Professor Michael Allis


I studied cello and piano at the Royal College of Music with Anna Shuttleworth and Peter Wallfisch, where I graduated with a first-class BMus from the University of London. Postgraduate work at King's College, London included an MMus in Historical Musicology in 1988, and the completion of my PhD thesis ('The Creative Process of Hubert Parry') in 1994. Following a range of teaching and lecturing posts (King's College London, Bedford Modern School, the Oxford Cello School, Charterhouse, Farringdon College), I became a Lecturer in Academic Studies at the Royal Academy of Music in 1994; as Senior Postgraduate Tutor at the RAM, I was responsible for overseeing academic elements of the taught postgraduate programmes. I joined the University of Leeds as a Senior Lecturer in 2006, and was promoted to a Chair in Musicology in 2015.   

I have supervised several PhD projects; these have included (as lead supervisor), topics such as:

  • John Ireland's piano music (Mariko Ono, 2009)
  • Henry Wood and J.S. Bach's orchestral music (Hannah French, 2014)
  • National identity in Northern and East European Metal (Mark Deeks, 2017)
  • A reassessment of Leon Goosens (Jonathan Tobutt, 2017)
  • Musico-Literary Intermediality in Dancefloor-Driven Literature (Simon Morrison, 2018);

As co-supervisor:

  • Mindfulness for singers (Annie Czajkowski, 2019)
  • Performing contemporary cello music: defining the interpretative space (Alfia Nakipbekova, 2020)
  • Invoking music in literature: the instrumental, the sonic and the structural (Gianluca Guerriro, 2022)

As secondary supervisor:

  • Amateur music-making in the provinces in 17th-century England (Christopher Roberts, 2015)
  • Reinterpreting Brahms' Violin Sonatas (Jung Yoon Cho, 2017)
  • Arthur Sullivan and the Leeds Triennial Festival (Anne Stanyon, 2018)
  • Performing Editions of Friedrich Grutzmacher (Kate Wadsworth, 2018)
  • The single-action pedal harp (Masumi Nagasawa, 2019).

Current PGRs include Elizabeth French (reassessing the piano works of Francis Edward Bache) and Steven Moore (transcriptions of Baroque keyboard music for marimba).

I have been External Examiner for postgraduate programmes and examinations at Trinity College London, DIT (Dublin Institute of Technology), the University of Newcastle, the University of York, and the University of Durham, external marker at Imperial College, London, and particpated in the Royal College of Music's BMus Review in 2013. I have also examined DPhil/PhD and MPhil theses at the University of Oxford (2023), University of Birmingham (2005 x2), University of Durham (2006, 2007, 2014), the Royal College of Music (2007), the University of Melbourne (2009), and the University of Queensland (2016), in addition to acting as Internal Examiner for several PhD theses at the University of Leeds.   

Research interests

My research has focused primarily upon British music and musical life in the long nineteenth century. In addition to the monographs Parry's Creative Process (Ashgate, 2003) and British Music and Literary Context (The Boydell Press, 2012) - which explored links between British music and literature in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century (Parry and Bridges, Stanford and Tennyson, Bantock and Browning, Elgar and Bulwer, Elgar and travel literature) – my 2013 book Temporaries and Eternals reproduced and contextualised the music criticisms of Aldous Huxley, and 2017 saw the publication of Granville Bantock's Letters to William Wallace and Ernest Newman, 1893–1921: 'Our new dawn of modern music' (The Boydell Press), which was chosen for the C.B. Oldman Award (given by the International Association of Music Libraries, Achives and Documentation Centres) for 2019.

In 2020 I co-edited The Symphonic Poem in Britain, 1850–1950 (The Boydell Press) with Paul Watt, which included my chapter on William Wallace’s Villon, and a further co-edited volume with Paul Watt and Sarah Collins, The Oxford Handbook of Music and Intellectual Culture in the Nineteenth Century. Several of my interdisciplinary articles and book chapters have focused upon the refiguring of poetry and literature in British music, whether in relation to Bantock's refiguring of Robert Southey in Thalaba the Destroyer (Music & Letters, 2014) and The Curse of Kehama (European Romantic Review, 2016) and his orchestral reworking of Shelley's The Witch of Atlas (Journal of Musicological Research, 2017), narrative issues in the music of Elgar (Music & Letters, 2004; Journal of Musicological Research, 2000), Parry and Elgar’s responses to the poetry of Tennyson (2005), and Joseph Holbrooke's exploration of the uncanny in The Raven, based on Poe's poem (2014). A recent reassessment of Hubert Parry’s Elegy for Brahms in the context of the literary elegy has been published in Music & Lettersand an edited Roundtable issue for the Journal of Victorian Culture on Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Music includes my introduction plus an exploration of William Wallace’s symphonic poem Sister Helen. I have also published on music in literature, including topics such as Samuel Butler's obsession with Handel (Handel Jahrbuch, 1998), Aleister Crowley's interest in Wagner (Forum for Modern Language Studies, 2014), and the literary representation of Peter Warlock in Robertson Davies' novel A Mixture of Frailties (University of Toronto Quarterly, 2019). In addition to studies of quotation and allusion in the music of Bax (JRMA, 2011), Stanford's piano music (Music Review, 1994), and a number of chapters and articles on Walter Bache, The Working Men's Society and Liszt reception in 19th-century Britain, my 2008 article in Cambridge Opera Journal focused on issues of tempo in Wagner's Das Rheingold.  

Current projects include a book on the autobiography and music criticisms of Herbert Thompson (with Paul Watt of the University of Adelaide) to be published with the University of Clemson Press, an extended study of Granville Bantock’s orchestral refiguring of literature currently under contract with The Boydell Press (with case studies on his Thalaba the Destroyer, HudibrasThe Witch of Atlas, Lalla Rookh, Dante and Beatrice, Fifine at the Fair, The Pierrot of the Minute and the Overture to a Greek Tragedy), and an article on Willem Coenen’s contribution to Brahms reception in 19th-century Britain. Future research interests include studies of Delius’s Brigg Fair, Armstrong Gibbs’ Westmorland Symphony and Holbrooke’s Symphony no.4.

I am a member of the Editorial Boards of The Journal of Victorian Culture and Nineteen, and lead the ‘Music as Culture’ research cluster in the School.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD
  • MMus
  • BMus
  • DipRCM

Professional memberships

  • British Association of Victorian Studies

Student education

I contribute to teaching in the areas of musicology, analysis and performance, and lead the MMus Performance programme. 

Research groups and institutes

  • Music as Culture

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>