Skip to main content
KBS_Icon_questionmark link-ico


Katherine Fry is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Global Fellow affiliated jointly with King’s College London and the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to taking up her individual fellowship, she was a lecturer in musicology at KCL with an emphasis on academic education, and before that a postdoctoral fellow on the ERC-funded project ‘Music in London 1800-1851’. She read music as an undergraduate at the University of Cambridge before completing an interdisciplinary MA in Critical Methodologies at KCL and returning to musicology for doctoral research. During the academic year 2022-23, Katherine is based in the department of music at UC Berkeley.

Research Interests

  • Music and musical aesthetics in the long nineteenth century
  • Print culture and media history
  • Music/sound and gender studies

I approach nineteenth-century music history from a range of interdisciplinary angles, though much of my work seeks connections between philosophical discourse on music and cultural and material studies of performance, print culture and place. My first book – provisionally entitled Wagner and Victorian Modernity – aims to provide a material history of Wagnerism through the prism of nineteenth-century London: a site of burgeoning mass media, multi-directional travel, and vast public buildings generating new sensory experiences. My current grant project (funded by the European Commission) investigates nineteenth and early-twentieth-century women composers, poets and transcribers of popular songs for the sheet music market in counterpoint with Romantic and modernist aesthetics. I have a related interest in Victorian music-literary relations, particularly the contributions of women writers to histories and theories of sound and listening. I have given conference papers and public talks in the UK and internationally and am also a member of the interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Song Network. My research has appeared in edited volumes and journals including 19th-Century Music, Opera Quarterly, Cambridge Opera Journal and Journal of the Royal Musical Association.

Selected Publications

‘Concert Hall Music Drama: from London to Bayreuth and Back Again’, Cambridge Opera Journal (forthcoming)

‘Mary Somerville’s Sound Accomplishments’, in Sound and Sense in British Romanticism, ed. James Grande and Carmel Raz (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming)

‘Music and Character in the London Reception of Wagner: Conducting the Philharmonic ca. 1855’, in Music and Victorian Liberalism: Composing the Liberal Subject, ed. Sarah Collins (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019), 201-219.

‘Not a “Telephone to the Beyond”: Nietzsche’s Early Writings on Music’, 19th-Century Music 42, no. 1 (2018): 53-70.

‘Nietzsche’s Critique of Musical Decadence: The Case of Wagner in Historical Perspective’, Journal of the Royal Musical Association 142, no. 1 (2017): 137-172.


I have taught topics in music history and sound studies from the late-18th century to the present, including introductory surveys and writing courses, in addition to in-depth modules reflecting my specialisms in opera, song, women composers/performers, urban culture and the boundaries of domestic space. I enjoy incorporating a variety of repertoire and media (classical, popular, film) and fostering student-led discussion of critical concepts, contexts and problems. At postgraduate level, I have taught courses and seminars in the fields of critical voice studies, contemporary musicology, and modernism.