Professor Philip Olleson was educated at Oundle School (1959-65), The Royal College of Music (1965-66) and the University of Cambridge (1966-70), where he read Music and Philosophy. He subsequently worked at the Open University (1970-72) and at Ulster College, The Northern Ireland Polytechnic (now part of The University of Ulster) (1972-75), before joining the University of Nottingham as Lecturer in Music in the Department of Adult Education in January 1976.
He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in Music in 1998, to Reader in Historical Musicology in 2003 and to Professor of Historical Musicology in 2004.
He was a member of the University's Senate and Council between 2007 and 2009.
He retired from the School of Education, where he was latterly Director of the Centre for Continuing Education (2004-06) and Deputy Head of School (2006-08), in August 2009. He retains his association with the University as Emeritus Professor of Historical Musicology in the Department of Music.
He was a member of the AHRC Peer Review College from 2006 to 2009. In March 2007 he was chair of the international Evaluation and Accreditation Team for the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, carried out for the Estonian Higher Education Accreditation Centre. In 2008 he was a member of the QAA working party on the revision of the benchmarks for Music degree courses.
He was President of the Royal Musical Association from November 2008 to September 2011, having served as a member of Council from 2001 to 2004 and from 2005 to 2008.
Philip Olleson is a social historian of music, biographer and editor with wide research interests in music in England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including the composer and organist Samuel Wesley (1766-1837), the music historian and man of letters Dr Charles Burney (1726-1814), and Burney's third daughter Susan Burney Phillips (1755-1800).
His most recent publication is The Journals and Letters of Susan Burney: Music and Society in Late Eighteenth-Century England, published by Ashgate in May 2012. His other publications include The Letters of Samuel Wesley: Professional and Social Correspondence, 1797-1837 (2001), Samuel Wesley (1766-1837): A Source Book (2001) (with Michael Kassler), and Samuel Wesley: The Man and his Music (2003).
He has also written journal articles and book chapters on Wesley's role in the English Bach movement, on the collaboration between Wesley and Vincent Novello in publishing music from the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (with Fiona M. Palmer), on the provincial music festival in England in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, on Roman Catholic church music in England in the late eighteenth century, and on issues in musical biography.
- The Journals and Letters of Susan Burney: Music and Society in Late Eighteenth-Century England (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012),
- Samuel Wesley: The Man and his Music (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2003)
- The Letters of Samuel Wesley: Professional and Social Correspondence, 1797-1837 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001)
- Samuel Wesley (1766-1837): A Source Book (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001) (with Michael Kassler)
(b) Chapters in books
- 'Samuel Wesley and the Development of Organ Pedals in England' in Bennett Zon (ed.), Music and Performance Culture in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012), 283-97.
- 'Father and Sons: Charles Wesley, Samuel Wesley, and Charles Wesley the Younger', in Stephen Banfield and Nicholas Temperley (eds.), Music and the Wesleys (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2010), 175-82.
- 'Charles Wesley and his Children', in Kenneth Newport and Ted Campbell (eds.), Charles Wesley: Life, Literature and Legacy (Peterborough: Epworth Press, 2007), 124-40
- 'Novel into Opera: The Case of Richard Rodney Bennett's Victory', in Mario Curreli (ed.), The Ugo Mursia Memorial Lectures, 2nd Series: Papers from the International Conrad Conference, University of Pisa, September 16-18 2004 (Pisa: Edizioni ETS, 2005), 259-69
- 'Samuel Wesley and the English Bach Awakening', in Michael Kassler (ed.), The English Bach Awakening: Knowledge of J. S. Bach and his Music in England, 1750-1830 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004), 215-313
- 'Samuel Wesley and the Music Profession', in Christina Bashford and Leanne Langley (eds.), Music and British Culture, 1785-1914: Essays in Honour of Cyril Ehrlich (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 23-38
- 'The London Roman Catholic Embassy Chapels and their Music in the Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Centuries', in David Wyn Jones (ed.), Music in Eighteenth Century England (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000), 101-18
- 'Dr Burney, Samuel Wesley, and Bach's Goldberg Variations', in Jon Newsom and Alfred Mann (eds.), The Rosaleen Moldenhauer Memorials: Music from Primary Sources. A Guide to the Moldenhauer Archives , ed. Jon Newsom, (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 2000), 169-75
- 'The Obituary of Samuel Wesley', in Bennett Zon (ed.), Nineteenth-Century British Music Studies vol. 1 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999), 121-33
(c) Journal articles
- 'Publishing Music from the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge: The Work of Vincent Novello and Samuel Wesley in the 1820s', Journal of the Royal Musical Association 130 (2005), 138-71 (with Fiona M. Palmer)
- 'New Samuel Wesleyana', Musical Times, Summer 2003, 49-53 (with Michael Kassler)
- 'Samuel Wesley and the Missa de Spiritu Sancto', Recusant History 24 (1999), 309-19
- 'The Wesleys at Home: Charles Wesley and his Children', Methodist History 36 (1998), 139-52
- '"The Perfection of Harmony Itself": The William Hawkes Patent Organ and its Temperament', British Institute of Organ Studies Journal 21 (1997), 106-26
- 'The Organ-builder and the Organist: Thomas Elliot and Samuel Wesley', British Institute of Organ Studies Journal 20 (1996), 116-25
- 'Samuel Wesley and the European Magazine', Notes 52 (1996), 1097-1111
- 'Crotch, Moore, and the 1808 Birmingham Festival', Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle 29 (1996), 143-60
(d) Contributions to works of reference
- 'Attwood, Thomas', 'Busby, Thomas' 'Callcott, John Wall', 'Potter, Cipriani', 'Crotch, William', Phillips, Susanna Elizabeth', 'Webbe, Samuel the elder', Webbe, Samuel the younger', 'Wesley, Samuel' in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004)
- 'Wesley, Samuel', article and work list, in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (second edition) (London: Macmillan, 2001), vol. 27, 304-12