For a few years I’ve been thinking about the relation of music and democracy. This interest had two points of origin: the preoccupation of many 1960s radicals (who I had studied in two previous books) with ‘democratising’ music-making; and a course I was teaching at the University of Nottingham that examined uses of classical music to ‘change lives’, including through processes of democratisation. Musicians have often been keen to identify their practice with the idea of ‘democracy’, yet these claims have received relatively little careful discussion or analysis.
I’ve shared some of my thoughts on the matter in a number of conference papers and guest lectures, and convened a two-day conference. I’m now working on several publications on the subject (see below), and collaborating with others (including colleagues in Huddersfield’s Centre for Research in New Music) in related activities. This website will document some of these activities, as well as allow me to share ideas as they arise in the course of reading and writing. Comment on anything that appears here is welcome, either at the bottom of each page or via email (r.c.adlington [at] hud.ac.uk).
Robert Adlington holds the Queen’s Anniversary Prize Chair in Contemporary Music at the University of Huddersfield. He was convenor of the 2-day symposium ‘Finding Democracy in Music’ at Huddersfield in September 2017. He is writing a monograph with the provisional title Musical Models of Democracy, and is co-editing (with Esteban Buch) a volume of essays arising from the Huddersfield symposium. In 2018 he was coordinator of democracy-related events at the Darmstadt Summer Course and the TRANSIT Festival of New Music in Leuven.
He is the author of books on Harrison Birtwistle, Louis Andriessen, and avant-garde music in 1960s Amsterdam, editor of books on the 1960s avant-garde and music and communism outside the communist bloc, and has published journal articles and book chapters on Luigi Nono, Luciano Berio, modernism and musical temporality. He is also editor of a new multi-author volume entitled New Music Theatre in Europe: Transformations between 1955-1975 (Routledge).