Portrait of Professor Robert Adlington Professor Robert Adlington

r.c.adlington@hud.ac.uk | 01484 47



From 1 January 2017 I will be Queen’s Anniversary Prize Chair in Contemporary Music.

Between 1999 and 2016 I was Lecturer and then Professor of Music at the University of Nottingham. At Nottingham I twice served as Head of Department, and acted also as Director of Research, REF Coordinator, Admissions Officer, Director of Postgraduate Studies, and Careers Officer. Between 1996 and 1999 I was Lecturer in Music at the University of Sussex.

I studied as a postgraduate student (MA and DPhil) at the University of Sussex, and as an undergraduate (BA) at Oxford University.

Research and Scholarship

My research interests include: contemporary music; music and democracy; music and modernism; the composers Louis Andriessen and Harrison Birtwistle; minimalism; music of the Netherlands; avant-garde music in the 1960s; avant-garde music theatre; the relationship between music and political/social movements; public subsidy and cultural policy; the Cold War; situationism; communism (especially outside the communist bloc).

I am author of The Music of Harrison Birtwistle (CUP, 2000), Louis Andriessen: De Staat (Ashgate, 2004), and Composing Dissent: Avant-garde Music in 1960s Amsterdam (OUP, 2013). I am editor of the volumes Sound Commitments: Avant-garde Music and the Sixties (OUP, 2009) and Red Strains: Music and Communism outside the Communist Bloc (OUP, 2013). I have published numerous articles in leading peer-reviewed journals including Journal of the American Musicological Society; Journal of the Royal Musical Association; Cambridge Opera Journal; Music and Letters; Musical Quarterly; and Journal of Musicology.

My research addresses a broad swathe of significant contemporary music, with a primary focus upon composers and 'concert hall' repertoire, but also encompassing avant-garde jazz, improvisation and cross-media participatory art. Binding all of my recent research has been a concern to delineate critically the relationship between progressive musicians' creative practice and their socio-political commitments - a relationship that I perceive as complex and sometimes contradictory.

I am beginning work on a new project on music and democracy. Ideas of democracy have been prevalent in many contemporary musical practices, from free improvisation and participatory musics to jazz performance and orchestra-focused social inclusion projects, yet this conjunction has received little sustained academic attention. How can different musical practices instantiate different ideas of democracy? What assumptions are made about democracy by 'democratic' musicians? What elements of democratic musical practices are placed beyond democratic debate? How does music contribute to the global circulation of contestable ideologies of democracy? I will be exploring these and other questions in a monograph provisionally entitled Musical Models of Democracy.

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Adlington, R (2017) ‘Politics and the popular in British music theatre of the Vietnam eraJournal of the Royal Musical Association . ISSN 0269-0403

Adlington, R (2017) ‘Modernism: The People’s Music?’. In: The Routledge Companion to Musical Modernism. : Routledge. .


Adlington, R (2016) ‘The Crises of Sense: Listening to Berio’s Un re in ascolto’. In: Le théâtre musical de Luciano Berio. Paris: L'Harmattan. pp. 53-78. ISBN 978-2336303871

Adlington, R (2016) ‘Whose Voices? The Fate of Luigi Nono’s Voci destroying murosJournal of the American Musicological Society , 69 (1), pp. 179-236. ISSN 0003-0139


Adlington, R (2014) ‘Expressive Revolutions: 1968 and Music in the Netherlands’. In: Music and Protest in 1968. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 12-28. ISBN 978-1107504318


Adlington, R (2013) Composing Dissent: Avant-garde Music in 1960s Amsterdam . New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199981014

Adlington, R (2013) ‘Communisms, Communist Musics’. In: Red Strains: Music and Communism Outside the Communist Bloc. London: British Academy / Oxford University Press. pp. 1-19. ISBN 978-0197265390

Adlington, R (2013) Red Strains: Music and Communism outside the Communist Bloc . London: British Academy / Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0197265390


Adlington, R (2009) Sound commitments : avant garde music and the 1960s . New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195336658

Adlington, R (2009) ‘Forms of Opposition at the 'Politiek-Demonstratief Experimenteel' Concert’. In: Sound Commitments: Avant-garde Music and the 1960s. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 56-77. ISBN 978-0195336658

Adlington, R (2009) ‘Tuning in and Dropping Out: The Disturbance of the Dutch Premiere of Stockhausen's StimmungMusic and Letters , 90 (1), pp. 94-112. ISSN 0027-4224


Adlington, R (2008) ‘1968 and New Music in the Netherlands’. In: Music Cultures in The Revolt: Studies on Rock, Avantgarde and Classical In the Environment From "1968. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag. pp. 103-114. ISBN 978-3515090858

Adlington, R (2008) ‘Organizing Labor: Composers, Performers, and “the Renewal of Musical Practice” in the Netherlands, 1969–72Musical Quarterly , 90 (3-4), pp. 539-577. ISSN 0027-4631

Adlington, R (2008) The Music of Harrison Birtwistle . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521027809

Adlington, R (2008) ‘Music theatre since the 1960s’. In: The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth-Century Opera. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 225-243. ISBN 978-0521783934


Adlington, R (2007) ‘“A Sort of Guerrilla”: Che at the OperaCambridge Opera Journal , 19 (2), pp. 167-193. ISSN 0954-5867


Adlington, R (2004) Louis Andriessen: De Staat . Aldershot: Ashgate. ISBN 978-0754609254

Adlington, R (2004) ‘Louis Andriessen, Hanns Eisler, and the LehrstückJournal of Musicology , 21 (3), pp. 381-417. ISSN 0277-9269


Adlington, R (2003) ‘Moving Beyond Motion: Metaphors for Changing SoundJournal of the Royal Musical Association , 128 (2), pp. 297-318. ISSN 0269-0403

Adlington, R (2003) ‘In the Shadows of Song: Birtwistle’s Nine Movements for String Quartet’. In: Aspects of British Music of the 1990s. Aldershot: Ashgate. . ISBN 9780754630418

Adlington, R (2003) ‘A Conversation with Harrison Birtwistle’. In: Aspects of British Music in the 1990s. Aldershot: Ashgate. pp. 111-118. ISBN 9780754630418


Adlington, R (2002) ‘"Good Lodging": Harrison Birtwistle’s Reception of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’. In: King Arthur in Music. Cambridge: Brewer. pp. 127-143. ISBN 978-0859917674


Adlington, R (2001) ‘Taking Soundings: Music, Non-Music and Slave Pianos’. In: Slave Pianos: A Diagnosis, 1998-2001. Frankfurt: Revolver. pp. 7-15. ISBN 978-3934823174

Adlington, R (2001) ‘Counting Time, Countering Time: Louis Andriessen’s De TijdIndiana Theory Review , 22, pp. 1-35. ISSN 0271-8022


2017 - present: Member of Peer Review College, Arts and Humanities Research Council

2012 – present: Editorial Board, Musical Cultures of the Twentieth Century (Routledge/Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice)

2012 – present: Editorial Board, Tijdschrift voor de Koninklijke Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis (TVNM)

2012 – 2015: Editor, Twentieth-Century Music journal (CUP; co-editor Prof Julian Johnson)

2011 – 2014: Full Member of REF2014 Music, Dance, Drama and Performing Arts sub-panel

2011: Conference organiser, ‘Red Strains: Music and Communism Outside the Communist Bloc’, London

2011: AHRC Research Fellowship (£49,359) – graded ‘outstanding’

2009: British Academy Conference Fund (£18,890)

2006: AHRC Matching Leave (£24,506) – graded ‘outstanding’

2000 – 2006: Associate Editor, Twentieth-Century Music journal (CUP)

2005: British Academy Small Research Grant (£6,978)

2003: Conference organiser, ‘Third Biennial International Conference on Twentieth-Century Music’, Nottingham

2002: AHRB Matching Leave Award (£12,035) – graded ‘outstanding’

2000 – 2002: Assistant Editor, Music Analysis journal (Blackwell)


PhDs examined at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Oxford (twice), Bristol (twice), Royal Holloway, York, Edinburgh, Lancaster.

External examiner for MA in Music, Wolverhampton University (2003-2006) and MMus in Contemporary Music Studies, Goldsmiths (2001-2004)

Referee for academic publishers Oxford University Press, University of California Press, University of Michigan Press, Cambridge University Press, Ashgate

Referee for Journal of the American Musicological Society, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, Music and Letters, Contemporary Music Review, Contact (Australia), Twentieth-Century Music, Music Analysis

Conference programme committee member for conferences in Venice, Utrecht, Leuven, Thessaloniki, London, Sussex and Nottingha

Research Degree Supervision

2015-: James Davis, ‘Berio and philosophy’ (AHRC funded)

2014-: Sarah Nussbaum, ‘Criminal records: a critical evaluation of the work of Music in Prisons’ (AHRC funded)

2013-16: Neil Smith, ‘The persistence of modernism: the music of Matthias Spahlinger’ (AHRC funded)

2012-: Alex James, ‘What does it mean to follow? The music of Ornette Coleman and the problem of direction’

2006-2014: Li-Ming Pan, ‘The Image and Social Status of Female Musicians in Taiwan’

2003-2013: Anna Pelekanou, ‘Sobornost in Twentieth-Century Russian Music: The Case of Sofia Gubaidulina and the Transcendental Style’

Enterprise Activities

Consultancy work for music information centres in Amsterdam (Muziekcentrum Nederland) and Leuven (Matrix)

Public lectures at Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ (Amsterdam), Muziekcentrum Frits Philips (Eindhoven), Nottingham Contemporary

Broadcasting for BBCR3 ‘Music Matters’

Programme notes for Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, BBC Proms, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Hoxton Music Days

Pre-concert talks for London Symphony Orchestra, Glyndebourne, Aldeburgh Festival, South Bank Centre, Royal Concert Hall (Nottingham)

Liner notes for Kairos CD