Prof Rebecca Herissone

Professor of Musicology

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I am Professor of Musicology at the University of Manchester in the UK, and a co-editor of Music & Letters. I joined the academic staff at Manchester as Senior Lecturer in January 2006, having previously held a lectureship in the Department of Music at Lancaster University (1999–2005), and a Research Fellowship at Emmanuel College, Cambridge (1995–99).


Academic and Professional Qualifications

  • MA University of Cambridge
  • MMus King's College, University of London
  • PhD University of Cambridge
  • Fellow, Higher Education Academy
  • Certificate in Learning and Teaching Higher Education
  • Member, Purcell Society Editorial Committee
  • Member, Musica Britannica Editorial Committee
  • Member, Editorial Board of the Works of John Eccles
  • Member, Advisory Board, AHRC-funded project ‘Performing Restoration Shakespeare’
  • Member, AHRC Peer Review College


Further information


Research Profile

My research centres on the musical cultures of early modern England, primarily in the long seventeenth century. Within this field, I have three main areas of specialism: the analysis of creativity and creative processes; the study of material cultures, particularly music manuscripts and print publications; and consideration of ontological issues relating to early modern music and its notation. All three areas were addressed in my project ‘Musical Creativity in Restoration England’, which was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK from 2006–10. It had two principal research outcomes: a monograph, Musical Creativity in Restoration England, published by CUP in 2013, which investigates how we can understand creative cultures in the period through close analysis of musical manuscripts and printed sources, and which was awarded the Diana McVeagh Prize by the North American British Music Studies Association for 2015; and an interdisciplinary collection of essays, Concepts of Creativity in Seventeenth-Century England, co-edited with Alan Howard and published by Boydell and Brewer in 2013, which considers the interconnectedness of creative practices between music, drama, art, architecture and literature in the period.


I also edited The Ashgate Research Companion to Henry Purcell, which was published in 2012. Earlier books include Music Theory in Seventeenth-Century England (Oxford University Press, 2000), a reassessment of continuo accompaniment in Restoration sacred music – ‘To Fill, Forbear, or Adorne’: The Organ Accompaniment of Restoration Sacred Music (RMA Research Monograph 14; Ashgate, 2006), and a critical edition of a little-known Restoration theory book, Synopsis of Vocal Musick (Ashgate, 2006). My journal article ‘Robert Pindar, Thomas Busby, and the Mysterious Scoring of Henry Purcell's “Come ye Sons of Art”’ was awarded the Westrup Prize for 2007 by the Music & Letters editorial board.


In broad terms, I have sought in my research to re-evaluate the surviving material sources of early modern music within the contexts in which they were originally created and used; to shift the focus of attention away from individual creators to reflect the inherently collaborative nature of creativity throughout much of the seventeenth century; and to re-evoke the humanist rhetorical principles on which early modern creativity was based, which had a strong influence on the importance placed on originality and authorial identity. More recently, I have begun to work on the reception of seventeenth-century English music from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries, focusing particularly on the figuring of Henry Purcell by later composers, literary figures, historiographers and audiences.


In 2007 I also became one of the co-editors of the leading peer-reviewed journal Music & Letters, published by Oxford University Press. I am also a member of the Editorial Committee of the Purcell Society, and of the Editorial Boards of Musica Britannica and the Complete Works of John Eccles. In 2016 I became a member of the Advisory Board to the AHRC-funded project ‘Performing Restoration Shakespeare’ (PI Richard Schoch, Queens’ University, Belfast; Co-I Amanda Eubanks Winkler, Syracuse University).


Current Research Projects

My recent work includes a chapter on Daniel Henstridge’s aural transcriptions for an edited book for Indiana University Press, Beyond Boundaries: Rethinking Music Circulation in Early Modern England, ed. Linda Austern, Candace Bailey and Amanda Eubanks Winkler(Bloomington, Indiana, 2017), a chapter for the Cambridge History of Music Criticism, ed. Christopher Dingle (forthcoming, Cambridge, 2017), and a chapter on seventeenth-century musical creativity for the Oxford Handbook of the Creative Process in Music, ed. Nicolas Donin (forthcoming, Oxford University Press, 2017). I have recently completed a journal article on the handwritten corrections to Purcell’s self-published score for his first dramatick opera, ‘“A Complete and Correct Score”: Scribal Annotations and the Notion of Textual Fixity in Late Seventeenth-Century English Music Publications’. Ongoing current projects include an article on the single-sheet prints of theatre songs by Thomas Cross; a new critical edition of Henry Purcell’s dramatick opera The Prophetess, or the History of Dioclesian for the Purcell Society; and an edition of the odes of John Eccles for the new complete edition of Eccles, published by A–R editions. As noted above, I will soon begin work on a new large-scale project on the reception of Purcell’s music in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


External positions

Advisory Board Member, 'Performing Restoration Shakespeare' project, Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Oct 2016 → …

Editorial Board Member, The Works of John Eccles (A-R Editions)

2012 → …

Peer Review College Member, Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

1 Jan 2010 → …

Editor, Music & Letters, Oxford University Press

1 Jan 2007 → …

Editorial Board Member, Musica Britannica

2006 → …

Editorial Board Member, Purcell Society

2005 → …

Areas of expertise


  • Early modern music, Creativity, Material Culture, Source Study, Musical Notation, Musical ontology, Reception studies, Performance practices

Education / academic qualifications

  • 1996 - Master of Arts University of Cambridge
  • 1996 - The Theory and Practice of Composition in the English Restoration Period
  • 1996 - Doctor of Philosophy, The Theory and Practice of Composition in the English Restoration Period, University of Cambridge
  • 1993 - Master of Music, Henry Purcell's Revisions of his own Works, King's College London
  • 1992 - Bachelor of Arts University of Cambridge

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