Join Emeritus Fellow Professor Susan Wollenberg and her co-editor Robin Darwall-Smith for the launch of their new book, Music in Twentieth-Century Oxford: New Directions.

The editors will each give an illustrated talk on topics featured in the book’s chapters, focusing particularly on musical life at LMH from its early years to 1939 (Susan Wollenberg), and the Oxford Bach Choir (Robin Darwall-Smith), both of which opened up new opportunities for women’s involvement. All are welcome to attend this event. 

Published by Boydell & Brewer, Music in Twentieth-Century Oxford is the first book-length study of musical education and culture in twentieth-century Oxford.

Music has always played a central role in the life of Oxford, in both the city and university, through the great collegiate choral foundations, the many amateur choirs and instrumentalists, and the professional musicians regularly drawn to perform there. Oxford, with its collegiate system and centuries-long tradition of musical activity, presents a distinctive and multi-layered picture of the role of music in urban culture and university life.

The chapters in this book shed light on music's unique ability to link 'town and gown', as shown by the Oxford Bach Choir, the city's many churches, and the major choral foundations. The twentieth century saw the emergence of new musical initiatives and the book traces the development of these, including the University's Faculty of Music and the University Opera Club. Further, it explores music in the newly-founded women's colleges, contrasted with the musical society formed in 1930 at University College, an ancient men's college. The work of Oxford composers, including George Butterworth, Nicola Lefanu, Edmund Rubbra, and William Walton, as well as the composer for several 'Carry on' films, Bruce Montgomery, is surveyed. Two remarkable figures, Sir Hugh Allen and Sir Jack Westrup, recur throughout the book in a variety of contexts.

The cover of a book called 'Music in Twentieth Century Oxford', which has a black and white photo of a group of people singing