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Music in Twentieth-Century Oxford

Our Archivist, Dr Robin Darwall-Smith (1982, Classics), has co-edited with Professor Susan Wollenberg, Emeritus Music Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, a book of essays titled Music in Twentieth-Century Oxford: New Directions. It was published by Boydells in April.

Rather remarkably, this is the first book-length study of musical education and culture in twentieth-century Oxford. As pioneers in this untrodden terrain, Robin and Susan, and their team of specialist contributors, have written a group of essays which reflect the very varied nature of classical music-making in Oxford.

Members of Univ will be especially interested to know that one of Robin’s contribution is an history of the University College Musical Society down to 2000. Ours is one of the best-documented music societies of any College, and it offers a perfect opportunity for a case study of how a College like ours came to acquire a vibrant musical tradition.

In addition, however, Robin and Susan’s book sheds valuable light on music’s special ability to link town and gown in Oxford, especially in the city’s many choirs. They also discuss some important new initiatives, such as the creation of the University’s Faculty of Music, and explore the lively musical culture of the women’s Colleges, but also they consider the development of the great Collegiate choral foundations. They hope that it will be a useful contribution to the study of Oxford’s thriving cultural life.

More information on the book, including a list of contents, can be found here.

Published: 27 April 2023

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