Dr Christopher Wiley delivers Keynote lecture at international conference at the University of Amsterdam

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Dr Christopher WJanuary 2018_Amsterdam_Poster 2018 Workshop Transnational Perspectives on Artistsiley gave a Keynote lecture at the two-day international workshop, ‘Transnational Perspectives on the Writing of Artists’ Lives, 19th-21st centuries’, held at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands on 25–26 January 2018.

Dr Wiley’s 50-minute paper, entitled ‘Musical Biography as a National and Transnational Genre’, explored the extent to which composer life-writing reflects the preoccupations and concerns of its time and place of origin while simultaneously embodying pan-European values that remain strikingly robust across texts from different countries and centuries.

Addressed to an interdisciplinary audience primarily from The Netherlands, France, the UK, and US, Dr Wiley’s lecture developed research previously presented at the University of Oxford, and generated much productive discussion from delegates.

An internationally acknowledged expert in the field, Dr Wiley has given a number of previous keynotes at conferences on biography, including the four-day ‘(Auto)Biography as a Musicological Discourse’ held at the University of Arts, Belgrade in 2008.

The full schedule for the workshop may be viewed here: http://www.uva.nl/en/shared-content/subsites/amsterdam-institute-for-humanities-research/en/events/events/2018/01/transnational-perspectives-artists-lives.html

The programme is also available online as a PDF: https://www.huizingainstituut.nl/v02/wp-content/uploads/Programme-Workshop-Transnational-Perspectives-on-Artists-Lives-2-Jan-18.pdf

Dr Christopher Wiley co-organizes international multi-disciplinary conference on Writing About Contemporary Artists at the University of Surrey

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Keynote - Annie Yim, Christopher Le Brun, and Christopher WileyDr Christopher Wiley was Chair of the Conference Committee for an international, multi-disciplinary three-day conference entitled Writing About Contemporary Artists: Challenges, Practices, and Complexities’, held at the University of Surrey from 20-22 October 2017.

Hosted and sponsored by the University’s Institute of Advanced Studies, the conference brought together scholars and practitioners in fields including musicology, theatre studies, dance and choreography, literature, film, digital media, and the visual arts. Its 70 participants represented a strongly international delegation drawn from North and South America, Australia, South Africa, and across Europe and the UK.

Dr Wiley compèred and co-authored the event’s central Keynote Concert and Dialogue (pictured above) given by MusicArt London, featuring the distinguished painter Christopher Le Brun (President of the Royal Academy of Arts) and pianist Dr Annie Yim (St John’s Smith Square Young Artist in Residence 2016/17), with additional contributions by composer Richard Birchall.

Dr Wiley also acted as chair and panel member for the final conference session (pictured below), a roundtable on ‘Contemporary artists, contemporary writing: Internet and social media’, at which he spoke about his reviewing activity across the art disciplines for digital magazine Musical Theatre Review as well as his guest-blogging for sites such as the Association of National Teaching Fellows blog and Oxford University Press Blog.

Further information may be found at the conference website: http://www.ias.surrey.ac.uk/workshops/artistswriting/

The full programme (including abstracts) may be downloaded here: http://www.ias.surrey.ac.uk/workshops/artistswriting/papers/Writing%20About%20Contemporary%20Artists%20conference%20_%20Proggramme.pdf

Roundtable - Christopher Wiley, Björn Heile, Katie Beswick, and Ian Pace

Update: Online reports on the conference are available at the following links:




Dr Christopher Wiley delivers paper at Collaborating Couples conference at the University of Bristol

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Dr Christopher Wiley presented a paper at a two-day international conference entitled ‘Beyond Genius and Muse – Collaborating Couples in Twentieth-Century Arts’, held at the Victoria Rooms, University of Bristol on 18–19 April 2017.

Dr Wiley’s paper, Subject and Countersubject: The Prevalence of the Genius and the Muse in Musical Biography’, explored the pattern of collaborating couples that has emerged historically in musical biography, drawing on examples including Brahms and Clara Schumann, Ethel Smyth and Henry Brewster, Britten and Peter Pears, and Adele.

It built upon Dr Wiley’s previous scholarship conducted in this area across more than 10 years, of which the most recent output, his book chapter ‘Musical Biography and the Myth of the Muse’, was published in 2015.

The conference brought together some 50 academics from across Europe and the US, encompassing a range of topics in music, literature, and the visual arts.

Further information is available at the conference website: https://collaboratingcouples.wordpress.com/

Victoria Rooms

Dr Christopher Wiley gives talk on Ethel Smyth’s opera The Boatswain’s Mate for Guildford Hard of Hearing Support Group

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Ethel SmythDr Christopher Wiley delivered a talk entitled ‘Ethel Smyth’s (feminist?) opera, The Boatswain’s Mate at the Millmead Centre, Guildford on 27 February 2017, for Guildford Hard of Hearing Support Group.

The Boatswain’s Mate was the fourth of six operas composed by Smyth (who suffered from distorted hearing and deafness for the last several decades of her life), and was the most popular and most frequently performed during her own lifetime. It was recently released in its first complete modern recording by Retrospect Opera (of which Dr Wiley is a part).

An acknowledged expert on Smyth, Dr Wiley provided an outline of the circumstances of the composition of The Boatswain’s Mate, its plot, and interesting features of the music. He also discussed the extent to which the work constitutes a ‘feminist opera’, as has previously been suggested.

This is the second time that Dr Wiley has addressed Guildford Hard of Hearing Support Group, having delivered a presentation on Smyth’s life and works two years ago in January 2015. Dr Wiley has also recently given talks on Smyth at The Guildford Institute and at the composer’s childhood home in Frimley Green.

Dr Christopher Wiley delivers paper in the Music Research Colloquia series at the University of Oxford


Dr Christopher Wiley presented his paper ‘National Trends in Musical Biography’ in the Music Research Colloquia series at the Faculty of Music, University of Oxford on 16 June 2015, to close the series for the 2014–15 academic year.

Speaking to some 25 academics and postgraduate students in the Faculty’s Denis Arnold Hall, Dr Wiley explored the relationship between musical biography and nationality, in terms of the status of the genre at particular times and places as well as its development over time.

Case studies upon which Dr Wiley drew included biographical retellings of the story of J.S. Bach’s keyboard contest with Louis Marchand, and the ideologies that emerge from the original volumes of the ‘Master Musicians’ series. Dr Wiley had presented earlier versions of this research at the Institute of Musical Research, University of London in 2015 and 2014.

The weekly colloquia are organized by graduate students and feature musicological research presented by a range of leading academics and younger researchers from universities around the world.

Details of Dr Wiley’s Research Colloquium may be found here: http://www.music.ox.ac.uk/event/research-colloquium-chris-wiley/

Faculty of Music, University of Oxford

Dr Christopher Wiley co-organizes and delivers paper at international conference on musical biography at the Institute of Musical Research, London


Institute of Musical Research logoDr Christopher Wiley and Dr Paul Watt (Monash University, Melbourne) have co-organized a two-day international conference on musical biography held at the Institute of Musical Research, University of London, on 9-10 April 2015.

The conference, entitled ‘Musical Biography: National Ideology, Narrative Technique, and the Nature of Myth’, brought together a broad range of some 50 interdisciplinary scholars from the UK, US, Australia, and Continental Europe.

In addition to several panel sessions, the conference incorporated two invited roundtable discussions, whose speakers included Professors Simon Keefe (University of Sheffield), Mark Evan Bonds (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Jonathan Cross (University of Oxford), and Rosamund Bartlett (Oxford).

In the course of the conference, Dr Wiley also chaired three of the panel sessions as well as presenting his paper ‘Myth-making and the Politics of Nationality in Narratives of J.S. Bach’s 1717 Contest with Louis Marchand’, which discussed the ideological significance of the variations in retellings of a single biographical story across different countries in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The schedule for the event may be viewed at the conference website: http://events.sas.ac.uk/imr/events/view/17765/Music+Biography+Conference

The full conference programme may be downloaded here.

Dr Christopher Wiley contributes book chapter to new volume on music historiography


Critical Music Historiography: Probing Canons, Ideologies and InstitutionsAn essay written by Dr Christopher Wiley, entitled ‘Musical Biography and the Myth of the Muse’, has appeared as the final chapter of a new anthology in which 17 international musicologists subject the writing of music history to groundbreaking scrutiny.

Critical Music Historiography: Probing Canons, Ideologies and Institutions is edited by Vesa Kurkela and Markus Mantere, and developed from the Radical Music History Symposium held at the Sibelius Academy, Finland (now part of the University of the Arts Helsinki) in December 2011, at which Dr Wiley presented a paper.

Dr Wiley’s essay explores the pattern in musical biography of specific female characters being cast in the role of ‘muse’ to a male genius, rising to prominence at specific points in that person’s life story as a signifier of their productivity and increasing artistic powers. Such women were thereby portrayed as having inspired their associated composer to greater heights, while implicitly denied the possibility of undertaking analogous creative activity themselves.

Further information

Listing of the volume on the publisher’s website: http://www.ashgate.com/default.aspx?page=637&title_id=19817&edition_id=1209349954&calcTitle=1

Listing of the volume on amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Critical-Music-Historiography-Ideologies-Institutions/dp/1472414195/

Bibliographic citation

Wiley, Christopher. ‘Musical Biography and the Myth of the Muse’, in Vesa Kurkela and Markus Mantere eds. Critical Music Historiography: Probing Canons, Ideologies and Institutions. Farnham: Ashgate, 2015, pp. 251–61.

Full text

The full text is available for free download under licence from Surrey Research Insight Open Access: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/803216/


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