Professor Deborah Mawer
Research Professor of Music; Director, French Music Research Hub
- +44 (0)121 331 5925
Prior to this, Deborah worked at a number of universities, including working as a lecturer in music at the University of Newcastle, Personal Chair at Lancaster University, external examiner at the University of Oxford and holding a Visiting Professorship at the University of Huddersfield.
Deborah studied her PhD at King’s College London and the advanced course at the Royal Academy of Music. A modern and baroque viola player, she has freelanced with City of London Sinfonia, Vivaldi Concertante and the Avison Ensemble. She is also an international research specialist on twentieth-century French music, especially Ravel, Les Six and Jolivet, as well as in music-dance and classical-jazz interactions.
As an Editorial Board member for The British Journal of Music Education, and former Senior Academic Adviser for PALATINE, Deborah’s long-standing interested in education and pedagogy saw her awarded an individual National Teaching Fellowship. She has written and released a number of books and monographs, has written in scholarly journals and presented at many international conferences. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
She has broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4 (with Robert Winston), is in demand for pre-performance talks, including at Glyndebourne and Music in the Round (2012), and has produced CD essays for Deutsche Grammophon and Hyperion.
Deborah’s latest book, ‘Historical Interplay in French Music and Culture’, is set for release in June 2017. She acts as a reader and journal manuscript submissions reviewer for a wide range of leading international and UK journals and publishers, a referee for the European Research Council, and for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Areas of Expertise
Research and teaching specialisms
- Twentieth-century French music (Ravel, Milhaud, Les Six, Jolivet)
- Music-dance interplay (ballet productions, British dance band)
- Transcultural classical-jazz relations
- Music and meaning (interpretation, criticism)
- Music education
- Music for strings, string pedagogy
- FRHistS (2012–)
- NTF (2008)
- FHEA (2001) recent)
- PhD (King’ s College London, 1991)
- LRAM (Royal Academy of Music, 1985)
- BMus Hons (King’ s College London, 1983)
Grants and Funding
- 2015: FHNW Musik-Akademie Basel 2014
- Université Paris Diderot 2013
- Music & Letters Trust 2012
- Music Analysis Development Fund 2012
- L’ Observatoire interdisciplinaire de création et de recherche en musique (OICRM),Université de Montréal 2011 OICRM, Université de Montréal2009
- Music & Letters Trust2008:Royal Musical Association 2003–4
- AHRC Research Leave 2004–5
- British Academy Small Grant 2001–2
- British Academy Small Grant 1998
- British Academy Small Grant 1997
- Music Analysis Development Fund
- MUS6049: Musical Intertextuality and Borrowing (Contextual Studies 3: Specialisms)
- MUS6049: Paris in the Jazz Age (1920s): Stravinsky, Ravel and Milhaud (Contextual Studies 3: Specialisms)
- MUS7015 Musicological Specialisms
Deborah's research interests are in:
- Historical, analytical and critical musicology of twentieth-century French music, especially Ravel, Milhaud, Les Six, Jolivet
- Music–dance relations: ballet, British dance band
- Transcultural classical–jazz relations, including George Russell, Bill Evans and Brubeck
- Music analysis, theory and meaning
- Music education; string-instrument pedagogy
French Historical Interplay Project
This project was catalysed in summer 2014 by the first international symposium of the French Music Research Hub based at Birmingham Conservatoire, directed by Mawer. It is culminating in an edited book: Mawer (ed.), Historical Interplay in French Music and Culture (Abingdon: Ashgate/Taylor & Francis, forthcoming 2017). ISBN 9781472474759. The essay volume, which is being further developed and expanded, will offer a history of French music with a dynamic difference: one that engages with a complex interplay of times present and past; matters of musical memory; music’ s connections with literature, visual art, philosophy and politics; questions of French cultural heritage in relation to European (especially Germanic) identity; as well as issues of reinterpretationand meaning. Contributors comprise Conservatoire researchers on French music and other international scholars.
Classical–Jazz Transcultural Perspectives
This is a follow-on transcultural project developing out of the monograph:French Music and Jazz in Conversation (Cambridge University Press, 2014). Forthcoming outputs include: ‘ Performing Improvisation: Bill Evans and Jean-Yves Thibaudet’ (jazz conference paper; book chapter). How can one (re)perform an improvisation; how much spontaneity remains and where does composition enter into the equation? A transcultural prism is adopted via the recordings of the French concert pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet. Chosen loci include ‘ Waltz for Debby’ (1956), ‘ Song for Helen’ (1978) and ‘ Your Story’ (1980). While improvisatory-compositional boundaries become more blurred, substantive differences are revealed between Evans and Thibaudet, even when handling the same material. ‘ Darius Milhaud, critique de jazz: le caractère de ses écrits et son rôle’ , Les Actes du colloque: La Critique de jazz (Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes, forthcoming). Proceedings of international colloquium, Université Paris Diderot (6–7 February 2014). Funded Université Paris Diderot.
André Jolivet: Theory and Practice
Among the members of La Jeune France, André Jolivet (1905–74) has typically been overshadowed by his close contemporary Olivier Messiaen. This revisionist project aims to investigate Jolivet’ s distinctive contribution and establish his rightful position within a French modernist canon. It represents part of an increasing interest in Jolivet’ s music more widely in the UK, France and internationally. Forthcoming outputs include: ‘ Jolivet’ s Early Music Theory and its Practice in Cinq danses rituelles (1939)’ , in Caroline Rae (ed.), André Jolivet: Music, Art and Literature (Abingdon: Ashgate/Taylor & Francis, forthcoming). ‘ Jolivet’ s Rameau: Theory, Practice and Temporal Interplay’ , in Mawer (ed.), Historical Interplay in French Music and Culture (Abingdon: Ashgate/Taylor & Francis, forthcoming 2017).
- 2017: Historical Interplay in French Music and Culture, Routledge, London, UK
- 2014: French Music in Conversation with Jazz, 1900-1965: From Debussy to Brubeck, Music since 1900. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- 2010: Mawer (ed.), Ravel Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- 2006: The Ballets of Maurice Ravel: Creation and Interpretation. Aldershot & Burlington, VT: Ashgate.
- 2000: Mawer (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Ravel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- 1997: Darius Milhaud: Modality and Structure in Music of the 1920s.Aldershot: Scolar Press.
- 2016: ‘Jolivet’ s Early Music Theory and its Practice in Cinq danses rituelles (1939)’ , in Caroline Rae (ed.), André Jolivet: Music, Art and Literature. Abingdon: Ashgate/Taylor & Francis.
- 2016: ‘ Darius Milhaud, critique de jazz: le caractère de ses écrits et son rôle’ , Les Actes du colloque: La Critique de jazz. Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes.
- 2014: ‘Jolivet’s Early Music Theory and its Practice in Cinq danses rituelles (1939)’, in Caroline Rae (ed.), André Jolivet: Music, Art and Literature. Aldershot: Ashgate.
- 2014: ‘Retour au point de départ? Les dernières oeuvres de musique de chambre de Darius Milhaud et la notion de “tardivité”’, in Marie-Noëlle Lavoie and Jacinthe Harbec (eds.), Darius Milhaud: Compositeur et expérimentateur, Musicologies. Paris: Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin.
- 2012: ‘Le jazz gallicisé et ravelisé: théorie et pratique du “blues”’ [revised, refereed paper given at Université Catholique de l’Ouest, Angers, 2008], in Pascal Terrien (ed.), Musique française: Esthétique et identité en mutation 1892-1992.Sampzon: Les Editions Delatour France, pp. 215-25.
- 2011: ‘French Music Reconfigured in the Modal Jazz of Bill Evans’, in Janne Mäkelä and Jouni Eerola (eds.), Jazz Chameleon: 9th Nordic Jazz Conference Proceedings. Helsinki: The Finnish Jazz and Pop Archive, pp. 77-89. (2013: Portuguese translation: ‘A música francesca reconfigurado no jazz modal de Bill Evans’, trans. Fausto Borém, Per Musi, 28, pp. 7-14.)
- 2011: ‘Maurice Ravel’, in Bruce Gustafson (ed.), Oxford Bibliographies Online: Music. New York: Oxford University Press [10,000-word annotated bibliography, 130 citations.]
- 2010: ‘Crossing Borders II: Ravel’s Theory and Practice of Jazz’, ‘Introduction: The Growth of Ravel Studies’, and ‘Appendix: Itinerary for Ravel’s Tour’, in Mawer (ed.), Ravel Studies.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-8, 110-13, 114-37.
- 2010: David Epstein, completed by Mawer, ‘Encountering La Valse: Perspectives and Pitfalls’, in Mawer (ed.), Ravel Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 138-64.
- 2008: ‘Jolivet’s Search for a New French Voice: Spiritual “Otherness” in Mana (1935)’, in Barbara L. Kelly (ed.), French Music, Culture and National Identity, 1870-1939.Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, pp. 172-93.
- 2007: ‘Ricard Viñes i Maurice Ravel: una amistat inspiradora’, in Màrius Bernadó (ed.), Ricard Viñes: el pianista de les avantguardes. Barcelona: Fundació Caixa Catalunya/Lleida: Museu d’Art Jaume Morera, pp. 132-37; trans. as ‘Ricardo Viñes y Maurice Ravel: una amistad inspiradora’, pp. 318-21; trans. as ‘Ricardo Viñes et Maurice Ravel: une amité inspiratrice’, pp. 427-30.
- 2006: ‘“Dancing on the Edge of the Volcano”: French Music in the 1930s’, in Richard Langham Smith & Caroline Potter (eds.), French Music since Berlioz. Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 249-80.
- 2000: ‘Musical Objects and Machines’, in Mawer (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Ravel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 47-67, 270-71.
- 2000: ‘Ballet and the Apotheosis of the Dance’, ‘Introduction: The Many Masks of Ravel’, ‘Chronology’, and (with Roger Nichols), ‘Appendix: early reception of Ravel’s music (1899–1939)’, in Mawer (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Ravel, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 140-61, 275-76; pp. 1-4, 266; pp. xi-xiv, 251-66, 276.
- 1997: ‘Beyond Le Boeuf: Analysing Milhaud’s Fifth Chamber Symphony (1922)’ [invited paper for LancMAC,1994), incorporated in book on Darius Milhaud].
- 2012: ‘Music-Dance (and Design) Relations in Ballet Productions of Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé’, Les Cahiers de la Société québéquoise de recherche en musique, 13/1-2, pp. 77-85
- 2009: ‘Jazzing a Classic: Hylton and Stravinsky’s Mavra at the Paris Opéra’, Twentieth-Century Music, 6/2, pp. 155-82.
- 2008: ‘“Parisomania”? Jack Hylton and the French Connection’, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 133/2, pp. 270-317.
(2013: French trans. Université de Paris-Sorbonne: ‘“Parisomanie”? La French Connection de Jack Hylton’, in Vincent Cotro, Laurent Cugny and Philippe Gumplowicz (eds.), La Catastrophe apprivoisée: Regards sur le jazz en France (Paris: Outre Mesure), pp. 67-99.)
- 2008: ‘Positioning Milhaud’s Late Chamber Music: Compositional “Full Circle”?’, Musical Times, 149/4, pp. 45-60.
- 2007: ‘Exploring Complementation in Bartók’s Third Quartet’, Music Theory Online, 13/4:
- 2006: ‘Balanchine’s La Valse: Meanings and Implications for Ravel Studies’, Opera Quarterly, 22/1, pp. 90-116. [revised, refereed paper for ‘Sound Moves’, Princeton University/Roehampton University, 2005]
- 2003: ‘Enlivening Analysis through Performance: “Practising Set Theory”, British Journal of Music Education, 20/3, pp. 257-76.
- 1999: ‘Bridging the Divide: Embedding Voice-leading Analysis in String Pedagogy and Performance’, British Journal of Music Education, 16/2, pp. 179-95.
- 1997: ‘Embedding CD-tours in HE Courses: Experience with the Analytical Listening Guide to “Darius Milhaud: La Création du monde”’, Musicus: Computer Applications in Music Education, 5, pp. 19-29.
BBC Radio 3: Studio guest, Afternoon on 3: 'Ravel and the Ballet' ‘Ravel Day’ , live with Katie Derham (7 March 2014). Also pre-recorded podcasts on Ravel and jazz; Ravel and dance; Ravel and Spain.Twitter / BBCRadio3: Deborah Mawer from @BirmCons ...
BBC Radio 3 documentary interview: ‘Dancing the Apocalypse’ (recorded 3 March 2009, broadcast 28 March 2009; repeated 31 July 2010).
BBC Radio 4 documentary interview: ‘Robert Winston’ s Musical Analysis: Ravel’ (recorded 22 July 2008; broadcast 17 Feb 2009) with Prof. Robert Winston on relating composers’ states of mind and their music.