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Dr David Trippett

Dr David Trippett

Reader in Music

Director of Studies in Music, Christ's College

David Trippett is accepting applications for PhD students.

Office Phone: 01223 762030


I am a musicologist and cultural historian. Before coming to Cambridge, I taught at the Universities of Bristol, King’s College London and Cambridge itself.

My research focuses on nineteenth-century intellectual history, Richard Wagner, and the philosophy of technology. Other interests include Franz Liszt and post-Classical Weimar, performance theory and the grey area between improvisation and composition, as well as posthumanism and musical creativity in the digital age. I welcome applications from potential Ph.D. students in these areas.

Following an edited translation of Carl Stumpf’s The Origins of Music (OUP 2012), my first monograph, Wagner’s Melodies (CUP 2013), examines the cultural and scientific history of melodic theory in relation to Wagner's writings and music. Other publications include editions and translations, as well as research and review articles, and some media work.

In my research and teaching, I approach music and its cultures in the widest interdisciplinary sense, incorporating perspectives of cultural and intellectual history, music theory and the history of science, and as well as mediality and the philosophy of technology. 

My latest project, funded by an ERC Starting Grant, is entitled 'Sound and Materialism in the 19th Century.' This began in September 2015 and examines how a scientific-materialist conception of sound was formed alongside a dominant culture of romantic idealism. It draws to a close in 2021, and has hosted four postdoctoral scholars--Edward Gillin, Melle Kromhaut, Melissa van Drie and Stephanie Probst--since 2016. My monograph, on the agon of idealist and physicalist conceptions of sound, is forthcoming.

Alongside this, I recently completed a critical edition and an orchestrated performing edition of Franz Liszt's Italian opera, Sardanapalo. This received its world premiere in August 2018, and a recording was released in 2019 to critical acclaim.

Major prizes for research include the Lewis Lockwood Award and the Alfred Einstein Award of the American Musicological Society, the Bruno Nettl Prize of the Society for Ethnomusicology, the Donald Tovey Memorial Prize of the University of Oxford, a Deems Taylor Award of the American Society for Composers, Authors, and Publishers, and a Philip Leverhulme Prize in History.

When time permits, I am active as a collaborative pianist, having performed in Germany, Italy, the UK, and on both coasts of the US.


Subject groups/Research projects

Music, Science, Technology:

(Historical Technologies of Sound)*

Ethnomusicology, Popular Music and Sound Studies:

(Historical Technologies of Sound)*

Nineteenth-Century Studies:

(German Cultural History, Aesthetics, Wagner, Liszt)*

Colleges, Departments and Institutes

Christ's College:

Key Publications

Key publications


  • Wagner in Context, ed. David Trippett (Cambridge University Press, 2021)


Journal editor:




Journal articles:


Book chapters:



  • Franz Liszt: Sardanapalo - Mazeppa, Kirill Karabits (cond.), Joyce El-Khoury (sop), Airam Hernández (ten), Oleksandr Pushniak (bass), Staatskapelle Weimar (Audite 97.764)


Reviews & Review Articles:

in  Musicae Sciential, Sounds Studies, Nineteenth-Century Music Review, Cambridge Opera Journal, The Wagner Journal, Notes



Other Publications

Articles for The Conversation on transhumanism and sense augmentation (2018), and unfinished music (2019)

Dictionary entries for Lexikon: Schriften zur Musik, New Grove Dictionary of American Music, Cambridge Wagner Encyclopedia 

CD / DVD liner notes for Decca and Audite

Media: Interviews for Proms Extra (BBC R3), BBC R4 on Wagner and beauty, BBC Wales, Deutschlandfunk Kultur, ARD, Deutsche Welle, Südwestrundfunk etc.