Dr Barbara Eichner

Senior Lecturer in Music
UG Subject Coordinator


Barbara Eichner studied Musicology, German Literature and Scandinavian Studies at the Ludwigs-Maximilians-Universität Munich and at the University of Southampton. She completed her DPhil at the University of Oxford, with a thesis entitled ‘Was ist deutsch?’ Musical Solutions to Problems of National Identity (1848-c.1900), which has been published under the title History in Mighty Sounds in autumn 2012. She joined Oxford Brookes in September 2009 (Senior Lecturer since 2012) and is subject coordinator for the undergraduate music programme while teaching and researching on various aspects of music history. Together with her colleague Alexandra Wilson she is co-founder of the opera research cluster OBERTO. Barbara is also Honorary Research Fellow at Bangor University, where she is part of the Centre for Research in Early Music (CREaM).

While studying in Munich and before taking up her DPhil, Barbara worked as a music journalist and as copy-editor of a record company. She still regularly contributes programme notes for the orchestras and choir of Bavarian Radio, Munich, and has recently started appearing on BBC Radio 3 (you can listen to opera guides to Wagner’s Rienzi and Tannhäuser).


Undergraduate Teaching

  • U66000 Introduction to Western Music History
  • U66070 Special Study in Musicology (Richard Wagner’s music dramas)
  • U66090 Interdisciplinary Dissertation
  • U66097 Written Dissertation

Postgraduate Teaching

  • P66007: Approaches to 19th-century music


Barbara Eichner’s research interests fall into two main areas: issues of music and identity, particularly (German) national identities in the nineteenth century, including the stage works of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss; and music in nunneries and monasteries in the early modern era. The latter area has been supported with a Small Research Grant from the British Academy. She has published widely on both sixteenth- and nineteenth-century music and is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences.

Research Interests

  • music and (national) identities
  • music historiography
  • operas of Wagner, Strauss, and ‘redemption operas’ at the fin de siècle
  • music as a gendered practice in South German nunneries and monasteries

Barbara welcomes inquiries from prospective PhD students in the areas outlined above, or related fields of research.

For regular updates on Barbara’s research you can follow her work on academia.edu.

Membership of Professional Bodies



Barbara’s first book History in Mighty Sounds: Music and the Construction of a German National Identity 1848-1914 has been published with Boydell in autumn 2012.

Reviewers have said …

‘This, in summary, is a very well-researched, cogently argued, as well as sympathetic, treatment of a fascinating subject,equally fruitful for the historian and the music-ologist, and perhaps still more so for thescholar and reader who would be both.’
Dr Mark Berry, Music & Letters

‘Eichner's thesis is ambitious. The book, after all, is designed to be as much about nationalism as it is about musicology; she even classifies it as a 'study into German national identity' [...], rather than a study of music per se. To that end, the introduction is an impressive assault on the ivory towers of German historiography. Eichner demonstrates formidable understanding of the forces at play in the pre-unification era, and her citations reflect a mastery of the relevant historiography. [...] this work is a valuable contribution for anyone wishing to chart the trends and developments of German music during a crucial era.'
Bodie A. Ashton, German History

‘Eichners Buch bietet eine hervorragende, klar geschriebene Einführung in die Thematik und ein breites Panorama an Beispielen mit einer Vielzahl neuer Fakten, Schlussfolgerungen und Querbezüge. Besonders hervorzuheben ist die gelungene Verbindung von einfühlsamer Werkanalyse und kulturgeschichtlicher Kontextualisierung.'
Prof Stefan Keym, Die Tonkunst



  • ‘Scandinavian myths in nineteenth-century opera, oratorio and choral music’, in Pre-Christian Religions of the North: Research and Reception, ed. Margaret Clunies-Ross (New York: Brepols, 2015)
  • ‘Eine Mittheilung an meine Freunde: Lebens- und Schaffensmythen in der letzten Zürcher Kunstschrift’ in Wagner – Gender – Mythen, ed. Melanie Unseld, Christine Fornoff (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2014) (= Wagner in der Diskussion 10)
  • ‘Kirchenmusikerinnen zwischen Ausgrenzung und Professionalisierung’, in Der Kirchenmusiker. Berufe – Institutionen – Wirkungsfelder, ed. Franz Körndle and Joachim Kremer (Laaber: Laaber, 2014).
  • ‘Wagner in London and the Quest for an English National Opera’, in Richard Wagner und das Musiktheater zwischen Nationalismus und Globalisierung, ed. Arne Stollberg, Ivana Rentsch and Anselm Gerhard (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2013) (Thurnauer Schriften zum Musiktheater).


  • ‘Die Chorwerke von Richard Strauss’, in Richard Strauss-Handbuch, ed. Walter Werbeck (Stuttgart: Metzler, 2014).
  • ‘Getting Properly Started: Heinrich Isaac’s Choralis Constantinus at the Benedictine Abbey of Neresheim’, in Heinrich Isaac and Polyphony for the Proper of the Mass in the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance, ed. David Burn, Stefan Gasch (Turnhout: Brepols, 2011) (pp. 269-295).
  • ‘Musizieren und Komponieren in süddeutschen Frauen- und Männerklöstern. Bedingungen und Begrenzungen’, in Das Kloster. Ort kulturellen Handelns von Frauen in der frühen Neuzeit, ed. Susanne Rode-Breymann (Cologne, Weimar: Böhlau, 2009), pp. 93-115.
  • ‘Gender und nationale Identität in der bürgerlichen Männerchorbewegung des 19. Jahrhunderts’. Kompendium Musik und Gender, ed. Rebecca Grotjahn and Sabine Vogt (Laaber: Laaber, 2010), pp. 142-157.
  •  ‘Schwert und Schild und Dolch und Gift: Germanische Heldin und welsche Primadonna’, in Diva – Die Inszenierung der übermenschlichen Frau, ed. Rebecca Grotjahn, Dörte Schmidt, Thomas Seedorf (Schliengen: Argos, 2009) (pp. 230-246).
  • ‘In Schönheit sterben: Frederick Delius’ A Village Romeo and Juliet’, Frederick Delius, ed. Ulrich Tadday (Munich: edition text+kritik, 2008) (Musik-Konzepte, NF 141/142), pp. 139-158.
  • ‘Vier Hochzeiten oder ein Todesfall: Die Inszenierung des Kudrun-Epos als Nationaloper’, in Bühnen der Politik. Die Oper in europäischen Gesellschaften im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert, ed. Sven Oliver Müller, Jutta Toelle (Vienna & Munich: Oldenbourg, 2008), pp. 54-75.
  • ‘In träumerischer Entrückung auf pfadlosen Wegen: Verwandlungsmusiken in Der Ring des Nibelungen und Parsifal’, in Studien zur Wertungsforschung 48, ed. Andreas Dorschel (Vienna, London, New York: Universal Edition, 2007), pp. 273-307.
  • ‘Singing the Songs of Scotland: the German Musician Johann Rupprecht Dürrner and Musical Life in Nineteenth-Century Edinburgh’, in Nineteenth-Century British Music Studies 3, ed. Peter Horton, Bennett Zon (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003), pp. 171-191.
  • ‘“Die Fahne ist des Sängers Braut”. Bilder von Männlichkeit und Weiblichkeit in der bürgerlichen Männerchorbewegung des 19. Jahrhunderts’, in Geschlechterpolaritäten in der Musik des 18. bis 20. Jahrhunderts, ed. Freia Hoffmann, Rebecca Grotjahn (Herbolzheim: Centaurus, 2002), pp. 31-49.

Journal Articles

  • 'Sweet singing in three voices: a musical source from a South-German nunnery?', Early Music 39/3 (August 2011), pp. 335-347.
  • 'Though English not an infidel“: Britinnen in Rom zwischen Sixtina und Salon', Jahrbuch Musik und Gender vol. 4: Musikalisches Reiseziel Rom, ed. Rebecca Grotjahn, Sabine Meine (2011) - in print.
  • ‘Rose Oil and Pineapples: Julius Cyriax’s Friendship with Wagner and the Early Years of the London Wagner Society’, together with Guy Houghton, The Wagner Journal i/2 (July 2007), pp. 19-49.
  • ‘Gottlieb Freiherr von Tuchers Kirchengesänge der berühmtesten älteren italiänischen Meister  (1827/28) und die Wiederentdeckung der Alten Musik’, Musicologica austriaca 23 (2004), pp. 57-80.
  • ‘“Da der Musikzustand in Ansbach gerade wieder ein bißchen im Steigen ist“: Johann Rupprecht Dürrner und das Ansbacher Musikleben 1831 bis 1844’, Musik in Bayern 65/66 (2003), pp. 33-60.


  • Martin Geck, Richard Wagner. A Life in Music, trans. Stewart Spencer (Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 2013), in Times Higher Education 14 November 2013.
  • Nila Parly, Vocal Victories: Wagner's Female Characters from Senta to Kundry (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum, 2010), for Wagner 6, no. 2 (2012)
  • Eva Rieger, Leuchtende Liebe, lachender Tod. Richard Wagners Bild der Frau im Spiegel seiner Musik (Munich: Artemis & Winkler, 2009), for Gender Studies in der Musikwissenschaft: Quo Vadis? Festschrift für Eva Rieger (Hildesheim: Olms 2010) (= Jahrbuch Musik und Gender 3)
  • Anne Bagnall Yardley, Performing Piety. Musical Culture in Medieval English Nunneries (New York & Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), for the Journal of Ecclesiastical History 60 (2009), pp. 787-788.
  • Chris Walton, Richard Wagner’s Zurich: The Muse of the Place (Rochester & Woodbridge: Camden House, 2007), for H-German net, November 2009.
  • Ulrike Hascher-Burger, Verborgene Klänge. Inventar der handschriftlich überlieferten Musik aus den Lüneburger Frauenklöstern bis ca. 1550 (Hildesheim, Zurich, New York: Georg Olms, 2008), for Music & Letters (2010).
  • Oliver Hilmes, Herrin des Hügels: Das Leben der Cosima Wagner (Munich: Siedler, 2007) for H-German net, April 2009.
  • Linda Maria Koldau, Frauen - Musik - Kultur. Ein Handbuch zum deutschen Sprachgebiet der Frühen Neuzeit (Cologne, Weimar et al. 2005) for H-German net, June 2007.
  • Roger Hillman, Unsettling Scores: German Film, Music, and Ideology (Bloomington/Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2005), for H-German net, published August 2006.
  • Eva Rieger, Minna und Richard Wagner: Stationen einer Liebe (Düsseldorf & Zürich: Artemis & Winkler, 2003), in Wagner 25/1 (2004), pp. 48-52.

Reference Articles

  • 'German identity', 'Lohengrin', 'Lohengrin', 'Elsa' and 'Ortrud' for The Cambridge Wagner Encyclopedia, ed. Nicholas Vazsonyi (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).
  • ‘Ahlefeldt’, ‘Hoffnaß’, ‘Leonarda’, ‘Meyer-Baer’, ‘Cosima Wagner’, ‘Chorknabe’, ‘Kloster’, in Gender-Handbuch Musik, ed. Annette Kreutziger-Herr, Melanie Unseld, Florian Heesch (Kassel, Basel u.a.: Bärenreiter, 2009).
  • ‘Dürrner, Johannes (Rupprecht)’ and ‘Zenger, Max’ for Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart 2.
  • ‘Dürrner, Johann(es) Rupprecht)’ for New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians 2.

Research Dissemination

Selected conference papers given since 2005

  • October 2014, Christoph Willibald Gluck: Mythen – Bilder – Diskurse, Vienna / Austria: ‘Zurück in die Zukunftsmusik: Gluck und die Idee der deutschen Nationaloper’
  • April 2014, Early Modern Soundscapes, Bangor: ‘Transgressive Soundscapes: Enclosed Space vs. Public Space’
  • November 2013, Symposium Wagner – Gender – Mythen, Oldenburg: ‘Eine Mittheilung an meine Freunde: Lebens- und Schaffensmythen in der letzten Zürcher Kunstschrift'
  • July 2013, Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference, Certaldo / Italy: ‘The Mayrhofer Codices: Lasso’s Music as a Diplomatic Gift'
  • January 2013, Research seminar of the University of Huddersfield: ‘The good, the bad and the ugly: Wagner’s music dramas from the perspective of the minor characters’
  • November 2012, Symposium Wagner and Opera between Nationalism and Globalisation, Berne University / Switzerland: ‘Die Wagnerianer in London und die Suche nach einer englischen Nationaloper'
  • October 2012, Symposium Strauss in Stuttgart – 100 Jahre Ariadne auf Naxos, Stuttgart: ‚Spielt sie immer nur sich selbst? Einige Überlegungen zur Rolle der Zerbinetta'
  • July 2012, Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference, Nottingham: ‘Protecting the Muses, promoting the Church: Lassus’ Patrocinium musices reconsidered’
  • May 2012, annual conference of the Royal Musical Association: "Love to Death: Transforming Opera“, Cardiff: ‘One Apple a Day: Age and Ageing in Wagner’s Ring
  • January / February 2012, All Souls College, Oxford, and Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw: ‘Faithfully Yours: Monastic Music and Its Patrons’
  • December 2011, Ninth Workshop on Early Modern German History, German Historical Institute London: ‘Piety, Patronage, Politics: Monastic Music in Early-Modern Germany’
  • July 2011, annual conference of the Royal Musical Association: Horizons, University of Sussex, Brighton: ‘Irony and/or apotheosis in finale of Ariadne auf Naxos
  • June 2011, symposium Meinrad Spieß in der süddeutschen Klostermusik des 18.
  • Jahrhunderts, Schwabenakademie Irsee:‚ Musikpflege im Kloster Irsee im 17. Jahrhundert‘
  • November 2010, annual conference of the Gesellschaft für Musikforschung, Rome: 'Though English not an Infidel: Britinnen in Rom zwischen Salon und Sixtina'
  • October 2010, Opera and Nation. International Musicological Conference, Budapest: 'From Bestseller to Box Office Hit: German Opera in the Age of Historicism'
  • June 2010, European Sacred Music 1500-1800. New Approaches, Fribourg / Switzerland: 'A New Song: The Introduction, Creation and Dissemination of Polyphonic Music in Early-Modern Monasteries'
  • October 2009, Directions in Musical Research, Institute of Musical Research, London: ‘The Swan on the Barricades: The Case of Lohengrin Reconsidered’
  • July 2009, 2000th Anniversary of the Battle in the Teutoburg Forest, Detmold: ‘Der erste (singende) Deutsche: Hermann der Cherusker in der Musik’
  • June 2009, Eddische Götter und Helden – Milieus und Medien ihrer Rezeption, Frankfurt am Main: ‘Der Tod Baldurs auf der Opernbühne des Fin-de-Siècle’
  • November 2008, Ethel Smyth (1858-1944) and her generation, Oxford: ‘Love, Death and the Sea: Ethel Smyth’s Three Moods of the Sea (1913) and other water music’
  • November 2008, Exploring National Identity in Music. Postgraduate Conference, Goldsmiths, London: Keynote Address ‘Music – Nation – Identity. Revisiting Some Key Issues from a German Perspective’
  • September 2008, Music and the Idea of the North, Leeds: ‘Norsemen, Nordic Gods and German Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century Music’
  • July 2008, Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference, Bangor: ‘“I never have heard sweeter singing in three voices”: The Tricinia Repertoire in Southern-German Nunneries’
  • June 2008, 15th International Conference on Nineteenth-century Music, Dublin: ‘Opera in the Age of Historicism – A Reappraisal’
  • June 2008, Interdisciplinary Seminary ‘Das Kloster. Ort kulturellen Handelns von Frauen in der Frühen Neuzeit’, Hanover: ‘Gender als Kategorie musikalischer Praxis in Männer- und Frauenklöstern der frühen Neuzeit’
  • November 2006, Päpstliches Liturgieverständnis im Wandel der Jahrhunderte, German Historical Institute, Rome: ‘Mulier taceat in ecclesia – Kirchenmusikalische Praxis von Frauen in der päpstlichen Gesetzgebung’
  • September 2006, Deutscher Historikertag, Constance: ‘Eisenmänner, Riesenweiber und edle Völkerchöre: Die deutsche Nation auf der Opernbühne’
  • March 2006, The Politics of Opera: the Power of Culture and the Culture of Power, European University Institute, Florence: ‘The Case of Lohengrin – Revolutionary Vision or Dream of German Supremacy?’
  • December 2005, University of Wales, Bangor: Lecture ‘“Das deutsche Lied die Waffe”: Constructions of National Identity in the German Male Choir Movement’
  • April 2005, Diva – Die Inszenierung der übermenschlichen Frau, Stuttgart: ‘Schwert und Schild und Dolch und Gift: Germanische Heldin und welsche Primadonna’

Conferences organised since 2003

  • • co-organiser of the OBERTO conferences 2011 (‘Beyond Press Cuttings’), 2012 (‘Operatic Masculinities’) and 2014 (‘Beyond Black Tie and Bubbly’).
  • July 2008, Panel Women and the Sacred at the Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference, Bangor University
  • February 2004, Organisation of the Graduate Exchange Conference, Oxford, for students from Oxford, Cambridge, King’s College London and Royal Holloway
  • Oct 2003 – June 2004, Convenor of the Graduate Students’ Colloquia, Faculty of Music

Barbara Eichner


School of Arts

Oxford Brookes University
Headington Campus
Gipsy Lane
Oxford, OX3 0BP