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Faculty of Music

Prof Iain  Fenlon


Emeritus Professor of Historical Musicology


Iain Fenlon has now retired from teaching at the Faculty of Music, but until September 2017 was Professor of Historical Musicology.  He is a Fellow of King’s College. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and a Visiting Professor in Heidelberg, 2016-17.

He studied at Reading (BA 1970), Birmingham (MA 1971) and Cambridge (PhD 1977). In 1973-4 he was an advisory editor for Grove 6, then Hayward Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham (1974-5), a fellow of Villa I Tatti, (Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies) Florence (1975-6), and Junior and subsequently Senior research fellow at King’s College, Cambridge (1976-83). From 1979 he was Lecturer at Cambridge, and in 1996 was appointed Reader. He has held visiting appointments at Wellesley College, Massachusetts (1978-9), Harvard University (1984-5), the British School in Rome (1985), the Centre de Musique Ancienne, Geneva (1988-9), the École Normale Superiéure, Paris (1998-9), and the University of Bologna (2000-2001). In 1984 he was awarded the Dent Medal of the Royal Musical Association, and was elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1989. He has also held Visiting Fellowships at All Souls College, Oxford (1991-2), and New College, Oxford (1992), and is Honorary Keeper of the Music at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Fenlon is the founding editor of Early Music History (1981-). He has recently been elected a member of the Academia Europaea (2013).

His principal area of research is music from 1450 to 1650, particularly in Italy. An early monograph on music on 16th-century Mantua explores how the Gonzaga family patronised the reform of liturgical music and the secular arts of spectacle. With James Haar he has written a study of the emergence of the Italian madrigal, which establishes the importance of its Florentine origins, and his 1994 Panizzi lectures on early Italian music print culture are published by The British Library. Giaches de Wert: Letters and Documents (Paris, 1999) provides editions with commentary of the composer’s letters, including an important cache of autographs discovered in the late 1990s. Most of his writings, some of which are gathered together in Music and Culture in Late Renaissance Italy (Oxford, 2000), explore how the history of music is related to the history of society. His most recent book is The Ceremonial City: History, Memory and Myth in Renaissance Venice (Yale, 2007).  His most recent books include Piazza San Marco: Theatre of the Senses, Market Place of the World (Harvard, 2012) and Heinrich Glarean’s Books: The Intellectual World of a Sixteenth-Century Musical Humanist (Cambridge, 2013).

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King's College