My research focusses on Richard Wagner, and the intersection of German aesthetic thinking with the growth of the natural sciences. Other interests include Franz Liszt and post-Classical Weimar; posthumanism and the philosophy of technology; as well as performance theory, the grey area between improvisation and composition, and musical creativity in the digital age. I welcome applications from potential Ph.D. students in these areas.
When time permits, I am also active as a pianist, having performed in Germany, Italy, the UK, and on both coasts of the US.
I am a musicologist and pianist specialising in music and ideas of the long 19th century, and the cultural history of technology.
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.
New Book #1: 19thC Opera & Science
Just published by CUP, 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
Journal of the Royal Musical
Association (2018): 361-432
Liszt's opera Sardanapalo
World première recording, released 8 Feb 2019
project updates here
film by Burkhard Scheibe
photos by Candy Wetz
Article on Listening and Transhumanism
- open access
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.