I am a musicologist and pianist specialising in music and ideas of the long 19th century, and the cultural history of technology.
My research focusses on Richard Wagner, and the intersection of German aesthetics with the growth of the natural sciences. Other interests include the music of Franz Liszt, performance theory, the grey area between improvisation and composition; as well as posthumanism, the philosophy of technology, and musical creativity in the digital age. I welcome applications from potential PhD students in these areas.
Prospective undergraduate students should please see the sites for Christ's College and the Faculty of Music.
When time permits, I am also active as a pianist, having performed in Germany, Italy, the UK, and on both coasts of the US.
Just published: a special issue of 19-Century Music I guest edited about approaches to 19th-century music that are defined against idealist metaphysics.
Arising from a conference at CRASSH, it contains four essays: by Peter Pesic, Nikita Braguinski, David Trippett, and Julia Kursell. All open access. See the Table of Contents.
CD recognition 2019
Published Nov 2019: Liszt, Sardanapalo - Act 1
Neue Liszt Ausgabe Series IX. Vol. 2, 180pp
First edition of Liszt's Italian opera. Byron's Assyrian tragedy sees the end of an ancient line of Kings -- love and war leading to self-immolation. With reconstructed libretto, ossias, pattern realization, and various deleted and metrically variant passages.
This critical edition includes a detailed study on the genesis of Liszt’s Sardanapalo in English, German, and Hungarian, the libretto in the original Italian as well as in English, German, and Hungarian translation, six facsimile pages of Liszt’s manuscript, and a detailed Critical Report.
See also the orchestrated performing edition published by Schott Music.
New book #2: Companion to Music in Digital Culture
The impact of digital technologies on music has been overwhelming: since the commercialisation of these technologies in the early 1980s, both the practice of music and thinking about it have changed almost beyond all recognition.
Through 11 chapters by scholars at the forefront of research and 14 shorter 'personal takes' from knowledgeable practitioners in the field, this Companion brings the relationship between digital technology and musical culture alive by considering both theory and practice. Published Sept 2019
New book: 19thC Opera & Science
Published in August 2019, the 14 chapters of this edited volume explore the deep interrelations of natural science and operatic culture during the 19th century.
It presents an intertwined cultural history that extends from backstage hydraulics to drawing-room hypnotism, and from laryngoscopy to theatrical aeronautics.
Topics include: vocal physiology, material culture, sensory communication, stage technologies, theories of listening, electricity, hypnotism, and biological degeneration. HB & eBooks available now; PB in ca. 2022.
Article on Liszt's opera
"An Uncrossable Rubicon: Liszt's Sardanapalo Revisited"
Journal of the Royal Musical
Association (2018): 361-432
Liszt's opera Sardanapalo
World première recording, released 8 Feb 2019
film by Tom Andrews I sound by Myles Eastwood I
project updates here
film by Burkhard Scheibe
photos by Candy Wetz
Article on Listening and Transhumanism
- open access
'Music and the Transhuman Ear,'
The Musical Quarterly 100 (2018): 199-261
In 2015 I began a five-year research project on 'sound and materialism in the 19th century.' This examines in particular how a scientific-materialist conception of sound was formed alongside a dominant culture of romantic idealism. It brings together musicology, history and philosophy of science as well as sound studies to examine how medical and mechanical knowledge intersected with metaphysical thought. Broadly, it investigates the musical and sonic implications of scientific and technological advancement across Europe in the nineteenth century.
Sound gives us a sense of our body's presence within an environment, and various digital technologies now simulate this presence. In this book on sound and virtuality, I examine several virtual environments, from HD Simulcasts of opera to prosthetic hearing, and ask how hearing in 360 degrees enables our proprioception, contributing to a sense of being human, and how wearable or implantable technologies might affect this.