French Music Research Hub

The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s research and teaching in historical, analytical and critical musicology enjoys world-leading expertise in specific areas of French music studies, which led to the founding of the French Music Research Hub in early 2014.

The Hub aims to foster the highest standards of scholarly engagement with, and performance-based practice of, a broad repertoire of French music (especially of the 17th, 18th and 20th centuries). In establishing strong, sustainable academic and practice-related leadership at a world-leading level, the Hub has already proved itself in a robust position to attract substantial external funding and to provide recruitment opportunities for doctoral and masters’ students. In addition, its research informs undergraduate elective courses in French music and culture.

We are proud to host the major AHRC-funded project: ‘Accenting the Classics: Durand’s Édition classique (c. 1915–25) as a French Prism on the Musical Past’, which runs from 2016 to 2019 (full value, £461,583): see Funded Projects. This research focuses on analytical, editorial and cultural study of a large-scale French edition of European piano/keyboard music, from around World War I through to the early years of French neoclassicism.

The Hub’s main themes relate to rigorous, innovative exploration of:

  • French composer studies (17th–20th centuries), including Lully, Charpentier, Marais, Couperin and Rameau; Ravel, Les Six (Milhaud, Poulenc, Honegger, Tailleferre), Messiaen and Jolivet
  • Theory and analysis of French music
  • Critical source, sketch and archival studies of French music
  • French music editions and critical, historical performance practice
  • French national and transnational cultural identities
  • French cultural milieu: wartime, religion, institutions, publishing, political propaganda
  • Interdisciplinary connections with opera, ballet, dance and jazz

Principal research objectives include:

  • To act as a lively forum for French music enquiry, including performance
  • To research and develop work around the given themes at local, national and international levels, for the benefit of scholarship, other researchers, doctoral and undergraduate students, the public and wider communities (including the Hub’s edited book: Historical Interplay in French Music and Culture, 1860-1960, Routledge, 2018)
  • To work with other related organisations to develop high-level partnerships (including with the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester)
  • To organise seminars and international conferences around French music, including Editing, Performing and Re-Composing the Musical Past: French Neoclassicism (1870–), 5–7 September 2018

Key Staff

  • Christopher Dingle: Director, French Music Research Hub (especially Olivier Messiaen and Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges)
  • Dr Caroline Potter (Visiting Reader in Music): (especially Lili Boulanger, Boulez, Dutilleux and Satie)
  • Prof Graham Sadler: (especially Jean-Philippe Rameau and Jean-Baptiste Lully)
  • Dr Shirley Thompson: (especially Marc-Antoine Charpentier)
  • Emeritus Professor Deborah Mawer: Founder, French Music Research Hub (especially the music of Maurice Ravel and Darius Milhaud). N.B. Prof. Mawer is now retired so is not accepting new research students.

PhD Students and Awards (2014-)

  • Darquise Bilodeau (2016)
  • Salome Chitaia
  • Bruce Forman
  • Nana Katsia
  • En-Ming (Tim) Lin
  • Adrian Powney
  • Joe Waggott