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Dr David Beard


David Beard Position: Senior Lecturer | Director of Postgraduate Research Email:
Telephone: +44(0)29 208 74388
Fax: +44(0)29 208 74379
Extension: 74388
Location: 37 Corbett Road (Annexe), Room 0.21

Dr David Beard studied music at Durham University before completing an MMus in music theory and analysis at King’s College London, and a DPhil at the University of Oxford on the early instrumental music of Harrison Birtwistle. His book Musicology: The Key Concepts (Routledge, 2005), which he co-authored with Kenneth Gloag, reflects the learning environment at Cardiff, especially the MA courses in Musicology, and in Music, Culture and Politics. He has given research papers at UK universities as well as in Germany, Switzerland, Serbia and the USA, has contributed programme notes, essays and articles for the London Sinfonietta, BBC Proms, Music Theatre Wales, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and numerous music festivals, including Aldeburgh, Bregenz, Cheltenham, Salzburg, and Wexford Opera. He is currently a member of the American Musicological Society (AMS), the Society for Music Analysis (SMA), and the North American British Music Studies Association (NABMSA). He sits on the editorial board of the leading peer-review journal Music & Letters (Oxford University Press).

Dr Beard is Director of Postgraduate Research Studies and Subject Lead for Cardiff University on the Creative and Critical Subject Panel of the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Programme. At an undergraduate level, he currently teaches the following modules: ‘British Music in the 20th Century’ (Year 2) and ‘The Birth of Modernism’ (Year 3), and also supervises final-year dissertations. At a postgraduate level, he teaches a module entitled ‘Ethnicity, Race and Identity in Western Music’, and contributes to the seminars for ‘Research Skills’ and ‘The Language of Music’.




Musicology: The Key Concepts (Routledge) 2nd edition, co-authored with Kenneth Gloag


Harrison Birtwistle Studies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), co-edited with Kenneth Gloag and Nicholas Jones

Harrison Birtwistle’s Operas and Music Theatre (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012). Nominated for the American Musicological Society's Lewis Lockwood Award, and awarded Honorable Mention by the North American British Music Studies Association, Diana McVeigh Prize for Best Book on British Music, 2013

(with Kenneth Gloag) Musicology: The Key Concepts (London: Routledge, 2005)

Book Chapters, Journal Articles and Published Papers

‘What the Sketches Tell Us’, in Beard, Gloag and Jones (eds) Harrison Birtwistle Studies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015)

‘A selected inventory of Birtwistle manuscripts acquired by the British Library in 2013’, in Beard, Gloag and Jones (eds) Harrison Birtwistle Studies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, in 2015)

‘La communication des emotions et des affects vocaux et instrumentaux: L’exemple de Punch and Judy. Le point de vue du musicologue', Acto: Le journal du cercle du Grand Théâtre et du Grand Théâtre de Genève 7 (2011), 12–14

‘The Shadow of Opera: Dramatic Narrative and Musical Discourse in Gawain’, in Margaret Notley (ed.), Opera After 1900, Ashgate Library of Essays in Opera Studies, vol.6 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010), 319-55 [a republished item that originally appeared in Twentieth-Century Music 2/2 (2005); see below]

‘“Batter the Doom Drum”: The Music for Peter Hall's Oresteia and Other Productions of Greek Tragedy by Harrison Birtwistle and Judith Weir', in Peter Brown and Suzana Ograjensek (eds), Ancient Drama in Music for the Modern Stage (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 369-97

‘From Heroische Bogenstriche to Waldeinsamkeit: Gender and Genre in Judith Weir's Heroic Strokes of the Bow and Blond Eckbert', in Beate Neumeier (ed.), Dichotonies: Gender and Music (Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2009), 77-95

'Taverner: An Interpretation', in Kenneth Gloag and Nicholas Jones (eds), Maxwell Davies Studies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 79-105

‘Blurring the Boundaries. Geschlechterbeziehungen und Körperbilder in Harrison Birtwistle's The
und Semper Dowland, semper dolens’ in Laura Berman and Madlene Therese Feyrer (eds), Klang zu Gang Gedanken zur Musik in heutigen
Theaterformen, Recherchen
, vol. 73 (Berlin: Theater der Zeit, 2009), 37–48

‘Birtwistle’s Labyrinth [a preview of The Minotaur]’ Opera, 59/4 (April 2008), 372-381

(With Danijela Špirić-Beard) 'The Liminality of Song: Illusion and Reality in the Films of Emir
Kusturica', Texte und Töne: Zeitschrift zum Kopfschütteln, 1/1 (2008), 50-7.

‘Beauty and the Beast: A Conversation with Sir Harrison Birtwistle’, The Musical Times 149/1902 (2008), 9-25

' "A Face like Music": Shaping Images into Sound in The Second Mrs Kong', Cambridge Opera Journal, 18/3 (2006), 273-300

‘The Shadow of Opera: Dramatic Narrative and Musical Discourse in Gawain', Twentieth-Century Music, 2/2 (2005), 159-95

‘Meta-Narratives and Multidimensional Opera: Harrison Birtwistle’s 'The Mask of Orpheus', in Tatjana Markovic and Vesna Mikic (eds), Music and Networking: The Seventh International Conference (Beograd: Fakultet Muzicke Umetnosti, 2005), 143-53

‘The Endless Parade: Competing Narratives in Recent Birtwistle Studies’, Music Analysis, 23/1 (2004), 89-127

‘Britten’s Ambiguities; Tippett’s Times; Metzer’s Borrowings’, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 129/2 (2004), 305-23

'From the Mechanical to the Magical: A Pre-Compositional Plan for Birtwistle's Carmen Arcadiae Mechanicae Perpetuum', Mitteilungen der Paul Sacher Stiftung, 14 (2001), 29-33

Other Output

Reviews in Music & Letters, Twentieth-Century Music and The Musical Times, in addition to programme notes for various music festivals and opera houses.


Current Research

Following publication of Harrison Birtwistle Studies (Cambridge, 2015), including David's chapter 'What the Sketches Tell Us', supported by a Music Analysis Development Fund Award, and Harrison Birtwistle's Operas and Music Theatre (Cambridge 2012), supported by the British Academy and the AHRC, David has revised and updated Musicology: The Key Concepts, for Routledge. He is currently preparing the first book on music by Judith Weir (Master of the Queen's Music).

His other interests include: music since 1900; British music since 1945; opera, music theatre and incidental music since 1960; Steve Reich and minimalism; sketch studies and genetic criticism; music and politics; cultural theory and aesthetics; ethnicity, gender and identity; popular music, especially Robert Wyatt and electronica.

Research Papers, Public Lectures and Seminars



Public conversation with Harrison Birtwistle at the 'Open Circuit' contemporary music festival, Liverpool University, 5 March 2016.

‘“Out of the Air”: Judith Weir’s emergence in 1970s Britain’, part of themed session: ‘When was British musical modernism? Post-war perspectives, 1945-1980’, 51st annual RMA conference, University of Birmingham Department of Music, 9 September 2015


David Beard in conversation with Judith Weir (Master of the Queen’s Music), University of Nottingham Department of Music Colloquium Series, 24 March 2015

“The mystery of the kiosk composer”: Harrison Birtwistle's creative processes explained’, invited talk for ‘Birtwistle at 80’, a Study Day jointly run by the Institute of Musical Research and the BBC, Barbican Centre, London, 25 May 2014

‘“Stand back and light the fuse”: Harrison Birtwistle and the redistribution of authorial subjectivity’, invited talk at Liverpool University, Department of Music, 18 February 2014

‘Instinctive interventions: Birtwistle at the National Theatre and beyond’, talk at ‘Poetry, Music, Drama: the creation of contemporary opera’, a one-day conference bringing together poets, composers, producers and academics to discuss the collaborative processes involved in the creation of contemporary opera, Institute of Musical Research, University of London, 16 January 2013

‘Wagnerian Opera Transformed: Birtwistle’s Io Passion’, paper delivered at the ‘Love to Death’ opera conference, Wales Millennium Centre, 31 May 2012

An invited talk to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Peter Hall’s 1981 production of the Oresteia, organized by the APGRD, Classics Faculty, University of Oxford, held in the Taylorian Main Hall, Ashmolean Museum (other speakers included Tony Harrison and Oliver Taplin), 19 November 2011

Invited academic and public talks and participation in workshops on emotion communication in music, with emphasis on the vocal functions underlying the production of affect bursts and speech prosody, in conjunction with singers and instrumentalists performing Daniel Kramer’s award winning production of Birtwistle’s Punch and Judy. The Swiss Center for Affective Sciences, the University of Geneva, and the Grand Théâtre de Genève, 4–5 April 2011

‘When Actors Meet Musicians: The Music for Peter Hall’s Oresteia and “the Agamemnon Experiments”’, invited lecture and seminar, University of Aberdeen, 19 March 2010

‘“Incidental” Music? Settings of Greek Tragedy by Judith Weir and Harrison Birtwistle’, invited lecture, The Faculty of Classics and The Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama, Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, University of Oxford, 27 October 2008

‘From Heroische Bogenstriche to Waldeinsamkeit: Gender and Genre in Music by Judith Weir’, invited paper, ‘Dichotonies: a Workshop on Gender and Music’, Cologne University (part of the Klang.Körper Festival for Contemporary Music and Gender), 15 June 2008

‘Escaping the Labyrinth: Deciphering the “scene-agent ratio” in Harrison Birtwistle and Tony Harrison's Yan Tan Tethera’, Second Biennial Conference of the North American British Music Studies Association, Saint Michael's College, Colchester VT, 4 August 2006; also given as an invited lecture at Bristol University, 2 May 2006 and University of Cambridge, 29 March 2006

‘A Theatre of Sculptural Sound: Birtwistle’s Concept of a Secret Drama in Gawain’, invited lecture, Centre for Research in Opera and Music Theatre, University of Sussex, 24 November 2004

‘The Music of The Second Mrs Kong’, invited talk and round-table discussion with the composer and librettist, BBC SO, Royal Festival Hall, London, 6 November 2004

‘Meta-Narratives and Multidimensional Opera: Harrison Birtwistle’s The Mask of Orpheus’, invited paper, Music and Networking Conference, University of Belgrade, 14-17 April 2004

‘Subject Position, Style and Genre in Contemporary Electronica and Dance Music’, invited lecture, University of Surrey, November 2003; also presented as an invited lecture at the University of Durham, October 2003, and at the Third Biennial Conference on Twentieth-Century Music, University of Nottingham, June 2003

Current PhD Candidates

Ian Pace: ‘The Emergence of the West German Musical Avant-Garde and its Institutions, 1945–55’
Leo Tobisch: ‘Music and May ’68’
Martin Curda: ‘The Music of Pavel Haas’
Alicia Stark:  ‘Authenticity, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Virtual Band’