Barbara Kelly

Director of Research


Email: [email protected]

  • Directing research for the RNCM
  • Developing the college’s research strategy
  • Encouraging greater participation of RNCM staff in research activities
  • Role in embedding research into the college’s artistic programme
  • Overseeing applications for research funding
  • Institutional lead for the REF
  • Overseeing research postgraduate activities
  • Overseeing the library and archives
  • Overseeing the development of Knowledge Exchange

Professor Barbara Kelly studied Music and English at Glasgow University before going to the University of Illinois in 1988 for a Master’s degree in Musicology. She returned to Britain to undertake a Ph.D thesis at Liverpool, entitled ‘Darius Milhaud and the French Musical Tradition’, which she completed in 1994. She was a lecturer at University College, Scarborough, then a college of the University of Leeds (1993-5) before joining the staff at Keele in February 1995. She was appointed Senior Lecturer at Keele in 2002 and awarded a personal chair in 2008.  She was Head of Humanities Research (2011-2014) and Faculty Research Director at Keele University (2014-2015).  She joined the RNCM in April 2015 as Director of Research. She is incoming President of the Royal Musical Association.

Current and Future Research

Prof. Kelly’s research is focused on late nineteenth and early twentieth-century French music and culture. She has published on composers including Milhaud, Debussy, Ravel, Honegger, Poulenc and Stravinsky and on issues such as music and war, national and religious identity and anti-Semitism in France.  She has published two monographs; the first, entitled Tradition and Style in the works of Darius Milhaud (Ashgate, 2003), is a detailed study of Milhaud’s music and career until his departure from Europe on the eve of WWII; the second is Music and Ultra-Modernism in France: A Fragile Consensus, 1913-1939 (Boydell and Brewer, 2013).  She is also a contributing editor of two collections: French Music, Culture, and National Identity, 1870-1939 (Rochester University Press, 2008) and Berlioz and Debussy: sources, contexts and legacies with Kerry Murphy (University of Melbourne), which was published by Ashgate in 2007.  She contributed several articles to the second edition of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2001), including one on Ravel and another on Jolivet.  She published an article on Debussy’s Legacy in Music and Letters: ‘Remembering Debussy in interwar France: authority musicology and legacy’, Music and Letters, vol. 93(11), 374-393 (2012) and another on ‘Maintaining the Entente Cordiale. Musicological Collaboration between the United Kingdom and France’, Revue de musicologie, vol. 103, no. 2, 2017, pp. 615-640 with Dr Rebecca Thumpston. Her current projects include a study of music in war and peace in Paris and London (1914-1939); a co-authored book on the AHRC Accenting the Classics project with Prof. Deborah Mawer, Prof. Graham Sadler and Dr Rachel Moore; a co-edited volume on Debussy with Dr David Code, and a co-edited volume on Music and Post-War Transitions (19th–20th centuries) with Dr Anaïs Fléchet, Dr Martin Guerpin and Prof. Philippe Gumplowicz.

Selective Publication list

 a. Books: single authored and edited

1. Tradition and Style in the Works of Darius Milhaud (1912-1939)(Ashgate, Aldershot, 2003)

2. Berlioz and Debussy, sources, contexts and legacies, edited volume with Kerry Murphy, University of Melbourne (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007)

 3. French Music, Culture, and National Identity, 1870-1939, edited volume (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2008)

 4. Music and Ultra-Modernism in France: A Fragile Consensus (1913-1939) (Boydell and Brewer, 2013), (supported by an AHRC Fellowship)

 5. Music criticism in France: Authority Advocacy, Legacy (1918-1939) with Christopher Moore (Boydell and Brewer, 2018)

6. Co-authored with Deborah Mawer, Rachel Moore and Graham Sadler, Accenting the Classics: Europe’s Music Through Durand’s Édition classique, 1915–1925 (in preparation)

b. Book Chapters

‘Chapter 1: History and Homage’, chapter for The Cambridge Companion to Ravel, ed. Deborah Mawer (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2000)

‘Chapter 2: ‘The Paris of Debussy’, chapter for The Cambridge Companion to Debussy, ed. Simon Trezise (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2003)

‘Vies parasites du poète: art et recyclage dans Julien de Charpentier’, in Jean-Christophe Branger and Alban Ramaut eds. Le Naturalisme sur la scène lyrique, (Publications de l’Université de Saint-Etienne, St. Etienne, 2004) (selected conference proceedings)

‘Ravel after Debussy: inheritance, influences and style’, in Berlioz and Debussy: sources, contexts and legacies (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007)

‘The roles of music and culture in national identity formation’, French Music, Culture, and National Identity, 1870-1939 (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, January 2008)

‘Debussy and the making of a “musicien français”: Pelléas, the press and the First World War, in French Music, Culture, and National Identity, 1870-1939 (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2008)

‘Guerrières, reines et collaborateurs: religion, politique et images et la France’, Musique, arts et religion dans l’entre-deux-guerres ed. Sylvain Caron and Michel Duchesneau (Lyon: Symétrie, 2009)

Re-presenting Ravel: Artificiality and the Aesthetic of Imposture’, Behind the Masks: New Perspectives on Ravel’s Music, ed. Peter Kaminsky (Rochester University Press, 2011)

‘Une étude de Ravel: époque, place et héritage ou Ravel et « l’esthétique de l’imposture »’, in Musique française, esthétique, identité en mutation 1892 – 1992, ed. Pascal Terrien (Delatour, Paris, 2011) (selected conference proceedings)

‘Originalité et tradition : Pelléas et la Bataille pour la Musique Française (1902-1920)’, Pelléas et Mélisande, eds. Denis Herlin, Sylvie Douche and Christopher Branger (Lyon: Symétrie, 2012)

‘Enjeux de mémoire après la mort de Debussy. Débats entre Prunières, Vallas et Vuillermoz’,

Actes du colloque international Claude Debussy (Paris: Fayard, 2013)

 ‘L’Affaire Prunières-Vallas’, eds. Myriam Chimènes, Florence Gétreau et Catherine Massip, Henry Prunières : un musicologue engagé de l’entre-deux-guerres, (Paris: Société française de musicologie, 2015)

 ‘Milhaud et Ravel: les affinités, les antipathies et les esthétiques musicales françaises’, ed. Jacinthe Harbec et Marie-Noelle Lavoie, Regards croisés sur Darius Milhaud, (Paris: Vrin, 2015)

‘Ravel’s Late Styles’, Late Style and its Discontents, ed. Gordon McMullan (Oxford: OUP, 2015)

 ‘Writing Early Debussy in Interwar France’, eds. Francois de Médicis, Michel Duchesneau and Steven Huebner, Debussy’s Resonance, (under contract with Rochester University Press, 2015)

Poulenc et Stravinsky : influence musicale, crise ou complicité?, eds. Lucie Kayas and Hervé Lacombe, Du Langage au style : singularités de Francis Poulenc, (Société française de musicologie, Paris, 2016), 159-172

‘Ravel’s Late Styles’, Late Style and its Discontents, eds. Gordon McMullan and Sam Smiles (Oxford: OUP, 2016)

Fashioning Early Debussy in Interwar France’, eds. Francois de Médicis, Michel Duchesneau and Steven Huebner, Debussy’s Resonance, (Rochester University Press, 2018)

 Reflecting the Public Appetite in Text and Music: Debussy’s Act of Wartime Propaganda in Over Here, Over There: Transatlantic Conversations on the Music of World War I Edited by William Brooks, Christina Bashford, and Gayle Magee (forthcoming University of Illinois Press, 2018)

‘Common Canon, Conflicting Ideologies:Music Criticism in Performance in Interwar France’ in Barbara L. Kelly and Christopher Moore eds,. Music criticism in France: Authority Advocacy, Legacy (1918-1939)(Woodbridge: Boydell, 2018)

‘Musical Innovation and Collaboration during the First World War: Jane Bathori at the Vieux-Colombier’, in ed. Alexandra Laedrich, Mélanges pour Myriam Chimènes (Paris: SFM, 2019)

 ‘French Connections: Debussy and Ravel’s orchestral music in Britain from Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune to Boléro’, in eds. Michael Allis and Paul Watt, The Symphonic poem in Britain, c.1850-1940: Texts and Contexts (Woodbridge, Boydell, forthcoming 2020)

‘Performing Debussy During the Great War’, eds. Jean-Christophe Branger, Nicolas Moron, Juliana Pimentel et Caroline Rae, Debussy d’hier à aujourd’hui (in preparation, c. 2019)


c. Articles

‘E.L.T. Mesens’ Renouncement of Music’, French Studies Bulletin (October, 1994) in collaboration with Silvano Levy, Keele University, pp.13-15 (refereed article)

‘Time Present, Past and Future in the Writings and Practice of Milhaud’ Maynooth International Musicological Conference Proceedings, vol. v. of Irish Musical Studies (November 1996), pp.294-320 (selected proceedings)

‘Dangerous Music: Belgian Theories of Musical Surrealism’, Aura (Spring, 1996) in collaboration with Silvano Levy, pp.72-85 (refereed article)

‘Milhaud’s Alissa Manuscripts (1913 and 1931)’ Journal of the Royal Musical Association (December 1996) pp.229-245 (refereed article)

‘Maurice Ravel’ (8400 words) The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie (Macmillan, London, 2000) (commissioned article)

‘Henri Busser’, ‘Raoul Gunsbourg’, ‘André Jolivet’, ‘Jean Rivier’, ‘Jean Roger-Ducasse’, ‘Antoine Tisné’, ‘Béclard d’Harcourt’, ‘Tibor Harsanyi’, ‘Jean Huré’ and ‘E.L.T. Mesens’ and ‘Paul Claudel’, collection of articles (200-1500 words) commissioned by Stanley Sadie, editor of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (Macmillan, London, 2001)

‘Remembering Debussy in interwar France: authority, musicology and legacy’, Music and Letters, Volume 93 Issue 2, August 2012, 374-392

‘Maintaining the Entente Cordiale. Musicological Collaboration between the United Kingdom and France’, Revue de musicologie, vol. 103, no. 2, 2017, pp. 615-640 (with Rebecca Thumpston)

College and External Research Roles

  • Director of Research, RNCM
  • Professeur invité at the Université de Paris, Sorbonne (2015-16)
  • Visiting Professor at Keele University (2015-2018)
  • Vice- President and incoming President of the Royal Musical Association
  • Ordinary Member of the American Musicological Society
  • Strategic Member of the AHRC Peer-Review College
  • Founding UK member of the Francophone Music Criticism Network
  • Collaborator with the Observatoire interdisciplinaire de création et de recherche en musique, Université de Montréal
  • International Advisory Board of IReMUS

Research Funding

Professor Kelly’s grant successes include British Academy for a project on Léon Vallas (2008-9); an AHRC Fellowship to complete her monograph, Music and Ultra-Modernism in France (2011); an AHRC CDA project on the musical archives of the South Place Ethical Society (2015-2018) and an European Union Marie Curie project entitled Transnational Localism and Music after the two World Wars with Keele University and the RNCM  (2015-2017). In 2011 she and Dr Christopher Moore received a Workshop grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for a project on Music Criticism in the Intewar period. She received funding from the AHRC First World War Public Engagement Centres for the project, Making Music in Manchester during WW1, RNCM with community partners, Central Library, Manchester and Hallé Concerts Society (2016); she is Co-I on the AHRC-funded project: Accenting the Classics with Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (with Prof. Deborah Mawer, Prof. Graham Sadler and Dr Rachel Moore) and the British Academy project, The Musical League of Nations.  Most recently she led the successful bid to Research England’s E3 fund to develop PRiSM (RNCM).

Undergraduate Teaching

  • Music in Paris (1889-1939)
  • Stravinsky: his heritage and legacy
  • Undergraduate dissertation supervision
  • Opera in Paris
  • Musicians, Mobility and Displacement
  • Making Music in Europe during World War One
  • National Movements, late Romanticism and the fin-de-siècle


Postgraduate Teaching

  • Approaches to Music Research
  • Research Skills
  • Reflective Practice
  • Masters supervision
  • Repertoire Research

Research Supervision

Selective past supervisions

  • Philip Young, Poulenc’s Melodies (PhD)
  • Elizabeth Hague, Sibelius Symphonies (PhD)
  • Norma Hollingsworth, Elgar and Newman’s Dream of Gerontius (PhD)
  • Geoff Thomason, Brodsky and Chamber music in Manchester (PhD)

Current supervisions

  • Jessica Beck, AHRC CDA studentship, From Chapel to Radical Secularism: the Role of Music and Gender at the Ethical Society
  • Caroline Clegg, Heaton Hall and Site-Specific Research
  • Maria Stratigou, Louise Farrenc’s Études



Professional Activity

Barbara Kelly was Professeur invité at the Université de Paris, Sorbonne (2015-16) and Visiting Professor at Keele University (2015- ). She is a Vice-President of the Royal Musical Association and will be the first ever female President (Jan. 2020). She receives regular invitations to speak in the UK, France and North America. She is a reader for the journal Music and Letters, the Journal of the Royal Musical Association, OUP and Routledge.  She is a founding member of AHRC International Network: Francophone Music Criticism. She has served on a number of journal boards, including the Journal of the Royal Musical Association, Twentieth-Century Music and Transposition: Musique et sciences sociales and the Revue de musicologie.  She has organised many conferences including ‘Nationalism and Identity in Third Republic France’, Royal Musical Association interdisciplinary conference, Keele University, 6-8 July 2001; Music in Interwar France: A Study Day (1918-1939), Royal Musical Association, Keele University, 9 November 2007; with Pascal Terrien Musique Française, esthétique et identité en mutation 1892-1992, Université Catholique de l’ouest, Angers, France 29-30 April 2008.  In November 2011 she ran a workshop on Music Criticism in Interwar France, University of Ottawa with Dr Christopher Moore (University of Ottawa).  She organised Rethinking Poulenc, at Keele University to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Poulenc’s death in 2013; she organised the annual meeting of the Francophone Music Criticism Network at the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris in July 2015 with Dr Clair Rowden (University of Cardiff).  She hosted the Music, Nationalism and Transnationalism: Diplomacy, Politics, Aesthetics, 1918-1945 conference at the RNCM, 23-24 November 2016; French Musicians and the Conquest of North America: Musical Travels, Cultural Politics and Patronage, RNCM, 3-4 July 2017 with Dr Nicolas Southon; Claude Debussy in 2018: a Centenary Celebration at the Royal Northern College of Music and the University of Glasgow, 19-23 March 2018 with Dr David Code; Musical League of Nations, Institute for Advanced Research, Senate House, July 2018 with Dr Sarah Collins and Prof. Laura Tunbridge. As a member of the Music and Nation research group, she was on the organising team of the Musique et Sortie de Guerres, Université de Montréal, October 2018.  In September 2019 she co-convened the 55th Annual RMA Conference in Manchester with Prof. Rebecca Herissone.