Dr Ben Earle MA (Cantab), MMus (London), PhD (Cantab)

Dr Ben Earle

Department of Music
Senior Lecturer
Head of Department of Music

Contact details

Bramall Music Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I specialise in twentieth-century repertory, analysis, critical theory and aesthetics.


I hold a first degree from the University of Cambridge, a Masters in Theory and Analysis from Kings College London and a doctorate from Cambridge.


I have been teaching at the University of Birmingham since 2004. Before that I held a Junior Research Fellowship at St John’s College, Oxford.


I teach undergraduate modules on twentieth-century musical history, on the analysis of tonal and post-tonal music and on critical theory, and postgraduate modules on contemporary music studies and on the history of musical aesthetics.

Postgraduate supervision

I have supervised PhD and MA research dissertations on a wide range of twentieth-century musical topics, including: the piano music of Erik Satie; British musical Wagnerism; the solo Cello Sonata of Zoltan Kodaly; the choral music of Ton de Leeuw; the experience of temporality in Olivier Messiaen's Visions de l'Amen; music, politics and philosophy in the work of Luciano Berio; Maltese chamber music; Michael Tippett and Jungian psychology; harmony and form in orchestral music by Toru Takemitsu; and the legacy of Morton Feldman in contemporary experimental music. Current research students are working on topics including: the operas of Giorgio Federico Ghedini; the history of the saxophone in Italy; performance practice in twelve-note string music before Darmstadt; and the music of Nikolai Roslavets.

Find out more - our Music postgraduate study  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.

Doctoral research

PhD title
'Musical Modernism in Fascist Italy: Dallapiccola in the Thirties'.


My research interests are in the history, analysis and criticism of twentieth-century concert music and opera, mostly Italian and British, though I have also written about the music of the Second Viennese School. In my work, I generally try to bring the close reading of musical texts into contact with the history of philosophical aesthetics, especially as represented by Marxist thinkers such as Theodor W. Adorno and Fredric Jameson. I am also interested in the cultural politics of music, especially in the context of fascism in Italy and its aftermath. Several of my publications have been concerned with the concept of musical modernism; future plans include the elaboration of a theory of musical realism.

Other activities

I am (or have been) the following: Library representative, Exams Officer, Plagiarism contact, Welfare tutor, Mitigations officer, Admissions tutor, Director of Learning and Teaching.


Recent publications


Earle, B 2020, 'Eclecticism and judgement: notes on Pizzetti's Tre sonetti del Petrarca', Chigiana: rassegna annuale di studi musicologici, vol. 49, pp. 181-212. <https://www.lim.it/en/chigiana/5925-eclecticism-and-judgement-notes-on-pizzettis-tre-sonetti-del-petrarca-9788855430067.html>

Earle, B 2016, 'Modernism and Reification in the Music of Frank Bridge', Journal of the Royal Musical Association, vol. 141, no. 2, pp. 335-402. https://doi.org/10.1080/02690403.2016.1216045


Earle, B 2023, Puccini and Politics. in A Wilson (ed.), Puccini in Context. Composers in Context, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 189-196. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108891028.024

Earle, B 2021, Structure and expression in twelve-note music (with some notes, in conclusion, on the first movement of Dallapiccola's Rencesvals). in R Illiano & LL Sala (eds), Luigi Dallapiccola: Politics, Text and Musical Thought. Brepols Publishers.

Earle, B 2018, La libertà? in Programme book for Oper Stuttgart, Luigi Dallapiccola/Wolfgang Rihm, Der Gefangene, Das Gehege. pp. 29-32.

Earle, B 2018, La libertà? in Programme book for La Monnaie/De Munt, Luigi Dallapiccola/Wolfgang Rihm, Il prigioniero, Das Gehege. pp. 63-68 (in French); 69-74 (in Flemish).

Book/Film/Article review

Earle, B 2024, 'Dallapiccola's Ulisse in Frankfurt', The Opera Quarterly. https://doi.org/10.1093/oq/kbad006

Earle, B 2022, 'The art of appreciation: music and middlebrow culture in modern Britain, by Kate Guthrie, Oakland, University of California, California Studies in 20th-Century Music, 2021, 293 pp., £54 (hardback), ISBN 9780520351677', Ethnomusicology Forum, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 149-152. https://doi.org/10.1080/17411912.2022.2117227

Earle, B 2019, 'Review of Camilla Poesio, Tutto è ritmo, tutto è swing. Il Jazz, il fascismo e la società italiana', Transposition, vol. 8.

Earle, B 2019, 'Review of Harriet Boyd-Bennett, Opera in Postwar Venice: Cultural Politics and the Avant-Garde', Music and Letters, vol. 100, no. 3, pp. 575-578.

Earle, B 2018, 'Review of Luciano Alberti, la giovinezza sommersa di un compositore: Luigi Dallapiccola', Music and Letters, vol. 98, no. 4, pp. 692-697.

Other contribution

Earle, B 2018, Preface to reprint of Riccardo Zandonai, "Colombina" Ouverture per orchestra. Musikproduktion Höflich, Munich.

Earle, B 2017, Preface for reprint of Riccardo Zandonai, Giulietta e Romeo: Episodio sinfonico. Musikproduktion Höflich, Munich.

Earle, B 2016, Preface for reprint of Leone Sinigaglia, Le Baruffe Chiozzotte. Musikproduktion Höflich, Munich.

Scholarly edition

Earle, B (ed.) 2020, Arthur Bliss: Miracle in the Gorbals. NOV165077 edn, Novello & Company Limited, London, UK.

View all publications in research portal