Emeritus Professor of Music
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After graduating with first-class honours from the University of Manchester, specializing in Musical Palaeography and Performance, and with Distinction in clarinet from the Royal Northern College of Music, Professor Ronald Woodley completed his DPhil in 15th-century music theory from Keble College, Oxford.
After holding academic lecturing appointments at Christ Church, Oxford, followed by the Universities of Liverpool, Newcastle and Lancaster, he moved into the conservatoire sector as Head of Postgraduate Studies & Research at the RNCM in 2001. He joined the Research Department of Birmingham Conservatoire in 2004 and served as Director of Research from 2010 to 2015. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and of the Society of Antiquaries of London.
Professor Woodley enjoys a wide-ranging career as musicologist and performer. As academic researcher, his main focus remains on the life and theoretical writings of the 15th-century musician and lawyer, Johannes Tinctoris; his ongoing internet resource devoted to Tinctoris, curated with his Conservatoire colleagues Dr Jeffrey J. Dean, Dr Christian Goursaud, and David Lewis, is available at Professor Woodley’s pioneering Early Music Theory website.
He also has active research interests in areas of music in the 19th and 20th centuries, especially relating to performance, and has published on Ravel, Prokofiev, and Steve Reich. More recently he has been developing research projects centred on the pianist Ilona Eibenschütz and issues of pianistic style in the circles of Brahms and Clara Schumann in the late 19th century, and has also worked on the music of George Antheil, especially the violin sonatas of the 1920s and Antheil’s collaboration with the violinist Olga Rudge.
Beyond the academic realm, but still informed by it, Professor Woodley maintains an active role as performer, as both clarinettist and chamber pianist. He has commissioned or premiered many new works, including compositions by Roger Marsh, Christopher Fox, James Wishart, Steve Ingham, Stephen Pratt and Liz Johnson, and as pianist focuses especially on two-piano repertory, with both Andrew West and Roy Howat as partners, and on song repertories e.g. of Britten, Duparc and Schubert, especially with the tenor James Geer. He has recorded the York Bowen Phantasy-Quintet for bass clarinet and strings, and the premiere recording of the Josef Holbrooke Ballade for bass clarinet and piano, with John Thwaites and the Primrose Quartet, released in 2016 on Meridian. At the same time, he collaborated with Liz Johnson on a new clarinet quintet Sea-change, for multiple clarinets (contrabass, bass, B flat, D, and E flat) and string quartet, released on the Métier label in 2017 with the Fitzwilliam Quartet. More recent CD recordings include a disc of songs by Holst and Joseph Holbrooke, with James Geer (tenor), released by EM Records in 2019, and 'Façades', a disc of songs and piano duet repertoire by William Walton and Constant Lambert, with James Geer (tenor) and Andrew West (piano), released by SOMM in 2020.
Ron retired in August 2018 to focus on his performing and recording activities as clarinettist and pianist, as well as continuing his musicological research on Tinctoris, for which he was awarded a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship in 2020.