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. 

Education/Academic qualification

Higher Education Academy

Bachelor, University of Oxford

Master, University of Sussex

PhD, University of Sussex

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

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Music Arts & Humanities
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Research Output 2004 2017

Modernism: the people's music?

Adlington, R. 2017 (Accepted/In press) The Routledge Research Companion to Modernism in Music. Heile, B. & Wilson, C. (eds.). Routledge

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Politics and the popular in British music theatre of the Vietnam era

Adlington, R. 25 Sep 2017 (Accepted/In press) In : Journal of the Royal Musical Association.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Viet Nam
Music Theatre
British music
Bertolt Brecht

'The Crises of Sense': Listening to 'Un re in ascolto'

Adlington, R. 1 Apr 2016 Le théâtre musical de Luciano Berio: De Un re in ascolto à Cronaca del Luogo. Ferrari, G. (ed.). Paris: Editions l'Harmattan, Vol. 2, p. 53-78

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Whose Voices? The Fate of Luigi Nono’s Voci destroying muros

Adlington, R. 1 Apr 2016 In : Journal of the American Musicological Society. 69, 1, p. 179-236 58 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Luigi Nono
1 Citations

Editorial: Twentieth-Century music - Ten years on

Adlington, R. & Johnson, J. Mar 2014 In : Twentieth-Century Music. 11, 1, p. 3-5 3 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial