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Dr Fiona Richards

Profile summary

Professional biography

Fiona Richards is Senior Lecturer in Music at the Open University. She read music at Durham University, followed by a postgraduate year as a bassoonist at the National Centre for Orchestral Studies. Freelance orchestral and teaching work was combined with study for an MMus at the University of London, Goldsmiths' College. She subsequently taught on the undergraduate music courses at Goldsmiths and at Kingston University before joining the OU in 1994.

Research interests

Fiona's research interests are based in three main areas: music in Britain in the 20th century, the music of Australia, and the relationships between music and literature. Her PhD was on 'Meanings in the Music of John Ireland', after which she published The Music of John Ireland (Ashgate, 2000) and The Soundscapes of Australia (Ashgate, 2007). Recent publications have focused on sound and music in the works of Australian authors. She has also contributed to New Grove II and The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Fiona maintains a blog on John Ireland's life and music here:
The Delian:  ‘this volume is a must for all interested in the subject. It’s one of the best of its kind for many years…’
Musical Times, Spring 2001: ‘her book treats Ireland’s music to its most thorough and even-handed examination to date’
Music and Letters, Volume 82/4, 2001: ‘a thought-provoking study ’
Cathedral Music, 2001: ‘a first-rate biography’’




Current research projects

Fiona is currently working on two books. The first looks at the Boyd Neel Orchestra and its role in the history of music-making in Britain from 1933 to 1953. During its twenty-year history this string orchestra made many recordings, gave numerous BBC broadcasts and over a thousand live performances. It included some of the leading string soloists of the time and had a reputation as a fine group with an original contribution in its innovative programming and performance style. Fiona has been awarded an Edison Fellowship for 2016-17 to work on the British Library's collection of recordings of this orchestra. The second book is a new biography of John Ireland, approaching the composer through his extended family.

Teaching interests

Fiona is currently Chair of the new online MA in Music. Her responsibilities within the Arts Faculty are wide-ranging, encompassing interdisciplinary and music modules. She has authored materials for A179, AA100, A103, A150, A105, A224, AA314, AA302, AA305, AA317 and A871. She was Director of Teaching until 2014.

Research Activity

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Literature and Music Research GroupGroupFaculty of Arts


Max & Mick: the partnership of Peter Maxwell Davies and Randolph Stow (2018-06-06)
Richards, Fiona
The Musical Times, 159(1943) (pp. 25-38)
Strange Territories: John Ireland and Arthur Machen (2015-11)
Richards, Fiona
Faunus: The Journal of the Friends of Arthur Machen, 32 (pp. 29-41)
"The streaming of the sun and the flowing of the stars": D.H. Lawrence and Peter Sculthorpe (2015-03)
Richards, Fiona
Journal of D.H.Lawrence Studies, 3(3) (pp. 33-50)
‘so insistently literary’: the Englishness of Randolph Stow (2015-02-25)
Richards, Fiona
Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, 14, Article 8(5)
“the whole landscape dazzling and shrilling”: Soundscapes of war and peace in David Malouf’s Fly Away Peter (2015)
Richards, Fiona
Southerly, 75(3) (pp. 155-168)
The Goat-God in England: A Musical Context for Lawrence's Fascination with Pan (2015)
Richards, Fiona
D.H.Lawrence Review, 40(1) (pp. 90-106)
Sound and music in the works of Randolph Stow (2013-12-27)
Richards, Fiona
Antipodes, 27(2) (pp. 177-183)
Islands in the works of Randolph Stow (1935-2010) (2013)
Richards, Fiona
Southerly, 72(3) (pp. 103-118)
''Rubbed by the warming violins'': music and Patrick White (2012-11-08)
Richards, Fiona
Cercles: Revue Pluridiscipline du Monde Anglophone, 26 (pp. 22-38)
Changing identities: the pianist and composer Helen Perkin (2002)
Richards, Fiona
Australasian Music Research, 7 (pp. 15-30)
The music of John Ireland (2001-12)
Richards, Fiona
ISBN : 754601110 | Publisher : Ashgate | Published : UK
Australasia (2018-11)
Richards, Fiona
In: Herbert, Trevor; Myers, Arnold and Wallace, John eds. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Brass Instruments (pp. 41-44)
ISBN : 978-1-107-18000-0 | Publisher : Cambridge University Press
Sensibility and listening in England before and after the Great War (2017-07-31)
Richards, Fiona
In: Barlow, Helen and Rowland, David eds. Listening to Music: People, Practices and Experiences
ISBN : 9781473023208 | Publisher : The Open University
John Ireland's personal world (2011-10-20)
Richards, Fiona
In: Foreman, Lewis ed. The John Ireland Companion (pp. 42-53)
ISBN : 9781843836865 | Publisher : Boydell & Brewer | Published : Woodbridge
Helen Perkin: pianist, composer and muse of John Ireland (2011-10-20)
Richards, Fiona
In: Foreman, Lewis ed. The John Ireland Companion (pp. 132-146)
Publisher : Boydell & Brewer | Published : Woodbridge
Granville Bantock and the Orient in the Midlands (2007-08)
Richards, Fiona
In: Clayton, Martin and Zon, Bennett eds. Music and Orientalism in the British Empire, 1780s to 1940s: Portrayal of the East. Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain (pp. 129-146)
ISBN : 9780754656043 | Publisher : Ashgate Publishing | Published : Aldershot, UK
Introduction: Spirit of place, spiritual journeys (2006-11)
Richards, Fiona
In: Richards, Fiona ed. The Soundscapes of Australia: music, place and spirituality
ISBN : 754640728 | Publisher : Ashgate
Journeys across Australia: Ealing film scores of the 1940s and '50s (2006-11)
Richards, Fiona
In: Richards, Fiona ed. The Soundscapes of Australia: music, place and spirituality
ISBN : 754640728 | Publisher : Ashgate
British islands: an obsession of British composers (2004-06)
Richards, Fiona
In: Dawe, Kevin ed. Island musics (pp. 199-212)
ISBN : 1859737978 | Publisher : Berg | Published : Oxford, UK
An Anthology of friendship: the letters from John Ireland to Father Kenneth Thompson (2002-07)
Richards, Fiona
In: Fuller, Sophie and Whitesell, Lloyd eds. Queer episodes in music and modern identity (pp. 245-267)
ISBN : 025202740X | Publisher : University of Illinois Press | Published : Urbana, USA
The soundscapes of Australia: music, place and spirituality (2017-04)
Richards, Fiona ed.
ISBN : 9781138256064 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Aldershot, UK