Edinburgh Research Explorer

Dr Elaine Kelly

Senior Lecturer

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Willingness to take Ph.D. students: Yes

Topics relating to music in 19th and 20th-century Germany; the Cold War; music historiography; reception history; and music and Marxist aesthetics.


Elaine Kelly studied for a BA in music at NUI Maynooth, and then moved to Queen's University Belfast, where she completed an MA in Twentieth-Century Music and subsequently a PhD with a dissertation on Brahms's involvement with the early music revival.

Elaine’s research focuses on the music and culture of both nineteenth and twentieth-century Germany, with particular emphases on canon formation and the staging of opera. She is especially interested in the German Democratic Republic, and has published extensively on the relationship between culture and politics in the state, looking variously at issues of identity formation, nation building, and the concept of late socialism. These themes come together  in her recent monograph Composing the Canon in the German Democratic Republic: Narratives of Nineteenth-Century Music (Oxford University Press, 2014), which examines the role that the Germanic musical heritage played both in the construction of East German socialism and in its subsequent demise. This work was funded by an AHRC Early Career Fellowship. Elaine’s interests also include the post-unification legacy of East German art; she is editor, together with Amy Wlodarski, of Art Outside the Lines: New Perspectives on GDR Art Culture (Rodopi, 2011), and was a member of the AHRC After the Wall network, which ran from 2009-10. She is currently working on a new book project, which explores musical encounters - both real and imagined - between the GDR and the developing world.

Elaine served as a council member of the Royal Musical Association from 2013-15 and as chair of the American Musicological Society’s Cold War and Music Study Group from 2014-16.

Highlighted research outputs

  1. Art as Utopia: Parsifal and the East German Left

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Reflective nostalgia and diasporic memory: Composing East Germany after 1989

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

  3. Imagining Richard Wagner: The Janus Head of a Divided Nation

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

View all (18) »

Research activities & awards

  1. Cambridge University Music Faculty Colloquium

    Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

  2. NEH Summer Institute: Culture in the Cold War

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

View all (30) »

ID: 11330