Robert Pascall (born Colwyn Bay, 1944) studied music with John Caldwell, Egon Wellesz and Sir Jack Westrup at Oxford, where he was organ scholar of Keble College (1962-5). He took his DPhil with the thesis Formal Principles in the Music of Brahms (1973), and this composer has formed the central focus of his research activities ever since. 1968-98 he taught at the University of Nottingham, for the last ten of those years as Professor and Head of Music, taking up the same position at Bangor University in 1998 and retiring in 2005. He is now Emeritus Professor at Nottingham and at Bangor, and continues to teach part-time at both universities. In 2005-7 he held a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship.
As analyst he has contributed to the literature on genre, influence and perceptual pertinence, and published analyses of works by Beethoven, Brahms, Schoenberg and Franz Schmidt, among others. He was a member of the founding committee of the Journal Music Analysis and acted as Chair of its Editorial Board 1989-2002. He has taught Schenkerian, Schoenbergian and semiotic analysis, the first of these in collaboration with Ian Bent at Nottingham.
In the 1980s his text-critical work on Brahms’s music emphasized the need for a new complete edition, founded in 1991 as the Johannes Brahms Gesamtausgabe, on which he works as Vice-Chair and as editor of the symphonies: Nos. 1-3 have already appeared, as have Brahms’s own arrangements of Nos. 1 and 2 for one piano, four hands. Symphony No. 4 is in press. It is because of this work that, on election to the Honorary Professorship at Cambridge, he chose the title Professor of Music Philology.
At the instigation of Sir Roger Norrington in 1989, he pioneered musicological research into historically informed performance practice of the music of Brahms, since when he has published studies and advised conductors and soloists. In 1978 he founded the International Conference on 19th-century Music; in 1983 he was appointed Corresponding Director of the American Brahms Society; 1986-91 he served on the Council of the Royal Musical Association, of which he has just been made an Honorary Member. He believes in joined-up and useful musicology.