Professor Christopher R Wilson

Professor of Music

Faculty of Arts, Cultures and Education

01482 465609

Professor Christopher R Wilson has established an international reputation as a leading Shakespeare music scholar.

His latest book, Shakespeare’s Musical Imagery (2011), investigates categories and thematics in musical metaphor and contextual reference throughout the plays and poems.

Music in Shakespeare (London and New York, 2005; 3rd edn 2014) is the most comprehensive study of all the musical terms found in Shakespeare’s complete works and is acknowledged as an indispensable reference work for scholars and practitioners.

Professor Wilson's Music in Shakespeare database cites every reference to music in its original location in a play or poem.


Research Interests

  • Shakespeare music (including opera, incidental music, music in production, concert music)

  • Early modern English music / words

  • Music theory in Britain c.1560-1650

  • Thomas Campion (1567-1620)

  • Music/poetry of Victorian Britain

  • 20th-century English lyric romantic music


Monograph: Shakespeare’s Musical Imagery (New York and London: Continuum, 2011), pp. xii + 260 (ISBN 978-1-8470-64950)

Reference: Music in Shakespeare: A Dictionary. The Athlone Shakespeare Dictionaries (London and New York: Continuum Publishing Group, December, 2005), pp. xiv + 514 (ISBN 0- 8264- 7846- 8) [with Michela Calore, Leverhulme Research Fellow].

Paperback edition. Music in Shakespeare: A Dictionary. Student Shakespeare Library (London and New York: Continuum Books, 2007), pp. xiv + 514 (ISBN 0-978-0-8264-9559-4) [with Michela Calore].

New edition. Music in Shakespeare: A Dictionary. Arden Shakespeare Dictionaries (London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2014).

Critical edition: Thomas Campion: "A New Way of Making Fowre Parts in Counter-point" (c.1614), together with John Coprario's "Rules how to Compose", edited with an introduction and commentary. (London: Ashgate Publishing, Autumn 2003), pp. x + 126 (ISBN 0- 7546- 0515- 9).

Full list


Modules list


  • Music in Context

  • Classical Music Studies (module convenor)

  • Music in the Long Nineteenth Century (module convenor)

  • Opera and Music Theatre

  • Advanced Performance

  • Special Study (module convenor)

  • Shakespeare Music (module convenor)

  • Early Music


  • Early Music

  • Recital I and II

  • Research Methods

  • Research Seminar

Research PhDs

Prof Wilson welcomes applications in Shakespeare and music, 19th and 20th-century English music studies.

Completed PhDs

  • Frances Jones, The Alphorn and Romantic Art Music (2016)

  • Karen Ounsley, The Seaside Orchestra in Nineteenth Century Britain (2012)

  • Numerous PhDs and Masters theses at Reading University going back to 1980s

Current PhD supervisions 

  • Pam Waddington Muse, Shakespeare Concerts in London 1890s to the 1990

  • Helen Alexander (jointly with Prof Jane Thomas), Thomas Hardy and Musicality

  • Liam Wright (MA), The Public and Private Music of William Lawes

Teaching awards and accolades

  • HEA Fellowship

  • Finalist (short list) ‘Best Module’ (student led teaching awards, 2017).

Professional highlights

Academic qualifications

  • MA(Oxford)

  • DPhil (Oxford)

  • FSA (London)

External roles

Served on the Council of the Royal Musical Association, lectured in France, Germany, Sweden, Cyprus, USA and Canada and broadcast on various topics on BBC Radio 3, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and Swedish National Radio. As a practitioner, an oboist, keyboard player and conductor.

Currently overseas consultant for the Swedish Arts Council project, 'Karleken has 100 onda namm': Present-day musical interpretations of love from the 16th century. Acted as a consultant for projects at Reading University and Royal Holloway, UL.

Consultancy (selected)

  • 2013-15 ‘Publishers and Writers in Shakespeare’s England’, Dr John Pitcher (PI), St John’s College, Oxford.

  • 2007-10 ‘Early Modern Printed Verse Miscellanies’, AHRC, Department of English, University of Reading.

  • 2005-07 Consultant for ‘Music in Early Modern English Drama’, The University of Leeds, School of English (Professor David Lindley). Funded by British Academy.

  • 2003-05 Government of Ireland Research Fellowships Scheme.

  • 1999-2000 Music Consultant for the Globe Theatre, Permanent Exhibition, Bankside, London.

  • 1993-95 Expert consultant for ‘The Effect of Lessons in the Alexander Technique on Music Performance in High and Low Stress Situations’ by Elizabeth R Valentine, David F P Fitzgerald, Tessa L Gorton, Jennifer A Hudson and Elizabeth R C Symonds, Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway BNC, University of London.

Specialist reader for Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Ashgate Press, Yale UP, Routledge and various journals including Music and Letters, Review of English Studies, Comparative Drama.

Wrote the Shakespeare entries in the New Grove Dictionary of Music (2001) and the Grove Dictionary of Opera (1992); music consultant for the permanent exhibition at the Globe Theatre in London; and UK research associate for the vast Shakespeare Music Catalogue project based in Canada and published by Oxford University Press in 1991.

Awards and accolades

Research Grants and Awards

  • 2012 Music and Letters Award.

  • 2010 British Academy Small Research Projects Grant

  • 2010 University of Hull Faculty Strategic Support Fund

  • 2005 British Academy International Conference Grant (USA)

  • 2001-4 Leverhulme Trust Major Research Project Award

  • 2000 British Academy Small Research Projects Grant

  • 1999 University of Reading Research Endowment Trust Award

  • 1999 British Academy Oversees Conference Grant (USA)

  • 1984-89 Shakespeare Music Catalogue (Canada) UK Research Associate

  • 1978 Louise Dyer Award, Musica Britannica

  • 1976 James Ingham Halstead Scholarship, University of Oxford

Professional highlights

Associate Dean (research) Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Hull 2013-16.

Invited Lectures

  • ‘To heare such a foolish songe: Shakespeare’s use of vocal songs’, University of Manchester (Manchester, November, 2016)

  • ‘Shakespeare and English Romantic Song’, New Paths Music Festival (Beverley, 2016)

  • ‘Shakespeare’s songs’, Oxford International Lieder Festival, (Oxford, October 2015)

  • ‘Music as Anti-Heroic Emblem in Othello’, Helden und Heldinnen bei Shakespeare, Deutsche Shakespeare-Gesellschaft (Berlin, 2015)

  • ‘”By the sweet power of Musicke”: Effect in Shakespeare’s Musical Imagery’, Kingston University Shakespeare Seminar (Rose Theatre, Kingston, 2014)

  • ‘Shakespeare’s Marvellous sweete Musicke: Imagery and Practice’, University of Durham (March 2013)

  • ‘Shakespeare in the Concert Hall’, Arts Lecture Series, European University Cyprus (November 2011)

  • ‘Words that may fitlie expresse the passions: Shakespeare’s emotional musical imagery’, Shakespeare and Early Modern Emotion, International Conference, University of Hull (July 2011)

  • ‘Critiques d’Opéra: La nouvelle vocalité dans la Restauration shakespearienne’, La voix de l’acteur et du chanteur en Grande-Bretagne et en France de la Renaissance aux Lumières, Université Paul-Valéry, Montpellier III (June 2011)

  • ‘Hearing Music’s Words: Imagery in Shakespeare’s Theatre’, Institute of Musical research, School of Advanced Study, University of London (March 2010)

  • ‘Restoration Shakespeare and Music: Davenant to Shadwell’, Purcell, Handel and Literature, International Conference, Senate House, London (November 2009)

  • ‘Howard Ferguson’s Amore Langueo and the Artistic Persona of the Composer’, Finzi Lecture, Three Choirs Festival, Worcester (August, 2008)

  • ‘Extracting the Acousmatic: My Ladye Nevells Booke revisited’, Royal Musical Association Conference, Aberdeen (July 2008)

  • ‘A New Way of Making... Counterpoint: Campion’s Treatise and its Readership’, The Pedagogies of the Renaissance, International Conference, Johns Hopkins University/Peabody Institute, Baltimore (June 2005). Invited attendee. [Recipient of British Academy International Conference Grant. Conference sponsored by NEH of America]

  • ‘Translating Shakespeare into Opera with particular reference to the new Adès “Tempest”, 31st International Shakespeare Conference, Stratford-upon-Avon (July, 2004). By invitation only

  • ‘Music Choices in Shakespearean Productions at the new Globe’, Shakespeare Association of America Congress, Vancouver (April 2003)

  • ‘Sound Effects and Music on the Page of Early Modern Play-books’. Music in Shakespeare Conference, Leeds (September 2002)

  • ‘Campion’s Music Treatise in the later 17th Century’, Third Biennial Conference on Baroque Music’, Trinity College, Dublin (July 2000)

  • ‘Shakespeare’s Musical Imagery: Terms from Elizabethan Music Theory’, Modern Language Association Congress, Chicago (December 1999) [Recipient of British Academy Overseas Conference Grant]

  • ‘Campion’s Treatise on “Counterpoint” and Renaissance Pedagogy’, American Musicological Society Congress, Kansas City, Missouri (November 1999)

  • ‘Shakespeare in La: Shakespeare’s Use of Music with particular reference to Twelfth Night’, Johns Hopkins University, The Peabody Institute, Baltimore (October 1999)

  • ‘Romantic Musical Agogics as an Element in Gerard Manley Hopkins’ Prosody’, Second Biennial Conference on Music in 19th-century Britain, Durham University (July 1999)

  • ‘Classical Music by Candlelight: or should we make old music contemporary?’, Public Lecture, The University of Reading (March 1999)

  • ‘Shakespeare’s “Fayre Violl, Sweete Lute, and Lowlie Pipe” as Musical Imagery’, Joint Annual Meeting of the Viol da Gamba and Lute Societies of England and America, Art Workers’ Guild Hall (September 1998)

  • ‘Shakespeare’s Musical Imagery: A Dictionary in Progress’, The Royal Musical Association Annual Conference, Oxford (March 1998)

  • ‘From Playhouse to Opera: Shakespeare in Music’, Birkbeck College, London (October 1997)

  • ‘Handel and English Taste’, American Universities Joint Seminar, St John’s College, Oxford (July 1996)

  • ‘Music in Shakespeare’s The Tempest’, Oxford-Smithsonian Institute Summer Seminar (July 1991)

  • ‘Music in Shakespearean Production at Stratford: 1870 to the Present Day’, Shakespeare Institute, Stratford (November 1989)

  • ‘Elizabethan “Number”: Prosodical Theory and Music’, Institute of Advanced Musical Studies, King’s College, London (October 1986)

  • ‘Music and Metre in the English Lute Ayre’, Seminar in Music Theory and Analysis, Goldsmith’s College, London (February 1983)

  • ‘The Part-songs of the English Lute Ayres’, Faculty of Music, Oxford (October 1979)