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Professor Katharine Ellis

Professor Katharine Ellis

Professor Katharine Ellis
BA(Oxon), DPhil(Oxon), FBA

The Stanley Hugh Badock Chair in Music

Victoria Rooms,
Queens Road, Clifton BS8 1SA
(See a map)

+44 (0) 1173314041


Katharine Ellis is a cultural historian of music in nineteenth-century France. She is author of three monographs (Music Criticism in Nineteenth-Century France (CUP, 1995), Interpreting the Musical Past (OUP, 2005), and The Politics of Plainchant (RMA/Ashgate, 2013)), and co-editor of The Musical Voyager, on Berlioz (Peter Lang, 2007), and of Words & Notes in the Long Nineteenth Century (Boydell, 2013). Her research is directed towards explaining what different kinds of music meant to those who experienced them, used them and avoided them, and how music and musicians operated in light of cultural, social and regulatory frameworks. She has published on the history of music and education, on women's musical careers, on music criticism, reception history and the press, on opera and its institutions, on Paris−province relations, and on musical fiction. Current projects include a monograph on musical life in regional France 1830 – 1914, research on concepts of the religious in French musical culture, and a co-authored book entitled Paris in Counterpoint (OUP).


Katharine Ellis studied at University College Oxford and, as a violinist, at the Guildhall School of Music. After a Junior Research Fellowship in French Studies at St Anne's College Oxford she held posts at the Open University (1991) and Royal Holloway, University of London (1994), before joining the University of Bristol in 2013.

In 2001 Katharine was selected as the first Royal Holloway Visiting Scholar at New York University (Music Department and Institute of French Studies). From 2006 to 2009 she was inaugural Director of the Institute of Musical Research at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. 

A former editor of both Music & Letters and the Journal of the Royal Musical Association, Katharine now serves as a Series Editor for the Boydell & Brewer ‘Music in Society & Culture’ monographs and as an Advisory Board member for Nineteenth-Century Music Review, and Editorial Board member of Music & Letters. She was Chair of the Royal Musical Association's Proceedings [Events] Committee 2011-214 and served on the Council of the American Musicological Society 2010-2014. She is co-director of a 200-strong international network of scholars working on Francophone Music Criticism, 1789-1914. In 2010 she was elected to membership of the Academy of Europe. In 2013 she was elected a Fellow of the British Academy.


Katharine has supervised over a dozen PhDs on subjects as diverse as Portuguese conservatoires, Romanticism and the Prix de Rome, and subsidy for contemporary music in twentieth-century London. She is always happy to talk to prospective students about new projects.


  • Social and cultural history of music in the 19th century
  • Paris and metropolitan France
  • music criticism and press history



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