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Dr Tomas McAuley

Dr Tomas McAuley

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, Faculty of Music

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Queens’ College


Tomas McAuley is British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the Faculty of Music at Cambridge and a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Queens’ College. He studied music (and a little philosophy) at the University of Oxford and at King’s College London, where he completed his PhD (under the supervision of Michael Fend) in 2013. From 2013-15, he was Post-Doctoral Scholar and Visiting Assistant Professor of Music (Musicology) at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

His doctoral research examined the relationship between philosophy and musical thought in the years around 1800, investigating the links between changing conceptions of music and changing conceptions of ethics, knowledge, and time. This resulted in a thesis arguing that transformations in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century musical thought were driven primarily not, as is usually assumed, by changes in musical practice, but rather by revolutions in philosophy initially unconcerned with music or with any other art.

At Cambridge, he is working on a new research project entitled ‘Hearing the Enlightenment.’ The project reveals how English and Scottish philosophy in the early Enlightenment both drew on and reciprocally informed widely-circulating ideas about music. This dialogue was not restricted to any subsection of philosophy – there was no ‘philosophy of music’ in which to insulate safely questions about this peculiarly puzzling art – but struck at the core of many of the Enlightenment’s most abiding ethical, natural-philosophical, and metaphysical concerns. As such, the project both provides a fresh account of English and Scottish musical thought in this period, and challenges the conventional scholarly picture of the Enlightenment as a predominantly visual phenomenon, offering instead a new understanding of the Enlightenment as fundamentally musical.

He is also Chair of the Royal Musical Association Music and Philosophy Study Group ( and, together with Nanette Nielsen and Jerrold Levinson, co-editor of the forthcoming (work in progress) Oxford Handbook of Western Music and Philosophy.

Departments and Institutes

Queens' College:

Key Publications

Key Publications

'Missing the Wrong Target: On Andrew Bowie’s Rejection of the Philosophy of Music,’ Performance Philosophy 1 (2015): 59-64.

Opera and Philosophy, double special issue of The Opera Quarterly 29/3-4 (2013), co-edited
with Nanette Nielsen.

‘Rhythmic Accent and the Absolute: Sulzer, Schelling, and the Akzenttheorie,’ Eighteenth-Century Music 10/2 (2013): 277-86.

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