Staff Profile


Professor Robert Rawson

Professor of Musicology and Historically Informed Performance

School: School of Creative Arts & Industries

Campus: Canterbury Main Campus

Tel: 01227 922735

Profile summary

Robert completed his BMus at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (USA) where he also studied the double bass with Stuart Sankey and the viola da gamba with Enid Sutherland. He re-located to London in 1996 and completed his Ph.D. at Royal Holloway (Univ. of London) in 2002 under the supervision of Tim Carter and Geoffrey Chew. During his Ph.D. period he did some teaching at Royal Holloway and then later taught at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge University and Trinity College of Music in London. His primary interests include the performance practices of music before c.1800 and cultural and social histories and roles of music of various periods. In particular, he has published widely on music in the former Austrian Empire with a special emphasis on music in the Czech lands. He is the director and co-founder of the highly-acclaimed baroque ensemble The Harmonious Society of Tickle-Fiddle Gentlemen.

In addition to directing the early music ensemble, Robert lectures on a variety of musicological subjects for the BA programme as well as Research Methods for the MMus. Robert is the Director of Doctoral studies, overseeing a thriving PhD programme with over 30 music and performings arts PhD students. 

Research and knowledge exchange

Robert was a Leverhulme Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge from 2004–2007, overlapping with his time there as a tutor and Visiting Scholar from 2001–2007. The result of the Leverhulme Research Fellowship was a monograph Bohemian Baroque—Czech Musical Culture 1600–1750 (Boydell and Brewer, 2013) as well as several other published articles and book chapters. Robert has published widely on seventeenth and eighteenth-century music topic, mostly relating to central Europe and Britain in major peer-reviewed journals such as Early Music, Eighteenth-Century Music, Historical Performance and Early Music Performer. He has also contrubted chapters to a variety of edited books published by Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Ashgate, Boydell and Brewer, Brepols, Alamire, and Garnier. Robert is also active as a performer in the early music scene with his ensemble The Harmonious Society of Tickle-Fiddle Gentlemen.

In 2016 Robert was the Conference Chair for the 17th Bienniel Conference on Baroque Music, held in Canterbury, where over 200 scholars from around the world met to present their latest research. Robert has also been on the conference committee for several other meetings of the same conference when it was in Salzburg, Cremona and in Birmingham in 2020.

Robert has just been awarded the Albi Rosenthal Visiting Fellowship in Music, Bodelian Llibraries, University of Oxford (2019–2020); to conduct further research into the music of Gottfried Finger and his role in the music for British diplomats in the 1690s and early 1700s.

Recent PhD completions include:
John Swadley 'The villancico in New Spain 1650-1750 : morphology, significance and development' (winner of the Ede and Ravenscroft prize for best disseration)

Eleni Keventsidou, 'Max Reger's Variations and Fugue on an Original Theme Op. 73: Issues of musical structure, performance practice and interpretation'

Teaching and subject expertise

Having previously taught at Royal Holloway, Cambridge University and Trinity College of Music in London, Robert has teaching experience at the very highest level. He is one of the leading experts in music in the Czech lands before c.1800 and has published and spoken widely on related topics. This experience brings itself into the classroom in a variety of contexts. One is the delivery of a module devoted to the music and cultural worlds of Dvorak and Janacek and another as part of a module on music in the Austrian Empire more broadly. He has also maintained an international profile as a perfomer and this also feeds into his teaching patterns, including: Performance Studies, Early Music Ensemble and Performance Practices of the 17th and 18th Centuries.

Robert currently supervises six PhD students in areas of historical musicology and performance practice.

External activities

Member of the Royal Musical Association and The Society for Seventeenth-century Music. Representative for musicology, steering committee, Forum for Czech and Slovak Studies; member of the executive board for The International Society of Czech and Slovak Arts, Literature and Language.

Robert's work has been featured on radio stations around the world—and closer to home, BBC Radio 3 invited him as the main guest for a special episode of The Early Music Show in 2019 devoted to the music and life of J. C. Pepusch. The Harmonious Society of Tickle-Fiddle Gentlemen have appeared on hundreds of radio broadcasts around the world, with several high-profile programmes devoting extended time to the remarkable success of Venus and Adonis. The ensemble has performed to audience in the UK and across Europe, including prestigious festival appearances at the Festival Oude Muziek in Utrecht (sold out), the Regensburg Tage Alter Muzik (sold out) and in 2019 at the Valetta Early Music Festival in Malta. 

Robert has just been awarded the Albi Rosenthal Visiting Fellowship in Music, Bodelian Llibraries, University of Oxford (2019–2020); to conduct further research into the music of Gottfried Finger and his role in the music for British diplomats in the 1690s and early 1700s.

Publications and research outputs

New and forthcoming publications include: 
‘After the Italian manner’—Finger, Pepusch and the first concertos in England.’ In Musical exchanges between Britain and the Continent, c.1500–1800, edited by Bryan White and John Cunningham, Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, planned for 2019

‘Concertos ‘upon the stage’ in Early Hanoverian London: the Instrumental Counterpart to opera seria.’ In Music, Theatre, and the Benefit Concert in Britain, edited by A. DeSimone, and M. Gardner, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, planned for 2019.

‘And all the world is keyboard shaped’ in What Do You Call That Noise? An XTC Discovery Book edited by Mark Fischer, Limelight, 9 March 2019

‘Suffering and Supplication as Emblems of Power in Music Relating to the 1683 Ottoman Siege of Vienna.’ In Music and Power in the Baroque Era, edited by Rudolf Rasch, 221–36. Turnhout: Brepols, 2018.

‘‘For the Sake of Fulness of Music in the Choir’—Performance Practice and the Double Bass at the Kroměříž Court.’ Historical Performance 1 (2018): 119–47.


*  Pepusch (1667–1752) Concertos and Overtures for London reached no. 1 in the German classical charts.

*  Pepusch,  world-premiere recording of his Venus and Adonis (supported by a Handel Institute Research Award in 2015) which won a string of awards, including: winner Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (Opera) 2016, Editor’s Choice (Limelight, Australia), Editor’s Choice (All Music, USA), Critics Choice (Opera News, New York), and in The Guardian as 'immediately engaging and gloriously tuneful.' 

* Josef Guretzky concertos (Chandos), included in Forbes Top Ten Classical Recordings of 2017 (at no. 5).

* Autumn 2019, CD of music by the Moravian composer Gottfried Finger, upported by awards from the Gottfried Finger-Gesellschaft Nürnberg and the Dvořák Society (UK). The ensemble has been invited to the Embassy of the Czech Republic in London for a launch event in the autumn of 2019. 


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Last edited: 09/09/2019 10:29:00