Music from Elaine Moohan’s edition of Robert Johnson’s Complete Works to be performed in New York

Collectio Musicorum (“Collection of Music”) presents a concert of music from Scotland, dating from the twelfth through the eighteenth centuries.  It takes place at Christ and St Stephen’s Church, 120 W 69th St, New York, NY 10023, on Friday, October 18th at 8 PM.  Admission is Free.

Much of the programme is devoted to music by Robert Johnson, a priest and reformer, (called “The Heretic Priest”) who was forced to flee Scotland due to his reformed religious views.  A prolific composer, his music has recently been edited by OU Music’s Dr Elaine Moohan as part of the Musica Scotica series.  This music has never before been performed in the United States.

The performers include singers Amanda Sidebottom, Padraic Costello, Nate Adams, and Andrew Padgett; harpist Christopher Thompson and lutenist Christopher Morrongiello, all under the direction of Collectio Musicorum’s artistic director, Dr Jeff S. Dailey.

Also, Collectio Musicorum will be performing part of the programme the week before, on Thursday, October 10th at 1 PM at St. Bartholomew’s Church.  Details may be found here.

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Congratulations to Dr Martyn Strachan!

Congratulations to Dr Martyn Strachan, who was awarded his PhD at the OU graduation ceremony in Glasgow on 27 September. Martyn’s thesis, Style in the Music of Arthur Sullivan: An Investigation, was supervised by Fiona Richards, Martin Clarke and Rosemary Golding. Martyn is pictured below (centre) with Martin Clarke and Elaine Moohan, from the OU’s Music Department.

Dr Martyn Strachan

Drs Martin Clarke, Martyn Strachan and Elaine Moohan

For more information about our research degrees, visit this page.

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PhD Studentships in Music at the Open University

The Department of Music at the Open University invites applications for October 2020 entry to its PhD programme.

Our research was rated 1st in the UK in the Guardian’s analysis of the last Research Excellence Framework, and 8th in the Times Higher Education table.

We have a wide range of expertise, from music of the medieval period to the present day including film music, electronic music and non-Western music. Specialisms in the Music Department cover historical musicology, the social and cultural study of music, music analysis, editing, performance practice, iconography, ethnomusicology, music and literature studies and musical acoustics.

For further details of staff and student research interests see: and

Successful applicants to the Music PhD programme will have the opportunity to apply for an Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC studentship. Awards for UK residents cover all tuition fees and provide a maintenance grant at the standard RCUK rate (£15,009 p.a. in 2019/20). Awards for students ordinarily resident in an EU country other than the UK are fees-only.

The Open-Oxford-Cambridge is an exciting new doctoral training partnership, funded by the AHRC. The three participating universities share extensive expertise in delivering successful doctoral training, developed in collaboration with our students and a wide range of non-HEI partners. For more information about the Open-Oxford-Cambridge partnership, please visit

How to apply
Informal enquiries about studentships and PhD studies in Music should be made to Helen Barlow at in the first instance. Potential applicants are encouraged to e-mail a draft research proposal at least one month before the deadline.

Further details of the application process for Open-Oxford-Cambridge studentships can be found here:

Initially, applications for studentships will be assessed for a place on the Music PhD programme. Successful applicants will then be forwarded to studentship panels for further assessment and ranking.

Please note that the deadline for all postgraduate research degree applications, including for studentships, is noon 8 January 2020.

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Clara Schumann at 200

The renowned concert pianist, composer and teacher Clara Schumann (née Wieck) was born on this day, 13 September, in 1819. In this short video, OU Music Lecturer and Staff Tutor Dr Laura Hamer discusses Clara Schumann’s life and career. Clara Schumann features in our undergraduate module A342 Central Questions in the Study of Music. This module is part of our BA (Hons) in Music, and can also be studied as part of the BA (Hons) Arts & Humanities and the Open degree.

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Proms Plus Event – 4 September

On Wednesday 4 September, the OU Music Department’s Ben Winters will be appearing at a Proms Plus talk at Imperial College, London prior to Prom 61, given by the Vienna Philharmonic. Ben will be in conversation with Jessica Duchen and Radio 3’s Georgia Mann about Erich Korngold, the subject of much of Ben’s research, and about whom he is currently writing a new book.

The event is free and details can be found here. Alternatively, you can listen to an edited version of the event on BBC Radio 3 in the interval of the concert.

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Robert Johnson: Complete Works

Robert Johnson Complete Works, edited by Dr Elaine Moohan is now in press and will be available shortly from the Scottish Music Centre, Glasgow. This edition of Johnson’s (d. c. 1560) works is the result of a lengthy research project that started with Elaine’s late colleague, Dr Kenneth Elliott, in the 1960s. All of the works have been newly edited for this publication over a period of three years, supported with funding from the Royal Society of Edinburgh that enabled Elaine to consult some sixty manuscript sources and nine early printed music and literary books in UK and American libraries. To date, only a handful of Johnson’s works have been published in modern notation. This is the first time that all of his surviving works, including some fragmentary pieces, are published together in a format that is both scholarly and suitable for performers.

There are nine Latin- and eleven English-texted sacred works, in a range of styles with something to suit all choral abilities. Three of the four English songs have accompaniment for instrumental ensemble, and the works solely for instrumental ensemble are in three, four, and five parts. The volume includes reconstructions of five of the nine fragmentary works.

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Free OpenLearn course on the Blues

Discovering music: the blues is now live! This free course offers students a taster of material featured in the new level 1 module A111: Discovering the arts and humanities. Blues music has had a significant influence on popular music and jazz throughout the twentieth century and is still relevant today. This course includes a brief historical overview, insights into blues lyrics and a glimpse of some of the musical techniques used by blues musicians. You might even be inspired to try out a 12-bar blues yourself. Access the course here

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Robert Samuels in OAE pre-concert event, 31 May

Another event in the Department’s partnership with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) takes place on Friday 31 May at the Southbank Centre, London.

The OAE is giving a concert with the title ‘States of Independence’ at 7:00 pm in the Royal Festival Hall, conducted by Vladimir Jurowski. The programme includes Sibelius’s Second Symphony, preceded by Elgar’s Serenade for Strings and Richard Strauss’s Violin Concerto.

Dr Robert Samuels will take part in a pre-concert event, a panel discussion on the imagery and aesthetics of Sibelius with the conductor and members of the orchestra. The event will take place in the Level Five Function Room at 6 pm.

Full details of the concert are available from the OAE website.

Admission to the pre-concert event is free. Students can buy tickets for the concert for five pounds through the OAE box office (telephone 020 7239 9375).


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Audiences Love New OU/BBC series ‘A History of Music and Technology’

Pick of the Week by The Times, the landmark OU/BBC seriesA History of Music and Technology’ is proving a real hit on BBC World Service Radio on Saturdays at 12.06 BST – or catch-up online here.

Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason is a warm and eloquent presenter mapping the history of music and technology in the company of legendary artists, producers, engineers and inventors.  The series shines a new light on the impact of innovations such as the synthesizer, the electric guitar, samplers and drum machines and the recording studio itself.

Technology has radically changed the way we make and listen to music – and this series also examines the way artists and industry insiders think technology might take music-making in the future.

The series was commissioned by Broadcast and Partnerships and is supported by FASS with particular relevance to BA (Hons) Music R25, and  BA (Hons) Arts and Humanities (Music) R14.

  • Commissioned by: Caroline Ogilvie, Head of Broadcast and Partnerships
  • Academic Consultants: Sean Williams, Robert Samuels and Alexander Kolassa
  • Media Fellow: Chris Williams
  • Broadcast Project Manager: Leslie Jewell
  • Online Project Producer: Daniel Brown


For more information about the impact of technology in music visit OpenLearn, where you can also listen to Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason in conversation with The Open University’s Sean Williams

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Students showcase their learning at Trinity Laban

On Thursday 11 April, students on the Certificate: The Practice of Music Making, our collaborative module with Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, presented a performance as the culmination of their residential week in Greenwich. All students took part as members of ensembles that had been formed during the week. Students had worked together with their tutors to devise and rehearse the progamme, working together to exploit the opportunities of each unique combination of voices and instruments. The performance concluded with all the students (and our very own Dr Bob Samuels) forming the #TL_CPMM 2019 choir. The performance demonstrated the diversity of the student body and the success of the Certificate in helping students to become better collaborative musicians.

Choir singing

The #TL_CPMM 2019 choir

The performance was attended by several members of the OU’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, including Executive Dean, Prof Ian Fribbance, who described the event as an ‘uplifting and life-affirming experience’.


Student ensemble at Trinity Laban

The Certificate: The Practice of Music Making is a one-year distance learning music programme developed by Trinity Laban and OU Music. It offers adults with a passion for music the opportunity to develop their practical music making and performance skills. It is a compulsory module in our BA (Hons) Music degree, and can also be studied as part of other OU qualifications. It is also available to study as a standalone course.

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