Professor Magnus Williamson
Professor of Early Music
- Email: email@example.com
- Telephone: +44 (0)191-208-6751
I read music at Magdalen College, Oxford, graduating in 1990. After completing my DPhil thesis I was lecturer in music at Somerville College, Oxford, and then at Newcastle University (where I have been since 1997). My research focuses upon the music of late-medieval and early modern Europe, especially in the sources and contexts of early-Tudor polyphony. My teaching reflects these interests. I teach on several music modules in music history; medieval, renaissance and baroque music; techniques of counterpoint; notation and editing.
I am also active as a performer. In 1988 I became a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, while I was organ scholar at Magdalen College, and won prizes as an improviser, giving recitals in the UK and abroad. More recently, my collaboration with the Early English Organ Project and with the ESRC/AHRC-funded Experience of Worship project has drawn together my academic interests and my background as an improviser and church musician. In 1988 I became a fellow of the Royal College of Organists (with the Dixon Prize for improvisation).
General Editor, Early English Church Music (British Academy)
[On research leave February-June 2017]
Lecturer in Music, Somerville College, Oxford (1995-7)
Director of Music, University Church of St Mary, Oxford (1992-7)
Assisting Organist, Magdalen College, Oxford (1990-1)
American Musicological Society; Royal Musical Association; Renaissance Society of America;
Plainsong and Medieval Music Society
The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries:
musical contexts: social, ritual, spatial
loss, damage and restoration: reconstructing lacunary polyphony, re-imagining mutilated and lost spaces, melancholy and nostalgia
musical sources: manuscripts, chant and polyphony in print; choirbooks and partbooks, provenance and purpose; palaeography, codicology, notation, editing, formats: for instance, the recently-identified Petre Gradual in Newcastle University's Robinson Library
change and upheaval, reform, innovation, reaction
organ and choral music in early-Tudor England
performance, particularly improvisation
Since the 1990s I have focused on musical sources and contexts of the late Middle Ages, mainly in Britain, but more recently in France as well. I have several on-going research projects on the soundscape of the pre-Reformation parish, the printing of music books (particularly the oft-neglected but very significant corpus of printed chant books), and the Chapel Royal under the Tudors. Often mutually antagonistic, but culturally interconnected, Renaissance France and Tudor England make for interesting comparisons, not least in their divergent responses to religious change.
September 2014 brought an exciting new departure with the advent of the AHRC funded project, Tudor Partbooks, of which I am the Principal Investigator (with Dr Julia Craig-McFeely of Oxford University and DIAMM as Co-I). More details can be found on the ICMuS Research pages and the Tudor Partbooks Facebook pages. Alongside Julia and me, the core research team comprises Katherine Butler, who works as RA in Oxford, and Daisy Gibbs, who is studying for a PhD at Newcastle. The project also provides abundant opportunities for postgraduate research students, especially for those interested in sources and polyphonic reconstruction: if you'd like to be involved please contact me.
Pipeline projects include:
- musical cultures and contexts in France from the English invasion to the wars of religion (1340s-1560s)
- spatial and acoustic experiences in medieval Europe, 1000-1500
I welcome inquiries from anyone interested in pursuing research on Renaissance musical sources, North European historical contexts, sixteenth-century contrapuntal techniques, keyboard improvisation, editing, and notation.
Recent Esteem Indicators
Leverhulme Trust: we look forward to welcoming Dr Kerry McCarthy to Newcastle University as Visiting Professor in September 2017: host
University Research Committee: Visiting Professorship Dr John Milsom (2015): host
LE STUDIUM® Research Fellow, Centre d'Études Supérieures de la Renaissance, Université François-Rabelais de Tours, France (2013-14): guest
Palisca Prize for outstanding edition, American Musicological Society (2011)
Current Research Projects
Animating Texts at Newcastle University: AtNU is a large project investigating Digital Technology and the Humanities; led by Professor Jennifer Richards (English Literature), with Professor Michael Rossington (English Literature); Professor Paul Watson (Digital Institute); Dr James Cummings (English Literature). We have been awarded a grant of £476,132 by Newcastle University to develop a new field of study, Digital Technology and the Humanities.Over three years we are exploring how the digital can complement rather than replace the print edition, exploring different ways of understanding, explaining, and experiencing text as mobile, variable, adaptable, performable, while also helping us to re-imagine the reading experience.
Tudor Partbooks: the manuscript legacies of John Sadler, John Baldwin and their antecedents (AHRC, 2014-17): PI
The Sarum Hymnal in Manuscript and Print (British Academy, 2017-18): PI
Creative Exchanges (ARHC): Co-I
Early English Church Music: the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries (AHRB, 2004-7): PI
Music History from the ninth to the seventeenth centuries, particularly 1400-1550
Historic Compositional Techniques
Edition and transcription
Research methods in medieval and early modern studies
Notation and editing
- Williamson M. Quadring Cows: Resourcing Music in the Pre-Reformation Parish. In: Harper S; Barnwell PS; Williamson M, ed. Late-Medieval Liturgies Enacted: The Experience of Worship in Cathedral and Parish Church. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2016, pp.125-153.
- Williamson M. Parish music in late-medieval England: local, regional, national identities. In: B. Kümin & M. Ferrari, ed. Da Heime in meine Pfarre. Wolfenbüttel: Herzog-August Bibliothek, 2016.
- Williamson M. John Sheppard, III: Hymns, Psalms, Antiphons and other Latin Polyphony. In: Williamson, M ed. Early English Church Music 2012. London: Stainer & Bell, for the British Academy, 54, 300.
- Williamson M. Affordable splendour: editing, printing and marketing the Sarum Antiphoner (1519–20). Renaissance Studies 2012, 26(1), 60-87.
- Williamson M. The Eton Choirbook: Facsimile and Introductory Study. In: Bent, M ed. DIAMM Facsimiles 2010. Oxford, UK: Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music, 320.
- Williamson M. Double cantus firmus Compositions in the Eton Choirbook. In: Hornby, E., Maw, D, ed. Essays on the History of English Music in Honour of John Caldwell: Sources, Style, Performance, Historiography. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2010, pp.162-184.
- Harrison FL, Williamson M, ed. The Eton Choirbook: III: third, revised and expanded edition. London: Stainer & Bell, 2010.
- Williamson M. The Will of John Boraston: Musicians within Collegiate and Parochial Communities. In: Burgess C; Heale M, ed. The Late Medieval English College and its Context. York: York Medieval Press, 2008, pp.180-198.
- Williamson M (organ), Choir of Caius College, Cambridge, dir. Geoffrey Webber. More Sweet to Hear: organs and voices of Tudor England. . Abingdon: OxRecs Digital, 2007.
- Williamson M. Liturgical Music in the Late Medieval Parish: Organs and Voices, Ways and Means. In: Burgess, C., Duffy, E, ed. The Parish in Late Medieval England: Proceedings of the 2002 Harlaxton Symposium. Donington: Shaun Tyas, 2006, pp.177-242.
- Williamson M. Early English Organs and early Anglican liturgical polyphony: some considerations of performance practice. In: Royal College of Organists Yearbook 2004-2005. London, UK: Royal College of Organists, 2005, pp.46-53.
- Williamson M. Liturgical polyphony in the pre-reformation English paris church: A provisional list and commentary. Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle 2005, 38, 1-43.
- Williamson M. Evangelicalism at Boston, Oxford, and Windsor under Henry VIII: John Foxe's narratives recontextualized'. In: Loades, D, ed. John Foxe at Home and Abroad. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004, pp.31-45.
- Skeaping L, Harper J, Gwynne D, Williamson M, The Cardinall's Musick, Carwood A. Music Restor'd. BBC Radio 3, 2001.
- Williamson M. The role of religious guilds in the cultivation of ritual polyphony in England: the case of Louth, 1450-1550. In: Kisby, F, ed. Music and Musicians in Renaissance Cities and Towns. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001, pp.82-93.
- Williamson M. Pictura et scriptura - The 'Eton Choirbook' in its iconographical context. Early Music 2000, 28(3), 359-380.
- Williamson M. 'Royal Image-making and Textual Interplay in Gilbert Banaster's O Maria et Elizabeth'. Early Music History 2000, 19, 237-278.
- Magnus Williamson. 'The Early Tudor Court, the Provinces and the Eton Choirbook'. Early Music 1997, 25(2), 229-43.
- Magnus Williamson. The Eton Choirbook: music-making within the collegiate context. In: Benjamin Thompson, ed. The Reign of Henry VII: proceedings of the 1993 Harlaxton Symposium. Stamford: Paul Watkins, 1995, pp.213-28.
- Williamson M. The Eton Choirbook Project. Newcastle: ICMuS/CETL4MusicNE, 2012. Available at: http://research.ncl.ac.uk/etonchoirbook/.
- Williamson M. The fate of the choirbook in Protestant Europe. Journal of the Alamire Foundation 2015, 7(2), 117-131, 135 (plate).
- Williamson M. Chorus vel organa: Music from the Lost Palace of Westminster [CD recording]. Wallyford, East Lothian: Delphian Records, 2016. CD.
- Williamson M. Picardy’s musical topography. Early Music 2015, 43(1), 145-147.
- Williamson M. Solo concert. 2015. Aberdeen, UK: King's College, 60'.
- Williamson M. Voices from the past: the delicate art of reconstructing Tudor partbooks. Choir & Organ 2015, 23(4), 25-27.
- Williamson M. Church Music and Protestantism in Post-Reformation England: Discourses, Sites and Identities, by Jonathan Willis (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010). English Historical Review 2014, 129(538), 707-709.
- Williamson M. Incorporated Association of Organists Annual Congress: guest recital. 2014. Newcastle upon Tyne: St Mary's Cathedral, 60'.
- Williamson M. Notre Dame: chant and polyphony for Lady Mass, Henry II to Henry III. 2014. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Castle Keep.
- Williamson M. Inaugural improvisation. 2013. Newcastle upon Tyne: St Mary's Cathedral, 60'.
- Williamson M. Spirit of the Age: a new Tickell for Newcastle. Choir & Organ 2013, 21(3), 36-39.
- Williamson M, Keay N. A Tudor Chorister's Music Lesson: sixteenth-century music for organs and voice. 2011. St Alban's: St Alban's Cathedral, 60' + 120'.
- Williamson M. Buxheimer Orgelbuch c. 1460, J. S. Bach Trio Sonatas, Scheidemann Magnificats. Choir & Organ 2011, 19(3), 72-73.
- Williamson M. Queen Mary I, Tallis’s O sacrum convivium and a Latin Litany. Early Music 2016, 44(2), 251-270.