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Dr Owen Burton
Associate Lecturer



After studying at Bangor University, Owen Burton came to York in 2016 to study for his PhD, supervised by Professor Tim Howell. Having graduated with his doctorate in 2021, Owen now teaches in the areas of Musicology, Music Analysis and Music Education. His teaching covers critical musicology, music and the environment, Nordic music, nineteenth-century genres, analysis, and music pedagogy. 

Owen’s PhD thesis on the Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara ‘Upholding a Modernist Mentality: Experimentalism and Neotonality in the Symphonies of Einojuhani Rautavaara’ was the first analytical investigation into this composer’s full symphonic cycle. His research on Rautavaara has been published in the journal Twentieth Century Music and he is also preparing a monograph on Rautavaara’s symphonies, for which he was supported by a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship through the Humanities Research Centre at York in 2021.

Owen’s wider projects have included conducting the Bangor University Community Orchestra, writing performance notes for the Trinity College piano syllabus, and programme notes for the Lake District Summer Music Festival, Ensemble Cymru, and York Concerts. He also leads conducting and songwriting workshops in primary schools and has given public lectures on ‘Music and Nature’ as part of the Leeds International Piano Competition. He is an active piano, guitar and music theory teacher.



Owen's main research interests concern:

  • The music of Einojuhani Rautavaara
  • 20th/21st century Nordic music
  • Tonality in the late-20th century
  • Music theory in education
  • Music and the natural environment


Selected publications

(monograph, in preparation) Einojuhani Rautavaara and the Idea of the Symphony. Routledge
Burton, Owen. (2022). Rautavaara's Cantus Arcticus: National Exoticism or International Modernism? Twentieth-Century Music, 19(2), 251-282.



  • Module coordinator: Developing themes: Music in the Long Nineteenth Century'
  • Critical Thinking and Listening 
  • Listen to This!
  • Analyse This!


  • Programme Leader: MA in Musicology
  • Course tutor: MA in Music Education




External activities

Invited talks and conferences

A Nordic International: Carl Nielsen and the Tone Poem’, 1st Biennial Carl Nielsen Studies Conference, Newcastle University. September 2021.

“Super” Interval Cycles and Neo-tonality in Rautavaara’s Cantus Arcticus’, Birmingham Music Analysis Conference, University of Birmingham. July 2021.

‘Monetising Music Theory: The Democratic Role of YouTube in Music Education’, Teaching Music Theory in the Digital Age (SMA Study Day), University of Liverpool. March 2021.

‘Looking Forwards, Looking Back: Modernism in Rautavaara’s Symphony No. 5’, Biennial International Conference on Music Since 1900, University of Huddersfield. September 2019.

Contact details

Dr Owen Burton
School of Arts and Creative Technologies
University of York
YO10 5GB

Tel: +44 (0)1904 32 1677