Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Music

School History

The School of Music has enjoyed a long and successful presence on the Leeds University campus. Established in the years before the Second World War as part of the Department of Education but emerging in its own right after the conflict, the School has grown in scale substantially in the last decade, embracing changes in approach to the study of Music while retaining its core interests in the lengthy history of music-making, from the medieval to the contemporary.

Located for much of its life in a series of nineteenth-century terrace houses in the University’s Cromer Terrace, the School took up residence, in 2003, in a £4m, purpose-built building adjacent to the Clothworkers’ Centenary Concert Hall, the former Victorian church that has been the department’s primary performance space for many years.

The move allowed expansion and a bold step into a new Millennium. The traditional concerns of the School – musicological and historical matters and performance – were extended to fully embrace new linked disciplines: technology, psychology, ethnomusicology and the study of popular music. In the process, the School became one of the largest Music departments in the UK. As part of the move, CCCH was carefully restored.

The progress of Music at Leeds has been marked by the contributions of a number of significant academics, many of whom have been Heads of School. Historically, the title West Riding Professor of Music was an honour awarded to a number of those who led the department, including James Denny in the 1950s, Alexander Goehr in the early 1970s and Ian Kemp in the later 1970s. The last to hold the West Riding Professor title was leading Mozart and Elgar scholar Julian Rushton, who retired in 2005 but retains his Emeritus staus.

Others who have attained professorial status in recent years include Richard Rastall, Professor of Historical Musicology, who retired in 2005, Philip Wilby, Professor of Composition until 2006, Graham Barber, Professor of Performance Studies until 2007, Peter Holman, Professor of Historical Musicology, who retired in 2010, Kevin Dawe, Professor of Ethnomusicology, from 2011, Martin Iddon, Professor of Music and Aesthetics, from 2013, and Michael Allis, Professor of Musicology appointed in 2015.

Recent heads, David Cooper, Professor of Music and Technology, Clive Brown, Professor of Applied Musicology, and Derek Scott, Professor of Critical Musicology have continued to raise the profile of the School nationally and internationally. Present head Karen Burland, the first woman to hold the post and who took the reins in February 2016, takes a particular interest in the psychology of music.

The School has, over the years, also created links with the wider community of important composers and musicians, awarding honorary doctorates to a gallery of some of the greatest figures in the field, Frederick Delius, Julian Bream and Jacqueline du Pré among them. In 2011, Peter Blake, the great British Pop artist, whose illustrative work for the Beatles is legendary, joined that pantheon of honorees.

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