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David Beard  BA (Hons) Dunelm, MMus (theory and analysis) KCL, DPhil Oxon

Dr David Beard BA (Hons) Dunelm, MMus (theory and analysis) KCL, DPhil Oxon

Reader in Musicology

+44 29208 74388
33-37 Corbett Road, Room 0.21, Cathays, Cardiff, CF10 3EB


I specialise in contemporary music working in particular on post-1945 British composers including Judith Weir, Harrison Birtwistle, Michael Finnissy, Peter Maxwell Davies and Simon Holt. More generally I'm interested in musical creativity, avant-garde music, experimental music theatre and opera, Steve Reich, and popular music.

My book Musicology: The Key Concepts (Routledge, 2005; revised and expanded 2016), which I co-authored with Kenneth Gloag, reflects the learning environment at Cardiff, especially the current MA course in Music Studies and its predecessors in Musicology, and in Music, Culture and Politics.

I have been an invited speaker at public events throughout Europe, the UK and the USA, and contributed programme notes, essays and articles for the London Sinfonietta, BBC Proms, Music Theatre Wales, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Grand Théâtre Genève, London Southbank, and numerous international music festivals, including Aldeburgh, Bregenz, Cheltenham, Salzburg, and Wexford Opera.

I am Co-Editor of the monograph series 'Music Since 1900' (Cambridge University Press), a Trustee and Member of the Editorial Board of Music & Letters (Oxford University Press), a member of the Editorial Board for 'Elements in Music since 1945' (Cambridge University Press), and a member of the Advisory Board for the book series 'Theory and Analysis of Music Since 1900' (Routledge).



  • Beard, D. 2021. Musicology's crises of identity. In: Radovanovic, B. et al. eds. Shaping the Present through the Future: Musicology, Ethnomusicology, and Contemporaneity. Institute of Musicology SASA, pp. 13-36.


















Book sections





My research is focussed on intersections between archival, analytical, creative and critical-theoretical perspectives on post-1945 concert music, experimental music theatre and opera. I have published widely on contemporary British concert music and opera, and am currently writing the first book on the music of Judith Weir CBE and Master of the Queen's Music, for Cambridge University Press.

From 2017-2021 I was Director of Research overseeing the School's REF2021 submission. I am currently on an 18-month research leave funded by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship.


My Undergraduate teaching is focused on music since c. 1890 to the present and embraces a range of historical, cultural, political and music-analytical perspectives on European cultural centres (The Birth of Modernism), and the varied topography of British music since 1900 (Topics in Musicology 2B). I devised a module on Ambient music (Sounded Out) and supervise dissertations on a range of topics, including popular music, concert programming, and experimental contemporary art music.

My Masters teaching has included seminars on academic reading and writing, sketch studies, early modernism, ecomusicology, music and race, ethnicity and identity.

PhD topics I have supervised include the emergence of the avant-garde in West Germany in the 1940s, virtual bands and vocaloids, and the music of Pavel Haas.

I am external examiner for the BA (Hons) degrees in Music at the Universities of Cambridge and Keele, having been Final Honours external at Oxford (2017-20) and Bristol (2017-21).


I studied music at Durham University (1990-93) before completing an MMus in music theory and analysis at King's College London (1993-4), and a DPhil at the University of Oxford on the early instrumental music of Harrison Birtwistle (2000).

Halcyon summer breaks during my first degree were spent working in London for the National Sound Archive (Kensington) and The Musical Times (then in Mandela Street, Camden). I was later employed by Macmillan Publishers as an assistant editor on the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, in Holborn (1994-5). I held a scholarship at the Paul Sacher Foundation, Basel, in 1999, and was appointed Lecturer in Music at Cardiff University in January 2000.

Honours and awards

2021   Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship (18 months)

2020    Ruth Solie Prize for ‘the most outstanding article on a subject in British music’ published in 2018 and 2019, awarded by the North American British Music Studies Association (NABMSA)

2016    Research Leave Fellowship (full academic year), Cardiff University

2014    Music Analysis Development Fund Award, Society for Music Analysis

2013    Research Leave Fellowship (Autumn semester), Cardiff University

2013    Honorable Mention, 2013 Diana McVeagh Prize for Best Book on British Music, NABMSA

2010    International Collaboration Award, Cardiff University

2008    AHRC Research Leave Award

2006    Music & Letters Award, to present a paper at a conference in the USA

2005     British Academy Small Research Grant

Professional memberships

North American British Music Studies Association

Academic positions

Tutor for Christ Church, Jesus College, St Edmund Hall and St Peter's, University of Oxford.

Committees and reviewing

Director of Research (2017-2021)

Director of Postgraduate Research (2014-16)

Subject Lead (Music) for Cardiff University on the Creative and Critical Practice Panel of the AHRC funded South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership consortium (2014–16)

Director of the MA in Musicology programme (2009–13)

Director of Undergraduate Admissions (2003–8, January–May 2011, and July 2012)

Convener of the John Bird Guest Lecture Series, School of Music (2000–08)