Professor Laura Tunbridge, FBA

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 studied music as an undergraduate 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 British Academy, and the Leverhulme Trust. 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. She is a member of the Academia Europaea (2020) and a Fellow of the British Academy (2021). She was awarded the Dent Medal by the Royal Musical Association in 2021. 


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. Supported by a Major Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust, Laura's current project is A Social and Sonic History of the String Quartet, an exploration of ensembles since the mid twentieth century.  


Laura was 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, Salzburg Festival, Chandos, Delphian, Pentatone, 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 undergraduate teaching has included courses on Richard Strauss and Representations of Women, The String Quartet between Classicism and Modernism, The Art of Song, Musical Thought and Scholarship, and Music Analysis and Criticism. At Masters level, she has taught 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 nineteenth-century song and chamber music through interwar transnationalism to contemporary opera studies. She has also been a mentor for postdoctoral awards from the British Academy, Leverhulme Trust and Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions.


Beethoven: A Life in Nine Pieces (Viking, 2020; Yale University Press, 2020; Spektrum (Dutch), 2020).

Singing in the Age of Anxiety: Lieder Performance in New York and London between the World Wars (Chicago University Press, 2018).

The Song Cycle (Cambridge University Press, 2010); El ciclo de canciones (trans. Juan González-Castelao, Ediciones Akal, 2016).

Schumann’s Late Style (Cambridge University Press, 2007).

Edited Collections:

Song beyond the Nation: Translation, Transnationalism, and Performance, co-edited with Philip Bullock (British Academy/Oxford University Press, 2021).

German Song Onstage: Lieder Performance in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries, co-edited with Natasha Loges (Indiana University Press, 2020).

Rethinking Schumann, co-edited with Roe-Min Kok (Oxford University Press, 2011).

Journal Articles and Book Chapters:

‘Education: Discipline and Delight’. In A Cultural History of Western Music in the Age of Industry, ed. Alexander Rehding and Naomi Waltham-Smith (Bloomsbury, forthcoming).

‘Resisting Middlebrow Mediation: Beethoven’s “Grosse Fuge” in Interwar Britain’. In Oxford Handbook of Music and the Middlebrow, ed. Christopher Chowrimootoo and Kate Guthrie (Oxford, forthcoming).

‘Canonicity and Influence’. In The Cambridge Companion to Schubert’s “Winterreise”, ed. Marjorie W. Hirsch and Lisa Feuerzeig (Cambridge, 2021), 242-256.

‘Exterminating the Recording Angel’, Opera Quarterly (2019): 1-14.

‘Constructing a Musical Nation: German-Language Criticism in the Nineteenth Century’. In The Cambridge History of Music Criticism, ed. Christopher Dingle (Cambridge University Press, 2019), 170-189.

‘Schumann’s Struggle with Goethe’s Faust’. In The Oxford Handbook of Faust in Music, ed. Lorna Fitzsimmons and Charles McKnight (Oxford University Press, 2019), 87-116.

‘Loving Mozart: Berhard Lang, “Ach, ich fühl’s” (Grace Moor), I Hate Mozart, Act I’, Cambridge Opera Journal 28 (2016): 271-275.

‘Versioning Strauss’, Nineteenth-Century Music 40:3 (2017): 283-300.

‘Saving Schubert: The Evasions of Late Style’. In Late Style and its Discontents, ed. Gordon McMullan and Sam Smiles (Oxford University Press, 2016), 120-130.

‘Singing against late style: The Problem of Performance History’. In Schubert’s Late Music in History and Theory, ed. Lorraine Byrne Bodley and Julian Horton (Cambridge University Press, 2016), 426-441.

‘Scarlett Johansson’s Body and the Materialization of Voice’, Twentieth-Century Music 13 (2016): 139- 152.

With Wayne Heisler, Jr., ‘Elisabeth Schumann and Richard Specht: Strauss before Sixty’, Opera Quarterly 31:4 (2015) 273-288.

‘”The soft hours of Sardanapalus”: Music and Effeminacy in Byron’s Seraglios’. In Ottoman Empire and European Theatre -Part III: Seraglios and Harems in Theatre, Opera, and Poetry from the Earliest Theatrical Sources to Lord Byron’s “Don Juan” (1819-1824), ed. Inge Praxl and Michael Hüttler (Vienna: Hollitzer, 2015), 281-296.

‘Reading Lieder Recordings’, Colloquy: ‘Studying the Lied: Hermeneutic Traditions and the Challenge of Performance’, Journal of the American Musicological Society 67:2 (2014), 555-560.

‘Opera and Materiality’, review-article in Cambridge Opera Journal 26: 3 (2014): 289-299.

‘Singing Translations: The Politics of Listening between the Wars’, Representations 123 (2013): 53-86.

‘Frieda Hempel and the Historical Imagination’, Journal of the American Musicological Society 66 (2013): 437-474.

‘Robert Schumann’. In The Wagner Encyclopaedia, ed. Nicholas Vazsonyi (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

‘Listening to Gerhardt through the Ages’. In Autorschaft-Genie-Geschlecht, ed. Suzanne Kogler and Kordula Knaus (Vienna: Böhlau, 2012), 179-194.

‘Deserted Chambers of the Mind (Schumann Memories)’. In Rethinking Schumann, ed. Roe-Min Kok and Laura Tunbridge (Oxford University Press, 2011), 395-410.

‘Schumann als “the Perfect Wagnerite”: Seine Rezeption in England um 1900’. In Robert Schumann. Persönlichkeit – Werk – Wirkung, ed. Helmut Loos (Laaber: Gudrun Schroeder, 2011), 424-433.

‘Schumann’s Orchestration for Das Paradies und die Peri and the Szenen aus Goethe’s Faust’, American Choral Directors Association Journal 51 (210): 8-17.

‘Schumann: A Lover’s Guide’, Review-article for Journal of the Royal Musical Association (2008).

‘The Piano Music II: Afterimages’. In The Cambridge Companion to Schumann, ed. Beate Perrey (Cambridge University Press, 2007), 203-232.

‘Weber’s Ghost: Euryanthe, Genoveva, Lohengrin’. In Music, Theatre and Politics in Germany: 1848 to the Third Reich, ed. Nikolaus Bacht (Ashgate, 2006), 9-29.

‘From Count to Chimneysweep: Byron’s Manfred in London Theatres’, Music and Letters 87 (2006): 212-236.

‘Schumann as Manfred’, Musical Quarterly 87 (2004): 546-569.

‘Schumann’s Manfred in the Mental Theatre’, Cambridge Opera Journal 15 (2003): 153-183.

Research interests in 19th and 20th-century music, song, chamber music, opera studies, reception history and analysis.