Dr Reuben Phillips

Reuben Phillips is a musicologist with research interests in Austro-German music and culture of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. His postdoctoral project considers the nineteenth-century music library as a place of creativity and ‘bookish’ forms of musical experience by providing a material history of the library belonging to the composer Johannes Brahms. This study will explore Brahms’s personal collection of books, manuscripts and scores, now held in the archive of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, while reflecting on the idea of Brahms’s library and its complex roles in the gathering and ordering of knowledge and the preservation of culture. The project situates Brahms’s distinctive mode of musical creativity in the context of his interactions with objects of musical literacy —particularly collected editions, theoretical treatises, miniature scores, and autograph manuscripts. By considering the afterlife of Brahms’s collection from the early twentieth century to the present, the investigation will also use Brahms’s remarkable library to contemplate the shifting significance of the material musical archive in our digital age. 

Reuben was awarded a PhD from Princeton University in 2019 and his dissertation was supported by a research grant from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst and the Karl Geiringer Scholarship of the American Brahms Society. He has been the recipient of a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung in Berlin, a Library Fellowship from Edinburgh University’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, and an Edison Fellowship from the British Library. With Nicole Grimes (University of California Irvine) he co-edited the essay collection Rethinking Brahms that is forthcoming with Oxford University Press. Reuben’s secondary research interests include the writings of the Edinburgh-based music scholar Donald Francis Tovey, Schenkerian analysis, and the exhumation and reburial of composers in late nineteenth-century Vienna. 


Rethinking Brahms (New York: Oxford University Press, 2022). Co-edited with Nicole Grimes.


‘The Resonance of the Romantic Horn Call in the Reception of Brahms’s Trio, Op. 40’, 19th-Century Music (forthcoming).

‘Handling Tovey’s Bach’, Music & Letters 103 (2022): 464–92. (Open Access)

‘Between Hoffmann and Goethe: The Young Brahms as Reader’, Journal of the Royal Musical Association 146 (2021): 455–89.

‘Exhumations, Honorary Graves, and the Fashioning of Vienna’s Self-Image as the “City of Music”’, Musical Quarterly 102 (2019): 303–49.


‘Brahms in the Schumann Library’ in Rethinking Brahms, Nicole Grimes and Reuben Phillips, eds. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2022), 7–24.

‘Introduction’ with Nicole Grimes in Rethinking Brahms, Nicole Grimes and Reuben Phillips, eds. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2022), 1–3.


‘Brahms’ Schubert-Rezeption im Wiener Kontext edited by Otto Biba, Gernot Gruber, Katharina Loose-Einfalt and Siegfried Oechsle’, Music & Letters 100 (2019): 562–5.

 ‘Johannes Brahms: Die Lieder. Ein musikalischer Werkführer by Matthias Schmidt’, Music & Letters 98 (2017): 143–4.

‘Brahms in the Home and the Concert Hall: Between Private and Public Performance edited by Katy Hamilton and Natasha Loges’, Notes 73 (2016): 94–8.

‘Brahms Among Friends: Listening, Performance, and the Rhetoric of Allusion by Paul Berry’, Notes 72 (2016): 556–8.

‘Performing Brahms in the 21st century’, Early Music 43 (2015): 721–2.

Website entry

‘Tovey’s Analyses’, The European Network for Theory & Analysis of Music, https://europeanmusictheory.wordpress.com/tovey-analyses/ (published September 2021).