Mark Berry

Mark Berry


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Personal profile

Research interests

Mark Berry read History at the University of Cambridge, continuing there to study for an MPhil and PhD, before being elected in 2001 as a Fellow of Peterhouse, where he remained until 2009, upon his appointment as Lecturer in Music at Royal Holloway. He has lectured on subjects ranging from political culture at Louis XIV’s Versailles to European Marxism and music after 1945. His research has tended to draw upon his interests in both History and Music, as well as upon other disciplines, such as Philosophy, Theology, Art and Architectural History, Theatre Studies, and Literature.

Treacherous Bonds and Laughing Fire: Politics and Religion in Wagner’s ‘Ring’ was published by Ashgate in 2006. For his work on Wagner he has received the Prince Consort Prize and the Seeley Medal. He write a number of articles for the Cambridge Wagner Encyclopaedia, published in 2013; they range from short biographical pieces to essays on topics such as 'German History', 'Morality', and 'Politics'. Dr Berry is also co-editor with Professor Nicholas Vazsonyi of The Cambridge Companion to Wagner's 'Der Ring des Nibelungen', published in 2020.

Whilst maintaining and furthering his interests in Wagner, subsequent research has also looked back towards the eighteenth century, including treatment of Bach, Mozart, and Haydn, and forward to the twentieth century.  After Wagner: Histories of Modernist Music Drama from 'Parsifal' to Nono was published by Boydell and Brewer in 2014. It offers an historical treatment of politics, aesthetics, and music-drama from Parsifal onwards, whose concerns include Richard Strauss, Schoenberg, Luigi Dallapiccola, Hans Werner Henze, Luigi Nono, and operatic staging. 

Dr Berry's third book, Arnold Schoenberg, was published by Reaktion in 2019. Founded on archival research and close study of Schoenberg's entire oeuvre, this presents the twentieth century's most controversial and influential composer in a broad historical context, as well as discussing every one of Schoenberg's works with an opus number - and many of those without. In BBC Music Magazine, Malcolm Hayes praised it as a '"go to" recommendation' for a Schoenberg biography, alongside the classic work by Malcolm Macdonald's classic work.

The next big project is a synoptic treatment in eighteenth-century historical and intellectual context of Mozart's operas. It is envisaged that this will appear in two volumes: one up to and including Idomeneo; the second from Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail

Mark Berry regularly reviews concert and opera performances, both in London and abroad, especially in France, Germany, and Austria. These often attempt to combine his research interests with imperatives of live performance and theatrical production, and may be found, alongside other material, on his blog, 'Boulezian'. He has written regularly for The Wagner Journal, which he has guest edited (November 2013), as well as Times Higher Education, Music and Letters, and various other journals. Other musical engagements include: regular broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 (Night Waves, Opera Bites, Proms, etc.); speaking engagements (e.g. British Library, English National Opera Study Day, Seattle Opera Ring, the Netherlands Opera, BBC Symphony Orchestra); and writing of programme notes for, amongst others, the Royal Opera House, the Wigmore Hall, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Salzburg Festival, as well as record companies such as Warner Classics and Pentatone.

Recent doctoral students have written topics ranging from Berlioz's aesthetics and national identity in Die Meistersinger to the marketing of music with special reference to social media marketing. Current students are writing on subjects such as Wagner's Ring and Felipe Pedrell. Applications from interested doctoral students are always welcome.  


  • Wagner, Schoenberg, Mozart, Modernism, Adorno, Marxism, Hegel, German idealism, Opera

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