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Matthew McCullough

Pgr Combined Role

BA MA (Dunelm) AFHEA

Pgr Combined Role in the Department of Music
Advisory Board Member in the Centre for Death and Life Studies


At Present, I am writing up my PhD in Musicology and Analysis. My research specialism lies in British Music of the 19th and 20th centuries and at the intersection of death, trauma, and memory studies. Supervised by Professor Jeremy Dibble, Professor Bennett Zon, and Professor Julian Horton, my PhD thesis is titled: ‘Music Against Death’ – Loss, Mourning, and Memory in British Composers’ Musical Responses to the First World War, 1915-1921 and is generously funded by a Van Mildert College Trust PhD Scholarship. I hold an Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, an Associate Fellowship of Van Mildert College, 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 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 prize, and a distinction for my dissertation research on the music of Ernest John Moeran. I began my PhD in 2020 and was the recipient of an inaugral DCAD Fellowship from 2021-23. I currently teach on the undergraduate harmony and counterpoint module.

In 2019 my research on Gerald Finzi’s Dies Natalis won first prize in the British Music Society’s 40th anniversary essay competition. Newcastle Cathedral Choir sang my reconstruction of Mozart's Miserere in 2021 and in 2023 they recorded three 'Grace Anthems' by Alan Gray on Regent Records which I uncovered in the archives at Trinity College Cambridge; my editions of these anthems are to be published by the RSCM in 2024. I convened two conferences on Music and Death which led to a forthcoming volume on Music, Mortality, and Memory, co-edited with Professor Douglas Davies and to be published as part of Brill's Death in History, Culture, and Society series. In addition, I am part of a team co-editing a 4 volume series of primary sources on Long Nineteenth Century Loss, Memory, and Mourning: 1780-1914 for Routledge (general editor: Professor Mark Sandy). Other enduring interests include research into the life and music of Gerald Finzi, manuscript editing and performance, and harmony and counterpoint.

Beyond 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, conducting 'Opera By The Lake with Sir Thomas Allen,' and singing as a Lay Clerk at Newcastle Cathedral. I was also the conductor of Durham University Chamber Choir for their 2022-23 season. 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 also play squash and golf with significantly less 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

  • 19th- and 20th-Century British and Irish Music and Culture
  • Music, Mortality, and Memory
  • Death, Culture, and Society
  • Music, Conflict, and Trauma
  • Harmony and Counterpoint
  • Theory and Analysis

Esteem Indicators

  • 2023: Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA):
  • 2022: Music and Letters Trust Grant:
  • 2022: NABMSA Byron Adams Travel 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: