Matthew Riley


  • Professor of Music, Music

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I welcome PhD project proposals on aspects of western art music from analytical or historical perspectives, on analysis of popular music genres, and on performance practice (primarily piano). I currently supervise PhD projects on Tchaikovksy, Michael Tippett, Louis Vierne and British string quartets. I have supervised past postgraduate research projects on Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms, Kodály, Turina, Brazilian piano music and British Wagnerism.


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Personal profile


My research and teaching concern the analysis and interpretation of Western art music of the two centuries to 1945 (broadly 'Classical' and 'Romantic'). I am especially interested in syntactical conventions and traditions and in modes of musical literacy. In terms of repertory I have focused on instrumental music of the late eighteenth century, British music of the early twentieth century, and cultural nationalism in music. I currently chair the Editorial Board of the journal Music Analysis. I teach courses on music analysis, composition in eighteenth-century styles, piano repertory and cultural nationalism in music.

Research interests

Recent developments in music theory have thrown the field of music analysis wide open and, as I see it, there is much elementary work even on Western art music that has yet to be undertaken. My interests in analysis lie in so-called ‘schemata’ and formal functions, which lead to an emphasis on a craft-based understanding of compositional activity. I tend to view canonic and non-canonic or popular repertories through the same lens.

The Viennese Minor-Key Symphony in the Age of Haydn and Mozart (Oxford University Press, 2014) is an extended analytical study of music by Haydn, Mozart and their Austrian and Bohemian contemporaries. It was awarded the Emerson Prize of the Mozart Society of America for the best book on Mozart in English of the two previous calendar years.

Nation and Classical Music: From Handel to Copland (Boydell, 2016) is a cross-disciplinary study of music and cultural nationalism from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, co-authored with the late Anthony D. Smith, formerly Professor of Nationalism and Ethnicity at the London School of Economics and one of the leading scholars of nationalism of the last century.

I am currently writing a monograph entitled English Diatonic Music 1887–1955, which returns to musically literate modes of understanding and continuous traditions of interpretation. The book introduces schemata analysis to the English repertory and discusses the music of Hubert Parry, Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Herbert Howells, Ivor Gurney, Gerald Finzi, William Walton and Michael Tippett, amongst others.


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