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

Department of Music
Emeritus Professor of Music

Contact details

Department of Music
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am a musicologist specialising in Italian secular vocal music (opera and chamber cantata) of the late Baroque period, especially Agostino Steffani, and in the music of George Frideric Handel.


Colin Timms studied Music at the University of Cambridge and at King’s College London, where his doctoral research on Steffani’s chamber duets was supervised by Thurston Dart and Brian Trowell. He lectured at the Queen’s University Belfast from 1970 to 1972 and at the University of Birmingham from 1973, and held the Peyton and Barber chair of Music at Birmingham from 1992 until his retirement in 2012.

He is known mainly for his work on Agostino Steffani, Alessandro Stradella and George Frideric Handel. He has edited two volumes of Steffani’s chamber duets and cantatas (published by Garland and A-R Editions), co-edited his correspondence with Giuseppe Riva, published a prize-winning study of Steffani’s life and works, and conducted productions of two of his operas. He has also edited the oratorio San Giovanni Crisostomo and co-edited a volume of cantatas in the opera omnia of Alessandro Stradella and edited two works by Handel – the oratorio Theodora for the Hallische Händel-Ausgabe and the masque Comus (with music by Handel and Arne) for the Novello Handel Edition.

His most recent work includes the edition of Steffani’s Amor vien dal Destino that was used at the Staatsoper Berlin in April 2016 and an article on the composer’s Orlando Generoso in the Hamburger Jahrbuch für Musikwissenschaft, 31 (2016). He is a co-editor of Music in the London Theatre from Purcell to Handel (Cambridge University Press, 2017) and of Agostino Steffani: Europäischer Komponist, hannoverscher Diplomat und Bischof der Leibniz-Zeit (Göttingen: V & R unipress, 2017). Steffani is also the focus of his continuing research.

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.

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

Other activities

External (current)

  • The Handel Institute: trustee, member of Council and editor of Newsletter
  • Gerald Coke Handel Foundation: trustee, and chair of Collections Advisory Committee
  • Birmingham International Piano 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



  • 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
  • An Index of Articles in Vols. 1-26 (1990-2015) of the Handel Institute Newsletter (Birmingham: The Handel Institute, 2015), pp. 12.
  • ed. with Bruce Wood, Music in the London Theatre from Purcell to Handel (Cambridge University Press, 2017), pp. xv, 268. ISBN 9781107154643.
  • ed. with Claudia Kaufold and Nicole K. Strohmann, Agostino Steffani: Europäischer Komponist, hannoverscher Diplomat und Bischof der Leibniz-Zeit / European Composer, Hanoverian Diplomat and Bishop in the Age of Leibniz (Göttingen: V & R unipress, 2017), pp. 366. ISBN 9783847107095.

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
  • ‘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
  • ‘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
  • ‘Italian Church Music in Handel’s London: The Sacred Works of Agostino Steffani’, Händel-Jahrbuch, xlvi (2000), 157-78. ISBN 3761814410; ISSN 04400992
  • ‘What did Handel learn from Steffani’s Operas?’, Göttinger Händel-Beiträge, ix (2002), 55-72. ISBN 3525278195
  • ‘Boyce’s Ode to Shakespeare: The Missing Autograph Folio’, Handel Institute Newsletter, xvii/1 (2006), [6-7]. ISSN 09627960
  • ‘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 9788881094622
  • ‘Handel at the Barber: The “Lewis” Years’, Handel Institute Newsletter, xx/1 (2009), [2-4]. ISSN 09627960
  • ‘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 9780754657941
  • ‘A Borrowing from Vivaldi in Theodora’, Handel Institute Newsletter, xxi/1 (2010), [9-10]. ISSN 09627960
  • ‘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
  • ‘What did Handel learn from Steffani’s Operas?’ [2002], reprinted in Studies in Seventeenth-Century Opera, ed. Beth L. Glixon (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010). ISBN 9780754629016, and also in Handel, ed. David Vickers (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010). ISBN 9780754628859
  • ‘The Dramatic in Vivaldi’s Cantatas’ [1982], reprinted in Vivaldi, ed. Michael Talbot (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010). ISBN 9780754628842
  • ‘Archive Notes on Singers in Rodrigo’, Handel Institute Newsletter, xxi/2 (2010), [5-8]. ISSN 09627960
  • ‘Archive Notes on Singers in Agrippina’, Handel Institute Newsletter, xxii/1 (2011), [6-9]. ISSN 09627960
  • ‘More Perspectives on Theodora’, in Aria: Eine Festschrift für Wolfgang Ruf, ed. Wolfgang Hirschmann (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 2011), 308-16. ISSN 01760033; ISBN 9783487147116
  • ‘On Steffani’s Munich Operas’, in Das Musikleben am Hof von Kurfürst Max Emanuel. Bericht über das internationale musikwissenschaftliche Symposium, veranstaltet von der Gesellschaft für Bayerische Musikgeschichte und dem Forschungsinstitut für Musiktheater der Universität Bayreuth, ed. Stephan Hörner and Sebastian Werr (Tutzing: Hans Schneider, 2012), 251-72. ISBN 9783862960392
  • ‘The Barber Bequest and Music at the University of Birmingham’, in The Barber Institute of Fine Arts: Foundations of a Collection, ed. Robert Wenley (London: Scala, 2012), 118-31. ISBN 9781857598131 (hardback), 9781857598148 (paperback)
  • ‘Steffani und Händel als Komponisten für Hannover und London’ (Festvortrag [keynote lecture] im Rahmen der Händel-Festspiele in Halle (Saale) am 7. Juni 2014), Händel-Jahrbuch 61 (2015), 11-38
  • ‘Steffani’s Orlando Generoso: Drama and Music’, in Musik an den Welfenhöfen, ed. R. Emans, S. Hiemke and O. Huck. Hamburger Jahrbuch für Musikwissenschaft, 31 (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2016), 193-235. ISSN 03428303; ISBN 9783631671825 (printed book); E-ISBN 9783653066555 (e-book)
  • ‘Migration and Biography: The Case of Agostino Steffani’, in Gesa zur Nieden and Berthold Over (eds.), Musicians’ Mobilities and Music Migrations in Early Modern Europe. Biographical Patterns and Cultural Exchanges (Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 2016), pp. 35-49. ISBN 9783837635041
  • ‘Steffani and his Church Music’, in Claudia Kaufold, Nicole K. Strohmann and Colin Timms (eds.), Agostino Steffani: Europäischer Komponist, hannoverscher Diplomat und Bischof der Leibniz-Zeit / European Composer, Hanoverian Diplomat and Bishop in the Age of Leibniz (Göttingen: V & R unipress, 2017), pp. 21-40. ISBN 9783847107095 

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 SeventeenthCentury, 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 strumentaleChi 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
  • Alessandro Stradella: Edizione Nazionale dell’Opera Omnia di Alessandro Stradella, ser. III, vol. 3: San Giovanni Crisostomo (Pisa: Edizioni ETS, 2011). ISBN 978-884673018-3; ISMN 705015-18-8.
  • Handel / Arne: Comus. Music by George Frideric Handel and Thomas Augustine Arne. Novello Handel Edition (London: Novello, 2016). ISBN 978-1-7855-8349-0.


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