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Faculty of Music

Dr Bettina  Varwig


Professor in Music History
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Director of Studies, Emmanuel College
Takes PhD students


I am a Professor at the Faculty of Music and Fellow of Emmanuel College. Previously I was Senior Lecturer in Music at King’s College London, where I also took my undergraduate degree. I completed my doctoral studies at Harvard University in 2006, followed by a Fellowship by Examination at Magdalen College, Oxford and a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Cambridge and Girton College. I joined the Faculty at Cambridge in my current post in 2017.

 My research focuses on music and cultural history in the early modern period, in particular in the German-speaking lands. I am interested in questions of musical meaning and expression, historical modes of listening, and music’s place in the history of the body, the emotions and the senses. I have also worked on issues of reception and historiography, in particular the reception of J. S. Bach’s music in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. I welcome applications from prospective Ph.D. students in any of these areas.

 My first monograph, Histories of Heinrich Schütz, appeared with Cambridge University Press in 2011. Most recently I prepared a critical edition of Heinrich Schütz’s Christmas Story for the Neue Schütz Ausgabe (Bärenreiter, 2017). My work received the Jerome Roche Prize of the Royal Musical Association in 2013 and the William H. Scheide Prize of the American Bach Society in 2016.

 My principal current research project, entitled An Early Modern Musical Physiology, investigates where and how music operated within and upon human bodies as constituted in scientific, philosophical and religious thought of the long seventeenth century. It aims to develop a new somatic understanding of music during this period, based on historical notions of the body and its perceived capacities for sound production, sensory perception, emotional response and social agency. Other projects include an edited volume on Rethinking Bach for Oxford University Press.

I serve on the editorial board of Eighteenth-Century Music and the Journal of the Royal Musical Association, on the Council of the Internationale Heinrich Schütz Gesellschaft and on the Advisory Council of Bach Network UK.


Key publications: 


Ÿ Histories of Heinrich Schütz (Cambridge University Press, 2011)


Critical Edition

Ÿ Heinrich Schütz, Historia der Geburt Jesu Christi (Bärenreiter, 2017)


Articles and Book Chapters

'Heartfelt Musicking: The Physiology of a Bach Cantata', representations 143 (2018), 36-62

‘Early Modern Voices’, in The Oxford Handbook of Timbre, ed. Emily Dolan and Alexander Rehding (Oxford University Press, 2019)

‘Musical Expression: Lessons from the Eighteenth Century?’, Eighteenth-Century Music, forthcoming

Ÿ‘Bild und Klang in Heinrich Schütz’s Weihnachtshistorie’, Schütz-Jahrbuch 38 (2016), 30-44

Ÿ‘Beware the Lamb: Staging Bach’s Passions’, Twentieth-Century Music 11 (2014), 245-274

‘Metaphors of Time and Modernity in Bach’, The Journal of Musicology 29 (2012), 154-190

‘Echos in und um Dafne’, Schütz-Jahrbuch 33 (2011), 105-118

Ÿ‘Death and Life in Bach’s Cantata “Ich habe genung” (BWV 82)’, The Journal of the Royal Musical Association 135 (2010), 315-356

Ÿ‘“Mutato semper habitu”: Heinrich Schütz and the Culture of Rhetoric’, Music & Letters 90 (2009), 215-239

Ÿ‘“New Music” in the Seventeenth Century’, in Gewinn und Verlust in der Musikgeschichte, ed. Andreas Haug and Andreas Dorschel (Universal, 2008), 212-231

Ÿ‘One More Time: Bach and Seventeenth-Century Traditions of Rhetoric’, Eighteenth-Century Music 5 (2008), 179-208