Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Music

Dr Matthew Pritchard

Lecturer in Musical Aesthetics

School of Music, 1.16

Office hours: Wednesday, 4.00-5.00pm

BA (Mus), MPhil, PhD

Matthew Pritchard was appointed Lecturer in Musical Aesthetics following a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Cambridge. His research interests include the history of music aesthetics and music theory since the late eighteenth century, particularly in German-speaking lands, and the music of Bengal.


Matthew completed his BA and MPhil at Cambridge (Jesus College) before going to Royal Holloway, University of London, to work on a PhD supervised by Nicholas Cook, with the title “Analysis and melody in late Beethoven”. He then spent a year studying Bengali music, focussing on the songs of Rabindranath Tagore, in the university Tagore founded, Visva-Bharati in Santiniketan, West Bengal, learning with Mohan Singh Khangura and Malay Shankar Chattopadhyay. In 2010 Matthew returned to Cambridge to take up a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship mentored by Prof Cook, further exploring interests in the modern history of music analysis and music aesthetics. These have been reflected in a number of translations, from both German and Bengali, and published articles relating to historical aesthetic issues. A book manuscript tracing the history and consequences of the “aesthetics of feeling” is currently in preparation, as well as an edition (with translations) of Tagore’s songs.

Research Interests

– History of modern music aesthetics, especially in Germany

– History of (esp. motivic) analysis and theories of melody

– Music of Bengal


MUSS2520 Aesthetics and Criticism

MUSS3540 Contemporary Aesthetics

MUSS5535 Aesthetic Theory


Journal articles

  • Tagore R, ‘Two Tagore Essays: "Inner and Outer" and "Music’, Sangeet Natak, 46.1-4 (2013), 207-219

  • Pritchard M, ‘A poem in a medium not of words: music, dance and arts education in Rabindranath Tagore's Santiniketan’, Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 13.1-2 (2013), 101-114
    DOI: 10.1177/1474022213491344

  • Pritchard M, ‘A heap of broken images"? Reviving Austro-German debates over musical meaning, 1900-1936’, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 138.1 (2013), 129-174

  • Besseler H, Auerbach I, ‘Fundamentals of Musical Listening (1925)’, Twentieth-Century Music, 8.1 (2012), 49-70

  • Pritchard M, ‘Who killed the concert? Heinrich Besseler and the inter-war politics of Gebrauchsmusik’, Twentieth-Century Music, 8.1 (2012), 29-48

  • Pritchard M, ‘The moral background of the work of art": "character" in German musical aesthetics, 1780-1850’, Eighteenth-Century Music, 9.1 (2012), 63-80


  • Pritchard M, ‘Cultural Autonomy and the Indian Exception: Debating the Aesthetics of Indian Classical Music in Early 20th-Century Calcutta’, in Studies on a global history of music : a Balzan musicology project, ed. by Strohm R, SOAS Musicology Series (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2018)
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/121328/

  • Pritchard M, ‘Wege aus dem Systemzwang der Moderne: Eine vergleichende Perspektive auf Tagores Begriff des ‘Überschusses’, in Un autre regard sur la modernité/Ein anderer Blick auf die Moderne – Rabindranath Tagore, ed. by Fois-Kaschel G (Tubingen: Francke Narr, 2014), 87-101

  • Pritchard M, ‘Übergangsharmonien. Die “Kunst des Übergangs” als Erkundung des tonalen Raums im Spätwerk Liszts und Wagners’, in Passagen. Theorien des Übergangs in Musik und anderen Kunstformen, musik.theorien der gegenwart (Saarbrücken: Pfau Verlag, 2009), 3, 169-187

Conference papers

  • Pritchard M, ‘The Kinks, or a Redefinition of English National Identity’, in New Perspectives in British Cultural History, ed. by Gange DJ, Crone R and Jones K (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007), 266-274 New Perspectives in British Cultural History, 1600-2000, Cambridge, 08/12/2005 - 09/12/2005

Research Projects & Grants

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship (2010-13)

PhD Thesis

“Analysis and melody in late Beethoven”

In this thesis I attempted to develop alternative approaches to melody in Beethoven, considered as an increasingly significant compositional and aesthetic resource in his later works. The thesis first of all investigates how the recent analytical interpretation of the late works has been dominated by motivic models, how severe technical and philosophical problems adhere to the application of motivic analysis in the work of musicologists such as Carl Dahlhaus and Lewis Lockwood, and how the original nineteenth-century understanding of motive and motivic work (in writers such as Anton Reicha, A. B. Marx and J.C. Lobe) was lost during the changes in music aesthetics and theory that occurred in the first few decades of the twentieth century. The central three chapters of the thesis take three commonly-identified leading characteristics of the late work – voice, difficulty, and expression – and attempt to criticize, theorize and analyze each of these in some detail as they are manifested in individual passages of music, paying particular attention to melodic features. The concluding chapter asks how these critical instances could be brought together within a global understanding of Beethoven’s late work. It questions the applicability and conceptual basis of stylistic approaches, whether founded on ideas of personal style, classical style, or “late style”, and proposes a renewal of attention to early nineteenth-century critical and aesthetic discourses centred on the ideas of character and “humour”. The “material” aspect of music stressed in both twentieth-century motivic and stylistic approaches, it is argued, should not continue to take precedence over more “ideal” qualities, prized by Beethoven, his critics and contemporaries, but not locatable in the score in such deictic, “objective” terms.



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