Meet our PhD supervisors: Professor Rachel Cowgill
BMus Goldsmiths College, University of London, MMus (Historical Musicology) King’s College, London, PhD (focused on the reception of Mozart in late Georgian London) King’s College, London
Music and memorialisation
Mozart reception and canon formation
Gender, sexuality and identity in music
British music and musical cultures
Professor Cowgill’s work explores the place, practice and meaning of music in its cultural, historical, and political contexts. She has particular expertise in archival research.
She was appointed to a Chair in Musicology at Cardiff in 2011, and taught previously at Huddersfield University, the University of Leeds, and Liverpool Hope University.
Rachel is Editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Royal Musical Association and co-edits the book series ‘Music in Britain, 1600-1900’ for Boydell & Brewer. Her research has been funded by the British Academy and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK). She appears regularly on TV and radio, and has provided programme notes and/or pre-performance lectures for Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Opera North, London Handel Festival, Leeds International Concert Series and the Southbank Centre. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA).
Current book projects
- The Rise and Fall of the Metropolitan Police Minstrels – Rachel is currently working on this history of an amateur blackface minstrel troupe active in London from 1872 – 1933. Consisting of members of the London Metropolitan Police, the troupe gave numerous public concerts in aid of police charities.
- Redeeming the Requiem: The English Reception of Mozart’s Last Work – An exploration of changing attitudes in Britain towards Mozart’s Requiem, the myths that developed around the work, and its significance in the Victorians’ ‘idea’ of Mozart.
- Music and the Idea of the North – Rachel is co-editing this volume of essays with Dave Russell and Derek Scott.
- Mediating Memory: Artistic Responses to European Conflict in the Twentieth Century – As well as co-editing this collection of essays (with Terry Philips, Christopher Scheer, and Guy Tourlamain), Rachel is also writing an article on ‘Sounding the Peace: Music for Armistice Day on the BBC 1927-39’.
- The Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century (March 2012, OUP) – Co-edited with Hilary Poriss, this is the first collection of essays on the prima donna to focus more on the actual performers than on the characters they portrayed. The collection features a case of renowned contributors in an impressive display of current approaches to the lives, careers and performances of female opera singers. Rachel’s contribution is an essay on the prima donna, bodily gesture and spectatorship at the Italian Opera in early nineteenth-century London.
- Art and Ideology in European Opera: Essays in Honour of Julian Rushton (2010) – This co-edited volume is in honour of Julian Rushton, one of the most distinguished opera scholars of his generation and highly regarded for his innovative studies of Gluck, Mozart and Berlioz, among many others. Rachel’s contribution is an essay engaging with the esoteric reception of Mozart’s Magic Flute in early nineteenth-century Europe, specifically its interpretation as a pro-Jacobin text, drawing on new sources.
- Music in the British Provinces (1690 – 1914) - The period covered by this volume has traditionally been seen as a dark age in British musical history. This co-edited volume is the first book to concentrate specifically on musical life in the provinces, bringing together new archival research and offering a fresh perspective on British music of the period. Rachel’s essay concerns the development of choral culture in Yorkshire particularly in relation to early performances of Messiah.
Full list of publications online at: http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/music/contactsandpeople/profiles/cowgill.html
One of Rachel’s research interests is the repertoire selected for Armistice Day broadcasts, what it reveals about the role of music, and certain works in particular, in defining remembrance rituals following the First World War.
Watch Rachel discuss an aspect of this research:
Dr Cowgill has successfully supervised six postgraduate research students and is currently supervising three students working on opera-related and interdisciplinary topics. She would be happy to consider applications from students considering postgraduate research in the following areas:
The Eisteddfod and musical negotiations of Welsh identity in nineteenth-century Britain
Female vocality and embodiment in operatic performance
Music in Victorian coastal resorts and ports
Transatlantic connections in music before 1950
British music, war and memorialisation
Interested in pursuing postgraduate research at one of the largest and most diverse music schools in the UK? The School of Music is currently offering three competitive Studentships that cover tuition fees at the Home/EU rate. More information on our funding opportunities is available at: