Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I welcome proposals of PhD projects in all areas of twentieth and twenty-first century art music (encompassing notated and experimental traditions).

  • 86 Citations
  • 5 h-Index

Research output per year

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Personal profile

Google Scholar h-Index

10 Last updated 9 October 2020.


I joined the University of Huddersfield as Queen’s Anniversary Prize Chair in Contemporary Music in January 2017.

Between 1999 and 2016 I was Lecturer and then Professor of Music at the University of Nottingham. At Nottingham I twice served as Head of Department, and acted also as Director of Research, REF Coordinator, Admissions Officer, Director of Postgraduate Studies, and Careers Officer. Between 1996 and 1999 I was Lecturer in Music at the University of Sussex.

I studied as a postgraduate student (MA and DPhil) at the University of Sussex, and as an undergraduate (BA) at Oxford University.

Research Expertise and Interests

My research interests include: contemporary music; music and democracy; music and modernism; the composers Louis Andriessen and Harrison Birtwistle; minimalism; music of the Netherlands; avant-garde music in the 1960s; new music theatre; the relationship between music and political/social movements; public subsidy and cultural policy; the Cold War; situationism; communism (especially outside the communist bloc).

I am author of The Music of Harrison Birtwistle (CUP, 2000), Louis Andriessen: De Staat (Ashgate, 2004), and Composing Dissent: Avant-garde Music in 1960s Amsterdam (OUP, 2013). I am editor of the volumes Sound Commitments: Avant-garde Music and the Sixties (OUP, 2009) and Red Strains: Music and Communism outside the Communist Bloc (OUP, 2013). I have published studies of Luigi Nono, Luciano Berio, new music theatre, musical modernism, Dutch music, and musical temporality in multi-authored volumes and journals including Journal of the American Musicological Society, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, Cambridge Opera Journal, Music and Letters, Musical Quarterly, and Journal of Musicology.

My research addresses a broad swathe of contemporary music, with a primary focus upon composers and 'concert hall' repertoire, but also encompassing avant-garde jazz, improvisation and cross-media participatory art. Binding all of my recent research has been a concern to delineate critically the relationship between progressive musicians' creative practice and their socio-political commitments - a relationship that I perceive as complex and sometimes contradictory.

My main project currently examines the relation of music and democracy. Ideas of democracy have been prevalent in many contemporary musical practices, from free improvisation and participatory musics to jazz performance and orchestra-focused social inclusion projects, yet this conjunction has received little sustained academic attention. How can different musical practices instantiate different ideas of democracy? What assumptions are made about democracy by 'democratic' musicians? What elements of democratic musical practices are placed beyond democratic debate? How does music contribute to the global circulation of contestable ideologies of democracy? I will be exploring these and other questions in a monograph provisionally entitled Musical Models of Democracy.

I am also involved as a senior researcher on the ERC-funded project Interactive Research in Music as Sound (IRiMaS), and editing a new volume on New Music Theatre, 1955-1975. 

External positions

Deputy Chair, Sub-panel 33 'Music, Dance, Drama, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies', Research Excellence Framework 2021

5 Mar 201831 Dec 2021

Research Expertise and Interests

  • Contemporary Music
  • Music and Politics
  • Modernism
  • Democracy
  • New Music Theatre
  • avant-garde
  • new music
  • 1960s
  • Amsterdam
  • communism
  • anarchism
  • performance
  • music analysis

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Research Output

Book Review: Jonathan Impett, The Routledge Handbook to Luigi Nono and Musical Thought

Adlington, R., 16 Jan 2020, (Accepted/In press) In : Fontes Artis Musicae. 67, 4

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Dance Article review

Curating Difference: Elliott Carter and Democracy

Adlington, R., 2020, (Accepted/In press) Finding Democracy in Music. Adlington, R. & Buch, E. (eds.). 1 ed. Routledge, (Musical Cultures of the Twentieth Century).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Imagining Democracy in Music: Lessons from the Past

Adlington, R., 16 Jul 2019, (Accepted/In press) Darmstädter Beiträge zur Neuen Musik, 25.

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

  • Introduction: Why 'new music theatre' now?

    Adlington, R., 4 Apr 2019, New Music Theatre in Europe: Transformations Between 1955-1975. Adlington, R. (ed.). 1 ed. Abingdon & New York: Taylor and Francis Ltd., p. 1-11 11 p. (Musical Cultures of the Twentieth Century).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscript

  • Music Together, Music Apart: On Democratic Communities

    Adlington, R., 2019, In : Journal of the Royal Musical Association. 144, 1, p. 191-204 14 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


    Themed Session: 'Music and the Third Wave of Democratisation in Southern Europe and the Global South'

    Igor Contreras-Zubillaga (Speaker), Robert Adlington (Speaker), Mia Pistorius (Speaker), Daniel Party (Speaker) & Anna Papaeti (Speaker)

    10 Sep 2020

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

    On the 'undemocratic' - in music and elsewhere

    Robert Adlington (Speaker)

    4 Feb 2020

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

    Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Grant Proposal Review

    Robert Adlington (Other)

    13 Jan 2020

    Activity: Other activity typesGrant peer-review

    BFE/RMA Research Students' Conference

    Robert Adlington (Chair)

    9 Jan 202011 Jan 2020

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipating in a conference, workshop, ...

    British Music Collection Study Day

    Robert Adlington (Organiser)

    13 Dec 2019

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipating in a conference, workshop, ...