Dr Nicholas Attfield

Dr Nicholas Attfield

Department of Music
Associate Professor 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.


Highlight publications

Attfield, N 2020, Throwing some light on the Dunkelkonzerte: Towards a new image of concert life in Vienna, 1939-1944. in P Potter, R Montemorra Marvin & C Baade (eds), Music and World War II : Coping with wartime in Europe and the United States. Indiana University, pp. 148-171.

Attfield, N 2020, '"Eine reihe bunter zauberbilder": Thomas Mann, Hans Pfitzner, and the politics of song accompaniment'. in N Loges & L Tunbridge (eds), German Song Onstage: Lieder Performance in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries. Indiana University, pp. 244-261. <https://iupress.org/9780253047014/german-song-onstage/>

Attfield, N 2017, '"Ein Menschenherz geopfert - oder viele!": Hans Pfitzner and the Idea of a _Volksoper_'. in N Attfield & B Winters (eds), Music, Modern Culture, and the Critical Ear. Ashgate, pp. 93-112.

Attfield, N 2020, 'Unreliable Conservatism and the politics of music: Eichendorff, Thomas Mann, and Hans Pfitzner at the end of the First World War', Oxford German Studies, vol. 49, no. 4, pp. 380-400. https://doi.org/10.1080/00787191.2020.1840815

Attfield, N 2017, 'Coubertin's Music: Culture, Class, and the Failure of the Olympic Project', InMedia: The French Journal of Media Studies, vol. 6. https://doi.org/10.4000/inmedia.934

Recent publications


Attfield, N 2023, Lamestains: Grunge, Sub Pop and the Music of the Loser. Reaktion. <https://reaktionbooks.co.uk/work/lamestains>

Attfield, N 2017, Challenging the Modern: Conservative Revolution in German Music, 1918-1933. Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.5871/bacad/9780197266137.001.0001

Attfield, N & Winters, B (eds) 2017, Music, Modern Culture, and the Critical Ear. Routledge.

Attfield, N 2011, Dinosaur Jr's You're Living All Over Me: in series 33 1/3. Continuum.


Attfield, N 2023, 'Music and Austrofascism: radio, pan-Germanism, and the reinvention of the Wiener Symphoniker', Journal of the Royal Musical Association, vol. 147, no. 2, pp. 417-448. https://doi.org/10.1017/rma.2022.21

Attfield, N 2021, 'From punk into pop (via hardcore): re-reading the Sub Pop manifesto', Punk & Post-Punk, vol. 10, no. 1. https://doi.org/10.1386/punk_00086_1

Attfield, N 2010, 'A Study on Hysteria: Reinterpreting the Heroine of Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande', The Opera Quarterly, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 499-525.

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Attfield, N 2012, 'A Healing Draft for a Sick People': War in the Pages of the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, 1914-18. in S Fast & K Pegley (eds), Music, Politics and Violence. Wesleyan University Press, pp. 39-59.

Attfield, N 2010, Re-staging the Welttheater: A Critical View of Carl Orff's Antigonae and Oedipus der Tyrann. in P Brown & S Ograjenšek (eds), Ancient Drama in Music for the Modern Stage. Oxford University Press, pp. 340-68.

Attfield, N 2006, Bruckner in the Theatre: On the Politics of 'Absolute' Music in Performance. in N Bacht (ed.), Music, Theatre and Politics in Germany: 1848 to the Third Reich. Ashgate, pp. 159-70.

Book/Film/Article review

Attfield, N 2022, 'Charles Youmans, ed. Mahler in Context (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021). 344 pp. £84.99.', Nineteenth-Century Music Review, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 629-633. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1479409822000313

Attfield, N 2022, 'Review of Richard Strauss und die Wiener Philharmoniker (Special Annual Edition der Wiener Philharmoniker 2019)', Richard Strauss-Jahrbuch.

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