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Professor David Owen Norris 

Head of Classical Performance, Professor of Music

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Professor David Owen Norris is the Head of Classical Performance and Professor of Music at the University of Southampton.

I am Head of Keyboard and Percussion at the University of Southampton. I allocate keyboard students to our panel of instrumental teachers, give keyboard classes and coach ensembles, and also teach some individual piano students, usually at postgraduate level. All students can make individual appointments to see me for advice or audition. I teach the postgraduate seminar ‘Elements of Performance’, and I arrange the Tuesday lunchtime concert series shared between St. Michael’s Church, Southampton, and Romsey Abbey. 

My practice-led research encompasses performance, composition and broadcasting. I fulfil a busy performance schedule, as detailed in the research tab, appearing around the world on both modern pianos and ancient fortepianos. 2017 has seen the fourth performance of my political oratorio Turning Points, and the release of recordings of songs by Sullivan (Chandos), and Sterndale Bennett & Parry (EM Records). Another Sullivan recording is scheduled for next year. In the autumn of 2017 I’ll be recording Mozart arrangements by Clementi, Cramer & Hummel for Hyperion. 

My Chord of the Week helps make BBC2’s PromsExtra, returning for its fifth series in Summer 2017, the most widely watched classical music television programme in the world. The feature grew out of my deconstruction of And did those feet for the Prince of Wales’s programme on Hubert Parry: ‘sign this man up for a series!’ said the Sunday Times. My recent topics in BBC Radio 3’s comprehensive review Building a Library include Poulenc’s Flute Sonata (which I used to perform with its dedicatee, Jean-Pierre Rampal, on his British tours), Mozart’s C major Piano Concerto (which will feature on my Hyperion recording) and Holst’s Suite The Planets: ‘one of the great classics of Building a Library’, declared the late Michael Kennedy. During the summer of 2017 I’ll be contributing to a film about the friendship between Holst and Vaughan Williams. I’ve featured in a number of television programmes about Vaughan Williams, and last year my demonstration of his composing piano, on its return to his childhood home, made it to the national television news.

I’ve recently returned from judging the Montreal International Piano Competition, giving concerts and lectures while I was there. I’m Professor of Musical Performance at the University of Southampton, Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Music and at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Organists, and the Society of Antiquaries, and an Honorary Fellow of Keble College, Oxford.

Research interests

I curate Southampton’s Keyboard Collection. Our latest acquisition is an 1812 grand pianoforte by Strecker, with divided damper rail. This keys into my work on the eighteenth-century square piano: my Avie CD The World’s First Piano Concertos was the first serious exploration of this instrument. At present I’m working on how nineteenth-century composers like Cramer, Mendelssohn & Sterndale Bennett used the divided damper, and also how they employed dynamic marks to imply rubato. 

My recordings include many premieres: the complete piano works of Elgar, including his reconstructed Piano Concerto; concertos by Horowitz, Arnell, Phillips & Lambert; the complete piano music of Dyson & Quilter; the only integral recording of Schubert’s first song-cycle; the first recording of Winterreise on a fortepiano; selections from Jane Austen’s music collection; songs by Sterndale Bennett, Sullivan & Parry; the complete songs of Edward Lear, and so on. 

My own music includes the song-cycles Think only this & Tomorrow nor Yesterday, both out on CD. There are two oratorios, Prayerbook and Turning Points; and a Piano Concerto and a Symphony. Prayerbook and the Piano Concerto are recorded. I’m currently planning a recording of my piece for organ, saxophone quartet, poetry and film, HengeMusic. 

My new venture, the Jupiter Ensemble, will explore the unknown repertoire of early nineteenth-century arrangements of orchestral and operatic favourites.


Affiliate research group

Music Performance Research

Research project(s)

The Austen Family Music Books

Focusing on a heterogeneous set of pieces included in 17 music albums that belonged to Jane Austen and her female relations, this AHRC-funded project was a major study of domestic music making in the Austen family.

At Home with Music: Domestic Music-Making in Georgian Britain

Funded by the AHRC, ‘At Home with Music’ uncovered the hidden world of private music-making in Georgian Britain and explained how musical activities in the home contributed to contemporary concepts of emotion, gender, family and class.

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Professor David Owen Norris
Building 27, Room 2029, University of Southampton Highfield Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number: 6/1091

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