My research examines the music composed by Robert Johnson and John Wilson for commercial plays during the first half of the seventeenth century, and its preservation, adaptation, replacement and loss up to 1700. It is an interdisciplinary thesis, combining the cultural history of early modern drama with musicological stylistic analysis, exploring the role of music in the wider development of 17th-century theatre as a whole. My key sources are the lyrics and sheet music written for 17th-century English drama which survive in manuscript and printed forms.
The first section of my thesis focuses on original compositions by the two composers; the second on their afterlife within later 17th-century productions and non-theatrical sources. My key research questions explore:
- Johnson and Wilson’s working relationships within the King’s Men theatre company, and their joint work on compositions for three plays
- Detecting patterns in Johnson and Wilson’s compositional styles, developing more confident attributions of music to both composers, and comparing them with other composers of the period
- How and why Johnson and Wilson’s music was preserved, adapted, replaced and lost in the 17th century, and how far this reveals broader stylistic developments in theatre music throughout the period.