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Mr Matthew Mccullough

Member of the Department of Music
DCAD Fellow in the Durham Centre for Academic Development (DCAD)


At Present, I am a PhD candidate in Musicology researching British composers' responses to World War One and the ways in which their work helped shape a collective and cultural memory of the war. I am particularly interested in music's relationship with death, grief, trauma, and remembrance. Supervised by Professor Jeremy Dibble, Professor Bennett Zon, and Professor Julian Horton, my research is generously funded by a Van Mildert College Trust PhD Scholarship. I currently hold a DCAD Fellowship (2021-23) and an Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, I hold the post of Conductor of Durham University Chamber Choir, and am delighted to be affiliated with The Centre for Death and Life Studies.

Originally from Ireland, I took up a place to read music at Durham University on a Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship in 2016 with a Choral Scholarship at Durham Cathedral. As an undergraduate I was Director of Music at Hatfield College and Director of Music and President of The Dunelm Consort and Players, whilst also undertaking further freelance work. I graduated in July 2019 with first class Honours and a first-class dissertation. In 2020, I completed my Masters in Musicology, graduating with distinction, a faculty award, and a distinction for my dissertation research on the music of Ernest John Moeran. 

My broad research specialism lies in British and Irish music of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the interdisciplinary realms of death, trauma, and memory studies. In 2019 my research on Gerald Finzi’s Dies Natalis won first prize in the British Music Society’s 40th anniversary essay competition, my reconstruction of the final verses of Mozart's Miserere were performed by Newcastle Cathedral Choir on Ash Wednesday in Holy Week 2021, and I have recently organised the conferences 'Music, Mortality, and Ritual' and 'Music, Monuments, and Memory.'

Current writing projects include a volume on Music, Mortality, and Memory (co-edited with Professor Douglas Davies, to be published as part of Brill's Death in History, Culture, and Society series) and co-editing a 4 volume series of primary sources on Long Nineteenth Century Loss, Memory, and Mourning1780-1914 for Routledge (general editor: Professor Mark Sandy). Other projects of enduring enthusiam include research into the life and music of Gerald Finzi, manuscript editing and performance, and harmony and counterpoint.

Beyond my research, I undertake work as a freelance musician throughout the North East. Recent engagements have involved being guest soloist for The English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble and The Durham Singers, and conducting 'Opera By The Lake with Sir Thomas Allen,' for which I was awarded an Associate Fellowship of Van Mildert College. In my limited free time I indulge in the pleasures of walking and landscape photography, often at the same time and on occasion with success.

I am delighted to be a part of such a lively and intellectually ambitious community of scholars here at Durham. I always welcome enquiries into research and/or performance collaborations from students, staff, those beyond the institution and, indeed, the academy, so do feel free to get in touch. I can be reached through the link above.

Conference Organisation

Music, Mortality, and Ritual, Centre for Death and Life Studies, Durham University, 15 May 2021 [Co-convenor]

Music, Monuments, and MemoryCentre for Death and Life Studies, Durham University, 13 November 2021 [Co-convenor]

Conference Papers

'Tone and Tonality: Performing Social Values in British Post-War Musical Commemoration', Music, Mortality, and Ritual, Centre for Death and Life Studies, Durham University, United Kingdom, 15 May 2021

'Requiem for a Dream — Universality, Sonic Death Ritual, and Associative Symbolism in Sir Arthur Bliss' Morning Heroes', 57th Royal Musical Association Annual Conference, Newcastle University, United Kingdon, 14-16 September 2021

'Sounding the Architecture of Grief: Requiem, Rhetoric, and Embodied Experience', Music, Monuments, and Memory,Centre for Death and Life Studies, Durham University, United Kingdom, 13 November 2021

'A Sodality of Dionysus: The Elizabethan Legacy of the Eynsford Cottage Period in Ernest Moeran’s Large-Scale Works', BFE/RMA Research Students’ Conference, University of Plymouth 6-8 January 2022

'"Our nerves are even yet not completely healed" – Stanford’s At The Abbey Gate: Form; Tone; and Reception.' Joint SMI and ICTM-IE Postgraduate Conference, Dublin City University, 14-15 January 2022

'Sounding the Architecture of Grief: Requiem, Rhetoric, and Embodied Experience', The Tenth Biennial North American British Music Studies Association Conference 2022, Illinois State University, IL, United States of America, 21-24 July 2022

Research interests

  • Harmony and Counterpoint
  • 19th- and 20th-Century British and Irish Music and Culture
  • Music and World War One
  • Death, Ritual, and Memory
  • Music and Trauma

Esteem Indicators

  • 2023: Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA):
  • 2022: NABMSA Byron Adams Travel Grant:
  • 2022: Music and Letters Trust Grant:
  • 2021: DCAD Fellowship (2021-23):
  • 2021: RMA Oldman Grant:
  • 2020: Van Mildert College Trust PhD Scholarship:
  • 2020: Associate Fellowship of Van Mildert College:
  • 2019: 1st Prize - British Music Society 40th Anniversary Essay Competition: