Hello and welcome! I am a research student at the University of Oxford, specialising in music and theatre.
The posts that you’ll find on this site will mostly be about how music has been used to tell stories on the stage. Music’s been central to theatre history of the last two centuries. New music was often written for productions — it was used to publicise the plays, contributing to the idea of theatrical spectacle. Reviewers were aware of the importance of the music, and would comment on what role the music played in the production. Play texts provided scaffolding, but it was also the music, designs, and actors that made a production succeed or fail. They could turn tragedy into satire, and melodrama into comedy.
This is music that’s largely been forgotten, which is why it’s so fascinating. There’s a whole history of sound that’s waiting to be written, and it’s a history that’s very often politically charged. Because theatre was a hugely popular art form, the most prominent political topics made their way onto these stages. At the end of the nineteenth century we find debates about women’s rights being dramatised on Scandinavian stages, and ideas about the British Empire in English theatres. And in all of these there were musical scores, shaping the perspective of the show. Whether a character was feeling guilt, pride, or sadness was determined by the music that accompanied them.
I hope you’ll join me as I travel through this (often quite bizarre) trace of theatrical history. I’d love to hear your thoughts on posts, so please feel free to comment! If you want to hear more about my research, then please head over to my Media page, which has links to radio and TV recordings as well as articles. I’m one of the BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinkers 2016, so have been on the BBC throughout the year talking about my research.
Alongside my academic work I’m also active as a journalist, writing primarily on the arts. I founded and now edit The Oxford Culture Review, a website dedicated to arts and humanities research communication, and won the 2015 Observer/Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism with an article on Sibelius, available here.
To contact me, please email me at leah.broad[at]music.ox.ac.uk. I am always happy to talk to journalists and broadcasters. My specialisms are:
19th & 20th century music history
Scandinavian culture (19th and 20th centuries)
If you would like me to run a communication and outreach workshop/talk for your university, then please email me at the above address with an outline of the type of workshop you are interested in (e.g. writing research blogs, academic writing for radio).
More information and contact details are available on the New Generation Thinkers expert list.