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The University of Southampton

Two Fully-Funded PhD Studentships: The Making of the Modern Harpsichord

Published: 29 May 2013Origin: Music
Music at Southampton

The Department of Music at the University of Southampton (UK), together with The National Trust and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, announce TWO fully-funded collaborative PhD studentships, commencing 1 October 2013. These studentships are for the project The Making of the Modern Harpsichord.

This project aims to investigate the history of harpsichord revival in England, concentrating on the period from the mid-1930s onward, and to determine how the reinvention of the harpsichord by its advocates – musicians, collectors, cataloguers, instrument makers – influenced contemporary creative practice as well as fostering projects of historical revival. It will consider the development of harpsichord repertory in the twentieth century, interrogating the intersections between the edition and performance of historical works, the composition of new music, and the physical and sonic qualities of the increasingly prominent and rapidly evolving instrument. The practical context for both studentships will be provided by the National Trust, principally at Mottisfont Abbey, the childhood home of Raymond Russell – one of the most important figures in the mid-century early music revival – and at Fenton House (London) and Hatchlands (Surrey), both of which house important collections of period keyboard instruments. The project will assist in incorporating the musical activities of the house in future interpretation and display; and in mounting and promoting new additions to Mottisfont's programme of creative offerings and participatory events, so that music is reintegrated into the experience of Mottisfont for both local communities and visitors.

  • The first student will prepare a thesis assessing Raymond Russell’s role in the British revival of the harpsichord, as a collector, cataloguer, historian, and benefactor. The study should take account of Russell’s formative years at Mottisfont, during which his mother, Maud Russell, fostered her own reputation as a patron of the arts; and should also consider the importance of Russell’s activities to the nexus of academics, performers, and instrument builders that characterised the early music revival during the 20th century.
  • The second student will prepare a shorter thesis and a portfolio of recitals and other musical events for a performance-led research degree on the practical manifestations of the British harpsichord revival: the simultaneous developments of a newly- composed and newly-restored repertoire and an evolving instrument. This practice-led research will map new composition for the harpsichord both to the historical repertories and performance practices developed in early music revival, and to the particular qualities of instruments deployed in influential circles and institutions.
  • The musical events will not only demonstrate aspects of the research but also will be suitable for touring to historic properties as appropriate, and for filming and/or recording (including for example as podcasts or material for audio headsets) for use by the National Trust.

Student 2 should be a first-study keyboard player (harpsichordist, organist, or pianist). The students will be required to act as a team, with the predominantly historical work of student 1 supporting the more practice-led research of student 2, and vice versa.

As a successful candidate for one of these awards, you will:

  • spend about three-quarters of your time at the University of Southampton, where you will research and write a dissertation leading to a PhD in music. A vital part of this work will be the preparation of materials related to the 20th-century harpsichord revival for use by the National Trust at Mottisfont Abbey, Fenton House, Hatchlands and other properties as appropriate.
  • spend about one-quarter of your time working with the National Trust, in their regional and national offices and in the properties themselves, working in the collections and learning about modes of presenting historical research to a wide public.
  • (for student 2, and student 1 if appropriate) will receive harpsichord performance tuition and coaching from Southampton's principal harpsichord tutor, Jane Chapman, who specialises in contemporary repertoire for the instrument, and will be encouraged to interact with staff and student composers in the department.

The successful candidates are likely to have the following qualifications:

  • a passionate interest in the cultural history of music, and a desire to explore ways of sharing that interest with others
  • for the first studentship, an excellent (upper second or first class) undergraduate degree in music, or in a cognate subject such as history or art history; and a relevant masters degree (under certain circumstances, you may proceed directly from undergraduate to doctoral study if your qualifications and experience are appropriate)
  • for the second studentship, proficiency in musical performance to a professional level, demonstrated by appropriate qualifications, equivalent to an excellent undergraduate degree in music and a relevant master’s degree or professional diploma

The studentships will start on October 1 2013 (PhD programme commences 26 Sept), although a delayed start date may be considered if circumstances require.

PROJECT SUPERVISORS: Prof Jeanice Brooks ( and Dr Laurie Stras ( to whom any inquiries in advance of application should be addressed.

TO APPLY: send a covering letter (explaining your interest in the project and how you fit the criteria above) and a CV that includes the names of two referees to Dr Laurie Stras, Postgraduate Admissions Tutor, Department of Music, Building 2, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ; telephone: +44 (0)23 8059 2858; email Please also arrange for the two letters of reference to be sent to the same address to arrive by the closing date. We will request a sample of written work from shortlisted candidates immediately after the closing date. Candidates for the studentship in performance research will be requested to provide recorded materials, and may be asked to perform an audition.

THE AWARD: in the 2013-14 academic year, full-time awards provide a maintenance grant payment of £13,726, plus payment of standard tuition fees at the UKEU rate. The studentship is available to support three years' full-time work, subject to satisfactory progress, and can be taken on either a full-time or a part-time basis.

In addition, you will receive a CDA maintenance payment from the AHRC to help towards costs of working at both the University and the National Trust properties (currently £550), and a £1000 stipend p/a from The National Trust.

CLOSING DATE: 28 June 2013

INTERVIEWS: 19 July 2013 (in Southampton); candidates for the second studentship may also be required to audition

ELIGIBILITY: A full award covers both the cost of tuition fees at the UKEU rate and a maintenance grant. Full award residency rules require that you have been resident in the UK for at least three years immediately prior to starting the proposed programme of study; this includes being resident for the purposes of study. A fees-only award provides payment of tuition fees at the UKEU rate, but not a maintenance grant. Fees-only award residency rules require that you have been resident in the EU for the three years immediately prior to commencing. Fees-only award holders will also eligible to receive the £1000 p/a stipend from the National Trust.

All award holders will be eligible for additional funding of expenses for research travel and conference attendance, and for the full range of training offered by the University of Southampton.

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