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Dr Katherine Fry
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Dr Katherine Fry

  • Research fellows

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Contact details


Kathy Fry is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at King’s College London, working as part of the European Research Council-funded project ‘Music in London 1800-1851’. Her research focuses on musical culture in nineteenth-century Britain and Germany, and intersections between music, literature and social theory.

She holds a BA in Music from the University of Cambridge, an MA in critical theory and PhD in musicology, both from King’s College London. Her PhD thesis, ‘Nietzsche and Wagner: Music Language, Decadence’ (2015), analysed Nietzsche’s writings about music (Wagner in particular) within the context of his wider philosophies of language and culture, drawing comparisons with surrounding debates about Wagnerism, as well as with contemporary theories of language in post-structuralism. Her work is published in Opera Quarterly, Cambridge Opera Journal and forthcoming in The Journal of the Royal Musical Association.   

Research Interests

  • Musical culture in 19th-Century Britain and Germany
  • Wagner, performance culture and criticism
  • Travel writing, cultural exchange, theories of (trans)nationalism and cosmopolitanism
  • Philosophies of music/sound
  • Social theory

Current research focuses on the reception of Wagner and continental philosophy in London ca. 1830-1883. This project explores how the movement of critics, educators and musicians between London and Europe helped to construct histories of modern German music through the medium of travel writing and the periodical press. It also examines the relationship between public and private performances of Wagner’s music in London and Victorian ideas about morality, nationhood, race and the self. A related research interest is music aesthetics and philosophies of sound more generally in 19th-century London, particularly in connection with medical and socio-political discourses of health and the body.

Selected Publications

  • ‘Nietzsche’s Critique of Musical Decadence: The Case of Wagner in Historical Perspective’ Journal of the Royal Musical Association (forthcoming 2017).
  • ‘Nietzsche, Tristan und Isolde and the Analysis of Wagnerian Rhythm’, The Opera Quarterly, special issue on Opera and Philosophy, 29/3-4: 253-276.
  • ‘Conceptualising Wagner’ [review article], Cambridge Opera Journal, 27/3 (2015): 301-314.