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Joanne Cormac

Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow - Music, Faculty of Arts

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Biography

Joanne Cormac is a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow and during the academic year 2017-18 she is also a Visiting Scholar at Wolfson College, University of Oxford. She studied Music at the University of Nottingham (BA) and at the University of Birmingham (MMus and PhD). From 2013-15 she was a Lecturer in Music at Oxford Brookes University.

Expertise Summary

Joanne's research interests include 19th-century music and culture, with particular interests in the music of Franz Liszt (especially the symphonic poems), composer biography, opera and theatre, historiography, and reception issues. She is also developing a new research interest in music and science in Victorian London, placing popular scientific exhibitions and demonstrations within musical cultures.

Her current research project focuses on identity and narrative in composer biography; interfaces between scholarly biography and biographical work from popular culture; and the influence of biography on composer reception.

Teaching Summary

Joanne's teaching interests include, romanticism, programme music, opera, popular theatre, and biography. During the academic year 2017-18 she will be teaching the module 19th-Century Composer… read more

Research Summary

Joanne's current research project, entitled Telling Composers' Lives, is funded by the Leverhulme Trust. It forms the first comparative study of composer biographies across different media,… read more

Selected Publications

Joanne's teaching interests include, romanticism, programme music, opera, popular theatre, and biography. During the academic year 2017-18 she will be teaching the module 19th-Century Composer Biographies.

Current Research

Joanne's current research project, entitled Telling Composers' Lives, is funded by the Leverhulme Trust. It forms the first comparative study of composer biographies across different media, interrogating how biography provides a prism through which musicologists interpret musical works. The research unpicks the biographical narratives that have informed the reception of six 19th-century composers (Mendelssohn, Liszt, Clara and Robert Schumann, Chopin, and Berlioz). She is currently writing a monograph based on this research.

Past Research

Joanne Cormac's first monograph, Liszt and the Symphonic Poem (Cambridge University Press, 2017), offered a long-overdue examination of Liszt's vastly influential, but misunderstood and much-maligned, genre. Using contextual, philosophical, and musical evidence, Joanne tackled the thorny question: what is a symphonic poem? She overturned the traditional view that positions the symphonic poems as alternatives to the symphony post-Beethoven. In contrast, Joanne returned these influential pieces to their original performance context in the theatre, arguing that the symphonic poem is as much a dramatic as a symphonic genre.

Future Research

Joanne is also planning a new research project: Music and Science in Victorian London. This project will situate popular science within musical and aural cultures. It will examine the influence of musical performance and listening practices on scientific demonstrations and exhibitions of music and sound (particularly the Great Exhibition of 1851). She is also interested in why particular scientific theories were applied to music at the expense of others. Examining the rationale behind these choices may expose the non-empirical, subjective basis of much scientific thinking about music.

Department of Music

The University of Nottingham
Lakeside Arts Centre
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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