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Chair of Department of Music, Royal Holloway University of London

Steve Downes is a musicologist and pianist whose interests lie in the broad area of analysis, history and aesthetics of music of the nineteenth and twentieth century. His work on the music of Central and Eastern Europe (Mahler, Weill, Hans Werner Henze, Scriabin, and especially Poland - Chopin, Karlowicz, Szymanowski and Gorecki) has won several awards and grants. He has also published on Francis Poulenc, Benjamin Britten, and Frank Bridge. Steve's work characteristically addresses repertory or topics marginalised or devalued by dominant historical and critical discourses. He was a founding member of the editorial board of Nineteenth-Century Music Review (2002-9), an editor of Music & Letters (2013-20), a member of the AHRC Peer Review Panel (2012-15), and Director of the Institute of Musical Research (IMR) (2017-20). Previously Head of Music and Sound Recording and Deputy Head of the School of Arts at the University of Surrey he has twice served as Head of Department of Music at Royal Holloway. His seven monographs include major studies of eroticism, decadence, romantic ideas of redemption, and sentimentalism. In his most recent book the significance and meaning of the sentimental is examined in music from the Victorian salon and concert hall, early twentieth-century European modernism, and songs by Burt Bacharach, Tom Jobim, Barry Manilow, Carole King and Jimmy Webb. He is currently working on a critical biography of Mahler.


  • –present
    Chair professor, Royal Holloway