Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in Music, University of Nottingham

Joanne Cormac is a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow and during the academic year 2017-18 she is also a Visiting Scholar at Wolfson College, University of Oxford. During the 2018 autumn semester she will take up a Visiting Researcher position at Georgetown University, Washington DC. She studied Music at the University of Nottingham (BA) and at the University of Birmingham (MMus and PhD). From 2013-15 she was a Lecturer in Music at Oxford Brookes University.

Joanne's current research project, entitled Networking the Symphony: Place, Connectivity and Movement in the Nineteenth Century, is funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The main output will be a monograph placing the nineteenth-century symphony at the centre of a dense web of relationships: between people, technologies and institutions. Rather than focussing on the works themselves, my book traces how the symphony travelled through musical networks. It takes a biographical focus, but follows the movements of a network of people over time and place, rather than an individual. Some of the actors within these networks are familiar names: Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, Berlioz and Liszt. But others, including critics, minor composers, musicians, teachers, publishers, administrators, and friends of the composers are less well known, but played a crucial role in shaping the symphonic landscape. The book will create a clearer picture of the symphonic landscape in the first half of the nineteenth-century, identifying centres for symphonic music across Europe and identifying the ways in which this network was connected. Joanne is also developing a website to map these networks across time and space.

Joanne Cormac's first monograph, Liszt and the Symphonic Poem (Cambridge University Press, 2017), offered a long-overdue examination of Liszt's vastly influential, but misunderstood and much-maligned, genre. Using contextual, philosophical, and musical evidence, Joanne tackled the thorny question: what is a symphonic poem? She overturned the traditional view that positions the symphonic poems as alternatives to the symphony post-Beethoven. In contrast, Joanne returned these influential pieces to their original performance context in the theatre, arguing that the symphonic poem is as much a dramatic as a symphonic genre.


  • –present
    Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in Music, University of Nottingham


  • 2013 
    University of Birmingham, Music