Portrait of Dr  David  Milsom Dr David Milsom

david.milsom@hud.ac.uk | 01484 471201


Dr David Milsom (BMus Hons, MMus, PhD, FHEA) is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Huddersfield, having joined the staff in 2010. His teaching is principally in the area of performance, although he also teaches musicology. David is an internationally-recognised scholar of string playing in general and nineteenth-century violin performing practice in particular; he is also an active professional violinist and violist in a range areas spanning ‘baroque’ performance on period instruments to modern solo, chamber and orchestral playing. At Huddersfield he has responsibility for ensembles as part of the ‘Performance Skills’ modules of which he is module leader, with special responsibility for string playing.

David read music at the University of Sheffield, gaining a first-class degree in 1995, an MMus in 1996 and PhD in 2001. His PhD involved study of nineteenth-century string and vocal performance with Colin Lawson and later Anthony Bennett and Clive Brown. For his MMus and PhD he was funded by grants obtained from the British Academy.  His PhD thesis, Theory and Practice in Late Nineteenth-Century Violin Performance 1850-1900 was subsequently published by Ashgate (2003), and was shortlisted for award by the ARSC. In 2003 David was awarded an Edison Fellowship by the British Library, in which he continued his studies into the performance styles of early recordings, and in 2006 he was awarded a Fellowship in the Creative and Performing Arts by the AHRC in a project entitled ‘String Chamber Music of the Classical German School 1840-1900 – Studies in Reconstructive Performance’. This project involved investigating and recording a number of string chamber works in experimental historical styles (on period instruments) in order to practice as faithfully as possible the styles of playing associated with this ‘school’ – work that gained David international recognition and high-profile lecture-recital work in the USA, Italy, Belgium, Austria and Estonia.

David began learning the violin at the age of five, and soon developed a close affinity to the instrument, taking lessons from Peter Cropper (leader of the Lindsay String Quartet, 1965-2005), Roger Bigley (a pupil of Watson Forbes and founder member of the Lindsay Quartet before working as Assistant Head of Strings at RNCM), Martin Milner (a pupil of Henry Holst and leader of the Hallé Orchestra for 28 years including close collaboration with one of its most celebrated conductors, Sir John Barbirolli), and Roger Coull (leader of the Coull Quartet), amongst others. As part of his doctoral studies, his sound grasp of the instrument using modern principles was augmented by a developing interest and expertise in late nineteenth-century performing practices; he has given countless performances reflecting his in-depth studies of German classical violinists including Louis Spohr and Joseph Joachim. David brings this expertise as violinist and violist to Huddersfield as director and conductor of the University String Orchestra, as well as to his small private teaching practice, in which he has been engaged for more than twenty years.

At present, David continues to perform string chamber music regularly with former colleagues at the University of Leeds as part of period instrument group the Ferdinand David Ensemble, with whom he has given performances at Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Bangor and Cardiff universities; in 2012 he began performing seventeenth-century music with department-based ensemble, Four’s Company (with John Bryan, Graham Cummings and Duncan Druce) and these and other practice research projects are now part of the activity of Huddersfield Centre for Performance Research (HuCPeR) of which David is Director. In 2011, after a gap of thirteen years, David renewed his performance collaboration with contemporary music pianist Dr Philip Thomas (with whom he runs performance activities at Huddersfield), performing a number of concerts in Huddersfield including works by Beethoven, Webern, Wolff, and fellow-colleague, Dr Bryn Harrison.

Forthcoming work includes developing HuCPeR and its activities, and bringing together a number of international organisations dedicated to research-driven and revisionist perspectives on music performance. Due out in 2013-2014 are the following publications:

  • David Milsom & Clive Brown: Performing and Researching the ‘Uppingham’ Collection Mozart K423 & K424 Violin and Viola duoswww.leeds.ac.uk/chase (website article, including sound and video of performance by the authors, to be launched by 30 November, 2013)
  • David Milsom & Neal Peres Da Costa: ‘Expressiveness in historical performance – 19th-century ideals and practices’ in D. Fabian, E. Schubert & R. Timmers (eds) Expressiveness in Music Performance: Empirical Approaches Across Styles and Cultures (Oxford, OUP, expected September –December 2013)
  • David Milsom: A-Z of Solo String Players (Naxos Books, expected 2013)
  • David Milsom: ‘Notation, Annotations, Style & Musical Meaning: Editions of Brahms’ Violin Sonata op. 100’ (short article in Sourcebook – a publication of ORCiM, Ghent, due Spring, 2014)
  • David Milsom: ‘The Franco-Belgian School of Violin Playing: Towards an Understanding of Chronology and Characteristics 1850-1925’ – write-up of keynote lecture given at the conference, ‘The Franco-Belgian Violin School from G.B. Viotti to E. Ysaÿe’, given in La Spezia, July 2012 – Ad Parnassum (publication in 2014)
  • David Milsom: ‘Evolution of Style in Historical and Current Violin Recordings’ in a text on the violin (title to be confirmed), Eastman Studies of Music, ed. R. Locke (University of Rochester Press/Boydell and Brewer, c. 2014)

Since 2008, David has been a recordings reviewer for The Strad magazine. In 2013 he was made an honorary Visiting Research Fellow of the University of Leeds. In his spare time, David is a choral tenor and Chairman of independent liturgical choir, Sheffield Chamber Choir, with whom he has sung in many of the UK’s principal cathedrals.

Research and Scholarship

David’s main areas of research and scholarship are:

  • Historical performance, especially of the nineteenth century
  • String playing style and practice, c.1840-1930
  • Study of recordings, particularly of string playing before 1939
  • Study of annotated performance scores and editions of string music c.1840-1930
  • Performing (violin) in historically-reconstructive nineteenth-century ways

David has published widely on these topics, including nineteenth-century string performance style, string playing in Victorian England, Mendelssohn’s orchestral practices, Wagnerian string playing, and the performance style of Joseph Joachim; he has also given a number of invited lectures and lecture recitals at Southampton, Trinity, RNCM, Leeds, Sheffield &  Royal Holloway as well Kittsee (Austria), Estonian Academy of Music, Stanford University, USA, ORCiM (Ghent, Belgium), IMR (London); in 2012 he was a keynote speaker at a conference on the Franco-Belgian school of violin playing in La Spezia, Italy.

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Milsom, D (2017) ‘Great Cellists: Gaspar CassadoThe Strad , 158 (1521), p. 53. ISSN 0039-2049


Milsom, D (2016) ‘Great Cellists: Beatrice HarrisonThe Strad , 127 (1509), p. 41. ISSN 0039-2049


Milsom, D (2015) Meiningen Ensemble: 'The Romantic Piano Trio'; trios by Gade, Mendelssohn, Schubert (David Milsom, violin; George Kennaway, cello; Jonathan Gooing, piano) [Performance] In: UNSPECIFIED, (Unpublished)

Milsom, D (2015) Classical trios and string quartets, including Beethoven Quartet op. 18/4 (David Milsom and Lara James, violins; Jeremy Perkins, viola; Tom Collingwood, cello). Pre-concert talk by David Milsom [Performance] In: 'Laus Deo': an Evening of Haydn and Beethoven, 30 Oct 2015, Christ Church, Litton, Derbyshire (Unpublished)

Milsom, D (2015) Meiningen Ensemble: Elgar Piano Quintet Op.84 (David Milsom and Bianca Blezard, violins; Jeremy Perkins, viola; George Kennaway, cello; Jonathan Gooing, 1897 Broadwood grand) [Performance] In: Meiningen Ensemble: Elgar Piano Quintet, 29 Oct 2015, St Paul's Hall, University of Huddersfield, UK (Unpublished)

Milsom, D (2015) Four’s Company: Sonatas and Trios including sonatas by Henry Purcell (David Milsom and Amanda Babington, baroque violins; John Bryan, bass viol; Graham Cummings, organ/harpsichord) [Performance] In: Four's Company, 15 Oct 2015, St Paul's Hall, University of Huddersfield (Unpublished)

Milsom, D (2015) Ferdinand David Ensemble: Elgar Piano Quintet (Clive Brown and Ilias Devetzoglou, violins, David Milsom, viola, Tom Collingwood, cello, Miaoyin Qu, piano) [Performance] In: Leeds University, LUCHIP, Historical Performance, 03/05/2016, Leeds University (Unpublished)

Milsom, D (2015) Meiningen Ensemble: 'The Romantic Piano Trio' at the 'HIP Happening in Huddersfield' festival, 2015 [Performance] In: The Romantic Piano Trio, 24 April 2015, St Paul's Hall, University of Huddersfield


Milsom, D (2014) James MacMillan 'Kiss on Wood'; Arvo Part 'Fratres' [Performance] In: In Splendoribus Sanctorum, 20 Sept 2014, The Cathedral Church of St Marie, Norfolk Row, Sheffield, S1 2JB (Unpublished)

Milsom, D (2014) A-Z of string players . : Naxos Educational. ISBN 9781843798101

Milsom, D (2014) ‘Expressiveness in historical perspective – 19th-century ideals and practices’. In: Expressiveness in Music Performance: Empirical Approaches Across Styles and Cultures. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 80-97. ISBN 9780199659647

Milsom, D. and Da Costa, N. (2014) ‘Expressiveness in historical perspective : nineteenth-century ideals and practices’. In: Expressiveness in music performance: Empirical approaches across styles and cultures. : Oxford University Press. pp. 80-97. ISBN 978-0199659647

Milsom, D (2014) Four’s Company: Sonatas by Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi (David Milsom and Duncan Druce, baroque violins, George Kennaway, cello, Graham Cummings, organ/harpsichord) [Performance] In: University Concert Series, 13.3.14, St Paul's Hall, University of Huddersfield (Unpublished)


Milsom, D (2013) ‘The Franco-Belgian School of Violin Playing: Towards an Understanding of Chronology and Characteristics, 1850-1925Ad Parnassum , 11 (21). ISSN 1722-3954

Milsom, D (2013) W.A. Mozart Violin and Viola Duos K. 423 & 424: The Ferdinand David ‘Uppingham’ Copies in Context and Performance Available at: http://chase.leeds.ac.uk/article/7-fd-mozart-duos/


Milsom, D (2012) ‘Practice and Principle: Perspectives upon the German ‘Classical’ School of Violin Playing in the Late Nineteenth CenturyNineteenth-Century Music Review , 9 (01), pp. 31-52. ISSN 1479-4098


Milsom, D (2011) Classical and Romantic Music . The library of essays on music performance practice. : Ashgate. ISBN 9780754628590


Milsom, D (2009) ‘Style and Sonority in Wagner String PerformanceThe Wagner Journal , 3 (2). ISSN 1755-0173

Milsom, D (2009) String Chamber Music of the Classical German School, 1840-1900: A Scholarly Investigation through Reconstructive Performance University of Leeds


Milsom, D (2008) ‘Joseph Joachim: Evoking his style and Practice in Historically-Informed Performance’. In: Echoes 2008: Joseph Joachim (1831-1907): European citizens, composer, pianist. Vienna, Austria: Mille Tre Verlag. . ISBN 9783900198190

Milsom, D (2008) ‘Mendelssohn and the orchestra’. In: Mendelssohn in Performance. : Indiana University Press. pp. 98-113. ISBN 9780253351999


Milsom, D (2007) ‘Elevated aspirations versus limitations of reality: string playing style and practice in Victorian England’. In: Victorian Soundscapes Revisited. Leeds: Leeds Trinity University College. . ISBN 9780954015985


Brown, C. and Milsom, D. (2006) ‘The 19th-Century Legacy of the Viotti School: Editions of the Violin Concerto No. 22’. In: Giovanni Battista Viotti : a composer between the two revolutions. Bologna, italy: UT Orpheus. pp. 157-198. ISBN 9788881094578


Milsom, D (2005) ‘Conditional gifts: the acoustic orchestral recordings of Edoard Colonne and Karl Muck and their testimony to late nineteenth-century performing practicesEarly Music Performer (16). ISSN 1477-478X


Milsom, D (2003) Theory and Practice in Late Nineteenth-century Violin Performance: An Examination of Style in Performance, 1850-1900 . Aldershot: Ashgate. ISBN 978-0754607564

Milsom, D (2003) Theory and Practice in Late Nineteenth-Century Violin Performance: An Examination of Style in Performance, 1850–1900 . Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 9780754607564


External PhD Examiner – Sheffield University, September 2009

External PhD Examiner – Cardiff University, April 2013

External PhD Examiner – Newcastle University, November, 2013

Honorary Visiting Research Fellow, University of Leeds, 2005-6; 2013 to present

Research Degree Supervision

Historical performing practice

Analysis and evaluation of recordings, especially early (pre 1939) recordings, recordings of string players

Dr Milsom is happy to supervise students with an interest in any of the following areas:

  • String playing style and technique,
  • Historical performing practice after 1750,
  • Pedagogy or other performance-related topics
  • Study of recordings (especially early recordings).

He is also willing to act as co-supervisor on eighteenth and nineteenth-century musicological topics.