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Robert Adlington

Professor, Faculty of Arts

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Expertise Summary

My research interests include: music and democracy; music and modernism; the composers Louis Andriessen and Harrison Birtwistle; minimalism; music of the Netherlands; avant-garde music in the 1960s; avant-garde music theatre; the relationship between music and political/social movements; public subsidy and cultural policy; the Cold War; situationism; communism (especially outside the communist bloc).

I am author of The Music of Harrison Birtwistle (CUP, 2000), Louis Andriessen: De Staat(Ashgate, 2004), and Composing Dissent: Avant-garde Music in 1960s Amsterdam (OUP, 2013). I am editor of the volumes Sound Commitments: Avant-garde Music and the Sixties (OUP, 2009) and Red Strains: Music and Communism outside the Communist Bloc (OUP, 2013).

Between 2012 and 2015 I was Co-Editor (with Prof Julian Johnson) of the CUP journal Twentieth-Century Music. I am on the Editorial Boards of the Tijdschrift voor de Koninklijke Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis (TVNM) and the Routledge book series 'Musical Cultures of the Twentieth Century' (lead editor Prof Gianmario Borio). I was a member of the Music, Dance, Drama and Performing Arts sub-panel for HEFCE's REF2014 exercise.

I have broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and delivered pre-concert talks for Glyndebourne Opera, the South Bank Centre, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Aldeburgh Festival, and Het Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ in Amsterdam.

Teaching Summary

My teaching currently includes the undergraduate modules 'C20 Studies', 'Can Classical Music Change Lives?', 'Elements of Music I', 'Philosophy and Aesthetics of Music', and 'Work Placement'; and the… read more

Research Summary

My research addresses a broad swathe of significant contemporary music, with a primary focus upon composers and 'concert hall' repertoire, but also encompassing avant-garde jazz, improvisation and… read more

Recent Publications

  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 2016. The crises of sense: listening to 'Un re in ascolto'. In: Le théâtre musical de Luciano Berio édition L'Harmattan. (In Press.)
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 2016. Whose voices? The fate of Luigi Nono’s 'Voci destroying muros' Journal of the American Musicological Society. 69(1), 179-236
  • ADLINGTON, R., 2013. Composing dissent: avant-garde music in 1960s Amsterdam Oxford University Press.
  • ADLINGTON, R., ed., 2013. Red Strains: music and communism outside the communist bloc Oxford University Press for the British Academy.

My teaching currently includes the undergraduate modules 'C20 Studies', 'Can Classical Music Change Lives?', 'Elements of Music I', 'Philosophy and Aesthetics of Music', and 'Work Placement'; and the MA modules 'Approaches to Musicology' and 'Specialist Studies'.

I am active in developing Music modules with clear vocational relevance. 'Can Classical Music Change Lives?' examines contemporary projects using music to address conflict and social disadvantage, with the aim of giving students detailed knowledge of a field of crucial relevance to arts organisations in an era of funding austerity. Students are also exposed to specialist career paths outside the mainstream (for instance, in prisons, community arts organisations, and international music projects). I have developed a Work Placement module for music students, which offers 20 placements with a range of leading musical organisations in London and the East Midlands.

I believe that, in addition to preparing students for career pathways, university study cultivates habits of thought and levels of understanding that will immeasurably enhance graduates' future imaginative and intellectual lives, with consequent positive impact upon the communities to which they belong.

I expect to be on research leave for the autumn semester in 2017.

Current Research

My research addresses a broad swathe of significant contemporary music, with a primary focus upon composers and 'concert hall' repertoire, but also encompassing avant-garde jazz, improvisation and cross-media participatory art. Binding all of my recent research has been a concern to delineate critically the relationship between progressive musicians' creative practice and their socio-political commitments - a relationship that I perceive as complex and sometimes contradictory.

I have recently completed a book chapter on Un re in ascolto by Luciano Berio, and an article (to be published by the Journal of the American Musicological Society) on Luigi Nono's Voci destroying muros. I am currently working on a book chapter on musical modernism, and am preparing a new project on music and democracy.

Past Research

My book Red Strains: Music and Communism outside the Communist Bloc, held at the British Academy in January 2011. My latest publication is an essay on Berio's opera Un re in ascolto.

My doctoral thesis, entitled 'Temporality in post-tonal music', examined the relationships between listening, compositional structures and cultural concepts of time, and drew on a number of interdisciplinary fields, including music psychology, cognitive science, and critical and literary theory. Work from this thesis has appeared in Music Analysis, the Berkeley journal Repercussions, the Journal of the Royal Musical Assoication and the Indiana Theory Review.

I have also written extensively on contemporary classical music. My monograph, The Music of Harrison Birtwistle (Cambridge, 2000), is a comprehensive survey of the output of this major composer; further articles on Birtwistle have appeared in volumes published by Ashgate and Boydell and Brewer. I have published articles on the music of Rebecca Saunders, on music theatre since 1960, and on the Australian art-music collective SLAVE PIANOS. My book Louis Andriessen: 'De Staat', published by Ashgate in 2004, was the first monograph in any language on this leading composer.

Future Research

I am beginning work on a new project on music and democracy. Ideas of democracy have been prevalent in many contemporary musical practices, from free improvisation and participatory musics to jazz performance and orchestra-focused social inclusion projects, yet this conjunction has received little sustained academic attention. How can different musical practices instantiate different ideas of democracy? What assumptions are made about democracy by 'democratic' musicians? What elements of democratic musical practices are placed beyond democratic debate? How does music contribute to the global circulation of contestable ideologies of democracy? I will be exploring these and other questions in a monograph provisionally entitled Musical Models of Democracy.

  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 2016. The crises of sense: listening to 'Un re in ascolto'. In: Le théâtre musical de Luciano Berio édition L'Harmattan. (In Press.)
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 2016. Whose voices? The fate of Luigi Nono’s 'Voci destroying muros' Journal of the American Musicological Society. 69(1), 179-236
  • ADLINGTON, R., 2013. Composing dissent: avant-garde music in 1960s Amsterdam Oxford University Press.
  • ADLINGTON, R., ed., 2013. Red Strains: music and communism outside the communist bloc Oxford University Press for the British Academy.
  • ROBERT ADLINGTON, 2013. Expressive Revolutions: 1968 and Music in the Netherlands. In: BEATE KUTSCHKE and BARLEY NORTON, eds., Music and Protest in 1968 Cambridge University Press.
  • R.C. ADLINGTON, 2013. Communisms, Communist Musics. In: R.C. ADLINGTON, ed., Red Strains: Music and Communism outside the Communist Bloc Oxford University Press for British Academy. 1-19
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 2009. Forms of Opposition at the 'Politiek-Demonstratief Experimenteel' Concert. In: ADLINGTON, R.C., ed., Sound Commitments: Avant-garde Music and the Sixties New York: Oxford University Press. 56-77
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., ed., 2009. Sound Commitments: Avant-garde music and the Sixties Oxford University Press.
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 2009. Introduction: Avant-garde Music and the Sixties. In: ADLINGTON, R.C., ed., Sound Commitments: Avant-garde Music and the Sixties New York: Oxford University Press. 3-14
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 2008. 1968 and new music in the Netherlands. In: KUTSCHKE, B., ed., Musikkulturen in der Revolte: Studien zu Rock, Avantgarde und Klassik im Umfeld von '1968' Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag. 103-114
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 2007. "A sort of guerrilla": Che at the opera Cambridge Opera Journal. 19(2), 167-193
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 2005. Music theatre since the 1960s. In: COOKE, M., ed., The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth-Century Opera Cambridge : Cambridge University Press. 225-243
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 2005. Editorial (jointly authored with Sophie Fuller) Twentieth-Century Music. 2(1),
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 2004. Louis Andriessen: De staat Aldershot: Ashgate.
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 2004. Louis Andriessen, Hanns Eisler, and the Lehrstück Journal of Musicology. 21(3), 381-417
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 2003. Moving beyond motion: metaphors for changing sound Journal of the Royal Musical Association. 128(2), 297-318
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 2003. In the shadows of song: Birtwistle's Nine Movements for String Quartet. In: O'HAGAN, P., ed., Aspects of British Music in the 1990s Aldershot : Ashgate. 47-62
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 2003. A conversation with Harrison Birtwistle. In: O'HAGAN, P., ed., Aspects of British Music in the 1990s Aldershot : Ashgate. 111-118
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 2002. 'Good lodging': Harrison Birtwistle's reception of <i>Sir Gawain and the Green Knight</i>. In: BARBER, R.W., ed., King Arthur in music Cambridge: D.S. Brewer. 127-143
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 2002. Counting time, countering time: Louis Andriessen's "De Tijd" Indiana Theory Review. 22, 1-35
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 2001. Taking Soundings: Music, Non-Music and Slave Pianos. In: KESMINAS, D., ed., Slave pianos: a diagnosis, 1998-2001 Frankfurt : Revolver. 7-15
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 2001. Rebecca Saunders. In: SADIE, S., ed., The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians London : Macmillan.
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 2000. The Music of Harrison Birtwistle Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 2000. Signs of sound: notation and musical culture Siblings - Sibelius Web Magazine. September,
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 2000. Review of David Clarke, 'Tippett Studies' Music and Letters. 81(1), 145-48
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 1999. Into the sensuous world: The music of Rebecca Saunders Musical Times. VOL 140(ISSUE 1868), 48-56
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 1999. Review of Michael Hall, 'Harrison Birtwistle in Recent Years' Tempo (London, 1939). 209, 42
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 1998. Review of CD recording of Birtwistle, 'The Mask of Orpheus' Tempo (London, 1939). 204, 43
  • ADLINGTON,R.C., 1997. David Epstein, 'Shaping Time: Music, the Brain, and Performance' Music Analysis. 16(1), 155-71
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 1997. Musical Temporality: Perspectives from Adorno and de Man Repercussions. 6(1), 5-60
  • ADLINGTON,R.C., 1996. Review of CD recordings of Matthews, Sackman and Sawer, 'Guiding Hand' Musical Times. 137(no 1838), 30-31
  • ADLINGTON,R.C., 1996. Review of CD recordings of Maxwell Davies and Birtwistle, 'Grammar-school boys' Musical Times. 137(no 1835), 35-37
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 1996. Live music review, 'Summary justice' (Harrison Birtwistle festival, Southbank Centre) Musical Times. July, 31-34
  • ADLINGTON, R., 1996. Harrison Birtwistle's Recent Music Tempo (London, 1939). ISSUE 196, 2-8
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 1995. Live music review, 'Cresswell and Mason at the Proms' Musical Times. October, 564-565
  • ADLINGTON,R.C., 1995. Arnold Whittall: a bibliography Music Analysis. 14(2-3), 141-60
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 1995. Review of CD recordings of Holloway and Ligeti violin concertos Musical Times. March, 163
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 1995. Priorities for the next "critical musicology" conference Critical Musicology. 3, 14-15
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 1995. Review of CD recording of Birtwistle, 'Antiphonies' Musical Times. June, 312
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 1994. Review of Benjamin, 'Antara' Musical Times. February, 95
  • ADLINGTON,R.C., 1994. Review of CD recording of Glass, 'Through a glass darkly' Musical Times. 135(no 1813), 164-165
  • ADLINGTON,R.C., 1994. Review of Ferneyhough, 'Carceri d'invenzione l' etc. Musical Times. 135(no 1817), 450-451
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 1994. Live music review of Birtwistle, 'Gawain' Musical Times. July, 463
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 1994. Live music review, South Bank Centre 'Meltdown' festival Musical Times. September, 582-584
  • ADLINGTON, R.C., 1994. Review of Boulez, 'Anthemes' Musical Times. December, 764

Department of Music

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

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