Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Music

Dr Stephen Muir

Senior Lecturer in Musicology and Performance

0113 343 8229

School of Music, Room 2.08

Office hours: Use online booking system: https://my.timedriver.com/P6X8P

BMus, PhD (Birmingham)

Stephen Muir’s research focuses on the music of Russia and Eastern Europe, particularly Rimsky-Korsakov and the so-called “Russian School”, the critical editing of music, and Jewish liturgical music. He is Assistant Director of The Clothworkers Consort of Leeds, and a member of Leeds Baroque Choir.


Stephen Muir was educated at Bradford Grammar School and the University of Birmingham, graduating with a first-class degree (1994) and PhD on Rimsky-Korsakov’s operas (2000). He has worked as a professional percussionist and conductor, and is in demand as a tenor soloist throughout the North of England.

Research Interests

Stephen Muir’s research focusses in two areas:

  • the music of Russia and Eastern Europe, with a particular emphasis on opera;
  • Jewish musical phenomena in Russia, South Africa and the UK.

Within these two realms, the following topics are of particular interest:

  • Russian music
  • Czech music
  • Opera
  • Vocal performing practices
  • Jewish liturgical music
  • Jewish music and identity

His PhD thesis (The Operas of Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov from 1897 to 1904; Birmingham, 2000) resulted in articles and chapters in Russian and English collections, and presentations at Russian conferences. He is also interested in vocal performing practices, particularly of the nineteenth century. Alongside this, he has participated in a number of research-led operatic premieres at Bretton Hall and the University of Leeds. More recently, research has turned to Jewish liturgical music, particularly in the South African context, including the migration of Jewish musicians and their music from Eastern Europe and Russia to Southern Africa in the early years of the twentieth century.

Between December 2014 and July 2018 he was Principal Investigator on the £1.8m AHRC ‘Care for the Future’ project Performing the Jewish Archive.


Modules to which I often contribute

  • Music in History and Culture: lectures in Russian and East European Music
  • Performance classes at all levels
  • Music Research Skills: research skills tutorials, lectures
  • Music in Context: Music and National Identity, Music and the Abrahamic Faiths, Music and Drama
  • Analysis
  • Dissertation: supervising Russian/Eastern European topics, Jewish music topics
  • Professional Skills: presentation skills, writing funding applications


  • 2003-2007: School Examinations Officer
  • 2007-11: Director of Learning and Teaching, responsible for all Learning and Teaching activities in the School, chair of School Learning and Teaching Committee, member of School Management Committee and Workload Group
  • 2011-14: Manager, BA Music programme
  • 2011-14: Manager, BA Year in Industry scheme
  • 2011-14: Manager, BA Study Abroad Year
  • 2011-14: School International Officer



  • Wagner in Russia, Poland and the Czech Lands: Musical, Literary and Cultural Perspectives, ed. by Muir S and Belina-Johnson A (Ashgate, 2013)

Journal articles

  • Ireland DI, ‘Empathy and ethics in Holocaust film music: A response to Matt Lawson’, Empirical Musicology Review, 10.2 (2015), 49-53 (Accepted)

  • Muir S, ‘Review of 'Jews, Race and Popular Music' by Jon Stratton’, Journal of the Musical Arts in Africa, 11.1 (2014), 136-139
    DOI: 10.2989/18121004.2014.995440, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/82476/

  • Muir S, ‘Hasidism and Mitnagdism in the Russian Empire: the (mis)use of Jewish music in Polish-Lithuanian Russia’, Journal of Synagogue Music, ed. by Levine J and Berlin RM, 38 (2013), 193-212
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/76279/

  • Muir S, ‘About as wild and barbaric as well could be imagined...': Critical reception of Rimsky-Korsakov in Nineteenth-Century England’, Music and Letters, 93.4 (2012), 513-542
    DOI: 10.1093/ml/gcs070

  • Muir S, White B, ‘Opera in the universities’, OPERA, 54.11 (2003), 1317-1318

  • Muir S, ‘Musical Sources for Antonin Dvorak's Tvrde palice: preliminary findings’, Hudebni Veda, 40.2-3 (2003), 169-190

  • Muir S, ‘Rimsky-Korsakov, Sadko and the byliny’, British Postgraduate Musicology, 1.1 (1997), 5-13


  • Muir S, ‘From the shtetl to the Gardens and beyond: identity and symbolic geography in Cape Town’s synagogue choirs’, in The Globalization of Musics in Transit: Musical Migration and Tourism, ed. by Kruger S and Trandafoiu R, Routledge Research in Ethnomusicology (Routledge, 2013), 209-229
    DOI: 10.4324/9780203082911, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/76215/

  • Muir S, ‘The end of opera itself’: Rimsky-Korsakov and Wagner’, in Wagner in Russia, Poland and the Czech Lands: Musical, Literary and Cultural Perspectives, ed. by Muir S and Belina-Johnson A (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013), 23-48

  • Muir S, ‘Rimsky-Korsakov, Pan Voyevoda and the Polish Question: Exposing the 'Orientalist Irony’, in Art and Ideology in European Opera, ed. by Cowgill R, Cooper D and Brown C (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2010), 327-350

  • Muir S, ‘Rimsky-Korsakov, Pan Voyevoda, and the Polish Question: exposing the “occidentalist irony’, in Art and Ideology in European Opera: Essays in Honour of Julian Rushton ([n.pub.], 2010)

  • Muir S, ‘Piano-vocal reductions of Dvorak's early operas: a question of authorship’, in The Work of Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904): Aspects of Composition, Problems of Editing, Reception, ed. by Gabrielova J and Kachlik J (Prague: Institute of Ethnology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, 2007), 259-264

  • Muir S, ‘Serviliya" N. A. Rimskogo-Korsakova’, in Peterburgskaya konservatoriya v mirom muzykalnom protsesse 1862-2002, ed. by Danko LG (St. Petersburg Conservatory, 2002), 173-176

  • Muir S, ‘Conducting’, in The Oxford Companion to Music, ed. by Latham A (Oxford University Press, 2002), 292-295

  • Muir S, ‘Russia’, in The Oxford Companion to Music, ed. by Latham A (Oxford University Press, 2002), 1088-1093

  • Muir S, ‘Bibliografiya angliskikh i amerikanskikh issledovanii o Rimskom-Korsakove 1990-ykh godakh’, in Voprosy muzykalnogo istochnikovedeniya i bibliografiyi: sbornik nauchnykh statei, ed. by Purtov FE and Gradoboeva NV (St Petersburg Conservatory, 2001), 102-110

  • Muir S, ‘Rimsky-Korsakov's Operatic Legacy’, in Discovering Rimsky-Korsakov, ed. by Mann N (Centre for Russian Music, 1998), 12-15

Conference papers

  • Muir S, ‘From the Shtetl to the Gardens and Beyond: Identity and Symbolic Geography in Cape Town’s Synagogue Choirs’ Choir in Focus: International Conference on the Concepts and Practices of Choral Singing, Lund, Sweden, 17/10/2012 - 20/10/2012

  • Muir S, ‘Reception of Rimsky-Korsakov in the 19th century English press’ Russian and Soviet Music: Reappraisal and Rediscovery, University of Durham, 11/07/2011 - 14/07/2011

  • Muir S, ‘The Chazzan and the Choir: status, function and social dynamic in contemporary British Orthodox Jewish choirs’ The Choir: Artistic, Pedagogical and Scholarly Perspectives, Sibelius Academy, Helsinki, 20/05/2010 - 22/05/2010

  • Muir S, ‘Towards a Critical Edition of Tvrde palice: preliminary findings’, in RMA Study Day: Dvorak's Operas (RMA Study Day: Dvorak's Operas, 2003)


  • Muir S, Antonin Dvorak: Tvrde palice (The Stubborn Lovers),

  • Brown C, Lampe: Margery, or a Worse Plague than the Dragon,

  • Muir S, J.C. Bach: Amadis de Gaule,

Scholarly editions

  • Muir S, Antonin Dvorak: Tvrde palice (opera in one act): Critical Edition, (Editio Baerenreiter Prague, [n.d.]) (Accepted)

Research Projects & Grants

  • 1995-98: British Academy Full Postgraduate Studentship
  • 2002-03: AHRB Small Grant
  • 2005-06: Faculty Research Leave (semester 1)
  • 2005-06: AHRB Research Leave (semester 2)
  • 2006: AHRB Small Grant
  • 2007: University of Leeds HEIF III Fund
  • 2008-11: University of Leeds HEIF IV Fund
  • 2010: AHRC International Conference Grant
  • 2011-12: Worldwide Universities Network Research Mobility Programme grant
  • 2013-14: Worldwide Universities Network, Fund for International Research Collaborations: “Music, Memory and Migration in the Post-Holocaust Jewish Experience: Renewal and Transformation”
  • 2013-14: British Academy Small Research Grant: “Jewish music in South Africa: hidden archives, lost worlds”
  • 2014-2018: AHRC ‘Care for the Future’ Large Grant: Performing the Jewish Archive, £1.5m awarded for £1.8m international, interdisciplinary project

Research Centres & Groups

  • Leeds University Centre for Opera Studies
  • Leeds University Centre for Jewish Studies
  • Leeds University Centre for African Studies
  • The Leeds Russian Centre

External Appointments

  • 12th Biennial Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music (conference organiser, Bretton Hall, 2002)
  • International Conference on Baroque Music (member of conference committee, University of Leeds, 2008)
  • International Conference ‘Richard Wagner’s Impact on His World and Ours‘ (member of conference committe, University of Leeds, May-June 2013)
  • Committee member, Leeds Baroque
  • External Examiner for PhDs at National University of Ireland, Maynooth, and University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • External Accreditor and Examiner for new Music masters programmes at Liverpool Hope University
  • External Examiner (from September 2018) for Rose Bruford College degrees in Opera Studies

PhD & Postdoctoral Supervision

Current Research Students

  • Daniel Tooke: Jewish composers in exile (from March 2015)

Past Research Students

  • Anastasia Belina, A critical re-evaluation of Sergey Ivanovich Taneyev’s opera Oresteia (2009)
  • Georgia Katsiroumpa: Dion Arivas Atticos
  • Tenley Martin: Flamenco music in the UK

PhD Thesis

The Operas of Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov from 1897 to 1904

The operatic oeuvre of Nikolai Andreevich Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) is generally regarded as one of the most important in the whole of Russian music, although most scholars have neglected many of the operas composed during the period 1897 to 1904. This thesis sheds new light on the works from this period (particularly Mozart and Salieri, Boyarinya Vera Sheloga, The Tsar’s Bride, Servilia, and Pan Wojewoda). It constitutes the first analysis of these hitherto neglected works as a distinct group, and of several of them in their own right. Through the examination of personal correspondence, memoirs and contemporary press reviews, the genesis and reception history of these operas is traced, and the conclusion is reached that the period 1897 to 1904 was highly significant in forming the musical language of the composer’s final operatic masterpieces.

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Professional Practice


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