Professor Barbara Kelly

Professor Barbara Kelly


I studied music and English at the University of Glasgow (1984-88) before going to the University of Illinois for a Masters in musicology (1992); I returned to the UK to take up a funded PhD at the University of Liverpool  with Robert Orledge (PhD, 1995), with a thesis on Darius Milhaud and the French Musical Tradition.

In September 1993, I was appointed Lecturer in Music and Senior Course Tutor at University College Scarborough. In January 1995, I was appointed Lecturer in Music at Keele University becoming Professor of Music in 2008. I held the roles of Head of Humanities Research at the Research Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (2012–4) and Faculty Research Director, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (2014–5) at Keele. I was appointed Director of Research at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in Manchester in April 2015.

I am the first women President of the Royal Musical Association in its 149-year history and was elected to Academia Europaea in 2020. 


  • Head of School

Research interests

I specialise in late 19th- and early 20th-century French music and cultural history. I have published on composers including Darius Milhaud, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Arthur Nonegger, Francis Poulenc and Igor Stravinky as well as on issues such as music and war, national and religious identity, and anti-Semitism in France. I have published recently on internationalism and musical diplomacy in the interwar period and on the British reception of French music. I am also interested in studying neglected musical women (composers, performers, critics) in France and Britain.

My first monograph, Tradition and Style in the Works of Darius Milhaud (1912–1939) (2003), was preceded by a number of articles in books and journals, not least important biographical entries in the 2001 edition of the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, including the one on Ravel. 

My second monograph, Music and Ultra-Modernism in France: A Fragile Consensus (1913–1939) (2013), deals with three generational groupings of French composers: Ravel and his circle, Les Six in the 1920s, and La Jeune France (founded 1936).  My latest book, (with Deborah Mawer, Rachel Moore, and Graham Sadler) Accenting the Classics: Editing European Music in France, 1915–1925 (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2023) focuses on the musical, cultural and political implications of Jacques Durand’s wartime project to produce French editions of mainly Austro-German classics, edited by famous composers, such as Debussy, Ravel, Saint-Saens.

I have published four (co-)edited volumes. The first was edited with Kerry Murphy,  Berlioz and Debussy. Sources, Contexts and Legacies (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007). The second was published in 2008: French Music, Culture, and National Identity, 1870–1939. The third was edited with Christopher Moore: Music Criticism in France: Authority, Advocacy, Legacy (1918–1939) (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2018); the latest is (with Anaïs Fléchet, Martin Guerpin, and Philippe Gumplowicz): Music and Postwar Transitions in the 19th and 20th Centuries (New York: Berghahn Books, 2023). I have edited Debussy Studies 2 with the late David Code, which is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press (2024).

<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>


  • MA in Music and English, University of Glasgow, 1988
  • MM in Musicology, University of Illinois, 1992
  • PhD in Music, University of Liverpool, 1995

Professional memberships

  • Royal Musical Association
  • American Musicological Association
  • Academia Europaea
<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>