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Academic Staff

Flora Willson

Willson_FloraLecturer in Music 

Email flora.willson@kcl.ac.uk

Address South West Building, Room SWB10A
King’s College London 
Strand Campus 
London 
WC2R 2LS

Biography

Flora joined the Music Department as a Lecturer in September 2017. She read Music as an undergraduate at Selwyn College, Cambridge, then completed both an MMus and a PhD at King’s College London. She has previously held a Junior Research Fellowship at King’s College, Cambridge (2012-15) and a British Academy postdoctoral research fellowship at KCL (2015-17).

Research interests and PhD supervision
  • Nineteenth-century opera and operatic culture
  • Urban and cultural history; music’s role in nineteenth-century urban development
  • Opera and material culture
  • Music and the history of technology

My research generally concerns changing conceptions of music and how it could and should be consumed during the 19th century. I have previously written about topics including the emergence of an operatic canon in 1860s Paris, music at the 1851 Great Exhibition, and Italian opera on the battlefields of the Crimean War. I am currently writing a book about the global mobility of operatic singers and composers, audiences and ideas, critics, scores and merchandise during the 1890s. In particular I’m exploring the connections between operatic life in London, Paris and New York as its constituents travelled paths and exploited opportunities opened up by recently emerged technologies of mass travel and communication.

Flora welcomes applications for PhD topics related to any of her research interests. 

Selected publications
  • ‘Hearing Things: Musical Objects at the 1851 Great Exhibition’, in Sound Knowledge: Music and Science in London, 1789-1851, ed. James Q. Davies and Ellen Lockhart (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016), 227-45
  • ‘In Search of Opera, Again’ [review-article on Helen Greenwald, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Opera], in Music & Letters 97/1 (February 2016), 136-47
  • Gaetano Donizetti, Les Martyrs, Edizione critica delle opere di Gaetano Donizetti (Milan: Ricordi, 2015)
  •  ‘Future History: Wagner, Offenbach, and “la musique de l’avenir” in Paris 1860’, Opera Quarterly 30/4 (Autumn 2014), 287-314
  • ‘Of Time and the City: Verdi’s Don Carlos and Its Parisian Critics’, 19th-Century Music 37/3 (Spring 2014), 188-210 
Teaching

Flora teaches undergraduate lecture courses at all levels. Her main teaching interests lie in the 19th century, and she has recently taught courses on aspects of that era’s musical culture in Paris and London. She has also supervised numerous dissertations on subjects relating to opera, dance, film, and 19th-century music history.

At postgraduate level Flora co-convened Cambridge’s MPhil core course in 2014-15 and also enjoys teaching the MMus course ‘Issues in Historiography and Criticism’ at KCL. She has supervised numerous MPhil and MMus coursework essays and dissertations.

Expertise and public engagement

Flora writes about music for The Guardian and Opera magazine and is a regular invited guest on BBC Radio 3. She contributes programme notes and gives pre-performance talks for companies including English National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera and the Royal Opera House, and has previously acted as a consultant to Glyndebourne on new educational resources for schools. She has recently been collaborating with ROH to set up the world’s first introductory MOOC (massive open online course) about opera (available here).

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