Dr Jenny Doctor
Honorary Fellow



Jenny Doctor is a musicologist intrigued by social aspects of British culture in the twentieth century, particularly with respect to the development of sound technologies. After she was awarded a Fulbright Grant to the UK in 1989, she stayed on, rummaging around the BBC archives whenever possible; her investigations led to The BBC and Ultra-Modern Music, 1922–36: Shaping a Nation’s Tastes (Cambridge University Press, 1999). With Sir Nicholas Kenyon and David Wright, she co-edited The Proms: A New History (Thames & Hudson, 2007), contributing an essay on the interwar period. At the same time, she and Nicky Losseff co-edited Silence, Music, Silent Music (Ashgate, 2007), to which she contributed the essay, 'The Texture of Silence'.

Jenny's interest in mid-twentieth-century British composers is evident in essays she's published on Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Britten, as well as in an article that she recently published in Musical Quarterly, 'The Parataxis of British Musical Modernism' (91/1–2 (2008): 89–115). Current research involves:

  • an edition of correspondence she is co-editing with Sophie Fuller, featuring fifty years of letters exchanged by composers Elizabeth Maconchy and Grace Williams;
  • investigation of collaborations between Vaughan Williams and Adrian Boult in BBC broadcasts; and 
  • exploration of audiovisual recordings of jazz performances televised by the BBC in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

Jenny's first degrees included a BA in Mathematics (1980) from Oberlin College and a BM in Piano Performance (1981) from Oberlin Conservatory of Music. She studied viola for a time with the Vermeer Quartet (1984–5), before working on postgraduate degrees in music history at Northwestern University (MMus 1986, PhD 1993). During her Fulbright year in London (1989–90), she was affiliated with King's College London, supervised by Prof Arnold Whittall. Her PhD investigated interwar programming practices by the BBC, exploring its Music Department's attitudes and policies towards Second Viennese School composers and their works; this research was the basis of her first book and has continued to feed into much subsequent research. Jenny was later affiliated with St Hilda's College, Oxford, where she organized the archives of Elizabeth Maconchy and researched aspects of her life and music.

Prior to university teaching, Jenny worked for seven years as a professional editor at Macmillan Publishers with Stanley Sadie, assisting with various New Grove dictionaries, and as a senior editor responsible for twentieth-century composers on the 2nd edition of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2001), the basis of Grove Online. She was the Director of the Britten-Pears Library for a time, and began her teaching career at Trinity College of Music in London. Since 2005 she has taught here at the University of York, and in addition is a Research Fellow at the Borthwick Institute for Archives, with responsibility for the University of York Sound Archives.



Primary Research Interests:

  • Musicology (20th-century)
  • British music and concert life from social and cultural perspectives
  • BBC music history
  • University of York Sound Archives


Full publications list


  • Edition of correspondence exchanged by Elizabeth Maconchy and Grace Williams, ed. Jenny Doctor and Sophie Fuller (in preparation).
  • The Proms: a New History, ed. Jenny Doctor and David Wright, consulting ed. Nicholas Kenyon (London: Thames & Hudson, 2007). Including Introduction (with Wright and Kenyon), and 'A New Dimension – the BBC takes on the Proms, 1920–44', 74–129.
  • Silence, Music, Silent Music, ed. Nicky Losseff and Jenny Doctor (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007). Including Introduction (with Losseff), pp. 1–13, and 'The Texture of Silence', 15–35.
  • Collaboration with Humphrey Carpenter: The Envy of the World: Fifty Years of the BBC Third Programme and Radio 3 (London: Weidenfeld, 1996) [research and specialist music adviser].
  • The BBC and Ultra-Modern Music, 1922–36: Shaping a Nation's Tastes (Cambridge University Press, 1999).

Contributions to Books

  • ‘Vaughan Williams and the BBC’, in The Cambridge Companion to Vaughan Williams, ed. Alain Frogley and Aidan Thomson (Cambridge University Press, in preparation).
  • ‘Afterword’, in Philip Brett: Music and Sexuality in Britten: Selected Essays, ed. George Haggerty (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2006), 225–46; awarded Philip Brett Prize in 2008.
  • ‘The Wonders of Industrial Britain: Night Mail and the British Documentary Film Movement’, Proceedings of Music as a Bridge Conference, Berlin 2000 (Hildesheim: Olms, 2005), 225–36.
  • ‘Stanley Sadie – Broadcasts’, in Words about Mozart: Essays in Honour of Stanley Sadie, ed. Dorothea Link with Judith Nagley (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2005), 229–37 [detailed list].
  • ‘Broadcasting's Ally: Elgar and the BBC’, in The Cambridge Companion to Elgar, ed. Julian Rushton and Daniel Grimley (Cambridge University Press, 2004), 195–203.
  • ‘Elizabeth Maconchy’, in A Dictionary-Catalog of Modern British Composers, ed. Alan Poulton (Westport, CT, Greenwood Press, 2000), 1107–45 [detailed works-list].
  • Contributor to Settling the Score: A Journey through the Music of the 20th Century, ed. Michael Oliver (London: Faber and Faber, 1999).
  • ‘“Working for Her Own Salvation”: Vaughan Williams as Teacher of Elizabeth Maconchy, Grace Williams and Ina Boyle’, Vaughan Williams in Perspective, ed. Lewis Foreman (Albion Press for the Vaughan Williams Society, 1998), 181–201.
  • Prepared analytical assessments and plot synopses for Rebecca Hodell Kornick: Recent American Opera: a Production Guide (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991).


  • ‘The Parataxis of British Musical Modernism’, in themed issue, British Modernism, ed. Byron Adams, Musical Quarterly 91/1–2 (2008): 89–115.
  • ‘“Vital to the Very Survival of Music as a Living Art”: Hans Keller’s Radio World’, review-article, Music & Letters 83/4 (November 2004), 814–23.
  • ‘The Games of Apollo: Benjamin Britten's Youthful Quartets’, condensed: The Strad (May 2002), 490–94; complete: Aldeburgh Festival Programme Book (June 2002), 26–8.
  • ‘Intersecting Circles: the Early Careers of Elizabeth Maconchy, Elisabeth Lutyens and Grace Williams’, Women & Music Journal 2 (1998), 90–109.
  • ‘The Maconchy Seventh String Quartet and the BBC’, Musical Objects no.1 (1995), 5–8.
  • Contributor to The New Grove Dictionary of Opera (1992); The New Grove Dictionary of Women Composers (1994); The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed. (2001); The New Dictionary of National Biography (2004)
Dr Jenny Doctor

External activities


  • Senior Research Fellow, King's College London (2008–ongoing)
  • Member of User Community, Archival Sound Recordings Project, British Library Sound Archives (2007–2009)
  • Member of British & Irish Sound Archives Group (2006–ongoing)
  • Music Delegate to Yorkshire Country House Partnership (2008–ongoing)
  • Member of Music Preserved Council (2003–ongoing)
  • Chair, Book Series Committee, and Board Member, North American British Music Studies Association
  • Member of the Academic Advisory Board, Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music, CHARM

Editorial duties

  • Associate Editor, twentieth century music (2001–ongoing)

Invited talks and conferences

  • ‘The Correspondence of Elizabeth Maconchy and Grace Williams: Progress Report’
    Talk; Third Biennial Conference of the North American British Music Studies Association, York University, Toronto, 8/08
  • Keynote address: ‘Mediation as Modernism – through Music & Media’
    Twelfth National Symposium on Music Research, University of Tampere, 3/08
  • ‘The Notion of British Modernism, 1920–1945’
    Paper; Fifth Biennial International Conference on Music Since 1900, U. of York, 7/07; revised as ‘British Music and Concert Life – the Proms & Twentieth-Century Modernism’, invited paper, International Association of Music Libraries – UK & Ireland Branch, Canterbury, 4/08
  • ‘The Politics of Entertainment: Allied Music in the Proms’
    Paper; AMS Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, 11/06; The Proms & British Musical Life, British Library, 4/07
  • ‘Modernism vs Tradition at the Proms, 1927–44’
    Paper; Second NABMSA Biannual Conference, St Michael’s College, VT, 8/06; revised & expanded for Edwardian Study Day, Oxford–Brookes University, 09/08
  • ‘The War-time Proms through the Archives: Shifting Parameters – Shifting Identity’
    Paper; Royal Musical Association Annual Conference, Manchester, 11/05
  • ‘Radiating Beyond National Barriers: the EMR and the New Sound Technologies’
    Panelist, (Mis)Appropriations of History: Constructions of ‘The English Musical Renaissance’; AMS Annual Meeting, Washington DC, 10/05
  • ‘What's “New” in the Formula? the Transmission of Novelties in the Interwar Proms’
    Paper; Fourth Biennial International Conference on Twentieth-Century Music; University of Sussex, 8/05
  • Keynote address: ‘Broadcasting – Concerts: Confronting the Obvious’
    Over the Waves: Music in/and Broadcasting Conference; McMaster University, 03/05
  • ‘Getting & Spending: Applying for (and Using) Grants & Contracts’
    Panelist, Committee on Career-Related Issues Session; AMS Annual Meeting, Seattle, 11/04
  • ‘“Virtual Concerts” – the BBC’s Transmutation of Public Performances’
    Paper; developing versions presented at: Britannia (Re-)Sounding, First North American British Music Studies Association Biannual Conference, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, 6/04; Jerwood Seminar, Trinity College of Music, 9/04; Music in Britain: A Social History Seminar, Institute of Historical Research, London, 11/04; Research Seminar, Sheffield University, 4/05
  • ‘The Texture of Silence’
    Paper; Music and Silence Conference, University of York, 10/03
  • ‘A Curious Irony: Pears's and Britten's Early Performances of the Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo
    Talk, evening celebrating the 1940s Boosey & Hawkes Concerts; Wigmore Hall, London, 9/02
  • ‘Turning the British Tide: from Darmstadt to Aldeburgh’
    Paper (revised, expanded version); IMS International Congress, Leuven, Belgium, 8/02; Paper (and organizer); The Turn of the Screw Study Weekend, Britten–Pears School, Snape, 10/00
  • ‘BBC Broadcasts: Musicians and Musicologists’
  • Saul Seminar; National Sound Archive, British Library, 11/01
  • The Wreckers, The Immortal Hour and Hugh the Drover: British Opera of the 1930s’
    Paper; Everything Points to Peter Grimes Study Session, Aldeburgh Festival, 6/00
  • ‘British Music vs The BBC’
    Paper; Social History Seminars, Institute of Historical Research, London, 1/00
  • ‘Vaughan Williams and the BBC’
    Paper; RMA Conference, British Library, London, 11/99
  • ‘The Wonders of Industrial Britain: Night Mail and the British Documentary Film Movement’
    Paper; AMS Annual Meeting, Kansas City, 11/99; Conference: Music as a Bridge - Musical Relationships between Britain and Germany 1920–1950, Berlin, 8/00
  • ‘Defining the Canon: the BBC’s Shaping of a Nation’s Tastes’
    Paper; AMS Annual Meeting, Baltimore, 11/96

Conference Planning

  • Member of Programme Committee for the Sixth Biennial International Conference on Music Since 1900, Keele University, 9/09
  • Member of Programme Committee for the Third Biennial Conference of the North American British Music Studies Association, York University, Toronto, 8/08
  • Co-chair (with Professor William Brooks) of the Fifth Biennial International Conference on Music Since 1900, U. of York, 7/07
  • Member of Programme Committee for The Proms and British Musical Life, British Library, 4/07, in partnership with the BBC and King’s College London