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Dr Emily MacGregor

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow


Emily MacGregor joined King’s Music Department in January 2020 following a Marie Curie Global Fellowship held first at Harvard University (2016-18) and subsequently at Royal Holloway, University of London (2019). Prior to this, Emily completed a DPhil in Music at Oxford University in 2016, an MSt in Music (distinction) at Oxford, and an undergraduate degree in Music and Drama at the University of Manchester. During her doctorate she held visiting fellowships at the Freie Universität in Berlin (DAAD, 2012-13), and at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. (2014). 

Research interests and PhD supervision

  • Twentieth-century musical culture in North America and Germany
  • Modernism
  • Music and the history of technology
  • Diaspora and exile studies

Emily’s broad research interests centre on music and the politics of space and subjectivity. Her forthcoming monograph, Interwar Symphonies and the Imagination: Politics, Identity, and the Sound of 1933 (Cambridge University Press, 2023) asks what symphonies from the early 1930s can tell us about how people in Western Europe and North America imagined selfhood during a period of international insecurity and political upheaval, of expansionist and colonial fantasies, scientised racism, and emergent fascism. In 2019 she was awarded the Royal Musical Association’s Jerome Roche Prize for ‘a distinguished article by a scholar at an early stage of his or her career’.

Her latest research at KCL focuses on diasporic musicians and cultural theorists living in New York in the latter half of the 1930s. With Arman Schwartz and Emily I. Dolan, she is co-editing a collection of essays reimagining the relationships between music and science in modernism, Sonic Circulations 1900-1950.


Nineteenth- and twentieth-century historical topics; critical, historical, and methodological issues in musical thought and scholarship.

Expertise and public engagement 

Emily has appeared on BBC Radio 3’s Record Review (including Building a Library) and discussed her research on Free Thinking. She writes programme notes for Wigmore Hall, and is a contributor to the illustrated book 30-Second Classical Music, ed. Joanne Cormac (The Ivy Press, 2017), part of the bestselling 30-Second series.

Selected publications 

  • Interwar Symphonies and the Imagination: Politics, Identity, and the Sound of 1933 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2023)
  • ‘From Berlin to New York: Kurt Weill, the Fantaisie Symphonique, and the Middlebrow’, in The Oxford Handbook on Music and the Middlebrow, eds. Christopher Chowrimootoo and Kate Guthrie, Oxford University Press (book chapter, forthcoming).
  • ‘Roy Harris’s Symphony 1933: Biographical Myth-making and Liberal Myth-building in the American West’, Journal of Musicological Research 38 (September 2019), 266-284.
  • ‘Listening for the Intimsphäre: Recovering Berlin 1933 through Hans Pfitzner’s Symphony in C-sharp Minor’, The Musical Quarterly 101 (October 2018), 35-75.
  • ‘Whoever Pays the Piper Calls the Tune: Pressures on Academic Freedom and the Discipline of Music in the UK’, Critical Quarterly 54 (December 2012), 54-73.