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Personal profile


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


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

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Robert Adlington is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 4 Similar Profiles
Music Arts & Humanities
Avant Garde Arts & Humanities
Composer Arts & Humanities
1960s Arts & Humanities
Musicians Arts & Humanities
Music Theatre Arts & Humanities
Communist Arts & Humanities
New music Arts & Humanities

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2018 2021

Research Output 1996 2019

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 Theatre
New music

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

New Music Theatre in Europe: Transformations between 1955-1975

Adlington, R. (ed.), 4 Apr 2019, 1 ed. London: Routledge. 332 p. (Musical Cultures of the Twentieth Century)

Research output: Book/ReportBook

New music
Music Theatre
Musical Language

Changing realities: 1968 and new music

Adlington, R., 2018, Get Real: programme book for the 2018 Rainy Days Festival. Luxembourg: Philhamonie Luxembourg, p. 182-185 4 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Open Access

Modernism: the people's music?

Adlington, R., 11 Sep 2018, The Routledge Research Companion to Modernism in Music. Heile, B. & Wilson, C. (eds.). Routledge

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Activities 2016 2019

Music and Democracy

Igor Contreras-Zubillaga (Organiser), Robert Adlington (Organiser)
20 Jun 201921 Jun 2019

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

Metaphors for changing sound in spectral music: the potential of the IRiMaS project

Robert Adlington (Speaker)
13 Jun 2019

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

Unequal Equalities: Group Music-Making as Deliberative Democracy

Robert Adlington (Speaker)
4 Feb 2019

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

New music and the realities of democracy

Robert Adlington (Speaker)
23 Nov 2018

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

Get Real: Music and Reality

Robert Adlington (Speaker)
23 Nov 2018

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation