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Dr Benjamin Walton

Dr Benjamin  Walton

Senior Lecturer in Music

Director of Studies, Jesus College

Jesus College, Jesus Lane
Cambridge CB5 8BL
Office Phone: 01223 761562 (College)


Benjamin Walton is a University Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Music, and Fellow and Director of Studies in Music at Jesus College.

He studied at the universities of Cambridge (BA) and Sussex (MA), before moving to the University of California, Berkeley for his doctoral research, where he completed a dissertation on musical culture in Paris during the 1820s.  He held the Kathleen Bourne Junior Research Fellowship at St Anne’s College, Oxford, and then took up a lectureship in Music at the University of Bristol.  He joined the Faculty at Cambridge in 2006.

His research interests centre on the social and cultural history of music during the nineteenth century.  His recent work has focused on musical transnationalism in the first half of the century, with an emphasis on touring opera troupes beyond Europe, on the reception of Gioachino Rossini and Vincenzo Bellini, and on the idea of the ‘Twin Styles’, represented by Rossini and Beethoven, in the historiography of European music.

His monograph, Rossini in Restoration Paris: The Sound of Modern Life, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2007, and a collection of essays entitled The Invention of Beethoven and Rossini, also from CUP and co-edited with Nicholas Mathew, appeared in 2013.  In the same year, he took up a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship, to begin work on a book about the first operatic troupe to go round the world. He is currently co-editor (with Stefanie Tcharos) of Cambridge Opera Journal, and editor of forthcoming books on Nineteenth-Century Opera and the Scientific Imagination (with David Trippett) and on Gioachino Rossini, 1868-2018: la musica e il mondo (with Ilaria Narici, Emilio Sala and Emanuele Senici).

Recent and current PhD students have worked on a variety of topics: opera in Milan during the 1860s (Carlos del Cueto), music in French New Wave cinema (Denice McMahon), musical culture in Berlin around 1800 (Katherine Hambridge), cultural transfer of European music in Chile, Peru and Bolivia in the first half of the nineteenth century (José Manuel Izquierdo König), ideas of nationalism and pan-Americanism in early 20th-century Latin American opera (Vera Wolkowicz), French opera in New Orleans during the 1830s, '40s and '50s (Charlotte Bentley), Italian opera in Milan, Buenos Aires and New York in the decades around 1900 (Ditlev Rindom), Charles Garland Verrinder and nineteenth-century synagogue music in Britain (Danielle Padley), Manuel García in Mexico (Francesco Milella), and the circulation of music and musicians between Britain and the Caribbean around 1800 (Wayne Weaver).

Subject groups/Research projects

Nineteenth-Century Studies:

(Global Opera)*

Colleges, Departments and Institutes

Jesus College:

Research Interests

Globalization of opera
Social and cultural histories of nineteenth-century opera
History of operatic staging and opera house technologies
Historiography of nineteenth-century music

Key Publications


Rossini in Restoration Paris: The Sound of Modern Life (Cambridge University Press, 2007)

The Invention of Beethoven and Rossini, co-edited with Nicholas Mathew (Cambridge University Press, 2013)

Rossini, 1868-2018: la musica e il mondo, co-edited with Ilaria Narici, Emilio Sala and Emanuele Senici (Fondazione Rossini, 2018)

Nineteenth-Century Opera and the Scientific Imagination, co-edited with David Trippett (Cambridge University Press, 2019)

Academic Articles and Book Chapters

The Professional Dilettante: Ludovic Vitet and Le Globe, in Roger Parker and Mary Ann Smart, Reading Critics Reading: Opera and Ballet Criticism in France from the Revolution to 1848, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 69-85.

“‘Quelque peu théâtral’: The Operatic Coronation of Charles X”, 19th-Century Music 26/1 (Summer 2002), 3-22.

“Looking for the Revolution in Rossini’s Guillaume Tell“,Cambridge Opera Journal 15/2 (July 2003), 127-51.
[Winner of the 2004 Royal Musical Association Jerome Roche Prize "for a distinguished article by a scholar in the early stages of his or her career".]

“Rossini and France”, in Emanuele Senici, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Rossini, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 25-36.

“Romantic Opera”, in Michael Ferber, A Companion to European Romanticism (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005), 522-37.

Introduction, annotation and edition of Joseph d’Ortigue, ‘Frantz Liszt’ for Christopher H. Gibbs and Dana Gooley, eds., Liszt and His World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006), 303-34.

Rara avis or fozy turnip: Rossini as Celebrity in 1820s London’, in Tom Mole, ed., Romanticism and Celebrity Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).

‘Rossini in Sudamerica’, Bollettino del Centro Rossiniano di Studi 51 (2011), 111-36; also in English as 'Rossini in South America', Tonkunst (October 2018), 364-80.

‘Italian Operatic Fantasies in Latin America’, Journal of Modern Italian Studies 17/4 (2012), 460–471; also in Portuguese as ‘Fantasias operísticas italianas na América Latina’, Atualidade da Ópera, Série Simpósio Internacional de Musicologia da UFRJ, ed. Maria Alice Volpe (Rio de Janeiro, 2012).

'L'italiana in Calcutta', in Operatic Geographies, ed. Suzanne Aspden (Chicago, 2018), 119-32.

'Introduzione', with Ilaria Narici, Emilio Sala and Emanuele Senici, Rossini, 1868-2018: La musica e il mondo (Pesaro, 2018).

'The Laboratory and the Stage', with David Trippett, in Nineteenth-Century Opera and the Scientific Imagination (Cambridge, 2019)

'Technological Phantoms of the Opéra', in Nineteenth-Century Opera and the Scientific Imagination (Cambridge, 2019).

'Canons of Real and Imagined Opera: Buenos Aires and Montevideo, 1810-1860', in Oxford Handbook of the Operatic Canon (Oxford, 2019).

Articles for CDs

The Creation of La straniera’, Bellini, La straniera, Opera Rara ORC38 (2008)

The Sound of the Pirate’s Voice’, Bellini, Il pirata, Opera Rara ORC45 (2011)

'Bellini's First Opera', Bellini, Adelson e Salvini, Opera Rara ORC56 (2016)

'Semiramide in the Present Tense', Rossini, Semiramide, Opera Rara ORC57 (2018)

Reviews and Review Articles

in British Journal of Aesthetics19th-Century Music ReviewCambridge Opera Journal and Journal of the American Musicological Society.

Other Work

Dictionary entries for  New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and New Oxford Companion to Music.

Programme notes for the Royal Opera House, Edinburgh International Festival, Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona, Wexford Festival, Opera Rara etc.

Pre-concert talks for Glyndebourne Touring Opera, Edinburgh Festival, Opera Rara, South Bank Centre, BBC Proms etc.

Reviews for Opera magazine, etc.

Contributions to The Real History of Opera, BBC Radio 4 and Chopin: The Women Behind the Music, BBC4, 'Building a Library' on Record Review, BBC Radio 3, etc.