Marsden Fund grant awarded to socio-musicologist

05 November 2015

Senior Lecturer Dr Nancy November from the School of Music at the University of Auckland has been awarded a Marsden Fund grant to investigate how 1800s Viennese chamber music functioned as social practice.

Her project titled Cultivating chamber music in Beethoven's Vienna: a study in socio-musicology, focuses on a crucial period of social and musical change during and after the Napoleonic wars when previously 'private' music started to be publically performed and published.

The grant worth $580,000 will fund the first in-depth contextual study of chamber music in Beethoven's Vienna.

The Marsden Fund, administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand, is funded by the New Zealand Government. Established in 1994 and named after physicist Sir Ernest Marsden, it is regarded as a hallmark of excellence, allowing New Zealand’s best researchers to explore their ideas.

Dr Nancy November believes her research will offer new insights into neglected repertoire, under-studied private music making and the complex social milieu of the time.

“Multi-layered musical analyses will explore how this chamber music provided an interactive, flexible and 'safe' medium in which to try out, renegotiate and even enact social and aesthetic ideas,” she says.

“The study will probe key interactions within and between human agents (audiences, composers, critics, dedicatees, patrons, performers, publishers) and non-human agents (musical editions, genres, venues), which were central to establishing chamber music's larger social roles”.

The result of this research will be a monograph, and five allied critical editions of chamber music by popular and significant composers from Beethoven's Vienna who are now little known.

Together, these publications should yield fresh understanding of how Viennese chamber music helped to foster education, entertainment and sociability in an era of invasion, surveillance and censorship.

This year 1201 proposals for grants were received with 92 selected for funding. Proposals are judged by ten subject-area panels, informed by international referees, and chosen purely on merit.

The number of women as Principal Investigators of successful proposals rose from 39% last year to 44% this year.

The grants are distributed over three years and pay for salaries, student and postdoctoral scholarships and research consumables.

Media queries to