Professor Colin Timms BA (Cantab), MMus PhD (London)

Department of Music
Emeritus Professor of Music

Contact details

Barber Institute of Fine Arts
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am a musicologist specialising in Italian secular vocal music (opera and chamber cantata) of the late Baroque period,and in Handel, but I also teach and conduct a wide range of western classical music from other periods.


Colin Timms was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and as a postgraduate at King’s College, London, where he was supervised by Thurston Dart and Brian Trowell. After lecturing at the Queen’s University, Belfast, he moved to the University of Birmingham in 1973. He has edited chamber duets and cantatas by Agostino Steffani (two volumes, published by Garland and A-R Editions) and also, in collaboration with Lowell Lindgren (MIT), edited the composer’s correspondence with Giuseppe Riva. His monograph on Steffani’s life and works, Polymath of the Baroque (Oxford University Press, 2003), won the British Academy’s Derek Allen Prize. Having published on other composers, such as Corelli, Vivaldi and Marcello, he contributed forty articles to The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. His research extends also to Alessandro Stradella (editions of cantatas and of an oratorio for the Edizione Nazionale of his opera omnia, of which he is a board member) and to Handel (edition of Theodora for the Hallische Händel-Ausgabe). His course on editing is a distinctive feature of his specialist teaching, which deals with topics from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century. He has conducted many concerts of vocal and orchestral music, including performances of Handel’s Solomon and Jephtha, Bach’s St John Passion and B-minor Mass, the Verdi Requiem, Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, Tippett’s Child of Our Time and Britten’s War Requiem. He has also conducted stage productions of operas by Monteverdi, Steffani and Handel.

Postgraduate supervision

Successful Ph.D. dissertations on Thomas Morley as a Music Publisher, Schuetz’s Passion settings, the cantata spirituale e morale, Handel’s opera Poro, Domenico Dragonetti, Tchaikovsky’s songs and Rimsky-Korsakov’s operas.

Other activities

External (current)

  • The Handel Institute: trustee, member of Council, hon. secretary and editor of Newsletter
  • Gerald Coke Handel Foundation: trustee, and chair of Collections Advisory Committee
  • Birmingham Early Music Festival: member of board of management
  • Performances Birmingham Limited [i.e. Symphony Hall and Town Hall]: member of board
  • R. W. and F. A. Brant Pianoforte Competition: chairman of trustees
  • Edizione Nazionale dell’Opera Omnia di Alessandro Stradella: member of Editorial Board
  • Nuova edizione delle opere di Antonio Vivaldi: member of Advisory Committee

Internal (current)

  • Responsibility for music and concerts in the Barber Institute of Fine Arts
  • School Promotions Committee
  • Vice-Chancellor’s ‘Distinguished Lecture Series’ committee


Principal publications:


  • Polymath of the Baroque: Agostino Steffani and His Music (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. xviii, 422. ISBN 0195154738
  • with Lowell Lindgren, The Correspondence of Agostino Steffani and Giuseppe Riva, 1720-1728, and Related Correspondence with J. P. F. von Schönborn and S. B. Pallavicini, Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle, 36 (2003) [whole volume], pp. x, 174. ISSN 14723808

Articles, Essays, Papers

  • ‘Revisions in Steffani’s Chamber Duets’, Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association, xcvi (1969-70), 119-28
  • ‘Handel and Steffani: a new Handel signature’, Musical Times, cxiv (1973), 374-7
  • ‘Steffani and the Academy of Ancient Music’, Musical Times, cxix (1978), 127-30
  • ‘Gregorio Piva and Steffani’s Principal Copyist’, Source Materials and the Interpretation of Music: a Memorial Volume to Thurston Dart, ed. I. Bent (London: Stainer and Bell, 1981), 169-90. ISBN 0852495110
  • ‘The Dramatic in Vivaldi’s Cantatas’, Antonio Vivaldi: teatro musicale, cultura e società, ed. L. Bianconi and G. Morelli (Florence: Olschki, 1982), 97-129. ISBN 8822230906
  • ‘Handelian and other Librettos in Birmingham Central Library’, Music and Letters, lxv (1984), 141-67. ISSN 00274424
  • Prendea con man di latte: a Vivaldi spuriosity?’ Informazioni e studi vivaldiani, vi (1985), 64-72. ISSN 03932915
  • ‘Heinrich Schütz’, chapters VII/2--XI, The New Grove North European Baroque Masters (London: Macmillan, 1985), 78-111. ISBN 0333390172
  • ‘George I’s Venetian Palace and Theatre Boxes in the 1720s’, Music and Theatre: Essays in Honour of Winton Dean, ed. N. Fortune (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 95-130. ISBN 0521323487
  • with Michael Talbot: ‘Music and the Poetry of Antonio Ottoboni (1646-1720)’, Haendel e gli Scarlatti a Roma, ed. N. Pirrotta and A. Ziino (Florence: Olschki, 1987), 367-438. ISBN 8822235290
  • ‘Steffani’s Influence on Handel’s Chamber Duets’, Handel Tercentenary Collection, ed. S. Sadie and A. Hicks (London: Macmillan, 1987), 222-45. ISBN 033342882X
  • ‘The Cassandra cantata of Conti and Marcello’, Benedetto Marcello: la sua opera e il suo tempo, ed. C. Madricardo and F. Rossi (Florence: Olschki, 1988), 127-59. ISBN 8822235649
  • ‘The Cavata at the Time of Vivaldi’, Nuovi studi vivaldiani: Edizione e cronologia critica delle opere, ed. A. Fanna and G. Morelli (Florence: Olschki, 1988), 451-77. ISBN 8822236254
  • Analysis of Corelli’s Ciacona, op. 2, no. 12, in Studi corelliani, iv (1990), 45-50
  • ‘Brigida Bianchi’s poesie musicali and their settings’, I quaderni della Civica Scuola di Musica di Milano, ix/19-20 (1990), 19-39
  • ‘The Fate of Steffani’s I trionfi del Fato’, in Sundry Sorts of Music Books: Essays on the British Library Collections presented to O. W. Neighbour on his 70th Birthday, ed. C. Banks, A. Searle and M. Turner (London: British Library, 1993), 201-14. ISBN 0712302972
  • ‘Steffani’s Solo Cantatas’, in Con che soavità: Studies in Italian Opera, Song and Dance, 1580-1740, ed. I. Fenlon and T. Carter (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), 196-228. ISBN 0198163703
  • ‘The Dissemination of Steffani’s Operas’, in Relazioni musicali tra Italia e Germania nell’età barocca: Atti del VI Convegno internazionale sulla musica italiana nei secoli XVII-XVIII, ed. A. Colzani, N. Dubowy, A. Luppi and M. Padoan (Como: AMIS, 1997), 323-50
  • ‘The Italian Cantata since 1945: Progress and Prospects’, Cinquant’anni di produzioni e consumi della musica dell’età di Vivaldi 1947-1997, ed. A. Fanna and M. Talbot (Florence; Olschki, 1998), 75-94. ISBN 8822246438
  • ‘What did Handel learn from Steffani’s Operas?’, Göttinger Händel-Beiträge, ix (2002), 55-72. ISBN 3525278195
  • ‘A New Cantata by Domenico Scarlatti (Words by Antonio Ottoboni)’, in Massimiliano Sala and W. Dean Sutcliffe (eds), Domenico Scarlatti Adventures: Essays to Commemorate the 250th Anniversary of his Death. Ad Parnassum Studies, 3 (Bologna: Ut Orpheus Edizioni, 2008), 1-16. ISBN 978-88-8109-462-2
  • ‘A Lost Volume of Cantatas and Serenatas from the “Original Stradella Collection”’, in Aspects of the Secular Cantata in Late Baroque Italy, ed. Michael Talbot (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009), 27-54. ISBN 978-0-7546-5794-1
  • ‘Perspectives on Theodora’, Händel-Jahrbuch, lvi (2010), 165-84. ISBN 9783761814505; ISSN 04400992
  • ‘Did Steffani compose a “Confitebor”in 1709?’, Analecta musicologica, xliv (2010), 123-38. ISBN 9783761821305

Contributions to Dictionaries and Encyclopaedias

  • The New Grove Dictionary of Opera (London: Macmillan, 1992), ISBN 0333485521: 34 articles, three of them jointly authored, totalling about 5,000 words
  • The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edn (2001), ISBN 0333608003: revised versions of 37 articles from The New Grove and The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, four of them jointly authored, totalling about 15,000 words
  • The Cambridge Handel Encyclopaedia, ed. Annette Landgraf and David Vickers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), ISBN 978-0521-88192-0: articles on Hanover (pp. 314-15), Herrenhausen (325), Mauro (410), Steffani (619), Stradella (620-21) and Theodora (638-41)
  • Das Händel-Lexikon, herausgegeben von Hans Joachim Marx, in Verbindung mit Manuel Gervink und Steffen Voss (Laaber: Laaber-Verlag, 2011), ISBN 978-3-89007-552-5: article on ‘Duette und Terzette’ (pp. 232-6)


  • with Anthony Hicks: G. F. Handel: Music for ‘Comus’ (London: Acca Music, 1977)
  • Cantatas by Agostino Steffani 1654-1728. The Italian Cantata in the Seventeenth Century, xv (New York: Garland, 1985). ISBN 0824088891
  • Agostino Steffani: Twelve Chamber Duets. Recent Researches in the Music of the Baroque Era, 53 (Madison: A-R Editions, 1987). ISBN 089579215X
  • Alessandro Stradella: Edizione Nazionale dell’Opera Omnia di Alessandro Stradella, ser. I, vol. 13: Cantate profane con accompagnamento strumentale: Chi resiste al dio bendato; Lasciate ch’io respiri, ombre gradite; Per tua vaga beltade, ed. Colin Timms and Catherine Wyatt (Pisa: Edizioni ETS, 2007). ISBN 978-884671266-8; ISMN M 705015-15-7
  • George Frideric Handel: Theodora (HWV 68). Hallische Händel-Ausgabe, ser. I, vol. 29 (Kassel: Bärenreiter). Full score (2008), pp. lx, 312; ISMN 979-0-006-55002-9. Vocal score (2009), pp. xv, 274; ISMN 979-0-006-53762-4


Baroque Italian music, especially opera and cantata; the music of Stradella, Steffani and Handel