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Faculty of Music

Dr Alan  Howard


Affiliated Lecturer
Director of Studies, Selwyn College
Chair, Director of Studies Committee (Music)
Admissions Convenor for Music


Alan Howard is College Lecturer and Director of Studies in Music at Selwyn College, and Director of Studies in Music at Downing College.  

Alan's research focuses on the music of Henry Purcell and his contemporaries in Restoration England, and more broadly on music between the sixteenth and early eighteenth centuries. Methodologically, alongside interests in historical musicology and editorial practice, he is particularly interested in developing contextualised analytical approaches to this repertoire; his Ph.D. thesis ‘Purcell and the Poetics of Artifice: Compositional Strategies in the Fantasias and Sonatas’ (King’s College London, 2006; supervised by Prof. Laurence Dreyfus), explored the analytical potential of contrapuntal artifice in the context of Restoration ideas about the nature of musical expression. He has published research in leading journals including the Journal of the Royal Musical Association, Music and Letters, The Musical Times and Early Music; his edition of Odes on the Death of Henry Purcell for the Purcell Society was published by Stainer & Bell late in 2013, as was a volume of essays jointly edited with Rebecca Herissone, Concepts of Creativity in Seventeenth-Century England (a full list of published research can be found here). Most recently, his book Compositional Artifice in the Music of Henry Purcell was published by Cambridge University Press in 2019. Current projects include critical editions for the Works of John Eccles (Theatre Music, vol. 3) and Musica Britannica (William Croft, Occasional Odes), as well as further volumes for the Purcell Society.

A graduate of the Faculty himself, prior to returning to Cambridge Alan was a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Manchester on the AHRC-funded project ‘Musical Creativity in Restoration England’ (2006–2009), and later Lecturer in Music at the University of East Anglia, Norwich (2009–2014). His undergraduate teaching has encompassed harmony and counterpoint, analysis and historical topics ranging from early English consort music to Mozart and Beethoven, via Restoration music and Bach and Handel in between. An active choral tenor, he was director of the UEA Chamber Choir and the Thetford Singers and currently conducts the Cantus Singers of Cambridge. He is co-editor (with Helen Deeming and Stephen Rose, both of RHUL) of the leading journal Early Music, which is based in the Faculty; he is also a member of the Purcell Society Committee and a general Editor of A-R Editions' Works of John Eccles.