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Professor David Owen Norris 

Head of Classical Performance and 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 Classical Performance at the University of Southampton. I allocate students to our panel of vocal and instrumental teachers, give keyboard classes and coach ensembles, and also teach individual piano students, usually at postgraduate level. All students can make individual appointments to see me for advice or audition.

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. Recordings I’ve released this year include the complete Chamber Music of Grace Williams on Naxos, which was an Editor’s Pick in the Guardian, the complete songs of Sir William Sterndale Bennett on EM Records, the complete songs of Edward Lear for Harvard University Press, and The Jupiter Project on Hyperion, currently No. 2 in the US Classical Charts.

My television work includes the archive programme Perfect Pianists, often repeated on BBC4, and six series of Chord of the Week on BBC2. My radio programmes include the Playlist series on Radio 4, again often repeated, and many editions of Building a Library on Radio 3.

I’m Professor of Musical Performance at the University of Southampton, Visiting Professor 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 acquisitions are a modern copy of an 1802 Schantz, an 1812 grand pianoforte by Strecker, and an 1826 Broadwood grand (with new case by Christopher Barlow), both the latter 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 pedal, 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. There are two oratorios, Prayerbook and Turning Points; and a Piano Concerto and a Symphony. Prayerbook, the Piano Concerto, and the two song-cycles are commercially 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. Our first CD is out on Hyperion.

Affiliate research groups

Music Performance Research, Musicology and Ethnomusicology

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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Book Chapters

  • Owen Norris, D. (2015). Foreword. In D. Wulstan (Ed.), Listen Again: A New History of Music Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Owen Norris, D. (2015). Introduction. In Gustav Holst. The Planets: Piano Chester Music.
  • Owen Norris, D. (2013). Introduction. In M. Aston (Ed.), Bach Transcriptions for Piano Oxford University Press.
  • Owen Norris, D. (2013). Introduction. In A Bach Book for Harriet Cohen (2 ed.). Oxford University Press.
  • Owen Norris, D. (2007). Foreword. In L. Foreman (Ed.), Bax: A Composer and his Times (3 ed.). Boydell Press.
  • Owen Norris, D. (2003). Preface. In D. O. Norris (Ed.), Roger Quilter – 18 Songs for Voice and Piano Boosey & Hawkes.

Creative Media and Artefacts

Professor David Owen Norris
Music Department
Building 2
University of Southampton
SO17 1BJ

Room Number : 2/Music Office

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