Dr Nicholas Attfield

Dr Nicholas Attfield

Department of Music
Lecturer in Music

Contact details

Room 108, Ashley Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am a musicologist specialising in German music and culture from c.1870 to 1945. 


  • B.Mus. in Music (King’s College London)
  • M. St. in Musicology (University of Oxford)
  • D.Phil. in Musicology (University of Oxford)
  • Fellow of Higher Education Academy


After completing my undergraduate degree in Music at King’s College London in 2002, I pursued masters and doctoral study at St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford, with a year as Procter Visiting Fellow at Princeton. In 2007 I was DAAD Michael Foster Research Fellow at the Humboldt-Universität, Berlin, and from 2007 to 2010 I held a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Faculty of Music at Oxford. I have taught at numerous Oxford colleges, and was Teaching Fellow at the University of Edinburgh (2011-12); from 2013-17 I was Lecturer in Music at Brunel University London, and Undergraduate Programmes Lead (2016-17).


Modules I convene and/or teach on:

  • Romantic and Twentieth-Century Music: History and Analysis
  • Music in the Weimar Republic and Third Reich
  • The Symphony from Sammartini to Sibelius
  • Aesthetics

Postgraduate supervision

I would be interested in supervising PhD students in the following areas:

  • Late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Germany and Austria
  • Symphony and opera
  • Music and politics.


I would welcome applications from students interested in the following research areas: the symphony in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; opera (particularly German-language opera) in the same period; music and politics in the Weimar Republic and Third Reich.



  • Challenging the Modern: Conservative Revolution in German Music, 1918-1933 (Oxford University Press/British Academy, 2017)
  • Music, Modern Culture, and the Critical Ear, ed. with Ben Winters (Ashgate, 2017)
  • Dinosaur Jr’s You’re Living All Over Me in series 33 1/3 (Continuum/Bloomsbury, 2011; ISBN 978-1-4411-8778-9)

Chapters in edited volumes

  • ‘Throwing Some Light on the Dunkelkonzerte: Towards a New Image of Concert Life in Vienna, 1939-1944’ in Music and World War II [working title], ed. Roberta Montemorra Marvin, Pamela Potter, and Christina Baade (forthcoming)
  • ‘“Ein Menschenherz geopfert – oder viele!”: Hans Pfitzner and the Idea of Volksoper’, in Music, Modern Culture, and the Critical Ear, ed. Nicholas Attfield and Ben Winters (Ashgate, 2017), pp. 93-112
  • ‘“A Healing Draft for a Sick People”: War in the Pages of the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, 1914-18’, in Music, Politics and Violence, ed. Susan Fast and Kip Pegley (Wesleyan University Press, 2012), pp. 39-59
  • ‘Re-staging the Welttheater: A Critical View of Carl Orff’s Antigonae and Oedipus der Tyrann’, in Ancient Drama in Music for the Modern Stage, ed. Peter Brown and Suzana Ograjenšek (Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 340-68
  • ‘Bruckner in the Theatre: On the Politics of “Absolute” Music in Performance’, in Music, Theatre and Politics in Germany: 1848 to the Third Reich, ed. Nikolaus Bacht (Ashgate, 2006), pp. 159-70

Articles in refereed journals

  • ‘Coubertin’s Music: Culture, Class, and the Failure of the Olympic Project’, InMedia 6 (2017) http://journals.openedition.org/inmedia/831
  • ‘A Study on Hysteria: Reinterpreting the Heroine of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande’, in Opera Quarterly 26/4 (Autumn 2010): pp. 499-525
  • Introduction to and translation of Hans Pfitzner’s ‘Bart und Bühne: Ein Scherzo’, as ‘Beards on the Boards: A Scherzo’, in Opera Quarterly 26/4 (Autumn 2010): pp. 588-602
  • ‘A Note from the Guest Editor: Operatic Blondes’, in Opera Quarterly 26/4 (Autumn 2010): pp. 493-8
  • ‘“Reaction as Progress”: Rudolf Louis and Hans Pfitzner’, in Mitteilungen der Hans Pfitzner-Gesellschaft 70 (2010): pp. 129-42


  • Alexander Rehding, Music and Monumentality: Commemoration and Wonderment in Nineteenth-Century Germany [c. 4000 words], in Music Analysis 31/2 (2012), pp. 242-50
  • Lee A. Rothfarb, August Halm: A Critical and Creative Life in Music, in Music and Letters 93/1 (2012), pp. 115-17
  • Karen Painter, Symphonic Aspirations: German Music and Politics, 1900-1945, in Music and Letters 90/2 (2009), pp. 296-8

View all publications in research portal