skip to content

Faculty of Music


Prof Michael F Robinson (Emeritus Professor, University of Cardiff)

‘The head v. the hands: the teaching of counterpoint and of thorough bass in early eighteenth-century Naples’

In the early 18th century the four Neapolitan music boarding schools (conservatories) accepted boys generally between the ages of eight to ten and instructed them till they were eighteen or over.  This talk examines something of what we know about the boys' initial training especially in counterpoint and thorough bass.  The programme seems to suggest that counterpoint and thorough bass were very different disciplines but that they converged as students moved upwards to more senior classes.  A few comparisons might be drawn with present-day music education of the young.

Michael Finlay Robinson studied music at New College, Oxford, where he was music scholar. He started his career teaching harmony and counterpoint at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, Glasgow, 1960-61, then moved to a lectureship at Durham University, 1961-65. He was subsequently Associate Professor of Music at McGill University, Montreal, and then Senior Lecturer in Music at Cardiff University. He was appointed Professor of Music at Cardiff University in 1991, retired in 1994 and was made Emeritus Professor one year later. In Oct 2009 Oxford University awarded him the degree of Doctor of Music for his compositions. Throughout his university career Michael Robinson has conducted research into the early history of opera between 1600 and 1800 and has paid special attention to the development of Italian opera during the eighteenth century. He has been a frequent lecturer at music conferences throughout Europe, the US and Canada, and in 1989 was a visiting professor at the University of Naples, Italy. His books on opera include Opera before Mozart, Naples and Neapolitan Opera and a catalogue of the works of the late eighteenth-century Neapolitan composer Giovanni Paisiello.

Wednesday, 15 October, 2014 - 17:00 to 19:00
Event location: 
5.00pm, Recital Room, Faculty of Music