rhetorical efficacy of Latin American art music: topics of landscape


Musikwissenschaftliches Institut, Universität Zürich:

Dr Kim, Jin-Ah (Institut für Musikwissenschaft, Humboldt-Universität, Berlin): Transfer, Reception and Appropriation of music: East Asia and Western Europe


Events 2015-16

25-26 October 2015, Department of Musicology, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Workshop: Musical cultures under relationships of power: Europe and the Middle East

Convenors: Anna G. Piotrowska, Ruth HaCohen


22-23 January 2016, Institut für Musikwissenschaft, Universität Wien

Workshop: Towards a global history of martial and military music: Comparative perspectives for the early and pre-modern period

Convenor: Morag Josephine Grant


16-17 June 2016, The British Academy, London

Workshop-Conference: Places of Interaction: Histories of Music and Dance in India, Africa, and South-East Asia

Convenors: Margaret Walker, Reinhard Strohm and James L. Mitchell.

Sound and music are intrinsic to our experience of the world in myriad ways: we orient ourselves acoustically as much as spatially. It is almost impossible to conceive of music and/or sound without invoking metaphors of space and/or place , whether through performance, embodiment, or other modes of representation. The Hearing Landscape Critically network, supported by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust, draws new critical attention to the significance of sound in landscape, and investigates how landscape shapes our understanding of music. The network breaks fresh ground by embracing a broadly interdisciplinary methodology and bringing together scholars (at various stages of their academic careers) from music and sound studies, ethnomusicology, art history, cultural geography, anthropology, and comparative literature, working across diverse geographical contexts. The network’s subject matter will be correspondingly wide-ranging, and will explore new questions as they emerge through ongoing discussion and debate. The strategic research focus will remain tightly attuned to the tasks of interrogating sound in landscape, as both a formative and representational presence, and of investigating the role that landscape, space, and place have played in musical communication and performance.

Key research objectives for the network are as follows:

1. To investigate particular privileged sites and sounds of musical power: interpreting the role that landscape, space and place have played in ideas of occupation, reservation, institution, restitution, academy, capital, knowledge, authenticity and legitimation;

2. To analyse the relationships between music and political landscapes , attending to issues of subordination, exploitation, destruction, and survival;

3. To interpret performed landscapes, especially by considering the relationships between space, place, theatre, narration, embodiment, language, song, immersion, and the everyday;

4. To reimagine landscape as a series of structures and topologies: interrogating the notion of musical space as smooth or striated, complex or chaotic, fixed, dense, or in flux;

5. To assess the significance of music and mobility in landscape: especially the role and value of sound and music in tourism, commuting, returning, tracing, dwelling and/as wandering, stasis and acceleration;

6. To review the interconnections between music and the philosophy of landscape, space, and place, as shaped by human and non-human spaces, transcendental metaphors and the nature/culture debate, ontologies and epistemologies of sound and space, phenomenology.

The network was launched at a conference in Oxford in May 2012. Further activities were centred on a three-stage programme of academic meetings, cultural events, and cross-disciplinary encounters, organised according to the following chronology:

1. A critical workshop at the University of Stellenbosch (September 9-11, 2013)

2. A follow-up symposium at Harvard (in January 2015)

3. A final plenary session in Oxford (in April 2016)

Network events have also included specially commissioned creative works from sound artists, film-makers and curators in Stellenbosch and Harvard, in order to promote greater dialogue between scholars and practitioners working in Landscape Studies.

For further information, contact the Principal Investigator, Dr Daniel Grimley, or the Network’s Administrator Adam Harper


Music, Digitization, Mediation: Towards Interdisciplinary Music Studies

Launched in October 2010, Music, Digitization, Mediation: Towards Interdisciplinary Music Studies (MusDig) is a five-year research programme based in the Faculty of Music at Oxford University which examines the wide-ranging changes to music and musical practices afforded by digitization and digital media. The programme is directed by Georgina Born, Professor of Music and Anthropology at Oxford, who is the Principal Investigator (PI). It is supported by funding (1,708,000 Euros) from the European Research Council’s Advanced Investigator Grants scheme.

Learn more by visiting the Musdig website

button musdig website

In 2008 the Faculty of Music was successful in its bid for funding from the John Fell Fund to establish a research partnership in music theory and analysis with our colleagues in the Music Department at Princeton University.

The Oxford–Princeton Partnership aimed to encourage closer research collaborations on projects of mutual concern between colleagues in the two institutions; to rethink definitions and boundaries of musical analysis in the context of the historical, critical and interdisciplinary work of both departments; and to consolidate Oxford as a leading UK centre for music theory.

The first Oxford-Princeton Analysis Symposium took place in Oxford, 14-16 April 2010, on the theme of ‘Analytical Encounters’, with a rich and wide-ranging discussions of issues and approaches. Presentations were made by: V. Kofi Agawu (Mozart), Scott Burnham (Schumann), Eric Clarke (Goldfrapp), Jonathan Cross (Birtwistle), Laurence Dreyfus (Gibbons), Daniel Grimley (Sibelius) and Elizabeth Eva Leach (Machaut).

The following graduate students also participated in the Symposium: Johanna Frymoyer, Christopher Matthay (Princeton); James Munk, Alberto Sanna (Oxford).

The second Oxford-Princeton Analysis Symposium took place at Princeton University, 17–19 March 2011. Faculty members Eric Clarke, Jonathan Cross and Laurence Dreyfus, along with graduate students Simon Desbruslais and Maria Witek, took part in another three intensive days of presentations and discussions on and around analytical/theoretical topics. Eric Clarke and Maria Witek gave a presentation on analysing rhythm, Jonathan Cross on the ‘Apothéose’ from Stravinsky’s Apollon musagète, and Laurence Dreyfus on ‘Es ist vollbracht’ from Bach’s St John Passion. The speakers from Princeton were Kofi Agawu (on the ‘Adagietto’ from Mahler’s 5th Symphony), Scott Burnham (on Mozart’s Requiem and Ave Verum), Noriko Manabe (on hip hop) and Dmitri Tymoczko (on Schubert’s Quartett-satz). Graduate students from both institutions also gave short presentations on their current projects.

Staging History

The Staging History project began in 2013 with the award of an Oxford-Princeton Collaborative Partnership to Michael Burden (Oxford) and Wendy Heller (Princeton). The initial aim of the project was twofold: firstly, to explore the influence of historical events on the writing and staging of drama – musical drama in particular – in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries; secondly, to investigate the interaction (or lack thereof) between the stages of London and New York, investigating the transfer of dramas, themes, and casts across the Atlantic.

Michael Burden has acted as the Principal Investigator throughout, with Jonathan Hicks as co-investigator. The various groupings, partnerships, and participants are listed below.

Event 1 – Performing the past in the theaters of London and New York

Event 2 – Conference: “The London Stage in the 19th-century World”

Event 3 – Staging History 1780-1840: a volume of essays exploring the themes of ‘Performing the Past’

Event 4 – Staging History 1780-1840: an exhibition at the Bodleian Library

Event 1

Staging History

Performing the past in the theaters of London and New York, 1770-1870

Oxford-Princeton Collaborative Partnership 2013-2014

Directed by Michael Burden (New College, Oxford) and Wendy Heller (Princeton University), with Jonathan Hicks and Ellen Lockhart

Participants: Victoria Aschheim, Micaela Baranello, Michael Burden, Wendy Heller, Jonathan Hicks, David Kennerley, Ellen Lockhart, James Steichen, David Stuart

The collaborative partnership, supported by the John Fell Fund, was a crucial step at the opening stages of the project. It allowed us to hold a series of four meetings – two in Oxford, two in Princeton – where we discussed the central themes of dramatic historicism and transatlantic theatrical practice. All participants exchanged ideas about key readings in the fields of musicology, theatre history, and performance studies. Building on this existing scholarship, we developed a particular focus on the form and content of early melodrama, which was hugely popular on Anglophone stages during the period of our study. During one meeting we workshopped the interaction of music and text (and, to a lesser extent, gesture) in The Miller and His Men, an 1813 melodrama by Isaac Pocock with a surviving piano score by Henry Bishop (later the Heather Professor of Music at Oxford). Individual participants also presented their own work-in-progress on the social and political contexts of other melodramas, operas, and equestrian spectacles.

Event 2

“The London Stage in the 19th-century World”

An interdisciplinary conference

 Organised by Michael Burden and Jonathan Hicks. The programme committee consisted of Michael Burden, Jim Davis, Jonathan Hicks, David Taylor, and Susan Valladares

If the Oxford-Princeton exchange was necessarily a small affair, with the same group of people engaged in ongoing discussions about a relatively narrow topic, this conference, supported by Eugene Ludwig through the Ludwig Family Charitable Trust, was deliberately much broader and welcomed scholars from a range of disciplines (principally Musicology, Theatre History, English, Art History, and History).

Event 3

Staging History 1780-1840

A volume of essays to accompany the exhibition in Event 4

Edited by Michael Burden, Wendy Heller, Jonathan Hicks, and Ellen Lockhart

Contributors: Victoria Aschheim, Michael Burden, Wendy Heller, Jonathan Hicks, David Kennerley, Ellen Lockhart, James Steichen, David Stuart, Susan Valladares

This collection of essays – intended to accompany the exhibition in Phase 4 – examines a number of extraordinary theatrical works in order to cast light on their role in shaping a popular interpretation of historical events. Like the conference mentioned above, the publication of these essays was supported by Eugene Ludwig through the Ludwig Family Charitable Trust. Much of the research contained here began with the Oxford-Princeton exchange, though the material and themes discussed developed over time.

Event 4

Staging History 1780-1840

An exhibition at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

Curated by Michael Burden, Jonathan Hicks, and Susan Valladares

The culmination of the project is a a major exhibition at the new Weston Library exhibition space in Oxford. The exhibition is supported by the Bodleian Library, with loans from other institutions, and brings the topic to life via striking images and engaging interpretive text. Here, visitors are drawn into the immersive worlds of Georgian theatre where historical figures and events were among the most fashionable and controversial subjects of the day.

‘Creative Practice in Contemporary Concert Music’ is a three year study at the University of Oxford – one of the four project strands that make up the AHRC Research Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice.  The Oxford strand of the project focuses on the creative practices that emerge in the collaborative work between composers and performers. Despite the sharp division of labour between these roles that traditional concert culture often presents, much contemporary music is produced through creative processes that are highly distributed and interactive.  This project investigates these creative interactions through the specific circumstances of

  • 1) the preparation, and delivery, of first performances of newly commissioned works; and
  • 2) the creative dynamics of improvisation/collaborative composition – both kinds of circumstance conceptualised within the framework of distributed creativity.

Aims and Methods


  • to study in detail the creative interactions of performers with composers in the specific context of preparing and presenting performances of new works
  • to examine a range of notation, preparation and performance practices in contemporary music
  • to investigate and interrogate the distributed creativity between composer and performer in contemporary performance, and in so doing to revive a broad notion of improvisation that has been sidelined in the history of performance.

By the end of the project, new understanding will have been gained of the different ways in which composers and performers engage with one another in the creative negotiation that goes into the complex and interestingly ill-defined interface between compositional, interpretative and performative creativity.


The project uses a variety of methods for investigating distributed creativity:

  • qualitative analyses of diary data, interviews and recorded discussions/rehearsals featuring a number of composer/performer/ensemble interactions
  • quantitative analyses of practice and performance data (from MIDI and/or sound recordings)

Primary material for the project will be a number of new works for specific performers commissioned from composers working in associated university music departments around the country.


The project team is:

Professor Eric Clarke (Principal Investigator)

Dr Mark Doffman (Research Fellow)

The Rameau Project is a major multidisciplinary research project devoted to the operas of Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764). Founded and directed by Dr Jonathan Williams of St Hilda’s College, Oxford, this venture was supported by the University’s John Fell Fund and the AHRC (2012-14) and Arts Council England (2014), as well as by several trusts funds and private individuals. Now externally funded, the Project remains is closely associated with the University.

Rameau’s 30 operas are among the most aesthetically complex theatrical forms of the Enlightenment period; as such they offer fascinating opportunities for research into music, dance, literature, dramaturgy, and the wider environment of Enlightenment thought and practice. The principal objectives of this project are to explore this extraordinary multimedia repertoire, addressing compelling issues of composer-specific practices–particularly regarding Rameau’s use of complex choreography and the idiosyncrasies of his opera librettos–and to develop the expertise in the performance of music and dance required to communicate it to a modern audience.

The Project began in November 2012 with Jonathan conducting the première of his edition of Rameau’s Anacréon (1754) with the world-renowned Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. From this auspicious start has grown a major collaboration which has so far given rise to two conferences, the first UK studio recording of a Rameau opera since 1980, numerous radio broadcasts and the performance of three of Rameau’s operas at London’s South Bank Centre (all presented with eighteenth-century choreography), and fully staged productions of Les fêtes d’Hébé in Paris and London and of Dardanus with English Touring Opera. A volume for Routledge is forthcoming in 2019.

For more information please go to the Rameau Project web pages here:


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Professor Daniel Grimley (Principal Investigator)


Dr Joanna Bullivant (Research Assistant)


Frederick Delius is among the most powerfully evocative and inventive voices in early twentieth-century music. Critical appreciation of his achievement, however, has been stubbornly unforthcoming in the wider academic field: there is still no authoritative scholarly biography of the composer, and analytical accounts of Delius’s music remain at a preliminary stage, especially when placed alongside coverage for other comparably significant musical figures. Given recent events following his anniversary year in 2012 (including John Bridcut’s acclaimed documentary for BBC4, and a 2-day conference devoted to his work run by the Delius Society), the time is ripe for an urgent re-evaluation of Delius’s music, reflecting upon his wider significance as an internationally-oriented creative figure writing at a crucial moment in the emergence of a complex and multivalent musical modernism.

The AHRC-funded project Delius, Modernism, and the Sound of Place will both undertake a wholesale reappraisal of the composer and disseminate its findings to non-academic beneficiaries including musicians and performers, journalists, teachers in secondary music education, and members of the general public. The primary outputs of the project are a scholarly monograph and a permanent digital catalogue. Planned events include a conference and launch of the online catalogue at the end of the project, a Study Day for sixth form students, research seminars, workshops and performances, in conjunction with the Royal Academy of Music and the British Library.


Our website featuring details of events, podcasts and a project blog can be found at Please contact or for further information.