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Michael Fend

Dr Michael Fend

Reader in Musicology

Research interests

  • Music


Michael Fend studied Musicology (with Carl Dahlhaus), German Literature and Philosophy at the TU and FU Berlin (MA 1980, PhD 1983). Before joining King’s College London in 1993, he taught at the Universities of Aberdeen and Nottingham and was a fellow of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, the Society for the Humanities (Cornell University), and of the DAAD at the Warburg Institute (London) and the Maison des sciences de l’homme (Paris). Following his Habilitation in 2005 he has also been Privatdozent at the University of Bayreuth; in 2005 he was Visiting Professor at the University of Hamburg.

Research Interests and PhD Supervision

  • Intellectual and Political History of Music
  • Nationalism in Music
  • Opera
  • Music and Law

My first major research project dealt with early modern controversies among music theorists and composers concerning the status of arithmetic and aesthetic categories in evaluating musical progress. My second research project explored the conditions under which composers worked during the French revolutionary period, focussing on Luigi Cherubini's opera dramaturgies, contemporary aesthetics and institutional practices. An English version of this project, which investigates Cherubini's career as a whole, is in progress.

Recent PhD supervision

Jonathan Huff, "'Une École agréable de mœurs': Sensibilité, Civic Virtue, and Opéra-comique during the French Revolution, 1789-1799" (MPhil, 2020).

Diane Tisdall, "Pierre Baillot and Violin Pedagogy in Paris, 1795-1815" (2016).

Fabio Morabito, "Performing Sociability: Ideas of Authorship and Chamber Music Culture under the Bourbon Restoration" (2016).

Jeremy Coleman, "Richard Wagner in Paris: Translation, Identity, Modernity" (2016).

Beth Weller, "The Reception of Schubert's Songs in England, 1828-1883" (2015).

Ayumi Kubo, "The Librettos of Etienne de Jouy (1807-1829): A Difficult Career during the Napoleonic and Restoration Era" (2014).

Tom McAuley, "The Birth of the Idea of Absolute Music 1787-1801" (2013).

Luke Berryman, "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in Nazi Propaganda" (2013).

For more details, please see his full research profile.


Over the years I have taught 5 MMus modules on Music Theory, Faust in Music, History and Criticism, Enlightenment and, in particular, Late Beethoven. My 15 BMus modules have ranged across the early modern period to 1950s Music Avant-garde. In 2019 I convened (together with Drs Johnson Okpaluba, Ananay Aguilar, and Esther Cavett) an inter-departmental module on Music and Law.

Expertise and public engagement 

External PhD Supervision (University of Utrecht); External PhD Examining (Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music, Royal Holloway, Université de Poitiers); Member of Steering Committee in Balzan Project Towards a Global History of Music, directed by Reinhard Strohm (2013-2017); Advisor for European Research Council, European Science Foundation, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Österreichischer Wissenschaftsfond, National Agency for the Evaluation of Universities (Italy), Swiss National Science Foundation, German Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development, Czech Academy of Sciences, National Science Centre Poland, Universität der Künste Berlin, AMS, Il Saggiatore, Yale University Press, Routledge, CUP, OUP; essay contributions for Opera Brussels and Wexford; Humanities Recognition of Distinction Committee, University of Oxford. 


"Music Nationalism in Germany and elsewhere - A past Ideology?", (German Society, KCL, 02/2021).

"1589 - 1789 - 1989. Three Steps of Musical Individuation" ("Times of Festival", The Warburg Institute, 10/20; also Music Department KCL, 01/2021).

"Cherubini's Waterloo", ("(Un)populäres Musiktheater! Patriotismus auf der Bühne 1789-1830", Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln, 11/2020, postponed to 07/2021).

"'Opus metaphysicum'. An empty term?" (Wagner Society, Edinburgh, 06/2019; also Wagner Society, Manchester, 03/2021).

"From Immigrant Composer to State Employee. Cherubini's Career in Paris in the 1790s" (Conservatorio Statale di Benevento, 05/2018).

"Cherubini's Médée on the contemporary opera stage: A harrowing attraction", (Université de Rouen, 05/2018).

"In the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time. Cherubini in Vienna 1805/06", (University of Vienna, 05/2018).

"On Opera" (Department of Music, Edinburgh University, 02/2018).

"Leopold Spinner bei Boosey & Hawkes" ("Leopold Spinner (1906-1980), Komponist in Wien und London", Arnold Schoenberg Center, Vienna, 05/2017).

"Dézède's Revolutionism" (Université de Montpellier, 07/2016).

"The Nationalist Effect of Wagner's Operatic Charisma", ("Nationality - Universality. Musical Historiography in Central and Eastern Europe", Radziejowice, 09/2014).

"The Trauma of the French Revolution for Composers", (Durham University and FU Berlin 01/2014).

"Music Theorists and their Institutions", (Wissenschafts Kolleg zu Berlin, 05/2012). 

"Avantgardists, Ethnomusicologists and Max Weber: The Year 1912 in Music" (Stanford University 04/2011).

Selected publications 

  • "Opera", The Oxford Handbook of Western Music and Philosophy, ed. Tom McAuley, Nanette Nielsen, Gerold Levinson, and Ariana Phillips-Hutton (Oxford, 2020), 601-627.
  • “Romantic Empowerment at the Paris Opera in the 1770s and 1780s”, Music & Letters, 94.2 (2013), 263-294.
  • Cherubinis Pariser Opern 1788-1803 (Beihefte zum Archiv für Musikwissenschaft, Bd. 59) (Stuttgart, 2007).
  • “Hugo Riemann’s Challenge to the Conservatory and the Modernists’ Challenge to Riemann”, Music Education in Europe (1770-1914): Compositional, Institutional, and Political Challenges, 2 vols. (European Science Foundation: Musical Life in Europe, 1600-1900, Group 5), ed. Michael Fend and Michel Noiray, 2vols. (Berlin, 2005), II, 399-430.
  • “Die Haut oder der Hut? Zur Geschichtlichkeit musikalischer ‘Anschauungs- und Denkformen’”, Anschauungs- und Denkformen in der Musik, ed. Max Haas, Wolfgang Marx, and Fritz Reckow (†) (Bern, 2002), 69-117.
  • “The Changing Functions of ‘Senso’ and ‘Ragione’ in Italian Music Theory of the late Sixteenth Century”, The Second Sense. Studies in Hearing and Musical Judgement from Antiquity to the Seventeenth Century (Warburg Institute Surveys and Texts, 22), ed. Charles Burnett, Michael Fend, and Penelope Gouk (London, 1991), 199-223.