Portrait of Visiting Professor Graham Cummings Visiting Professor Graham Cummings

g.h.cummings@hud.ac.uk | 01484 472097


Graham Cummings studied as both an undergraduate and postgraduate at the University of Birmingham and holds the degrees of BMus (Hons) (1968), MA (by thesis, 1970) and Ph.D (1991). He has been Sub-Organist of Birmingham Anglican Cathedral (1968-70), and an extra member of The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (1967-70). Graham was appointed to the Huddersfield Polytechnic in September 1970 where his specific teaching subject areas were in musicology and performance. He headed the subject division of Music History/Musicology from 1984-2000 and was responsible for much of its curriculum development at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Since the institution became a university Graham has been promoted firstly to Principal Lecturer (1997) and then to Reader in Historical Musicology (2009). He was the course leader for the MA in Music/MMus from 2002 – 09. Graham retired from the full-time staff in August, 2014. He was awarded a Visiting Research Fellowship (September 2014), then a Visiting Professorship in Historical Musicology (September 2015) and a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship (October 2015) to enable him to continue his research.

Graham is active as a performer, both as an organist and a harpsichordist, having studied with Dame Gillian Weir and Piet Kee, and has given solo recitals in many of this country’s cathedrals, concert halls and major parish churches. He was appointed University Organist in December 2000, a position he held until September 2013 .In this role Graham promoted the university’s two outstanding organs (in St.Paul’s Hall and the Phipps Concert Hall) through a regular series of recitals given by himself, distinguished guest performers and students. He has also directed professional chamber groups (both vocal and instrumental) and a small opera company, all performing Baroque music. He is the instigator of the research based music staff chamber ensemble Four’s Company, formed ( in June 2011) with the express purpose of exploring performance issues encountered in 17th century instrumental music. 

Research and Scholarship

Musicology: Graham Cummings’ musicology research interests are centred on the English Baroque, and on music in London, 1660 – 1760, particularly that at the Chapel Royal (MA dissertation: Henry Purcell’s Verse Anthems with Strings: Their Background and Structure), and the position, importance and character of Italian opera in London (Ph.D dissertation: Handel’s opera Poro (1731): Sources, Versions and History). The music of G.F.Handel and his English and Italian contemporaries has been at the centre of his research work, which has led to publications on Handel and Opera at an international level. He is an editor for the complete edition of G.F.Handel’s music (the Hallische Händel Ausgabe), for whom he has produced the revised edition of the opera Poro, Rè dell’ Indie. Graham has been the music text consultant for three productions and one recording of this opera, at international festivals in Halle (Germany, 1998), Göttingen, (Germany, 2006) and London (2007).

Invited public lectures: Graham’s Cummings' successes at Göttingen in 2006 have led to further invitations to give public lectures linked to specific works in all the International Göttingen Handel Festivals between 2006 and 2011, and in 2013 to 2016 including the keynote lectures in English in 2007 and 2010. He has also presented public lectures at the 2007 London Handel Festival, and the York Early Music Festival in 2007 and 2012.

Current research: although the main focus remains on London 1700 – 60, Graham’s research is as much concerned with the music of Handel’s rivals, particularly Porpora and Hasse, as with the music of Handel himself. He leads a research project that focuses on the years 1733 – 37 when London had two Italian opera companies who were locked in bitter rivalry for a relatively small audience (‘Operatic Rivalry in London: Seasons of Conflict and Competition: 1733 – 37’). This research will examine possible reasons for the hostility and resentment toward Handel and his music that led to four seasons of financially destructive competition between Handel’s company and the so-called ‘Opera of the Nobility’. Areas of investigation include: (i) repertoire and performance days; (ii) patronage and finance/subscription (both royal and noble); (iii) audience support; (iv) musical personalities; (v) newspapers and broadsheets. Since September 2013 he has the assistance of a Visiting Research Fellow, Dr Carole Taylor (House of Lords, London).

Performance: as a performer Graham is particularly interested in problems of historical performance, and the interface between musical scholarship and performance. He has a specialist interest in, and knowledge of the organ music of France (17th – 20th centuries), North Germany (late 17th and early 18th centuries), and England (17th – 20th centuries).

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Cummings, G (2014) ‘G.F.Handel : Italian Opera : Poro Re dell' Indie’. In: The Halle Handel Edition (HHA). : Bärenreiter Verlag. .


Cummings, G (2013) ‘Handel under attack by the opera of the nobility’. In: Music Research Forum, 26th November 2013, University of Huddersfield

Cummings, G (2013) ‘Handel, the Orient and his opera Siroe, Re di Persia’. In: Göttingen International Handel Festival, 10-12th May 2013, Göttingen, Germany

Cummings, G (2013) ‘Handel and operatic rivalry in the London season 1733-34’. In: Department of Music research seminar, 13th March 2013, University of York


Cummings, G (2012) ‘Handel and operatic rivalry in the London season 1733-34’. In: The Handel Institute Conference : Handel at Court, 24-25th November 2012, The Foundling Museum, London

Cummings, G (2012) ‘L'Olimpiade : Metastasio and the Olympic Games’. In: York early Music Festival, 6-14th July 2012, Mansion House, York


Cummings, G (2011) ‘Teseo : Handel's 'Maverick' opera’. In: Göttingen International Handel Festival, 12-13th June 2011, Deutsches Theater, Göttingen

Cummings, G (2011) ‘Handel and the confus'd shepherdess : a case study of stylistic eclecticism’. In: Handel. : Ashgate. pp. 575-589. ISBN 9780754628859


Cummings, G (2010) ‘Handel's compositional methods in his London operas of the 1730s and the unusual case of Poro, Re dell' Indie (1731)’. In: Opera Remade, 1700-1750. : Ashgate. pp. 469-490. ISBN 9780754629009

Cummings, G (2010) ‘Johann Hiller and Handel's Messiah’. In: Göttingen International Handel Festival, 22nd - 23rd May 2010, Stadthalle, Göttingen, Germany

Cummings, G (2010) ‘Handel, Hanover and George I’. In: Göttingen International Handel Festival, 23rd May 2010, Holbornsches Haus, Göttingen, Germany


Cummings, G (2009) ‘'Poro, Rè dell' Indie'’. In: The Cambridge Handel Encyclopedia. : Cambridge University Press. . ISBN 9780521881920

Cummings, G (2009) ‘Metastasio transformed in Handel's Poro’. In: Purcell, Handel & Literature, 19-21st November 2009, Senate House, University of London

Cummings, G (2009) ‘Pietro Metastasio’. In: The Cambridge Handel Encyclopedia. : Cambridge University Press. . ISBN 9780521881920

Cummings, G (2009) Handel, Metastasio and Poro Re dell Indie [Audio] (Unpublished)

Cummings, G (2009) ‘Admeto and the rival Queens (featured opera Admeto)’. In: Göttingen International Handel Festival, 29th May 2009, Deutsches Theater, Göttingen, Germany


Cummings, G (2008) ‘Orlando or the jealous madness’. In: Göttingen International Handel Festival, May 2008, Deutsches Theater, Göttingen, Germany

Cummings, G (2008) ‘Handel's Concerto Organ in 1735-36’. In: British Institute of Organ Studies Conference 2008: The Organ in Stuart and Georgian England: Its Role through change to the Handel Commemoration, 10th - 13th April 2008, Merton College, Oxford, UK

Cummings, G (2008) ‘Operatic rivalry and Handel's organ concertos in the 1734-35 season’. In: Music Research Forum, January 2008, University of Huddersfield


Cummings, G (2007) ‘Handel’s Organ Concertos (HWV 290 – 93) and Operatic RivalryGFH Journal , 1, pp. 1-29.

Cummings, G (2007) ‘Hasse's Neopolitan Cleopatra’. In: York Early Music Festival, July 2007, York

Cummings, G (2007) ‘Handel's rulers and heroes’. In: Göttingen International Handel Festival, May 2007, Rathaus, Göttingen, Germany

Cummings, G (2007) ‘Belshazzar, a most operatic oratorio’. In: Göttingen International Handel Festival, May 2007, Stadthalle, Göttingen, Germany

Cummings, G (2007) ‘Metastasio's Alessandro to Handel's Poro : a change of dramatic emphasis’. In: London Handel Festival, 20th March - 26th April 2007, Royal College of Music, London

Cummings, G (2007) ‘Lübeck to London: a much travelled fugue subject’. In: Händel-Jahrbuch. Kassel: Bärenreiter. pp. 331-345. ISBN 978-3-7618-1447-5


Cummings, G (2006) ‘Metastasio, Handel und Poro, Re dell' Indie’. In: Internationale Handel Festspiele Göttingen 2006 : Programme Texte Werkeinführungen. : Internationale Händel-Festspiele Göttingen. pp. 78-81.

Cummings, G (2006) ‘Metastasio's Alessandro to Handel's Poro : a change of dramatic emphasis’. In: Göttingen International Handel Festival, June 2006, Deutsches Theater, Göttingen, Germany

Cummings, G (2006) Poro CD recording: co-production of Göttinger Händel-Gesellschaft and Norddeutscher Rundfunk, made using Dr Cummings’ new score [Composition]


Cummings, G (2005) ‘Handel and the confus'd shepherdess: a case study of stylistic eclecticismEarly Music , 33 (4), pp. 575-590. ISSN 0306-1078


Cummings, G (2003) ‘Handel's messiah : the most finished piece of musick’. In: Huddersfield Organists Association Event, 25th March 2003, Recital hall, University of Huddersfield


Cummings, G (2000) ‘Handel, Telemann and Metastasio, and the Hamburg Cleofida’. In: Händel-Jahrbuch. : Baerenreiter Verlag. pp. 335-73. ISBN 978-3-7618-1441-3


Cummings, G (1999) ‘Handel and the Confus'd Shepherdess: a case study of stylistic eclecticism’. In: The Handel Institute Conference 1999: Great among the Nations: Handel and National Musical Styles, 20th - 21st November 1999, Kings College, London, UK


Cummings, G (1998) ‘Handel's compositional methods in the London operas of the 1730s, and the unusual case of 'Poro, Re Dell'Indie' (1731)Music and Letters , 79 (3), pp. 346-367. ISSN 0027-4224


Cummings, G (1993) ‘Handel's compositional methods in Poro, Rè dell' Indie (1731)’. In: The Handel Institute Conference 1993: Handel in the 1730s, November 1993, Kings College, London, UK


Cummings, G (1982) ‘Reminiscence and recall in three early settings of Metastasio's Alessandro nell' Indie’. In: The Royal Musical Association Conference, November 1982, Kings College, University of London

Cummings, G (1982) ‘Reminiscence and Recall in Three Early Settings of Metastasio's Alessandro nell' IndieProceedings of the Royal Musical Association , 109 (1), pp. 80-104. ISSN 0269-0403

Cummings, G (1982) ‘The London Performances of Handel's Opera Poro’. In: Problems of Ha?ndelschen opera (especially the example of Poro) ?. : Halle (Saale). pp. 62-81.


  • Membership of Scholarly Societies: (i) The Royal Musical Association; (ii) The Handel Institute; (iii) The International Händel Gesellschaft.
  • The invitation from the International Händel Gesellschaft to edit Handel’s opera Poro, Rè dell’ Indie (1731) for the revised complete edition of this composer’s music, the Hallische Händel Ausgabe (series II/25: pub. Bärenreiter, Kassel, Germany).
  • Publications in peer – reviewed international journals.
  • The first invited contributor to the GFH Journal on the composer website www.g.f.handel.org.
  • Citations of my research work in international publications.
  • Invited public lectures at international music festivals in both Germany and the UK.
  • Invited solo organ recitals.
  • External Examiner, Ph.D/D.Phil: University of York, 2011, 2013, Queen’s University, Belfast, 2015

Research Degree Supervision

Graham Cummings will supervise music research students (MA by Research, MPhil, PhD) in any of the following areas:


Any historical part or genre within Handel’s life and work can be considered, particularly investigations concerned with his Italian operas, English oratorios and keyboard works, and/or Handel’s compositional techniques and musical borrowings.

Music in England 1660-1760

Music in context: investigations of musical, social, religious and political contexts and purposes for the music, both sacred and secular, by such English composers as Blow, Locke, Humphrey, Henry and Daniel Purcell, Croft, Greene, Boyce and Arne, and by such Italian visitors to London as G.B.Bononcini, Attilio Ariosti, Porpora, Geminiani, and Veracini. Transcription and editing can be included as part of the submission.

Opera and Oratorio in England in the 19th Century

Subjects in this area can be concerned with the repertoire, the performing organisations, performance traditions, historical performance, or individual performers. Opera and oratorio performances and organisations outside of London are of particular interest. [e.g. Opera at the Theatre Royal, Manchester: 1800 – 1873]

Performance Studies and Historical Performance

Any of the following areas of organ music could be considered:

  • France (17th- 20th centuries)
  • North Germany )late 17th – early 18th centuries, with particular reference to the music of Buxtehude)
  • England (18th – 20th centuries)

It is expected that in addition to the dissertation, students would be expected to include a recital of music that is central to their doctoral study, and that the transcription and editing of unpublished sources might also be included, if appropriate.

Research Supervision: Principal Supervisor

  • PhD Historical Musicology: Opera at the Theatre Royal, Manchester (1837 – 1873) awarded July 2009.
  • PhD Historical Musicology: The Baroque Concertato in England (1625 – 1660) awarded September 2014
  • PhD Historical Musicology: Nicola Porpora’s five Italian operas for London (1733 – 1736) awarded January 2015

Graham Cummings’ successful supervisions include numerous MA in Music/MMus dissertations in both Musicology and Performance Studies on topics ranging widely from source and manuscript studies in 17th and 18th century Italian and English music, to performance issues in late 17th century French organ music, Beethoven’s piano concertos, Elgar’s Symphony No.2, and music for the Yorkshire regiments 1800 – 1990.

External PhD Examiner

  • PhD University of York: ‘Individual Passions and Social Cohesion in Handel’s L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato’. (July, 2011)
  • PhD University of York: ‘The Life and Works of William Davis c.1675/6 – 1745’. (October, 2013)
  • PhD Queen’s University, Belfast: “ Not local beauties’’: Handel’s bilingual oratorio performances 1732 – 1744’(April, 2015)